Tap into New Market Segments For Your Gym

By Anna Thorsen

Published 4 October 2016

It doesn’t matter whether you are young, old, your gender, rich or poor, disabled or truly athletic. It’s always healthy to exercise. But while all these people have the need to exercise, not all of them necessarily have a place they feel comfortable exercising. All these different people share a place in the fitness community, and need a place to exercise. Why wouldn’t it be your gym?

New market segments are your friends. Focusing on one segment of the population to keep your business running brings risks with it. So let’s think about the possibilities to bring in a diverse clientele and grow your business.

Lots of clubs aim for one certain target group. This could be an interesting strategy but it could also stagnate your business after a while. Be different and look into the data from your own gym.

1. Broaden Your Target Audience

Open Your Arms to Seniors

People are living longer and longer. It’s now common to see a sixty years old man in a gym or running in a park. Take advantage of that, create an adapted offer regarding their habits. Maybe that the elderly like peace and quietness a little bit more than young people. Think about a quiet space which could be used by older people and people who like to workout in a more quiet area. Of course it could be a lot of work to create a corner dedicated to the elderly but you don’t need to completely renew your gym. Change little things to make everybody feel comfortable.

Don’t Forget People With Disabilities

Sadly, disabled people are often forgotten in our society and in the fitness industry in particular.
However, a lot of disabled people love sports. Did you watch the Paralympic games? More and more people are watching this competition in which we can see amazing athletes. Disabled people want to train too, and there is a big market for people with disabilities. 15% of the world’s population experience some form of disability. Why not adapt your gym to those people, with specific machines and specific courses? This makes your business stand out of the crowd, and maybe make media talk about you. It would also really benefit your brand image.


Millennials or Generation Y – people born between 1980 and 2000 and who grew up with the internet – constitute one of the best groups of consumers according to many studies, and could be one of your new market segments. They have serious buying power – reports give numbers ranging between $125 billion to $890 billion per year – and they’re exercising more and eating healthier than ever before. This is also one of the largest group of tech users, utilizing software or apps to track their training data. As with the others segments, listen to their needs and adapt your services. Go online, offer them content and allow them to voice their opinions.

RelatedWhy Your Fitness Club Should Target Millennials


Fitness is often more comfortable for men than women, it could be less easy for girls to go to the gym if they suffer from self-esteem issues. We can easily see the balance between men and women in gyms.There are gym problems that only women know and it doesn’t make it easy for them.

Eye contact, bullying, seduction, women are in clubs to train, nothing more. Why not have a dress code: tell people to come dressed in a discreet way, without wearing show-off clothes, make everybody understand that your gym is just a place to do sport. Of course shorts, hats and tank tops aren’t the problem, the attitude of gym goers is. So you do need to actively check for unfriendly behavior. But I think clothes encourage judgement by establishing differences. Everybody should feel welcome and there is no place for judgment in the gym. A lot of members would appreciate your efforts.

2. Membership Differentiation Is the Key

The glue between you and members are memberships. Creating different types of memberships depending on your audience’s needs should be the first thing on your list to appeal to new market segments.

Most of the gyms offer two or three kind of memberships depending on the frequency that customers want to attend. But I believe we could go further. Try to adapt the membership to your clients’ needs and wants. For example, avoid offering just one 1 year membership option. You should diversify and offer the customer a series of options or a way to customize their membership.

There are lots of different aspects that help people find the gym that’s right for them. Their schedule, opening hours, if the club has the facilities to help them to reach their objectives, as well as additional services, the atmosphere, and the staff.

Knowing this, new memberships show that you are a flexible professional, dedicated to the customer’s satisfaction. Of course you have to keep a basic contract. But you could also offer different packages. For example, you can set up one offer more adapted for Millennials with additional services like online nutritional monitoring, to match their connected lifestyle. Besides that, you can offer memberships only for off-peak hours which has multiple benefits and could be interesting for seniors who are more likely to be free during office hours. Your gym won’t be as crowded as before and clients with a lower budget will be able to work out as well. At least you should be flexible enough to provide these different services.

Some people have busy lives and keep running between meetings and work assignments all week long. With this in mind, creating a membership for people who can only come to your gym on the weekend would be a great idea. Some people pay a membership to go on a daily basis, even though they can only train on the weekend because they work far away from their house for example. So offering them a specific contract could be a good possibility to reach busy professionals who take time only on the weekend to relax and workout.

There are infinite possibilities to draw each new target group in. The key is to identify the habits, needs and preferences of each group. Use these to reshape your offering and match it with their demands.

3. Spicy Staff

Try to have a diverse team. If your strategy is to increase the audience diversity of your club, members want to see different people coaching them. Try to have a balance between men and women, young and old. In this way, you will make everyone feel welcome.

Obviously you must hire trainers and staff depending on their experience and their qualifications. But also look at the personality of your future employee. Think about your audience. Will they all feel comfortable around this person?

Again, nobody has the same needs and expectations. Be respectful of and open to that.

4. Spread the Word

All your efforts will be for naught if you don’t promote to increase awareness. Let the world know that you are running an open-minded and inclusive business by presenting your new changes to the world. Invest some money for a local campaign to get the ball rolling. You can use Facebook to advertise, which is an easy platform to use. It is not about huge campaign with a high budget. A modest campaign can already do a lot to make everybody aware of your positioning.

When deciding which campaigns to set up, keep your audience in mind. Social media is more likely to attract the attention of millennials and younger generations, while print or mailing campaigns would work better with older segments. Don’t forget the power of word of mouth advertising, and look around to find out if you could set up partnerships with local foundations or institutions.As you can see, there are multiple solutions for each target groups.


One of the obvious ways to improve your member acquisition and revenue is to focus your efforts on appealing new market segments, which is not always as easy as it seems to be. It demands that you keep an open mind, get to know the people you want to attract, and tailor your services to meet their needs. Then, it is time to make your business outstanding by making everyone feel welcome.

More Tips to Sell Gym Memberships

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Anna Thorsen

A Communication Officer at Virtuagym who enjoys traveling far and wide, and I'm passionate about art and philosophy too!


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