The wellness industry is booming, but knowing how (and when!) to scale and grow your fitness keeps many fitness business owners up at night.
Every gym is different, so there’s no one-size-fits-all model. Personal trainers who deliver online training have different growth needs than mom-and-pop gyms with a couple locations. Then there’s enterprise-level gyms, which are also completely different. Grow the correct way and you’ll shoot for the stars without too much extra effort—and to find the exact right approach, you’ll need a solid background in fitness growth strategy.
At Trainerize, we’ve helped thousands of personal trainers and gym owners scale their brands, so we know what the journey from small gym to BIG SUCCESSFUL FITNESS BUSINESS™ looks like. Here, we’ll break down when you should start thinking about expanding, some green flags that indicate you’re ready, and tips for long-term growth. Let’s dive in!
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When should you try to grow your fitness business?
The right move at the wrong time is… usually, the wrong move. When you’re starting to think about growing your fitness business, you’ll want to think early on about your long-term strategy. Sometimes, it makes more sense to improve your current operations than to pursue growth opportunities. But when your business is running smoothly, your revenue is strong, your staff is top-notch, and your customers are loyal, the world is yours.
There’s some key green flags to look for: high retention rates among your membership, steady revenue growth, and positive feedback. If you’re having to turn away personal training clients due to a lack of space or resources, you should also take it as a sign you’re close to ready to expand. Last, look at what’s going on locally. If you spot an untapped demand for fitness services or a unique niche (like Zumba!) in your area, you might have room to just… go for it.
Scaling up doesn’t require opening new brick-and-mortar locations, though. Offering online training is another effective growth strategy that allows you to reach more clients without the risks of setting up shop. Trainerize makes this easy-peasy, too. Just build a lil’ library of workouts, create some custom nutrition plans, and schedule automatic client messages—you’ll be able to train support more clients in the exact same 24 hours.
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8 tips for growing your fitness business
Feeling confident and ready to shift into growth mode? We love that. Let’s explore some strategies that will increase your client base, strengthen your gym’s brand, and streamline your operations so you’re ready to build a business—not the world’s biggest headache.
1. Know your numbers
Before all else, you’ve got to understand your business’s financial health. Keep track of key metrics, such as expenses, revenue, and profit margins, so you can make important decisions with open eyes. Take a close look at your membership numbers, class attendance, and customer acquisition costs, too—so you can determine which areas of your business are thriving and where you’ve got room for improvement.
Knowing these core statistics will help you make good choices about where to focus your time, resources and energy, so your growth is sustainable. (Psst: Trainerize makes tracking metrics a breeze.)
2. Sketch out a marketing strategy
Going full-on bro science and then pivoting to mindful yoga will scare people off. In other words, you need a well-crafted marketing plan to show new clients what you’re about and retain your current ones. Identify your target audience, set clear goals, and develop a solid strategy that includes both online and IRL promos.
You’ll want to use a range of channels to reach your target audience, including social media, email marketing, and brand partnerships. Run your Facebook ads, but remember to show up at local events, too. Over time, people will start to know you, love you, and hopefully, train with you. As you grow, evaluate the effectiveness of your marketing strategies and adjust your tactics to improve your results.
3. Automate, automate, automate!
Give the robots every mundane task they can handle. Using automations for your membership and payment processes will save you time, cut down errors, and make the customer experience silky smooth for your clients. Fire up a software tool (like Trainerize, *cough cough*) that automates billing, tracks memberships, and builds reports. Now, you’ve got time to focus on stellar service and growth, instead of mind-melting admin tasks.
4. Boost your SEO
When you’re trying to build a successful fitness business, getting discovered by new clients is literally half the battle. Search engine optimization (SEO) is crucial for attracting potential clients to your website, so optimize your site. You’ll want to include relevant keywords, publish high-quality content, and make sure your layout is user-friendly.
This takes effort, but every little bit of SEO helps you rank higher in the search results. Use tools like Google My Business to improve your local search visibility, and make sure you’re adding fresh content to your website whenever possible so your online presence stays strong.
5. Partner with local businesses
Team up with other small business owners to expand your reach locally. Co-host events, offer discounts, or create joint promotions—there’s no rules, so be imaginative! Usually, you’ll want to collab with like-minded businesses that you’re not in direct competition with, like wellness centers, healthy restaurants, and sporting goods stores. Partnerships like these will generate new leads for you (plus your friends, too!) and help you grow through word of mouth.
6. Take your training online
Offering online training is a key, key strategy for scaling up your business growth. By expanding your services to include virtual classes, custom-tailored workout plans, and remote coaching, you can reach clients outside your local area, add fresh revenue streams, and minimize your growth costs. Plus, online training gives clients who’ve got busy schedules all the flexibility they need to stick to their fitness goals. (It’s worth saying: Trainerize can help you with ALL this.)
7. Start a referral program
Referral programs (also known as affiliate programs) are widespread in the fitness industry, and for good reason. When you offer incentives to affiliates for promoting your fitness business, you tap into their audiences online and they get access to new revenue streams. That’s win-win.
Referral programs can be particularly effective if you have fitness-related merchandise or an online training platform your affiliates can drive their followers to. These are distinct assets, and selling another one doesn’t create more work for you—just more revenue. (Love that.)
8. Open a new brick-and-mortar location
Gym owners: if your current locations are thriving, consider setting up shop again. WIth each new brick-and-mortar location, you’ll be able to handle more clients and expand your reach. When you’re growing your gym, that’s the whole goal.
This said, though: you’ll need to do careful research about the local demand for fitness services before opening a new fitness center. Adding more locations can help increase brand recognition and strengthen your market position, but you’ll need to maintain the quality training and fitness services that helped you win in the first place.
What tools will I need to grow my gym?
Good question, my friend. Not that we’re biased, but Trainerize’s all-in-one platform makes it bone-easy to manage and scale operations for your fitness business. With Trainerize, you’ll have no trouble building online training programs, tracking client progress, managing nutrition plans for clients, automating payments, and so, so much more.
Our platform isn’t just for small business owners, either—Trainerize is also a godsend for enterprise-scale fitness brands. Once you’ve taken your fitness business to the next level, Trainerize can help you deploy a custom branded app and track every little KPI. We’re here for your whole journey, and we’re ready when you are.