3 Effective Ways to Compete with Smaller Gyms

by | Apr 15, 2019 | Uncategorized

We all need exercise and a healthy lifestyle to survive. For many, this means joining a gym. According to Forbes, the $30 billion health and fitness industry has been steadily growing by as much as 4% every year for the last decade, and this growth shows no signs of slowing down. While much of this growth can be attributed to an increase in discretionary spending or the fact that more Americans are paying attention to their physical health, it’s also a testament to the new fitness options available to consumers. Smaller, niche gyms have started popping up in large cities, small towns, and everywhere in between to cater to smaller, specific audiences. These smaller gyms have put pressure on larger name-brand gyms to deliver a niche experience with more choices, flexibility, and the community aspect of small facilities.

Here are three ways large gyms can compete in today’s hyper-focused, targeted fitness landscape:

#1: Personalize the member experience

Many people join smaller gyms for targeted, personalized workouts. Instead of attending a boxing class twice a week at a big-box gym, members can attend a professionally-led boxing class every day. And, at a larger gym, this boxing class might be just one of a long schedule of classes for an instructor that day. In order to compete with smaller gyms that only focus on boxing, or spinning, or HIIT fitness, larger gyms must be able to personalize the member experience and create targeted, engaging classes and fitness options.

Even if your gym only provides workout equipment and machines with few or no classes, you can still personalize the member experience by providing more of the most popular machines, or asking members directly what they want to see in your gym. Another tip? Make your member’s goals a priority. Smaller gyms often succeed because they encourage every single person to meet their goals in their own way. Larger gyms can still take this personalized approach, even if they’re working with more members, by putting personal goals above everything else.

#2: Be flexible with membership contracts

Another way larger gyms can alienate members is by locking them in to long-term membership contracts. This also includes making it difficult for members to change or cancel their membership. When it’s too hard to leave a gym, many members simply stop going. Over 67% of gym memberships go unused, and many times this is due to customers not being able to get out or update their memberships. At smaller gyms, memberships are typically much more flexible and personalized. Members can sign up for unlimited access, buy a class pack that they can use at any time, or even pay as they go. Additionally, because the classes and services are so much more tailored, members are okay paying higher prices for memberships.

Bigger gyms can compete with smaller gyms by creating flexible, transparent contracts. Again, it all comes down to putting your members first. Think about how you like to pay for your gym memberships. Maybe it’s offering automatic payments, or adding a ‘cancel at any time’ clause in your contracts. Whatever you offer, make sure it’s easy for members to understand and that there are no hidden fees or red tape.

#3: Create a real community

If there is one thing that really separates smaller gyms from large ones, it’s the sense of community. People like walking into a gym and being greeted by name, or having real friendships and conversations with other people in their classes. While small gyms have an advantage over larger ones because of the size, this doesn’t mean large gyms can’t create a community of members. Leverage social media to connect members, host meetups and socials to encourage networking, and train your staff on personalized communication and demeanor. Sometimes, all it takes is a smile and a personalized greeting to really make someone’s day.

You can learn more about setting your gym apart from the competition here.

Photo by bruce mars on Unsplash