The Best Strategy to Attract More Martial Arts Students

The #1 Membership Strategy To Get Your Martial Arts Students Fully Committed

Getting more leads to become students at your Martial Arts business can be a challenge, and retaining them can be an even bigger challenge. Maybe you’ve tried putting up flyers, posting on social media, or giving excessive discounts...none of which have worked particularly well. 

Have you taken a closer look at your membership strategy? One answer to increasing your student retention rate could be offering program-based memberships as opposed to the traditional studio membership style where a student pays a monthly or annual flat fee and can go to any class, any time. Programs are the first thing people look at when trying to decide what Martial Arts gym to join, so if you don’t offer specific programs to your members then it is something you should definitely consider. 

In case you need a quick recap of what defines a program-based membership, they are membership programs targeted towards a certain discipline such as a BJJ Fundamentals Membership where a member signs up with a mission of mastering the fundamentals of BJJ. Another type could also be a Muay Thai specific membership. All of the most credible gyms like Atos, Gracie Barra, and Renzo Gracie have program-based memberships, so jump on board! If you’re not already convinced, here are 3 reasons why you should start offering program-based memberships:

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  1. Provide A Clear Path

Traditional memberships typically include a one-size-fits-all ticket into your studio where any student can come to any class at any time. While having the freedom of all-access to a martial arts facility is great, your students will lack direction and goals with this membership, which results in a lack of motivation to return to your studio.

By offering a program-based membership, for example, a basic boxing membership, you are guaranteeing that by the end of the program your students will have completed basic boxing training. When you begin marketing your memberships with an associated goal, what you’re really selling is guaranteed mastery at a certain level or area of expertise. 

Here is a great example of Balance Studios offering different memberships based on a specific goal or program:

An example of membership programs at Balance Studios, a Philadelphia-based Martial Arts studio.
  1. Increase Accountability

Since program-based memberships are goal-oriented, they motivate students to take full advantage of your business, whereas traditional memberships do not. Because a program-based membership indicates to students that if they fail to take full advantage of the program they will not attain the aspired goal. No student likes quitting, so memberships to specific programs are more likely to encourage your students to stay at your studio.

Think about a situation in which you have a clear objective: baking cookies, playing a tennis match, spending a certain amount of money while online shopping in order to get free shipping. You begin each of these activities ready to fully invest yourself in order to succeed whether that means eating warm cookies or getting free shipping. Now think about situations where you have no clear goal: going to the beach, on a drive, or grocery shopping with no list. There’s nothing about these activities that hold you accountable for staying at the beach, driving longer, or completing the grocery shop. 

This strategy of “gamification” is what you need to apply to your memberships in order to make students feel accountable within their training. In essence, you need to revise your memberships to be “quittable” via an actionable path. This may sound counterintuitive, but by offering program-based memberships, where it feels like quitting if a student were to stop half-way through, your students will actually be more likely to stay at your studio and complete the goal-oriented program.

  1. Build Community

Humans are social beings and love being a part of something greater than themselves. Providing program-based memberships as opposed to traditional memberships adds an extra sense of motivation and support for your students. Oftentimes it can be daunting to join a fitness facility where everyone is on the same playing field because everyone has traditional memberships; no one knows who likes to train at what times, what level others are at, or what goals others are working towards. 

With program memberships, students are more likely to know who is in their program and, therefore, who they can go to for advice, support, or camaraderie. A strong community is one of the most valuable things a studio can offer, and what makes students stay loyal to your business.


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