Did your fitness business notice a drop in customers today?  Or did you skip out on that new workout schedule?

By. Jahla Seppanen

According to recent research from Gold’s Gym, which has fitness facilities reaching close to 3 million users worldwide, February 18 (last Thursday) is the peak day when fit-related New Year Resolutions reach their expiration.

The company calls it the “fitness cliff.”

“As February hits, and more and more time separates consumers from the healthy resolutions they made as the New Year’s ball was dropping, the motivation to get fit begins to fade away,” said Gold’s Gym Fitness Institute Member and National Fitness Expert, Jamie Eason. “That demotivation, coupled with a side of frustration from not getting the results they want quickly enough, can often be the dumbbell that broke the camel’s back for consumers – leading many to abandon their New Year’s Resolutions by mid-month.”

Looking through four years of membership check-ins from Gold’s Gym locations across the U.S., a trend emerged in mid-February where increased membership cancelations and less check-ins dominated the data. The drop-off began around February 12, with the days following seeing an even sharper dip.

The crescendo averaged out to February 18, when an “alarming” number of consumers stopped going to the gym and quit their Resolutions altogether.

Photo courtesy Gold's Gym

Photo courtesy Gold’s Gym

Gold’s Gym officials said they got proactive in a strategy to combat the drop in membership and attendance. The first step was to harness in on the dreaded date (February 18) and turn it into a free day, prompting more non-members to attend, increasing both exposure and the likelihood of new sign-ups. The second strategy was to collaborate with Eason on a list of motivational tips to keep Gold’s Gym consumers on the treadmills and weight racks. The list includes:

>> Telling people about your fitness goals to be held accountable.

>> Purchasing new activewear and footwear.

>> Beginning a long-term program/new exercise class.

Motivational tips aside, broader data from the Physical Activity Council on gym membership spending showed a continued increase over the four years of 2010-2014. So it would seem that despite the February dip, the industry at large is still buoyant.

Still, most members only attend the gym an average of two times per week, while paying $58 per month, according to a report by the Statistic Brain Research Institute, verified by IHRSA. And, perhaps the most shocking stat, roughly 67 percent of people with gym memberships never even use them.

At Planet Fitness, a gym franchise notorious for its initiatives, including $10-a-month memberships, Pizza Mondays, and a “No Lunks” environment, Public Relations Manager Becky Zirlen told SGB Weekly that its gym usage and membership historically grows through April. She gave partial credit to the club’s “Black Card” membership offer, which allows a member to bring a guest with them for no charge, and workout at any PF location across the country.

Photo courtesy Planet Fitness

Photo courtesy Planet Fitness

“Working out with a buddy definitely helps keep people motivated. Also, Planet Fitness is known as the Judgment Free Zone, so we have a very encouraging environment — if someone does miss a workout, they aren’t intimidated by coming back when it’s convenient for them,” said Zirlen.

Another potential boost for Planet Fitness … getting people to set up auto renewals on their debit cards versus credit cards, Planet Fitness CEO Chris Rondeau told investors at the 2016 ICR Conference. The former is attached to people’s checking accounts which rarely lapse or expire versus the latter. The payment switch meant a significant increase in retained memberships, he said.

Whether it’s payment methods, a buddy or a new pair of running shoes, there are plenty of incentives to keep those workouts going further into the year.