With a rewards program, your gym business can increase gym member engagement to improve member retention and generate referrals. However, the program must be set up effectively to do so. In this blog post, we’ll discuss the components of a successful health club rewards program based on Perkville’s 10+ years in the loyalty program industry and provide examples using publicly available information.

Here are 5 steps to designing a killer loyalty program at your gym business.

Baseline engagement for rewards program

The rewards program must have a baseline level of engagement to drive results. We typically see 35% to 50% of gym members with an email address on file joining the rewards program. We believe the following elements are important to achieving this:

  • Reward frequent activities, especially check-ins, personal training and spending money on retail
  • Send program invitations as close to real-time as possible after an earning activity has happened. We have found this increases the conversion of the invitation. Integrating your loyalty program with gym management software can help make this possible.
  • Offer rewards that members value. We find that branded merchandise (e.g. T-shirts, water bottles, gym bags, etc.), guest passes and discounts on retail, personal training or monthly gym membership are some of the most popular rewards for gym members.
  • Structure the program such that rewards can be achieved in a reasonable amount of time (e.g. the average gym member can redeem at least one reward within three to six months). We have created a calculator to help set appropriate point values for rewards.  
Example of a loyalty program for gym members.

Gamification to drive customer retention

Gamification can be used to encourage member engagement. The two types of gamification that we’ve seen work are as follows:

  • A recurring monthly frequency bonus such as check-in six times in a month and earn 25 bonus points.  
  • Targeted challenges where members can earn points for doing a number of activities within a timeframe. A challenge might include completing a fitness assessment, checking-in 5 times and taking two classes all within 30 days to get the points. The types of challenges include:
  • New member challenge starts when a member joins the gym and completes a certain number of days after that - we recommend 30 days
  • Challenges targeted at those members who are using the gym less than in the past and are now considered at risk.
  • Seasonal challenges to engage all members especially at slower times such as the summer.
Fitness businesses can create challenges for new members to keep them engaged.

Digital communication to loyal customers

We believe digital communication is important to keeping members informed and engaged in the reward program. Once a member has joined the reward program, we recommend sending email updates when they earn points that shows how many points they earned, their updated point balance, their progress toward any goals (e.g. frequency bonus) as well as rewards they can redeem or are close to being able to redeem. We see ~40% open rate on these automated emails.  An online portal where members can view their point balance, point transaction history, their earning rules and redeeming rules and progress toward any goals. A link to the program from within their mobile app. Native integration into the mobile app is also possible but that requires significant ongoing engineering effort.

Automated emails about points keep members informed about your rewards programs.

Referral program to generate leads

Rewarding referrals can drive significant return on investment and win new clients.  Prior to COVID we saw an average of ~6 new gym memberships from referrals per month per location that were submitted by members directly through the program, excluding any staff member submitted referrals entered on behalf of a member. The key components are as follows:

  • Making it easy and visible for gym members to digitally share a special offer (via email, text, social media channels) that’s better than what their friend can get if they walk into the gym.
  • Reminding gym members to refer friends with easily clickable links to the referral flow both in email updates and online.
  • Integration of referral leads to the marketing platform for automated follow up communication
  • Share referral leads with your sales team for follow up.

Rewarding for referrals is essential to attract new customers.

Other recommendations

The following recommendations are optional, but can also help to run your program smoothly and keep members engaged.

  • Ask members to formally join the rewards program via an invitation system and start earning after they have joined the program. We find that this reduces reward cost by ~50% and focuses the rewards liability on members that care about the incentives.  
  • Expire points when a gym membership is cancelled. Expired points can be used as a carrot to win back customers after cancellation (e.g. rejoin by X date to reinstate your points).  
  • Offer bonus points to insurance members since those check-ins are more valuable than regular member check-ins (e.g. 50 points on their first check-in, 50 points on their fourth check-in and 100 points on their eighth check-in.).
  • Consider a Perkville partner - Solution One, a platform that allows members to redeem points for large discounts on travel and product, at no variable cost to the health club, thus saving money.  
  • Reward for digital behavior such as survey completions, mobile app usage and online class attendance to further engage your members.  
  • If possible, alert the front desk to engage the member when they check-in. Here are some examples of ways your front desk can engage with members based on alerts from the rewards program:


“Thanks for referring your friend John, we look forward to helping them reach their fitness goals”
“Your friend John claimed a referral offer but we haven’t seen them come in yet in case you can remind them.”


“Congrats on joining the summer challenge.  We look forward to helping you complete it.”
“Congratulations on completing the challenge.”

Frequency bonus

“You’re half way toward the frequency bonus.”
“Just one more check-in this month to get your frequency bonus.”


“Did you know that you have enough points to redeem a free month?”
“Congratulations on redeeming your free drink.”


The following examples include many of the elements above.  Please note that some elements may not be publicly visible such as targeted challenges and rewards.  



Perkville rewards program

Perkville is the perfect solution for gym owners and fitness studios looking to get an edge over the competition with rewards. We are an affordable customer retention and referral program that's customized for fitness businesses, retail and salons. The Perkville point system allows online joining of the program, tracking of rewards points and opportunities to earn points in ways beyond just attending a gym-checkin, and more.


An effective rewards program will benefit both your fitness studio and most loyal customers. By implementing a gym loyalty program system that supports baseline engagement, gamification, digital communication and rewarding referrals, you can design a program that keeps existing members happy and engaged and brings more customers through the door.

Want to learn more about implementing a customer loyalty program in your gym or fitness studio? Schedule a demo with one of our loyalty experts here to see how Perkville can help your business grow.