How User Experience Impacts Retention in The Fitness Industry

    Carolyn Cummins | August 20, 2021

The term user experience is a hot topic right now, but what does it really mean and how does it relate to studios? User experience is how the user (student) interacts with a business (studio). The user experience sometimes called customer experience or member experience is critical when it comes to retaining students. It is more important than the product or price.

Here are three simple ways that you can enhance customer experience and improve client retention, right now:

Create a Studio Experience

When you build a brick-and-mortar business, you likely put great thought into how the space is designed, where walls go, where rooms will be, where the waiting area is for clients, etc. Most studio owners approach this from a functional standpoint and little is taken into account from the user view or the user experience. Only after the studio is built do many owners realize issues with flow or usability. Taking a moment to see the user view and how they would engage with the space while developing plans can help eliminate costly changes down the line.

If your studio is already open, how is it used? When a student walks in, what do they do? Where do they go? Do they access the space the way you intended? Walk-in as a student would and then ask yourself if it makes sense. Would it be clear to a new student what to do when they enter?? Is there good signage to help them feel clear about their experience? You want to make it easy and intuitive for the client so they have the best customer experience, especially if it is a new student!

Increase Opportunities for Staff-Member Connection

Your secret weapon to success is your staff! Your physical space and core service offering of fitness classes are just a few of the reasons why a student decides to come back. You must provide a clean and appealing space and your service offering should be top-notch, however, even when these two things aren’t at their 100% best, your staff and the connection they build with students keep people coming back. 

When a student walks in and is greeted by name with a warm hello and a smile, it makes them feel like a valued member of your community. Your staff are the people creating a connection with each person that walks in the door. When they spend a few minutes talking with the student before and/or after class about what is going on in their life, the student might feel like they are cared about, and that they belong. All of these small gestures add up to relationship and community building that support customer retention.

These interpersonal relationships between staff and students can increase students’ enjoyment and improve their perception of the overall user experience of the studio. The more solidified the relationship and community, the more likely the student will continue their membership. Studies show that even when the service offering suffers, interpersonal relationships can help create a barrier to prevent students from looking for services elsewhere.

In the virtual live streaming realm, this might mean communicating using a chat function to interact with students. Or perhaps you want to use a third-party app like FitGrid to follow up with a student via a text message or email to ask about how they enjoyed the class. 

Text messaging and email are also effective tools for engagement if the students haven’t been in a virtual live stream or in-studio class in a while. These touchpoints with a student give them the feeling they are valued. These tools can help students have a positive user experience, even if they aren’t in the physical space or face-to-face with a staff member.

Make Sure Your Clients Have a Smooth Digital Experience

Just as with your brick-and-mortar studio, you probably thought about what you wanted on your website or fitness app before they were built. You probably wrote down all the necessary information about your studio offerings, class types, and membership packages. Then either you or someone you hired built your website. Good web designers understand usability and help clients work through flow and clicks to help get the end-user (student) to the right information the fastest way possible. However, sometimes there is a disconnect, user experience and usability get lost in a sea of fancy design and creative add-ons.

Many people believe that fewer clicks mean a better user experience. However, studies show that the number of clicks isn’t what frustrates users, it is the inability to find what they are looking for. If students can’t find class descriptions or the schedule or pricing, they are likely going to give up and search online for an option that IS easy to use.

Here are some things to consider about user experience when designing your studio’s website. This list is adapted from the User Experience Honeycomb:

  • Usable – Is it easy to navigate?
  • Attention-grabbing – Does the platform evoke a positive response from the user? Is it appealing to the eye? Does the content create a feeling for the user?
  • Trustworthy – Is the content credible?
  • Accessible – Is your site accessible to those with disabilities?
  • Findable – Can your students actually find what they need?

Whether you call it customer experience, member experience, or user experience, it all boils down to this…customers/students that have a consistently positive experience that includes a connection to the staff and community are far more likely to keep coming back to your studio. Focus on how your students feel when they interact with your brand and you are on the road to successful client retention.


Carolyn has a passion for teaching and sharing her experiences to help others succeed. Carolyn is a certified Bikram Yoga, yin, and aerial teacher. She is also RYT 200 hr certified. She has managed and owned yoga studios and understands the challenges of staying relevant and successful. Now as a functional business coach she draws upon her more than 25 years of management, sales, and marketing experience in; retail, corporate America, and yoga studios to guide her clients to fulfill their destiny and find joy in business ownership.

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