Do you know what motivates your members to walk through your doors? A lot of members are probably like Michele Rodriguez. She joined a gym two years ago to lose weight. When she first started, she was scared, intimidated, and laden with self-doubt. She wondered if she could do it. At the same time, she was excited to try boot camp for the first time.

    After a few months, she was able to go from being one of the least fit in class to the middle of the pack. She had more confidence, more energy, a sharper focus, and she was loving her workouts and all the new friends she had made.

    Then came that six-month mark. She was familiar with all the boot camp movements and the excitement was beginning to wane. She was still committed, and she wasn't going anywhere, but she wonders what’s next.

    It doesn’t matter what type of fitness or form of exercise one chooses, if there is no upward trajectory and measured progress, clients like Michele are going to get bored.

    How do we keep our clients motivated long-term?

    For years Michele would force herself to exercise just to lose weight. She hated every minute of it. It wasn’t until she started measuring her progress that she finally started getting excited about exercising. Her mindset shifted from ‘I’m going to go exercise to lose weight’ to ‘I’m going to go train to get better.’ She got excited about her times getting faster, the weight on the barbell increasing, keeping up with the people who used to beat her, and working on her technical skills.

    Gamification is currently a popular trend in the fitness industry. There are apps that tell you what to do every day, watches that track every step, and programs that award badges for good behavior. However, the gamification has to go beyond the little screen on your wrist or in your hand. The types of ways gym owners and trainers can integrate gamification into fitness is a blend of the virtual and real-life experiences and human-to-human interaction.

    Integrating gamification into fitness programs

    When Michele hit her six-month mark, she was invited to participate in an annual Boot Camp Battle. It was a partner competition designed for members who have never competed before. Another great idea is to invite members to do obstacle course races, holiday-themed fitness classes, field trips, and week-long challenges with a specific focus.

    It’s important for clients to have something coming up to train for to keep their motivation up. Whenever you meet with existing clients, conduct goal reviews where you ask them what their next goal is. If they don’t have one, then discuss upcoming competitions and physical challenges such as getting their first pull-up. Chris Cooper of Two Brain Business has a complete step-by-step program for setting up goal reviews with clients.

    You may have noticed that there is no talk about weight loss and aesthetics as a goal for members. A better approach is to get them excited about what they can do versus how they look. Everyone has a goal of looking great naked, but that is a side effect of training hard and eating well to support that training.


    Try a monthly Rhino Triathlon indoors: running, rowing, and biking. Members put their scores in an app called Beyond the Whiteboard. This allows users to see how their time in the Rhino Tri compares to others in Camp Rhino (and the world), in their age group or overall, and even with just themselves based on previous Rhino Tri times. It gets really fun for clients to see how they rank and watch their improvement. Every month Michele comes in excited to beat her old score. The daily lifting and workouts are also recorded in Beyond the Whiteboard for members to easily input their scores and watch themselves get stronger.


    Whenever new toys (fitness equipment) arrive, members' eyes light up with joy. They always love trying something new. Every piece of fitness equipment can be turned into an obstacle course or a measurable workout. A member once said that they left another gym because the owner didn’t upgrade the equipment in three years. The investment in new equipment is small compared to the feeling members get when their ‘presents’ come in.

    Blending the benefits of technology, equipment, and creating games where members are competing against each other is only going to work if a focus on each member's skills is still forefront. Their goals will be achieved, and progress will be made. Maybe they'll even get a badge on their app.

    What is Michele up to now? She is trying CrossFit and working on her first pull-up.