Using Endorphins to Retain Members

July 16, 2014

By: Lacey Thacker

Endorphins, the wonder behind the infamous and oft praised “runner’s high,” are a fascinating component in brain chemistry. This chemical is released during physical activity, and upon release, they bind to receptors in the brain and cause an almost immediate decrease of any pain sensations. Endorphins can also significantly increase feelings of well being—in other words, endorphins are the body’s feel good chemical.

It takes between ten and thirty minutes of activity for endorphins to release. While it varies from person to person, twenty minutes is a generally agreed upon median. Some sources suggest it may take longer for them to kick in when first beginning to work out.

So what does this mean for your club and staff?

It’s no secret that many people sign up for gym memberships, work out a few times, get discouraged, and eventually stop their membership. Part of the reason they get discouraged is because exercise can be uncomfortable when first participating in regular physical activity. Additionally, many new members are not working out for long enough to push past the discomfort and into the endorphin zone. To add another layer of complexity, a huge amount of the public does not realize they can achieve the runner’s high they see on the sidewalks every day without running.

If your staff consists of trainers, or even if it doesn’t, it might behoove your club to incorporate some basic information into member orientation. This can be as simple as talking about the function of endorphins and letting the member know how long it takes that rush to hit. It’s very important to let them know it comes just after things start feeling really hard. The staff member might find it helpful to relate to the member through their own experience. Of course, you’d also want to educate your members on the different between “pushing past hard” and injuring oneself.

Another interesting facet of the human brain is the way we associate feelings with our sense of place. When in a place we associate positive feelings with, it becomes easier to experience those feelings again. Members who experience an endorphin rush in your club are likely to subconsciously associate the two, and thus are more likely to continue coming back for hit after hit of their body’s own wonder drug.

All it takes is a short conversation during member orientation to encourage members to push past their comfort zone. Once they do, just once, they’ll understand the physical sensations they are experiencing—and begin to realize what it takes to achieve real results.