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Recap: Paradigm Shift — Marketing Well-Being Versus Fitness


On June 23, Club Solutions Magazine presented the sixth installment of a monthly virtual roundtable series on thought leadership, surrounding the paradigm shift of marketing well-being rather than just fitness.

Panelists included Kris Mulkey, the CMO of In-Shape Health Clubs; JoAnna Masloski, the COO of Wellbridge; Eddie Davila, the owner of Urban Fitness; Edward Keith Navan, the co-founder and CSO of REGYMEN Fitness and The Covery; and Mary Edwards, the fitness director and a professional fitness trainer at Cooper Fitness Center. The discussion was led and moderated by Rachel Zabonick-Chonko, the editor-in-chief of Club Solutions Magazine. Sponsored by Club OS.

The following is a summary of top takeaways from the discussion, centered on member re-engagement and retention.

What is well-being?

• Variety of aspects besides just fitness and nutrition.
• Stress, financials, mental health, etc.
• Quality of life.
• Unique to each individual.
• Movement is medicine.
• Rest is vital.
• Attacking the stress in front of you right now.
• Building community to help members with mental health.
• Make sure your government and community know the importance of physical fitness and its impact on mental health.

What is driving this shift?

• This shift was not caused, but rather forced.
• Recognize there’s more than just movement.
• Clubs are having an impact on our members’ physical and mental health.
• You can get lost in statistics if not careful.
• Wellness is more important now than ever.
• Mental health market has surpassed the spa market in last year.
• 55% of Americans say they feel stressed every day.
• 25% of essential works have been diagnosed with mental health issues coming out of the pandemic.
• Are we marketing vanity or are we marketing vitality?
• It’s not about how members look, but rather how they function.
• Don’t shame people for trying to look better, but teach them the full benefits.
• Offer a place where people can always make progress and feel accomplishment.


  • Change your marketing to embrace everyone.
  • There is a fine line between encouraging and intimidating. Only use pictures of your actual members.
  • Emphasize community.
  • Become a resource for members to lean on. Share on social media statistics and information.
  • Create events to get members of all ages moving.
  • Consider new buzz words. Examples: movement, play, positivity and community.
  • Add more storytelling in your marketing.
  • We tell people what we do, rather than what we can do for them.
  • Member’s stories are more relatable and attractive.
  • We can’t educate anyone until they are bought in to what we do.
  • Change your wording.
  • Tell your members to be a kid on the fitness floor.
  • “Take care of yourself, it’s OK.”
  • If you feel better, you’re going to be more productive.
  • It’s okay for self-care. Fitness isn’t a luxury, but a need.
  • Offer the buddy system to lower the barrier.
  • Give your members empowerment.
  • Reduce the intimidation of coming inside the gym and to being active outside of the gym.
  • How can you support members being active outside of the club?
  • Market in your local parks.
  • Partner with local businesses.


  • Use a technology platform to get this message out: Three Sages Wellness.
  • Cardiovascular programs.
  • Immunity programs – helping people maximize conditioning post-COVID.
  • Outdoor yoga.
  • Members are great at burning calories, but not coming down after workouts. Encourage recovery.
  • Track your member’s movement, body composition, well-being, cardio health and blood work.
  • People started moving during the pandemic, but didn’t make a lot of progression. Create programs to help them get to the next level.
  • Build member’s confidence. 30-minute workouts. Help members better understand the importance of functional movement. Members go at their own pace.

Reaching the 80%

  • Intimidation is a major fear keeping potential members away.
  • Give them a different reason to come in besides just working out.
  • Preach the benefits of exercise can have on mental health.
  • Get them involved in a group.
  • Create a program that is a set time. Example: 6-week program. More likely to join when there is an end in sight, but will likely stay long after.
  • Make sure you are properly portraying your gym and pushing well-being.
  • Look objectively at how you are telling your story.
  • Be OK with having a little bit of fun.
  • Don’t take yourself so seriously as a gym. Humor gets people through the door.
  • Everyone knows Planet Fitness’ “No Judgement Zone” slogan.
  • Use gym stereotypes to your advantage by having fun with them.
  • Portray fun and community in your marketing.
  • Don’t be afraid to be authentic. Gym owners are human too. You have similar struggles as your members.

Final Thoughts

  • Listen to your members and staff.
  • You learn so much by just being in the club.
  • Spread the word in your community.
  • Consider new hires that can focus solely on well-being.
  • Don’t forget to check-in with your members and staff.
  • Don’t lose sight of human interaction.
  • Do not stay in your lane.
  • If you’re going to go into something, don’t dip your toe into it. Research it. If you can’t go 100% in partner with someone who can deliver it for you.

Love learning new insights from other owners and operators in this format? If so, consider joining a Club Solutions Mastermind Group. We offer four different types of peer-to-peer groups for every level of health club management. Email Bob Surface at bob@peakemedia.com for additional details while spots last.

Access the on-demand version of this webinar.

Access the audio-only version of this webinar.

Taylor Brown

Taylor Brown is the assistant editor for Club Solutions Magazine. She can be reached at taylor@peakemedia.com

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