The question that should be on every Fitness Club and Gym Owner’s mind, providing they aren’t already at full capacity.

How can I grow the membership numbers for my Gym or Fitness Club?

Well, we here at Ashbourne have put together some ideas and strategies to help bolster your Gym or Fitness Club’s membership numbers.

These ideas have been cultivated by members of our team with real, practical experience in running Gyms and Fitness Clubs. Each of these methods has been implemented in an actual club environment and seen results.


Stage 1: Marketing 

To the uninitiated or the uninterested, marketing (and especially digital marketing) can sound like a quagmire not worth wading into. However, with only a few simple concepts, you access and dominate this powerful front to really expand your membership base for your Gym or Fitness Club

  • Understand your target demographics/market.
  • Discover what that target audience wants/needs in a Gym or a Fitness Club
  • Understand if your Gym or Fitness Club can sate these needs? If not, can you easily adapt to do so. If so, fantastic!
  • Once you’ve got these customers, how are you keeping them? You have a captive audience, what message are you going to broadcast to them.


So as you can tell from those four points, marketing is about knowing your target audience, what they want to hear and having the product/services to give them what they want. 

Marketing will be essential for most businesses to stay afloat. Unless you are counting on an incredibly strong word of mouth spread from the members of your Gym or Fitness Club, you will need to help your message spread.

This isn’t a day of effort, marketing will be something that needs to be set up for every week, every month, every year. 


Understand how to market your Gym or Fitness Club inside and outside of your existing membership

  1. Send out regular mailpieces

A mailpiece is an e-mail, a letter, or a leaflet that will serve as a push or a reminder about the services that your Gym or Fitness Club offers. A successful mail piece will.

a. Identify a need of your target audience

b. Show how your Gym or Fitness Club can fulfill that need.

  • Branding is important throughout your business. This includes any mail pieces, you will need your logo and other distinctive branding elements on it so your existing and prospective customers know who it has come from. 
  • Ensure that the service/product your offering is one you can provide, and is enticing enough to retain or attract members. 
  • Your mail piece should tell them what to do next. This is typically called a Call To Action. Tell them to email you, subscribe to your social media, or sign up using a voucher. 
  • Scarcity and FOMO (fear of missing out) are tried and tested tactics. Make your deal seem scarce, add a time limit, a limited amount of spaces. This will make sure that your prospective customers don’t file it away as something to do later.


  1. Focus on the strengths of your fitness club or gym, what makes it different?

Perhaps the most basic and salient point in the list. Work out what makes your Gym or Fitness Club different and don’t stop talking about it. This is your USP, Unique Selling Point. 

You might have the largest Ladies-Only section in town, the biggest set of free-weights in the city, or you might just be the biggest gym in the metropolitan area. Whatever it is, make sure everyone knows about it.


  1. Charity Work and Fundraising Events hosted by your Gym or Fitness Club

Whether it is a simple foot race, like the Movember Run or the Race for Life, or something more unorthodox like a Liftathon, a community fundraising event can really boost morale, engagement, and interest in your club.

All while raising money for important, life saving charities.

Alternatively, you can sponsor a team into existing events. Branded t-shirts, branded sweat-bands, a big team picture, a shared fancy dress.

Attract the Olympians who want to win and the fun-lovers who just want to raise money for charity all at once.

Cultivate your calendar and you will always have something to show off on social media, all while doing genuinely good work for your country or community. 


  1. Spread the word on the High Street

We’ve been doing this one since ancient Rome, that is just how good it is! Get out there and just bloody talk to the people. Don’t just hand them a leaflet (though that can also work). Get your most passionate staff, the people who really speak the language of the gym-goers, and get them talking.

If you have particularly dedicated members of your gym, ask them if they’d like to get involved. That way your prospective members can hear about your club from your real members. 


  1. Talk to local shop owners and understand if you can establish an advertising relationship between them and your Gym or Fitness Club

While you are out on the high street getting some fresh air, pop into your local shops. Now is the time to cultivate some beneficial relationships. A sports shop? A shoe shop? A clothing store? Anywhere you can imagine the average gym-goer going.

