2020’s Biggest Lesson: Improve Consumer Perception

October 4, 2021

With great determination, the Fitness Industry is rising to the challenge of rebuilding its reputation. Though shutdowns during the pandemic are out of owner/operator control, there are critical lessons to acknowledge to prepare for future disruptors.

The biggest lesson is that Fitness isn’t perceived as essential. The meaningful contributions health clubs make to the well-being of the communities they serve aren’t recognized as valuable.

The bias against the Fitness Industry existed long before 2020. Non-fitness sectors evolved marketing strategies to highly personalized consumer experiences, while most fitness content has remained unchanged. Bikinis, biceps, and $0 Joining Fees never rang true, and as consumers became savvier, these ads became less appealing.

Content featuring audience-specific details and calls to action have been the norm in non-fitness for years. The Fitness Industry chose not to follow suit. For many club operators, the impetus to push the boundaries of their current marketing practices wasn’t real—until now.

Consider these three critical aspects to find the right audiences and create content that connects in meaningful ways. The constant in each critical aspect is they’re ADAPTIVE. In the current and unpredictable business climate, club operators are tasked to execute sustainable marketing efforts.

Data & Targeting

Predictive modeling and algorithms highlight households most likely to convert to membership and are inherently ADAPTIVE. Data processes analyze results and are clearly verifiable, and targeting is organically improved with each campaign that creates sustainable and predictable profitability.


The brand story is a narrative that expresses the facts and feelings created at the club that is authentic and ADAPTIVE to current events. The story inspires emotional reactions that consistently result in prospects taking the desired action.

  • Today’s members are concerned with their safety during club visits. Clean and safe messaging, imagery and icons should be incorporated.
  • Feature club programs and services with the options that appeal to families with toddlers vs. families with teens, which differ from senior households and couples without children.
  • Use pics of members enjoying programs. Avoid stock images.
  • Member stories expose their personal experiences that enable prospects to see themselves doing the same.
  • Healthy immune systems and emotional health are as critical as safely exercising onsite. Focus on what’s important.  

Promotions & Offers:  

  • Encourage new members to experience aspects of the club that are important to the household’s life stage.
  • Offers with complementary services that introduce and onboard new members to the club add value. Encourage participation in profit centers with introductory rates and low commitments.
  • ADAPTIVE promotions and offers consider the news cycle of the day with flexible options.
  • Membership price factors into joining decisions and should never take center stage. Nor should Price be the primary motivator a prospect uses to decide on membership.

The future of onsite Fitness is at the mercy of today’s work. Every brand in the industry can contribute to the rebuild by embracing more clever marketing creative and content directed at the right households.

Originally published in Club Solutions February 2021 Marketing Issue.

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