In the fiercely competitive landscape of the fitness industry, gym owners find themselves navigating a labyrinth of marketing challenges. Striking the delicate balance between attracting clientele and preserving the integrity of their brand poses a formidable task. Surprisingly, this crucial topic often remains the silent elephant in the room, overlooked amidst the hustle and bustle of gym operations.

Sad Statistics About Gyms

More than half of people that take a subscription to the gym stop going to the gymduring their membership for numerous reasons and one of them is explained in the following.

When business and accounting principles have different views of the world than exercise science & training principles…

The Business & Accounting Side of the Story

On one hand, business principles will usually encourage gym owners to have as much leverage as possible on their (and their staff’s)  resources (times, energy and money). Because of this, semi-private training (small groups) or group training is often the way to go. Obviously, this group setup is great because when there are more people training, the price is less expensive per participant and the training session is usually more profitable for the gym this way.

The Exercise Science & Training Principles Side of the Story

On the other hand, gym owners and trainers want their clients to have the best results and they want their brand to be perceived as very professional. For this, they want to be as effective as they can be and in fitness (or any other human field), this often happens through the principle of individuality. 

This principle states that each individual has different needs in regards to:

  • Personal, professional and family context (and stress related to this context)
  • Psychology and goals
  • Sports and training experience
  • Orthopaedic condition (recent or old injuries)
  • Metabolic condition (this is can lead to a lot of aspects to analyse)

The Dilemma or the Choice to Make Depending of the Gym’s Values and Culture

On one end, bigger gyms with big overheads will usually push for a lot of memberships with group classes or group training because they need a lot of leverage on their ressources. Private or semi-private training will also be sold (why not?) but it won’t necessarily be their bread and butter.

On the other hand, smaller gyms with smaller overheads will usually tend to push more private and semi-private training to their prospects with 3 main promises:

  • This environment will be yours (it won’t be crowded and you will never wait)
  • This training will be adapted to YOUR condition and YOUR goals
  • Your progress will be much better and faster!

The businesses that tend to put more emphasis on this side are often “purist” gym owners and trainers that come from a sports performance background or that have a specialisation in fields like:

  • Kinesiology
  • Human psychology
  • Manual therapy 
  • Nutrition and metabolic health

The Cross training example of this gym marketing challenge

Before giving this example, it’s fair to assume that it also happens after the Olympic Games with sports clubs but it usually happens with young kids so it’s very different.

Most gym owners will agree that when the Crossfit Games are broadcasted (or even not live but later on Netflix), a lot of people get motivated and want to subscribe to cross training classes or to a Crossfit club and this situation puts gyms in a conscious or unconscious dilemma.

A lot of the people that watch the Crossfit Games are impressed by their performance but also by the physiques of the athletes. So they get motivated and they go to their local gym to start cross training or their local Crossfit club to do Crossfit (yeah, it’s trademarked so the distinction is important).

What’s the marketing vs exercise science dilemma with that?

When the people come to cross training class, they all have a different point of start in terms of conditioning. This is normal, they are all different individuals. Because they are put in a group class set-up where perhaps they are divided in different categories like: beginner, intermediate and advanced, everything might be ok or will it?

Knowing the general level of adult conditioning each individual person probably has a very specific condition that might help or hinder their cross training abilities. How will the trainer or gym owner deal with this reality? This is an important question when we think of the invisible (or unconscious, or conscious but not really spoken) context.

The expectations of the gym clients

This context is that the gym’s client boost that follows watching the Crossfit games is a direct derivative of the attendance of the show. This means that the clients have some expectations (to do things that look like what they’ve seen on TV) and the trainers and gym owners have to deal with them.

A marketing premise that can help or hurt your gym

What if they can’t do what they’ve seen on TV because they don’t have the prerequisite to do so? In this context, the marketing premise is: “give people what they want” as opposed to what they need. The rhetoric behind this is that humans make decisions based on their emotions and then they rationalise it.

While this is true, as gym owners and trainers, you also know that the marketing premise “give people what they want instead of what they need” is the complete opposite of coaching where you help people to improve by giving them what they need.

How to deal with those two very different realities?

The answer is easy to state and to understand however it’s a greater challenge to implement it. To bridge the gap between what people want and what people need, you need to educate them to redefine their standards and their expectations so that what they will want is what they will need.

Of course, to educate your clients like this, you need to have a great relationship with them and you need to communicate with them on an individual level beyond what is possible during the group class setup. Do you have the time to do so? My guess is that the answer is no.

Damn, then what’s next about this challenge for my gym?

If you fail to do so, expectations won’t be met and then deception will follow which might lead to churn and bad reviews while you are trying to build a physical progression to reach certain physical prerequisites to eventually do what was seen on TV…

What if we could help you out with this situation and this solution? It turns out that we can! Contact us today by filling out this form.