Ask these places to hold your leaflets and offer to take their propaganda back to your gym or fitness club. A classic ‘you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours’. Who knows, maybe you’ll even make some firm allies in the area.


  1. Visit your local Weight Watchers meetings or set up a slimming club of your own within your Gym or Fitness Club

What better place to find people who might be in need of your services than a Weight Watchers or other branded slimming clubs. 

These are people who are looking to get in shape and you have just the service to offer them. 

Failing to find any decent slimming clubs in your area? Then you might’ve just discovered a niche, do the necessary research to set up your own and you’ll be providing yet another service to draw members to your gym or fitness club. 


  1. Get Charities and Stores to advertise your services and sell your vouchers

Similar to the previous advice, allow your charity and store links that we have discussed cultivating in the last few points to sell your free trial memberships.

This will allow prospective members to naturalistically and effortlessly set up a membership using your casual or more formalised business partners. 


  1. Welcome to the neighbourhood

Extend your hand to local estate agents and understand who has moved into the area. With their permission, this will enable you to send a welcome letter specifically for new arrivals. Offer them a 30-day free trial or a package crafted to their arrival.

These are a target audience who are unlikely to have a pre-existing gym or fitness club membership in your area.


  1. Formalise your partnership with local businesses

To list all the ways you can partner up with local businesses would be its own extensive list, so here are just a few ideas:

  • Informed endorsement mailing lists: Ask your partnered businesses for their mailing list (providing their mailing list has the appropriate consent to pass on the contacts to partnered businesses). It is important that the partnered business in question is at least partially relevant to Fitness. Your local hairdresser’s mailing list might not garner as many potential Gym members as say, the local Sports Shop. 
  • A place on your Newsletter:Produce a Newsletter and offer your partnered businesses a space, either as an advert or an interest piece in one of the sections of the newsletter itself.
  • Advertise yourself to local businesses and offer a specialised corporate rate. If you have offices of sedentary office workers in your area, these can be perfect targets for potential gym members, as they will not be getting exercise in their daily profession.

    This can offer a large pool of potential members and word of mouth can quickly spread around an office. 


  1. Utilise Restaurants and specifically, Restaurant Menus

As well as a great place to leave your leaflets and associated advertising. Your collaboration with a local restaurant can go one further.

Ask them to put your gym on the back of the menu, or better yet, get them to sponsor the healthy eating section. The people looking at this section are the type of people who will be interested in a fitness club or gym, so it is a no-brainer. 

Furthermore you can capitalise on FOMO by putting a limited time off on the receipt at the restaurant. Offer an additional 30 days free membership or a similar discount and then they will have a voucher in their possession. A powerful incentive to try out your Gym or Fitness Club. 


  1. Understand the opportunities in your local area/community

Whether it is a community message board, a community forum, a local seminar or a fair. Understand the opportunities in your area. Maybe this is something you or your staff are integrated into naturally through your place in the community.

Be sure to view any event as an opportunity to make your Gym or Fitness Club a pillar of the community. 


  1. £5 Note Promotion

Generate a list of all members who have referred a friend over the past year – these are your referral champions. Go to the bank and get a supply of £5 notes and mail one to each of them. Tell them they will receive 10 more of these for each friend they refer during a particular month, with no earning limit. Maybe your headline on the letter is a big bold “May I send you 10 more of these?”

Enclose 5 postage-paid postcards with their picture on and write your member a letter explaining to them that it is an ethical bribe to get them to put the address of 5 friends or co-workers they feel would be interested in getting in better shape, writing a quick note, and dropping

the postcards in the mail. Since this is a bit more expensive, I would send only to those who have referred members in the past and to the members who spend more with you i.e. personal training clients, boot camp participants etc.

This is a customised, personalised letter sent out along with a customised gift card (with X amount of value) affixed to the letter with a glue dot. This has incredibly high perceived value. You will be targeting your marketing efforts to people who currently spend money with you or who have spent money with you in the past.

