The fitness industry has seen tremendous growth in recent years, with more people becoming increasingly health-conscious. However, starting and growing a successful fitness business is still a challenging endeavor.
According to IBISWorld, the gym, health, and fitness club industry was worth $30.6 billion in 2022. However, this has seen a significant decline in the last year. Furthermore, the data also states that around 81 percent of fitness centers fail within the first year, according to IHRSA. This high failure rate can easily be attributed to factors like high overhead costsand changing consumer preferences.
So, what can fitness businesses do to thrivein the industry today? Getting creative and using smart ways can help. Here are 7 pro tips to help grow your fitness business:
Table of Contents
1. Define Your Niche
Rather than being a jack of all trades, focus on mastering one. Identify a specific demographic or fitness niche and cater directly to their needs. This could be boutique yoga for young professionals, Pilates for new moms, high-intensity interval training (HIIT) bootcamps for athletes, or senior fitness programs.
Niching allows you to become a specialist rather than a generalist. You can tailor your facility, equipment, classes, schedule, marketing, etc., directly to your target members. This results in higher relevance, value, and satisfaction. For instance, if you focus on prenatal yoga, you can create packages for expecting mothers, offer relevant workshops, and decorate your space accordingly.
In 2021,boutique fitness studios madearound$49.30 billion in the industry, according to Azoth Analytics. Consumers are drawn to the specialized offerings and sense of community at smaller, niche gyms. Take advantage of this trend by identifying an underserved segment and becoming the go-to fitness provider for their needs.
2. Offer Online Workouts
While video and online workouts were there before 2020, the pandemic has accelerated the demand for online workouts, making it a popular option even now. In fact, industry leaders like Loud Rumor have shown how effective online strategies can be in both marketing and delivering fitness services. Take advantage of this situation and offer virtual classes to complement your in-person services – these classes provide flexibility for busy members or those hesitant to visit gyms. It is also advantageous for you as it helps to reduce electricity consumption and lowers the power usage of machines.
For admissions, allow online bookings and payments for your virtual sessions. Then, you can use platforms like Zoom or Skype to pre-record workout videos or live stream classesonline classes led by your expert trainers. Implementing a marketing strategy through these digital platforms is also a good idea to attract remote members and offer separately tailored services.
3. Focus On Customer Experience
Creating a welcoming, motivating, and community-oriented environment is crucial for customer retention and referrals. Hire warm, charismatic staff and train them to forge personal connections with members and learn their individual needs. Make new members feel comfortable through introductions and onboarding.
Offer stellar customer service – be responsive to queries and feedback. Pay attention to the ambiance through music, lighting, cleanliness, layout, and visual elements like quotes or photos. Have amenities like towels, refreshments, showers, and lockers. Host member events like workout challenges, goal-setting workshops, or celebrations for a sense of community.
Many former gym members quit because of poor customer experience. So, don’t just focus on sales – make members feel valued and heard. This will also keep them motivated. A personalized and supportive environment fosters loyalty and word-of-mouth referrals.
4. Leverage Partnerships
Pursue partnerships with complementary businesses to expand your reach and access new markets. For instance, partner with corporations to offer discounted gym memberships or custom fitness programs as an employee benefit. Collaborate with a physical therapy clinic for injury rehabilitation referrals. Provide discounted packages to guests at nearby hotels.
Set up cross-promotions with fitness influencers or local sports teams – co-create branded programs leveraging their star power. Pursue sponsorship opportunities with fitness brands for added exposure. Strategic partnerships provide win-win opportunities to grow your business.
5. Offer Flexible Memberships
The era of rigid, long-term contracts is over. Today’s consumers want flexibility and affordability. Offer monthly memberships with different tiers – basic, premium, family rates, student/senior discounts, etc. This caters to different budgets.
Have class packages for casual users who don’t want full memberships. Offer corporate rates for employee wellness programs. Provide online-only memberships with access to your virtual classes for remote users.
A majority of members now prefer no long-term contract. They want the freedom to downgrade, upgrade, or cancel based on their changing needs.
Cater to this demand for flexibility through varied membership options. Allow easy switching between tiers and freezing accounts rather than cancellations. Offer guest passes and trial periods to experience your gym.
The more flexible you are, the greater the likelihood of retaining members and earning referrals. Show that you care about meeting their fitness needs rather than locking them into rigid contracts.
6. Invest In Marketing
Marketing is vital for customer acquisition and retention. Dedicate a sufficient budget for online and offline marketing:
- Online – SEO, social media, email, PPC ads, retargeting
- Offline – Flyers, brochures, billboards, newspaper ads
Leverage referral programs and word-of-mouth through loyal members. Promote limited-time offers like free trials or discounts to attract new members. Capture leads via your website by offering free content. Marketing brings in new customers while retaining existing ones.
7. Analyze Metrics
Leverage data to optimize your fitness business. Track key performance indicators (KPIs) like membership counts, retention rates, class participation, revenue, cost per acquisition, customer feedback, marketing ROI, etc.
Study the metrics to identify issues, trends, and opportunities. For instance, low participation in certain classes indicates unpopular schedules or formats. High attrition rates point to dissatisfaction. High-performing marketing channels justify greater investment.
Today, many fitness operators use analytics to drive strategy. This sheds light on what’s working well and what needs improvement.
The Final Word
The fitness industry’s growth presents lucrative opportunities but also intense competition. Growing a thriving fitness business today requires creativity and strategic thinking. Businesses that can adapt to emerging trends and consumer needs will be well-poised to capture market share. If you approach your fitness business with sound strategies, passion, and perseverance, you can build a brand that customers love and trust.