// Group Ex: the biggest driver of membership

By accurately measuring attendance of group exercise classes and comparing the data with that of similarly-sized clubs, you can set realistic goals to increase membership, customer engagement and profit, says Phillip Mills.

The leaders in pre-choreographed group exercise, Les Mills, recently undertook a worldwide metrics survey, called Scoreboard, to measure accurate group fitness attendance data and use it to better benchmark what is possible for clubs to achieve.

Using this data, it was possible to release a list of the top ten participating clubs, based on group exercise attendance – and every club that participated was provided with an individual ranking report. The personalised ranking reports aim to give clubs a greater understanding of where they sit on a global scale, and to illustrate what is achievable – both as a ‘stretch’ goal and in comparison to clubs of a similar size to their own, or clubs within the same geographic area.

Key findings

The data showed that:

  • Of the clubs that participated in the survey, the average club has 676 group fitness attendances per week.
    • The top 20 clubs have an average of 3,880 attendances.
    • The top 10 attract 4,656 weekly attendances on average.
  • On average, in the 1,200 surveyed clubs, group exercise makes up 33 per cent of club attendance. In the top performing club, this is 57 per cent.
    • Generally speaking, the fitness industry considers 30 per cent group fitness attendance to be a high proportion. The norm is commonly considered to be in the 10 to 20 per cent range.
    • Note: the 1,200 clubs that responded to the survey were predominantly Les Mills customers, so possibly have a group exercise interest or skew.
  • Just five program genres comprise 75 per cent of group exercise attendance every week. 
    • In order of market share, these are: strength and weights, cycling, mind and body, dance, and martial arts programming.

Many club owners tend to focus on profit and membership as the key metrics for club success. Although both of these will always be important, attendance is ultimately the biggest driver of membership, customer engagement and profit, and as such, it’s the biggest indicator and risk to financial success.

The real value of the data collected in the Scoreboard survey comes from looking at the opportunity it presents, which is why everyone who participates in the survey receives a personalised report which provides attendance data, and shows where you rank in comparison to all participating clubs of your size globally, as well as clubs which are located closest to you.

The survey showed the need of many clubs for a new business model which focuses on getting more people through the club doors, more often. This is where the power of group exercise comes into play, as the survey highlighted the fact that scheduling group exercise is a key way to increase attendance and engagement, not to mention the bottom line.

Ready for Scoreboard?

The intention is to run the Scoreboard global metrics survey regularly, to ensure participating clubs can easily track their attendance and progress as they make changes. If you would like to participate in the next round of surveying, it’s open to all clubs worldwide, and you can choose to keep your data confidential. To register your interest, simply email scoreboard@lesmills.com

We have to focus on giving members what they want, rather than designing timetables around instructor availability, which is so common across our industry. Above everything, tracking attendance gives you transparency, so you can ensure you’re giving the most popular formats and instructors the time they deserve, and driving customer demand as a result.

Research has revealed group fitness to be a key determiner in which club a prospective member decides to join, how long they remain a member for and how many people they refer to join, proving the commercial connection between group exercise and long-term profitable clubs.

Of course, increasing sales will increase profit in the short-term, but more people through the door is the key to creating a sustainable and successful business – and group exercise delivers this key.

Phillip MillsPhillip Mills
Phillip is CEO of Les Mills International and co-author, with his wife Dr Jackie Mills, of Fighting Globesity: A Practical Guide to Personal Health and Global Sustainability, available on amazon.com