Reaction stands for the 4 “Re’s”: Renewal, Referral, Retention, Rejoin.

When you send this to existing members, they can use the gift card (let’s say the amount printed on it is £50) toward early renewal, toward personal training (retention) or if they have no interest in either of those, they can give the card to a friend. Similarly, when you send to your expired members, the £50 can be used toward “re-enrolment” and their first month dues. In the letter you get to specify what they can use the gift card for. People will throw away coupons every day, but it’s tough to throw away a credit card style gift card because of the perceived value of it. Think about it, if you already spend money with a company and they send you a £50 gift card, you’re going to want to use it.


  1. Digitise your Referral Programme

As well as the above method, you can bring your referral programme online. If your Gym or Fitness Club has an existing online portal or account system, you can incorporate the referral bonuses directly into your online presence.

This can take the form of a link that they can send their friends for online sign-up, which in turn will allow you to quickly understand who is spreading the good word about your club


  1. Inspiring Stories: Shout about the Paragons of your Club

A classic, and for good reason.

Take a member of your club who has undergone a real transformation and ask them if they’d be comfortable with their story being shared.

If so, obtain pictures of what they looked like before and now, and ask them to write out their story. If they aren’t comfortable doing so, then either write it out yourself or ask someone else to do so.

Then you can incorporate this into a physical mail piece or push it as part of your social media campaign.

An inspiring story put onto Instagram, Facebook and Twitter can make all the difference to a Fitness Club or Gym as such things can go viral in your area, greatly increasing exposure and prestige for your business.


  1. Offer Health Checks to Businesses in the Local Area

Offer to visit businesses local to your area and perform health checks on their staff. This can include a complete BMI tests and blood pressure exams. You could also use your Fitness Club or Gym staff to hold lectures explaining the benefits of exercise and how your Gym or Fitness Club can specifically help them.

Top this all off by offering a free period of membership! 


  1. Outside Lessons and Activities 

When the weather starts behaving, take your classes outside!

With a bit of planning and the consent of your class attendees, an outdoor class can really put your club in the mind of the locals.

If you really want to go all in, hand out branded club t-shirts beforehand and then watch as people stop and watch your uniformed army of club representatives. 


  1. Contact your Local Paper as part of your Fitness Club or Gym’s continued role in the Community

Offer to use your collective expertise to write articles in the local Newspaper.

Keep it classy though, your articles shouldn’t be thinly veiled advertising but actually insightful commentary on fitness in your local area.

With that being said, of course ensure that the article cites the person who has written the article and their affiliation with your Fitness Club or Gym, just to make sure the message gets across for those really paying attention.


  1. Advertise your Gym or Fitness Club on your Local Radio

Video might have killed the Radio Star, but local radio still has a prominent place to play in the advertising of your Fitness Club or Gym.

An ad personalised to your area or community will really help you stand out above other, more soulless gyms.



  1. Sponsor Local Sports Teams

For a personal touch, sponsor a local team in your area. This will help feed into other strategies we have previously mentioned, such as charity events.

Obviously the size of the team you can sponsor will depend on the size of your Gym or Fitness Club, but even sponsoring a small but beloved local team, or a youth team, is better than nothing and a vital step to making your business feel like part of the community.


  1. Get people hooked on your Club

Getting a member through the door is much harder than keeping them there.

This is where the Free Membership offers we have been talking about come into their own.

Once someone is in the doors and in your systems, they are much more likely to gravitate back to your Gym or Fitness Club. Especially if it has left a positive impression.

Again, this isn’t re-inventing the wheel, but it is important to state nonetheless. Utilise Guest Passes and other offers to break down the barriers between prospective customers and your Gym or Fitness Club.


And if you thought 20 ideas to get you started on attracting more members to your club was enough, then you’ll be delighted to hear that it really is just the start. Our team have collated an astounding 100 tried and tested strategies for you to experiment with. You can find all 100 ways to attract more members in bitesize chunks in our blog posts, or in our completely free downloadable PDF.


So what are you waiting for? Get started today!


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