Health club utilization recently reached a record high of 71.5 million consumers, and the fitness industry is booming. Those consumers made more than 6 billion visits to health clubs in 2018!

But with nearly 40,000 fitness facilities in the U.S. alone, standing out in the overcrowded health industry is harder than ever before.

If you own a fitness business, getting people to find and choose you all comes down to marketing. And marketing starts with your personal brand.

So how do you start your own successful fitness brand?

6 Steps: How to Build a Fitness Brand

Want to inspire clients to get off their behinds and into your place of business? Let’s get started.

1. Identify your ideal client.

Most business owners have an idea of who you think your perfect client is. But several factors, including your physical location and the consumers near you, could impact this perfect client picture.

When it comes to fitness, most people want a gym or studio close to their work or home. So identify the consumer demographics of the area near your business using tools like the U.S. Census Bureau’s Census Explorer.

Think your target customer is a millennial meathead? You may actually find you should be marketing to 30-something stay-at-home moms (instead of single men in their 20s).

Once you determine which demographics would be most likely to frequent your business, you’re ready to start building your own fitness business brand. Pro tip: If you’re having trouble finding the right demographics information, pop into your local Small Business Development Center (SBDC). They usually have a team available that can do the market research for you — at no cost.

2. Check out the competition.

(…don’t actually “check out” the competition. They probably look and feel just as fit and healthy as you do!)

They say comparison is the root of all evil, but not when it comes to branding your fitness business. The second step in building your brand is to research your competition.

You need to know who they’re targeting, what services they offer, their pricing, and any other important differentiating factors.

Remember, in our digital age, it’s not just the yoga studio down the street or the only other martial arts gym in your neighborhood you’re competing with. Do a few online searches to see who you’re competing with online through popular websites like Google, Facebook and Yelp. Take a look at your competitors’ websites and business profile pages. What sort of content do they share? What are their reviews like? Ultimately, your online presence should be able to out-lift theirs (metaphorically speaking, of course).

3. Decide what makes you better, faster and stronger than the rest.

Once you know who your competitors are, think about how to differentiate yourself. Come up with at least 3 reasons why your ideal clients would want to choose you over your competition.

What makes your fitness business so special? Some ideas:
  • Do you offer onsite childcare?
  • What about nutrition guidance or body fat measurement and tracking?
  • Do you offer convenient class times?
  • Maybe you offer more flexible pricing, with tiered options or pay-as-you-go memberships?
  • Does your fitness studio cultivate a non-judgemental, empowering environment? (Perhaps you offer reduced class sizes or woman-only workout times.)
  • Do you have decades of experience helping people meet their fitness goals? Gather and share those testimonials!

Take a few moments to think about what makes you special, and write it down as simply and clearly as you can.

4. Show off your stuff with a solid mission.

After you’ve defined what makes you special, jot down your mission.

Many fitness professionals got into the industry after they made a profound change in their own lives, which made them want to help others achieve similar results. As a fitness business owner, you’re not just selling services, you’re selling possibilities — potential visions of your clients’ futures.

Write a clear mission statement you can easily communicate everywhere. Incorporate at least one of the differentiators you listed earlier and what your long-term goal is for your business. Pro tip: As much as possible, make your mission about how you help your clients, not about your business. Use words and phrases they’ll relate to, and try not to toot your own horn.

Creative mission statement examples:
  • Mama Bear Fit Cave crafts fitness programs to fit every mama bear’s busy schedule, so she can uplift baby bear for years to come.
  • Lift for Less, Inc. believes your fitness goals shouldn’t cost an arm and a leg. Achieve your ideal physique at the lowest cost available in Philadelphia.
  • Women Work Out LLC is just for women. We offer woman-only programs and classes so you can feel safe, confident, and strong in your skin.

5. Time to flex!

From uniforms to signage to online channels like your website and social pages, now’s the time to blast your brand messaging everywhere you can think to do so.

You documented your vision, mission and differentiators for a reason. This will help you easily communicate your brand to everyone who comes into contact with your business. Consistency is critical, so refer back to these every time you edit your website, post on social media, send an email, or create an ad.

6. Never skip leg day. (Embody your brand.)

Regardless of your messaging, your logo and your online presence, the best way to build your brand is always to deliver great service to your clients. The reputation you build with honesty, hard work and excellent service is worth more than any impressive Instagram post. This is the long-term strategy that will ensure your fitness business is around for years to come.