6 creative ways to promote a gym (with case studies)

Equinox Ad Campaign

The market value of the fitness industry in the UK is estimated to be £4.4 billion.

According to the yearly UK fitness industry report*, the number of gym members in 2016 went up to 9 million, the highest ever. That’s a LOT of people wanting to get fit — more than the entire population of Serbia, to put things in perspective. With all of those fitness enthusiasts, there need to be facilities that cater to them. Enter the new 224 gyms that were built in the country that same year.

flashdance gif

This is how I walk to the gym.

Phew! All of those numbers gave me the spins. I’m just going to lay on the couch for a couple of minutes and — There’s no time to rest! As the abs I’ll probably never have would say. With so many people wanting to try out their new leg warmers a la Flashdance and training centres lusting for their attention, marketers working for fitness brands need to get smart if they want to stand out from the rest.

You can always choose personalised T-shirts to promote your fitness facilities (give us a call, if that’s the case) but below we’ll list six creative ways gyms have used to advertise their businesses:

Way to promote a gym #1: Embrace EVERY body

Going to the gym can be intimidating if you don’t feel like you’ve got Nike-campaign worthy abs to flash, and it’s doubly so for people who don’t consider themselves athletic. A gym marketing campaign directed at the very fit probably only deters them from going. That’s why we love the “Every Body Happy” ads, which show all sorts of people, from young to old, from bodybuilders to your average guy or girl, all happily enjoying their gym sessions.

The slogan, “Feeling good is the new looking good”, drives home the point of their campaign. Emphasising how exercise makes you feel rather than what it might make some people look like is definitely a great way to get people of all shapes and sizes interested in joining your gym. And there are way more of those than there are gym rats, so it can mean major money for your gym, too.

Way to promote a gym #2: Don’t sugarcoat it

Gold's Gym marketing campaign

Gold’s Gym marketing campaign accepts no excuses

Gold’s Gym has a series of ads that address the issue of people worrying that going to the gym might be hard. Their message is essentially that yes, that’s true — and so what?

These three ads with messages – “Doubt doubt“, “Shut your whine-hole” and “Put off procrastination” – all encourage people who may need a bit of tough love to just get out there and do it. This is definitely not the approach of Blink Fitness’s campaign, but instead aimed at helping people eliminate excuses for not going to the gym.

Gold’s Gym also had another campaign with the slogan “all things are difficult before they become easy.”

Way to promote a gym #3: Promote a lifestyle

Equinox's "Commit to something" advertising campaign

Equinox advertising campaigns look more like a spread for a fashion magazine than a Gym’s advertising campaign

Equinox is all about coming a true lifestyle brand rather than just a gym, which is a message that they send strongly with their advertising campaigns. The current one “Commit to something” is composed of a series of very stylised images that at a first glance, have very little to do with fitness.

Equinox also features an online magazine with information on how to change your lifestyle to make it healthier, playlists that celebrity DJs have created for the facilities and apps you can use to track your exercises. And to further prove that they promote a lifestyle more than just a gym, the brand opened its first hotel in early 2016.

Way to promote a gym #4: Embrace user generated content (UGC)

Rather than a specific gym marketing campaign, we’re going to talk about Zumba Fitness’s great approach to figuring out which message to use to talk about their brand on social media. Their Facebook page is all about having fun. The slogan splashed across the page is “Party yourself into shape”, and all of their content makes it look like going to one of their sessions is a seriously good time.

They don’t take themselves too seriously, either. One popular post read “A shy friend told us that when the music in her Zumba class kicks in, her inhibitions check out and she turns into Jennifer Lopez! Who’s YOUR Zumba alter ego?”

They also posted a creative music video that was only half completed for a newly released Pitbull song, and asked fans to complete the video. Thousands participated! Another big hit was when gave their fans Zumba clothing if they said what their favourite type of music to dance to was.

In just a year on Facebook, Zumba Fitness had 2.6 million fans who were lightning-quick to like, comment and share their latest posts.

Way to promote a gym #5: Remind them to get off their bum!

World Gym Ad Campaign

World Gym uses comedy to motivate people to do sports

These funny ads were humorous and a way to tap into something that happens all too often: you have the best intention of going to the gym, but instead somehow end up spending your evening on the couch doing nothing in particular.

It’s not an aggressive message (unlike the Gold’s Gym ones), but it does gently remind people to get up and get going. Adding a bit of humour is a nice touch, and it’s not something you always see in gym advertising.

Way to promote a gym #6: When everything else fails, go BIG!

Powerhouse Gym Ad Campaign

Yes, we get it. You don’t have to be so literal about it.

Go big or go home” something that probably gets said a lot both in gyms and in ad agencies! This absolutely massive advertisement was a great way to get loads of people to hear about their gym.

While there’s not much that’s innovative about the imaging or message — it’s just a muscular guy lifting weights and the gym name — the sheer size of this ad is definitely not something you see every day, which made people pay attention.


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