Appealing to and attracting new prospects is a constant challenge for gym operators and owners. There are so many marketing avenues to go down, so many strategic targets to pursue. Where should you focus your efforts? 

You could focus on different demographics, and target your marketing to appeal to specific age groups.

Or you could focus on the three areas that every single member wants the gym to prioritise – regardless of age. The three elements of every fitness offer that are most important to members and prospects. 

Priority #3 – Price Competitiveness 

The third most popular area members want gyms to prioritise is price competitiveness. Price has always been a key factor for any prospect considering a new membership, and the pandemic and the current economic climate has only enhanced the importance of value. 

Disposable income is declining and prospects need to think very carefully about where they spend their money. But health, fitness and wellbeing are extremely important to them, and they want to invest in gym memberships – if they deliver the competitive value they expect. 

During lockdown, members have tried a variety of different fitness offers – many of which were online, on-demand and cheaper, or even free. Many members have adjusted their perceptions on price and value. 

While they don’t want to change or give up their memberships, they recognise that gyms need to be more competitive on price and deliver more value. 

So How Can Gyms Take Advantage Of This Priority? 

  1. Your gym needs to display the true value it offers to members. You need to make sure your marketing – to both prospects and existing members – showcases all your facilities, big and small. 
  2. You could explore ways to increase value, by repurposing unused space and creating new workout areas, installing new equipment or adding new classes to your timetable. 
  3. Offering more flexible payment options, such as more pay monthly options rather than tying members into long-term contracts, delivers more value. Members recognise the benefits of being able to cancel month by month, and are actually more likely to remain a member.
  4. Focus on creating a more valuable experience for members. This isn’t just about new features and facilities, but streamlining processes, making life easier and building a community that your members love to be a part of. 

Priority #2 – Hygiene

The second area that members want gyms to prioritise is hygiene. Also unsurprising given the events of the last two years. 

25% of members ranked hygiene in top two priorities, and when prompted further, 78% said that hygiene and cleanliness is the most important responsibility of gyms in the future. 

Given the pandemic, gyms have taken big steps in addressing this priority, but it could be easy to forget just how important it remains. Despite the lifting of all restrictions, hygiene is still an extremely important priority for all members.  

It’s front and centre in their minds, so it should be front and centre for gym owners, operators and your entire team. 

So How Can Gyms Take Advantage Of This Priority? 

  1. Highlight your enhanced cleaning protocols. Many of the procedures you’ve put in place to maintain extremely high hygiene standards might be invisible to your members and prospects. Make sure they know exactly what you’re doing to keep them safe.
  2. If you’ve implemented a touchless entry system, linked to your gym management software, shout about it. With hygiene such a priority, this is a big USP for your marketing materials. 
  3. Draw attention to the new facilities, new cleaning tools and new efforts you’ve implemented in and around the gym, and make your team highlight them when they’re conducting any tours and showarounds. They will help you attract the interest of more prospects, when they see how seriously you take cleanliness and hygiene. 

Priority #1 – Proximity To Home 

The number 1 priority for members (and prospects) is having a gym that’s close to home. Unsurprisingly, of those we interviewed as part of in-depth research into member attitudes and expectations, 28%* ranked proximity to home in their top 2 priorities. 

We want to train close to home. No-one wants to be travelling long distances to a gym to workout, unless it has very specific facilities we need. 

Proximity has always been important for the older generation of members (those 55+), who understandably want to stay local and may rely on public transport. But the pandemic has made proximity a bigger priority for other generations. 

Many now work from home. Fewer commute, fewer work in city centres, so they want a gym close to home rather than one close to work. Of those aged 35 or under who cancelled their membership in the last 2 years, 22% said it was due to location.

So How Can Gyms Take Advantage Of This Priority? 

  1. Focus on understanding your local area and the demographics within it, using membership data to target your marketing appropriately. 
  2. Show off your location with offline marketing – like flyers – that highlight exactly where you are and how easy it is for anyone in your local area to get to you.
  3. Use online marketing to target very specific local areas, and make sure you have a fully optimised Google My Business page to take advantage of local search results.
  4. Leverage your existing members to spread the word, and don’t underestimate the power of referrals and recommendations. If you create standout experiences in your gym, engage your members and develop a strong community hub, you’ll become a sought after local destination. 
  5. Explore other locations. With the demographic shift away from city centre gyms, this might present an opportunity to expand into new suburban and residential areas.

More Priorities, More Opportunities 

Of course these are just the top three areas that members want their gyms to prioritise. There are many more. 

There are more areas to focus on, and more opportunities for your gym to deliver what your members (and prospects) are looking for. 

The key is understanding those wants and needs.

*Research taken from an online survey of 1,065 respondents during December 2021, conducted by Untangld on behalf of Xplor Gym’s parent company, Xplor Technologies.

Article by Xplor Gym

First published: 23 May 2022

Last updated: 09 February 2024