Coronavirus Guide for Gyms: Communicating for Member Retention

How to text gym members during COVID-19
COVID-19 may have forced many gyms and fitness studios around the country to shut their doors to members, but the workouts haven’t come to a halt – they’ve just moved online. If your fitness business has pivoted to streaming workouts online during the coronavirus outbreak, there are a few easy communication tweaks you can make to keep your members connected to your brand’s community and help them stay motivated to continue an active lifestyle.

Texting as an effective tool for gym member retention during COVID-19

You’re likely using social media to keep your members updated on daily workouts. While social media has its benefits, it isn’t always the best way to get a timely message in front of your members. Unless they’re logged into their account and happen to see your updates in their feed, they could overlook your posts. You shouldn’t forgo your social media updates but consider adding text messaging communication to your outreach.

Texting ensures that your message is seen because it goes straight to your member’s default texting app, which is the most used messaging app on their phones. It’s also worth noting that texting is how members want to be reached. Nearly 70% of fitness consumers who don’t have the option to text their gym or studio would like to, and a majority prefer texting to communicate overall about announcements, membership inquiries, billing reminders and more.

We wrote an entire e-book about how much consumers love texting and how gym and fitness studios are adapting to the demand; you can find it here.

Read through our tips below to learn how to use text messaging software features to effectively connect with your members during the COVID-19 outbreak.

Text online gym class reminders to increase member retention

More of your members may be at home more during the coronavirus outbreak, but they’re still busy with work and family. They’ll appreciate a reminder from you to take a break from their day (and this stressful time) to do something good for their physical and mental health.

Use text messaging to send a reminder about an upcoming live stream or a link to recorded classes. With group texting, you can create groups if you need to separate contacts and send a BCC message to your members. BCC messaging just means that even though you’re sending a message to a group of people, each recipient will only receive a one-on-one message with your gym; they won’t see responses from anyone else in the group. It works just like an email BCC.

You can also save time by scheduling those text messages ahead of time so you won’t have to worry about reminding yourself to send them out manually.

A text message to a gym client during COVID-19

Text your gym members words of encouragement

Your members may be having trouble staying motivated to complete a workout, and your text messages can help. In a recent Zipwhip survey, 66% of gym goers said they’d prefer to get words of encouragement from their gyms via text message. A text is a non-invasive but highly visible nudge to pause their day and get a workout in.

But every message doesn’t have to point them toward a workout with your gym. Think of the larger picture: you want to get your members to move around, too. Remind them to take a walk outside (while staying six feet away from anyone else, of course), step out to their backyard to appreciate the day or do some simple stretches. Your members will take notice that you’re not just reminding them to work out; they’ll appreciate that you’re looking out for their wellbeing.

It also helps to personalize each message with your members’ names. This can easily be done with dynamic fields so that you won’t have to manually enter them.

An example of Zipwhip's templates tool to personalize text messages to groups

Keep the community close amid the coronavirus crisis

Keep your members feeling connected to your gym or studio with content created by your coaches and instructors. Have them record how they’re staying in shape at home, stretches they’re doing, suggestions for everyday household items that can be used for workouts, etc.

Send either photos or short videos of what they’re up to using MMS messaging. This can also tie into your messages of encouragement if your coaches or instructors want to share a video of positive words to the community.

Use keywords and templates to automate COVID-19 information to members

Promote keywords on your social media channels or website to send important information directly to your members. For example, set up the keyword STREAM let members know that they can text the word to your gym’s phone number and they’ll receive a link to all your classes that can be streamed on demand.

Templates can be used in conjunction with keywords. The keyword SAFETY can trigger an auto-response that lets members know about the safety measures your gym or studio has taken to in light of the coronavirus epidemic. Here are a few you can use for your own communications.

For gyms and studios that are closed

Hi [First Name]. We are temporarily closing for the safety of our members. During this time, (your business) is providing online workouts within your [Member Portal] to keep our (your business) fam in shape! Please click the following link and sign in for a workout with our virtual trainers: (insert link)

For gyms and studios that are still open

Consider recording a simple video on your phone to talk about the steps your gym is taking to keep members safe. Members will appreciate the face-to-face connection, and it’s a great way to get a lot of information out with little resources.

Hi [First Name]. We’re committed to a safe, hygienic experience for all of our members. On top of our routine strict cleaning practices, we are taking additional steps during the COVID-19 outbreak to sanitize our equipment and high-traffic areas. Please watch this short video to learn more.

Gym member retention during COVID-19: Texting helps keep everyone close

It’s a strange and scary time, but your gym or studio can be a wonderful resource for much-needed calm and escape throughout the coronavirus outbreak. And staying connected with your members will keep them motivated to step back into your gym or studio when that time does finally roll around.

If you’re just getting started with text messaging, we recommend reading through our free e-book Texting for Fitness 101: A How-to Guide for Texting Members and Prospects. You’ll learn the ins and outs of using text messaging for the fitness industry and how to leverage the power of texting software to reach your goals.

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