Fitness Tanning – The Selling of "Looking Good"

The fitness business is based on the simple premise that exercise contributes to looking good, feeling good and being healthy. While we don’t want to believe that looks are only skin deep, we know that we live in a visual, youth-driven society where looks do matter, and people want to look as good as possible. Studies show that self-esteem is linked to body image. Body image is what drives folks to your club; so why not add other services which cater to customers who want to look their best? Why not add tanning to your mix?

Let’s take a minute to discuss some very powerful psychology…The very psychology that makes your fitness center succeed. It is not natural for people who are already very busy to take the time and put in the effort two to three times a week to exercise, perspire and push their physical limits. People workout because they are wired to seek confidence and self-satisfaction, and they want to boost their self-esteem. Several recent studies (including one by Dr. Josee L. Jarry) have found evidence that people seek to look better as a defensive response to assaults on selfesteem. An assault on self-esteem can be as innocent as a glance at an image of someone who you think looks better than you. With the media constantly showing images of models and actors so attractive that most people can never look that good, it’s no wonder that people are heading to tanning salons, weightloss centers, cosmetic surgeons and fitness centers in record numbers!

Most people who walk into your fitness center are looking for something far more important than a workout. They are looking to build their self-esteem. If you can make your members’ experience more positive, powerful and tangible, you can become their partner in boosting their feelings of self-worth and success in life. Of the addon services your club can offer, only tanning has instant, dramatic and lasting effects on your customers’ appearance. After a single session, most tanners see a remarkable difference in themselves, and they are fulfilling the need for self-esteem that drove them to your door in the first place.

The Bottom Line
A healthy, golden tan is often equated with being fit and healthy. More than likely, your members are tanners, and they are now going to another facility to tan. They are spending their money on tanning sessions and lotions that could be revenue for your bottom line – if your club added tanning. Fitness facilities that provide added services are becoming the norm in the marketplace, and adding tanning can be very profitable. Most fitness centers report above $25,000 in annual revenue for each tanning unit installed. Supporting products, like tanning lotions and after-tan moisturizers, can also add to your tanning revenue. Fitness centers with tanning report an average of $28,000 to $31,000 in profit per tanning unit from their tanning products.

If you are worried about space, tanning equipment is compact and can easily be placed in unused floor space (floor space on which you pay rent, but it is not bringing you revenue). Shopping centers have known this formula for years – every square inch of a shopping center is rentable, and every area equates to money coming in. This includes the common area (kiosks), roof (air vents and satellite dishes), wall space and trash cans (advertising) – even the strollers have rentable space on the sides of them. Be smart about your club’s space and think of every inch of it as possible income.

Tanning and tanning products can actually add thousands of dollars in revenue in place of an empty space. (Of course, while all this is good business and smart thinking, you are also providing added service that your customers want.) Tanning is also an especially good fit for the fitness business because tanning requires maintenance. Fitness centers are uniquely positioned to make maintaining a great tan convenient for their tanners. It’s convenient to step into a vertical tanning booth or to spend 15 minutes in a tanning bed after working out. Tanners no longer have to spend an hour at the gym and 30 minutes at the tanning salon to feel good about themselves. Giving your members a convenient way to look better and stay that way from day one, vaults your fitness center from being a generic health club to being a true part of your members’ lives.

If you are looking for a way to maximize your facility; gain more income, and please customers, take advantage of your customers’ desire to look good and feel great by adding a tanning program to your facility. Especially during the dreary winter months, when members are visiting your facility more often, the addition of tanning will boost their feelings of well-being, bring a little sunshine into long, dark winter days, and increase your dollars-per-customer. Your members will welcome the opportunity to save time and go to a one-stop-shop fitness facility to feel and look their best. As you evaluate what to add to your fitness center, focus on why your customers use your facility and add services that deliver the body image your customers are seeking. Add tanning. It works for your customers and it will work for your bottom line.

Marny Reed is the Director of Marketing & Product Development for ETS Tan. She can be contacted at 800.668.5193, or by email at, or visit

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