How to market to different types of people at the gym

How to market to different types of people at the gym

If you’re a gym owner, there’s a good chance you’re used to seeing yoga diehards rub shoulders with passionate bodybuilders. And while it’s always a great sight to witness, it perfectly demonstrates why gym-goers are not an easy audience to market to.

Although it might be tempting to create a generic one-fits-all approach to save time and money, understanding the diverse needs of gym-goers is essential to building your reputation, encouraging customer retention, and getting new memberships on a regular basis.

Surveying everyone who rolls through the gym is far from practical, though, so understanding your customers relies on creating personas you can use to create tailored marketing materials. 

Here are five of the most common gym personas!


1. Socialites

Fitness isn’t always the exclusive goal of gym junkies. For many, it remains an important date in their social calendar. Whether going with a group of friends, buddying up with people they exclusively see at the gym, or even trying to meet new people, it should be clear why gyms are so often treated as a social hub. 

A 2017 IHRSA study found that those just use gym equipment have a 56% higher chance of cancelling their membership than those who take part in group classes. So that sense of community and connection is key to retaining and growing your membership. 

You can start making your gym a more social space by:

  • creating social-friendly fitness events so your gym feel less like a facility and more like a community (i.e. workshops, guest speakers, competitions)
  • make it easy to book group classes and have clear visibility over them so they never exceed capacity and they match demand
  • encourage social butterflies to post regularly on social media
  • offer friend and group discounts


2. Newbies

Gyms can be an intimidating place for people new to the world of fitness. Tackling a brand new exercise regime can already be tough, but seeing seasoned regulars effortlessly work with complex equipment is all it takes to scare off a shyer crowd.

Here it’s all about offsetting newbie nervousness from the get-go. You can do this by:

  • demonstrating expert knowledge in a way that’s inviting and jargon-free
  • including introductory services with personal trainers for people with little fitness experience
  • offering a variety of free introductory classes.

By making it clear you’ve got newbies in mind, you’ll go a long way to encourage and retain new dedicated gym members. Also consider classes specifically for new members, so they can make friends with those who are at the same level as them. 

You might also consider a buddy program. This could give members more incentive to come into the gym, by providing discounts/promotions to those who take part in a buddy program and exercise together, holding each other to account. 


3. Regulars

It’s easy to get caught up in a desire to introduce new people to your gym. Hunting for new memberships can quickly draw attention away from people you’ve already won over.

It’s important to remind customers you’re still thinking about them – whether or not they’ve been to the gym in a while – so you might want to consider: 

  • keeping regulars informed of new products, classes, or services you’re offering through streamlined communications
  • introducing a basic members rewards program or discounts on products
  • the occasional thank you email, to help remind regulars they’re important.


But most of all it’s about making sure they know you still appreciate them – which is far from a big time investment.



4. Competitors

Who doesn’t like a bit of friendly competition? One aspect of the gym a lot of people dive into is the desire to compete, and although enabling this is easy, it can still be a huge drawcard for your gym.

Entice competitors by:

  • creating challenges, such as regular gym-based strength, weight loss (or gain), or cardio competitions
  • including social media in combination with competitions to incentivise return contenders and new competitors, and
  • offering prizes that you stock for retail sale on-site.

5. Bodybuilders

Bodybuilding aficionados are serious about their gym time, so a gym supporting this attitude is quickly noticed. This means you can’t just entice with traditional marketing – a big part of the appeal is how you embrace strength training as a lifestyle.

With this in mind you may want to:

  • maximise training options by offering a variety of equipment and weights
  • Inviting specialists in to give workshops on competition bodybuilding and strength programming
  • selling protein powders and pre-workout formulas to help assist bodybuilders maintain and develop their physiques
  • support the image of your gym as a one-stop shop for anyone serious about muscle development.


Consider customers from every angle possible

Successfully marketing to gym-goers is less about seeing your customers as one group and more about appreciating their differences. It’s not about radical change, either – it’s the small, personal considerations that are often most appreciated by customers. 



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