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The Big Box Fitness Center Gold Rush is On

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William Konstand, the president of TAG Digital Marketing, share the marketing efforts your big box fitness center should be focusing on.

Top operators of gyms and fitness brands are unique, and all do business in different ways.

One thing they do seem to agree on though — especially in the past six months — is the U.S. gym market is about to be overwhelmed as Americans flock back to fitness centers. Blue states that were locked down hard may experience more of a bounce back than red states where gyms were only closed a few months in early 2020. The most restricted states are now starting to explode with new business as more Americans get vaccinated and return to normal life.

Savings rates in bank accounts are up and there has never been another time when health is so important to the American consumer; in particular, those wellness concerns that big box fitness chains and independent clubs can help manage or alleviate — such as obesity, diabetes and heart disease.

At the same time, fitness studios that were once all the rage have been decimated, and many that are still in operation may soon disappear from the competitive landscape as well. 

Many are “zombie” studios, mostly insolvent and are being propped up by government programs like the Paycheck Protection Program — including some full-service gyms as well. Landlords also lack the ability or immediate desire to evict some “zombies” based on court system limitations or lack of other fitness operators ready to take such a space.

Today represents a historic but fleeting opportunity for big box gym owners to market share like never before.

Now is the best time to make sure your marketing is on point — not for what we have experienced over the past few years — but for the new reality in which we find ourselves, especially in fitness center marketing and promotion.

Here are the most current efforts your club should be focusing on:

  • Capturing win backs. Focus email and text campaigns on getting canceled or frozen members back to your clubs. Just because they worked out with you before, do not assume they are coming back without looking around.
  • Targeting former members of non-operating fitness studios who are accustomed to paying hundreds of dollars in fees. Also target big box club members who have had a club close.
  • Concentrating on “transactional” new member sources first, as they are the most effective and efficient. Google and search directories are the source of prospects you can target who are ready to join as evidenced by the words typed into a search, such as “ gyms near me.”
  • Forgetting about traditional media like direct mail or radio. Consumer lives have been forced online and that is likely a permanent shift.
  • Implementing online enrollment systems since salespeople represent direct, physical contact many are looking to avoid.
  • Targeting and attracting younger members. They are the last who will be alarmed by future health scares and can be members for much longer than those who are 45 to 65 years old.
  • Avoiding outdated advertising. If your advertising is hyper-focused on the fact you are sanitizing your gym regularly, you are about six to eight months behind what consumers are interested in at this moment.
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William Konstand

William Konstand is the president of TAG Digital Marketing. For more information, visit tagdigitalmarketing.com. 

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