Traditional fitness clubs focus on the super-fit, which guarantees that you’re going to bump into the largest, most price-competitive fitness clubs around. We all know that competing with the 600- pound gorilla (remember the old joke?) is a no-win proposition.
Instead, focus on marketing and selling to the I00M+ adults who have never belonged to a health club.
This segment offers terrific growth opportunities. Most of these adults are inactive, though. Exercise intimidates them. They associate it with sweat and discomfort. Many have tried to improve their fitness before and failed. So you’ll have to think differently to win them over. To help attract inactive consumers, focus on “physical activity”, which they see as easy, fun, and part of daily life. Shift your focus away from “exercise”, which they see as sweaty and uncomfortable.
Look At Your Community
Identify the key inactive groups in your community. Is it an older community with empty-nesters and seniors? Perhaps it’s mostly families with small children. You may be near a cluster of hospitals and medical offices. Each group offers opportunity. Your job is to determine which best fits your interests and capabilities.
Think About Each Group’s Needs
Each group has different needs and offers different business opportunities. Make a list of services and activities best suited to each group.
For example: communities with lots of children might respond to a family-wellness theme. You could offer classes for pre-school, elementary and junior-high kids. Consider yoga for younger kids and strength and aerobic activities for older kids. Blend entertainment into the mix. Climbing walls and batting cages are great examples of non-traditional options. Teaching parents about keeping their kids active will attract interest. And hands-on how-to classes on preparing quick and healthy kid-friendly snacks will appeal to parents and kids alike.
If you’re located near health-related facilities, consider focusing on post-rehab clients and those with exercise prescriptions from their doctors. Build relationships with medical professionals to get referrals. Your staff will need the right skills and experience to safely and effectively work with this group. Novice aerobics instructors won’t cut it!
Compare What You Offer To What They Want
Compare your current products and services to this list. Identify the services you’ll need to add. You may be able to eliminate some existing services that are less important to your target customer. Prioritize the new services that appeal most to your target customers. You will have to implement these to make your new strategy successful.
Look at your facility from your target customer’s perspective. Privacy is especially important to the inactive. Perhaps you need to add doors in your locker rooms. Separate entrances to different club areas may be appropriate—say, to the 30- minute circuit facility. Select music with your target customer in mind. These details help keep your new customers.
Develop An Implementation Plan
Develop a marketing plan to win these target customers. Decide how you will reach them and at what cost. Estimate the cost of equipment, facility, and staff changes and identify funding sources. Assign specific tasks and due dates to your staff. Follow up until all items are completed.
Build Your Business On Wellness
Avoid confronting the 600-pound gorillas catering to the super-fit by understanding the unique opportunities in your community. Build your business on long-term relationships with people motivated by a broader view of fitness.