Retention: The Importance of Self-knowledge (HCM Review 2019)

Uncategorized Sep 04, 2023

There’s no one thing that will fix your member retention, but clarity of mission, a strong culture and an eye for data will drive significant change. Kate Cracknell reports from the 2019 Retention Convention

“The fitness industry today is a place of blurred lines between a proliferation of business models,” said Dr Paul Bedford at last month’s Retention Convention. “Before you can define your customer experience, or create your customer journeys, you need to define who you are.”

Bedford was speaking at his fifth annual Retention Convention – this year sponsored by Precor, The Retention People, DFC, Coach AI and Willmott Dixon – which saw a series of high-performing operators sharing their retention best practice.

Bedford’s message: Be absolutely clear about who you are and who you’re targeting, and build a company culture that reinforces this at every touchpoint. Only then will you be in a position to deliver the...

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Nike to open Fitness Studios.

Uncategorized Aug 02, 2023

Nike have announced they are to open the first of a series of studios later this year.

We have already seen Hermes, H&M, alo, Resolve and Aviator Nation deliver concept studios both as an addition to their brand offering or as pop-up location to grab media attention.

Nike will launch with two Californian locations the first will both be Nike Training Studios (NTS) with Nike Running Studios (NRS) to follow.

I will be keen to see if this is truly an attempt to enter the fitness studio market or a marketing project to create content for use across platforms. It will certainly attract the one and done influencers and the fitness tourists who will want to post their views of the studios, to their social media following, but have no intention of becoming a regular visitor. I would imaging mainstream media will also jump at the chance to feature this extension of the Nike brand.

Now while the marketing is suggesting all-inclusive the images representing the participants is very much...

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Differentiate with Service

How To Create and Implement Minimum Service Standards in a Health Club

In order to have a successful Health Club you need to deliver a standard service to all of your members. Creating and implementing Health Club minimum service standards lets your employees know what you're expecting of them and helps gain loyal members. In this article, we explain what Health Club minimum service standards are and why they're important, list the steps for creating and implementing Health Club minimum service standards and provide you with several examples. Don’t let the term minimum lead you to thinking low service standards. Here the term minimum is a level that service will not fall below. Hotels like Ritz Carlton and the Four Seasons have minimum service standards that are higher than most of their competitors’ best efforts.


What are Health Club minimum service standards?

Health Club minimum service standards define what a Health Club guest or member can expect from their...

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Resistance Exercise Conference - Webinar


Introduction by Luke Carson - Discover Strength 

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How to create memorable and meaningful experiences for your clients

member experience Nov 18, 2021

Retention Convention is all about teaching you how to create memorable and meaningful experiences for your clients so they keep coming back for more.

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Association of British Climbing Walls (ABC) Retention Presentation


I was delighted to be asked to speak at the Association of British Climbing Walls event at the Magna Science Park in Sheffield. In this keynote presentation I describe what we have learnt in the fitness industry that may help improve retention for climbing wall businesses.  

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Move Congress - Top 10 Retention factors (short)


I was asked to represent the fitness industry at the physical activity and community sport conference in Budapest in Hungary. I thought I had 90 minutes until I got there when I was told you have 15 minutes. So this is the result. 

Below is a transcript of the Move Congress 2019


I'm Dr. Paul Bedford. I have a PhD in behavioural psychology, applied to fitness environments. I started in the fitness industry having spent 12 years as a plumber. So by trade I'm a plumber. And then I got into fitness because I was into exercise and I worked in my local YMCA, which is a charitable organization in the UK as a volunteer instructor. They then gave me a job. I moved up through that organization till I was running their facilities and then I've moved on to work in both public and private sector. But there was, I've always been a drive for me to understand why people start, but don't keep going with exercise. So after a number of years, I did a master's degree at City...

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"What can I do for you?"

This article first appeared in  Fitness MANAGEMENT international (Germany)

In this article, we want to explain the factors that have a lasting influence on member retention for fitness studios, as well as provide food for thought and possible solutions for your studio practice.

In the first part of the article in fMi 1/2021 we illustrated the two basic factors for effective retention of your members in your studio: the regular visits of your members to the studio as well as the finely "dosed" interaction with members and prospects.

3. Programming

As the third most important aspect of member retention, we have identified "programming" in the team. This refers to the training offered in the studio in general as well as its individual design in the form of training plans. What training options does the club offer its members and how does it communicate them to its members and interested parties. In order to be able to better understand the mechanisms in this area, we divide...

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Design Memorable Exercise Experiences That Last - The Fitness Business Podcast Blog

The blog was originally written for the Fitness Business Podcast. If you would like to read it in its original location click on the link at the bottom of this page.


While most people today know me more for work on retention, attrition and member loyalty, the first half of my career was as a fitness instructor, a personal trainer and a trainer of trainers. Much of this time was focused on anatomy, physiology, kinesiology and exercise program design. I thought I was pretty good at exercise program design but I could never understand why customers and clients wouldn’t stick to these programs that I had crafted for them, and that’s why I began to study psychology.

Two masters degrees, numerous short courses, workshops and a PhD later I am still just a focused on improving exercise adherence and retention.

Much of what I have been reading in the past two years has been in the area of experience design. My rational is if members have a better experience they stay...

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Recovering Quickly


In this post I want to focus on how quickly we are actually recovering and what can we do to accelerate that process.

I want to talk about you looking at your own data. I want you to trust in your own data.

There's an awful lot of data and numbers being produced by trade organizations, by operators and also financial institutions and I think you need to be mindful that comparing yourself to some of that is not going to be useful. Just focusing on what what's going on within your business is probably the most important thing you can do right now, rather than trying to compare you to someone else.

Typical club groupings of members, pre pandemic, let's say this is a thousand members. You have your hardcore exercises, your enthusiasts, regulars, irregulars and your sleepers.

Once the pandemic hit, we saw was there was an overnight contraction of the business.

Within that, we came up with our descriptions, we talk about hard core exercises by visit frequency.

Then you have the...

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