Billy Waters Chief Operating Officer The Babel Group
Chief Operating Officer

By treating new gym members with the same care, support, and strategic planning that HR offers new employees, we're not just reducing churn, we're building a thriving, engaged, and loyal community.

shape-Light-Blue.pngTreat New Members like HR Treats New Staff: The Blueprint to Retention 

When you got your job, you likely had a congratulations email, first day introductions, orientation checklists, a training plan and maybe even a brand manual… without it, you’d probably be lost.

That’s how so many new members can feel after the motivation tapers off and they’re left wandering around the gym, headphones in, scrolling tiktok and inevitably never to be seen again.

What do we provide them with that not only makes them feel welcome, but provides a blueprint to independence and success? Was their onboarding as strong as your new team hires?

Just as HR teams invest in nurturing new colleagues, we should treat new gym members with the same level of care and attention. 

The Onboarding Experience

“You’ve signed up, great job! Here’s the gym – over to you”.

You wouldn’t say that to a new team member right?

Our journey begins with the onboarding process. Inspired by HR practices, we’ve developed a comprehensive Discovery program that mirrors the journey of a new employee. From the initial ‘interview’, to the ‘success email’ that welcomes them to our community, every step is designed to make members feel valued. The first day covers assessments then introduces them to our facilities, akin to an employee’s first day at work. We then offer orientation sessions, personalised training plans and a 90 day ongoing support system to ensure they’re equipped with the knowledge and tools to succeed.

HR Approach: New Staff Gets a Job Description

Gym Approach: New Members Get an Assessment driven Personalised Support Program 

Bridging the Gap

“Where should I go? Who should I speak to?”

Traditionally, the journey from a new member signing up to becoming an active class participant or gym-goer involves a significant gap. We bridge this by integrating HR elements such as clear job descriptions (member expectations), a blueprint for success (tailored fitness plans), and an HR styled team known as our Wellness Concierge who provide personalised support, check-ins, physical and digital coaching and recommendations. Just like HR would use an org chart, the concierge can connect the member to the right coach, to the right class, to the right equipment. Once they reach their blueprint milestones, acknowledge and reward them.

HR Approach: Employee Progress Checks

Gym Approach: Member Milestone Reviews

Navigating Challenges

“Sorry coach, I didn’t have time”.

As members progress, they may encounter challenges. Mirror HR’s role in addressing employee concerns, setting clear goals, providing support, and yes, even disciplinary action.

You’ve followed the plan, you’ve done the coaching, you’ve given all you can to support a new hire, but something’s still off and sterner intervention is needed… the warning letter.

Some members can hit roadblocks too, they may reach plateaus, lose motivation, get too busy and ultimately stop coming. Just like teammates, every member is different and whilst an arm around the shoulder may help some, holding members accountable for their commitment and results could be the kick they need. Revisit the targets, reset the plan and hold them to their own standards they set on day 1. 

Utilise your CRM’s automations to scale personalised accountability.

HR Approach: Performance Improvement Plans

Gym Approach: Tailored Communication and Adjusted Programs

Support and Growth

“You’ve been here a few months now, just get on with it”.

Supporting growth is usually a staple for most companies, providing development plans, career progression paths and performance bonuses for employees to work towards. New members too need their path to success laid out, without it often leads to feelings of being ill equipped to progress. 

A lot like scheduled team training, offering new member fundamental workshops, a rewards system, and a digital platform for progress tracking supports development. Emphasise accountability, drawing parallels between staff engagement strategies and member visits to ensure consistent participation and commitment.

The growth phase can offer opportunities for members to be promoted through intensity-tiered classes via progressive GX scheduling and achieving new levels of fitness KPIs, similar to career advancement. 

HR Approach: Career Development Opportunities

Gym Approach: Fitness Level Advancement and New Class Unlocks

The Exit Strategy

“Sorry Boss, I want to Resign”.

Understanding the inevitability of some members leaving, we’ve added a process similar to HR’s handling of resignations. Exit interviews and feedback sessions provide invaluable insights, helping us to continuously refine our approach to enhance member experiences. Whilst some members just go through the motions or submit any old feedback, be prepared to act, otherwise don’t bother asking for feedback.

Look for common denominators and work backwards. Just like if all executives left a team, leaving only the manager behind… you know what to address next.

HR Approach: Exit Interviews and Feedback Collection

Gym Approach: Member Exit Surveys/Chats and Improvement Implementation

Be Like HR

Adopting an HR-centric approach to member retention has really impacted the way we engage with our members at The Babel Group. By treating new gym members with the same care, support, and strategic planning that HR offers new employees, we’re not just reducing churn, we’re building a thriving, engaged, and loyal community. 

Embrace each new member with the same dedication you would a new employee, because just as hiring and training new staff is costly, so is losing members.

About Billy Waters

Billy is the Chief Operating Officer of The Babel Group (Babel, BossFit, Euphoria, Tone, Coal & Clouds) in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Where ideas become reality, Billy’s career dances across the fitness, hospitality, and marketing realms with those experiences shaping his unique leadership at The Babel Group. Billy lives and breathes the essence of each brand he elevates—Babel, Euphoria, BossFit, Tone, and Coal & Clouds, The brands within The Babel Group. His end-to-end approach is innovative and hands-on, his strategies are passion led, and his success is performance driven. Billy’s key is taking effective processes from other industries and adapting them to not only suit, but to improve lives through fitness. One of Billy’s most innovative campaigns was introducing a Butler service to the premium Babel gyms, the first of its kind in the Fitness World.

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