The software I use recently posted a great article about this exact topic: https://www.ezfacility.com/blog/7-ways-to-retain-new-years-resolution-me…
One of my favorite suggestions they have in the article is to build a community within your facility so clients have a harder time walking away.
I’ll share some of my tips, but I teach dance-based workouts so they may not work for everyone. One good thing to do is to encourage social activities that makes them workout buddies, we chat, we laugh, I would bring up a topic for them to talk about when they go to change after class. I make little choreographies where they have to exchange places, interact with each other, so they learn each other’s names.
Another thing we do is we make our videos, of course I make sure they are all OK with it, and we agree not to post it everywhere, it’s just for us, just for fun and we make our little workout video, just like professional video programs. They love it, it makes them work harder and stay focused, and it makes them feel like a team doing something together.
One of the fitness clubs I worked at had celebrations where we would do presentations, and my clients would know about it in advance, they’d sign up to participate, and we’d be preparing our 5-10 minute workout course to present to other club members. That was one of the major things that made my clients very friendly with each other, preparing for a big event together really worked the team spirit in them.
I also learn their birthdays, so when a birthday is coming up, I do something new and present it like: here’s something new and this one is for Jane, for your birthday, so let’s make it special! That makes everyone smile and they sometimes go for a birthday latte later.
One thing to watch out for, when you have a close-knit group of clients, make sure newcomers feel welcome and comfortable.
Once your clients have a nice peer group in your class, they really appreciate meeting each other. My clients exchange phone numbers so when one of the clients disappears for a while, they would call him/her to chat and see what’s going on. If a client has a baby and takes a while to get back to working out, they have their little social network and they’d encourage her to get back sooner. So that’s my recipe: create a friendly interactive environment, get to know them, care for them, have fun with them, but also trust to let them go, they all have their reasons, respect that as well.
I agree with all the previous answers – programming, service and results will determine your success as well as increase retention. Service and programming are components that you control entirely, however it’s important to recognize that results are subject to the client’s perception. I find that the best incentive is to continually reinforce the ways in which they have improved – I do this both verbally and through demonstration. This includes objective measures such as weight loss but also less obvious progress such as increased endurance, strength and energy levels. I will continually comment on how X months, weeks, etc. ago they were not able to do x,y and z. This reinforces the perception that you are an effective trainer and that they are making progress. This might seem like an obvious incentive but you would be surprised how often clients don’t recognize or acknowledge these small and big wins outside of weight loss and increased weight loads!