I got into pretty good shape in August. I was eating clean, working out, feeling healthy and losing weight. My head was clear and and my body was happy. I was on top of my game, literally. You see, I'm from England, so I am all but obligated to play recreational soccer while living in the states. I never miss a game, but I could have done with missing one late night coed game that had me on the ground after a brutal tackle by an opponent. As I tumbled head first across the pitch, I felt my finger snap. When I got up from the wet grass, I looked down to see my finger distorted and saw something similar to a Picasso painting. Instinctively, I yanked it back into place, which seemed like the right thing to do at the time so I could continue the game. Turns out, bone adjustments should be left to the professionals.

Falling into Bad Habits

Two days later I was in surgery, which had me down and out for the rest of the week. I used my downtime after surgery to fall into bad habits of eating comfort food and "resting" for an extended period of time. I found myself all the way back at the start of that road filled with clean eating and consistent workouts. Heck I wasn't even at the beginning, I was lost in a field somewhere looking for signs to point me back to the start.

The Challenge

Three weeks post surgery, my good friend called me asking if I wanted to join a fitness challenge at my local gym. The rules were simple: you work out for two solid months and have to earn a total of 8,000 MEPs (MYZONE effort points). After some resistance and taunting from my crew, I gave into the peer pressure and said yes. Turns out, it wasn't just me and a few close buddies; 36 guys said yes to the challenge. It was game time and I was ready to win. Nothing lights a fire in me like competition.

There were a lot of ups and downs throughout the two months. I started out in the top 5, dropped to the middle of the herd a few times, but ultimately landed above goal. This challenge got me back into a routine, back in the gym and wanting to workout.

Never underestimate the power of a group challenge. It’s a sure-fire way to create an engaged community within your health club. Members encourage and help other members achieve their goals. It's an incredibly powerful medium. Some people need a push, a reason to get back into the lifestyle, and group challenges do just that. The members involved help each other out with encouragement and banter along the way. A bond is formed and people are committed.

Gamification at its Best

Whether members are aware of it or not, one of the top benefits of joining a gym is surrounding yourself with positive influencers. I was not in the right mindset starting the MEP challenge. I joined at my rock bottom of a bad diet and workout schedule, not to mention limited in the exercises I could do with part of my hand still in a splint. But I did it because I had a support system and accountability surrounding me. I would check the MEP leader board every day, and that would give me the boost to go for a late night run or a quick workout in the garage to get ahead - and I always felt better afterwards. Always.

Gamification can help with member retention and referrals, the trick is to use one of strongest community members to start the challenge and rally the troops. As Michael Scott Scudder once said, people do not leave your health club if they are having fun and making friends.


Ravi Sharma

VP, Global Sales at ClubConnect


P.S. Did you know? ClubConnect is now the number one resource for gyms and health clubs. We power the education and development for over 4,500 health clubs and growing. Learn more about how we help health club managers, directors and owners here.