The 2024 Fitness Advertising Guide for Gyms

The Gym Membership Boom

The landscape of fitness in the UK is ever-evolving. According to Statista, 2021 marked a significant milestone with a total of 10.39 million gym memberships. With each passing year, this enthusiasm for health and fitness only amplifies.

A significant chunk of these memberships will be purchased in January, making it a pivotal month for gym advertising. 

Google Trends shows us that January sees the highest global search volumes for the term “gym membership.” With this ever-recurring fitness wave, you can’t afford to miss the boat. That’s why we’ve dived deep into the latest trends and data to bring you this comprehensive 2024 Fitness Advertising Guide for Gyms

We’ll explore why the New Year’s rush is a golden opportunity, how to maximise member retention, and the various advertising channels that can help your gym stand out.

people queueing for a gym


Beyond the ‘New Year Rush’

Statistics & Facts

When the clock strikes midnight on New Year’s Eve, many people resolve to get fit, and gym memberships see a tremendous uptick. However, not all that glitters is gold. Sadly, gyms will typically lose around 50% of all new members within the first 6 months. (IHRSA, 2020)

That means gyms don’t just need new sign-ups; they need strategies that translate into long-term commitments.

Consumer Behaviour

As the confetti is swept away and the champagne bottles are recycled, gyms see an influx of enthusiastic new faces. But what drives them to a gym in the first place? Research reveals that around 31% join for the sheer joy and fun of exercising (Statista, 2021). Another 28% are there to meet like-minded fitness enthusiasts and make new friends (Statista, 2021).

Our 2024 Fitness Advertising Guide emphasises understanding these motivations, which are pivotal in crafting advertising messages that resonate.

Two people interacting in a gym. An image relating to Bay Media's 2024 Fitness Advertising Guide
28% of members are there to meet new people

Quick Tips for Gym Advertising from our 2024 Fitness Advertising Guide:

Engage with Potential Members

Consider hosting open days or free trial sessions in the lead-up to January. This gives potential members an opportunity to try out your facilities and can be a powerful incentive for them to sign up.

Leverage User Testimonials

Word-of-mouth remains one of the most trusted forms of advertising. Share stories of members who have achieved their fitness goals at your gym. Real-life testimonials can be more persuasive than generic promotional content. Understanding these motivations can help you craft advertising messages that resonate with your target audience.

Seasonal Offers

January is not the only time people think about joining a gym. Capitalise on other periods, such as post-summer or leading up to significant events in the local calendar, by offering limited-time promotions or deals.

Engage on Social Media

Regularly post workout tips, member success stories, or introduce your trainers. Social media platforms provide a unique opportunity to engage with your audience daily. Encourage members to check-in, share their workouts, or leave reviews

A diverse group of people in a gym class
Group classes reduce cancellations

Member Retention: Just as Crucial as Attraction

You’ve Nailed the Sign-Ups

You’ve nailed the sign-ups, but how do you keep these fresh-faced fitness enthusiasts from walking out the door as quickly as they came in? Member retention is the flip side of the gym business coin, and it’s equally crucial.

The Importance of Group Classes

Let’s talk about the stickiness factor—what keeps members engaged and less likely to leave? One word: Community. According to a 2021 study by TRP, members who attend group classes are less likely to cancel their memberships. Why? Because group classes provide a sense of community and accountability, making members more invested in your gym. So, if you haven’t already, now might be a good time to showcase your range of group classes in your advertising.

Staff Engagement Matters

If community is the glue, then consider your staff as the artisans who apply it. You may find it surprising that merely two interactions per month between staff and gym members can reduce cancellations by up to 33%, according to a 2018 report by IHRSA. These interactions can range from a simple check-in to a full-on fitness consultation. It’s all about making members feel seen, heard, and valued.

Why Advertising Matters More Than Ever

In the age of boutique fitness studios, online workout subscriptions, and even smart home gyms, the marketplace has never been so crowded. Increased competition means your gym has to work that much harder to stand out. Enter advertising—your spotlight in a sea of choices. When done correctly, advertising doesn’t just attract new members; it fortifies your brand and keeps existing members engaged.

A lamppost banner illustration, part of a 2024 Fitness Advertising Guide
Outdoor advertising - lamppost banners

Outdoor Advertising

Don’t limit your advertising efforts to the digital realm alone. Outdoor advertising provides unique advantages that online channels can’t match. The high, long-term visibility of banners and billboards helps reach potential members where they already commute, shop, and live their daily lives.

Billboards

These giants of advertising command attention in shopping centres and along major roads. A well-designed billboard placed in a strategic location can be highly effective for gyms in the local area.

Transit Advertising

If your gym is located in a city, don’t underestimate the power of advertising on buses, subways, or trams. These mobile ads ensure that your gym’s message is seen by a vast and diverse audience during their daily commutes.

Lamppost Banner Advertising

Disclaimer: While we might have a particular affinity for this form of advertising, as the UK’s biggest provider of the service, the results often speak for themselves.

Lamppost banner advertising offers a blend of high-impact visibility and localised targeting. This format is particularly well-suited for gyms, allowing businesses to get their message in front of a local population effectively. Whether it’s the build-up to the New Year’s rush or a year-long campaign, these banners can be tailored to suit your gym’s specific needs.

A man in activewear checks his phone
Social media advertising

Digital Advertising

Beyond visibility in the real world, digital platforms allow you to engage potential members where they already spend much of their time online. Social media ads, pay-per-click, and email marketing are just some of the digital channels gyms can leverage to connect with tech-savvy audiences.

Social Media Advertising

In the era of likes, shares, and viral moments, social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter offer you a direct line to potential members. You can use these platforms to showcase testimonials, before-and-after photos, or even snippets of your group classes. The ability to target ads based on location, age, interests, and more provides an unparalleled opportunity to reach the exact demographic you’re seeking.

Pay-Per-Click (PPC)

Imagine only paying for advertising when someone shows an interest in your gym—that’s what PPC offers. Platforms like Google Ads allow you to display your advertising to users who are actively searching for gyms or fitness-related content. With PPC, you can also precisely control your budget and adjust strategies based on real-time analytics.

Email Marketing

This method is the digital counterpart to traditional mailers, but with the benefit of instant delivery and tracking capabilities. Email marketing is excellent for keeping your existing membership base engaged and informed about upcoming classes, events, or changes to the gym schedule. It’s also an effective way to nurture leads, offering potential members special sign-up incentives or inviting them to a free class.

A woman sat in a cosy living room reads a newspaper
Traditional advertising - newspaper ads

Traditional Advertising

Long before the advent of digital ads and social media promotions, traditional advertising was the name of the game—and it still holds value. Here’s how you can use these tried-and-true methods to capture the attention of potential gym members.

Print Media

Don’t underestimate the power of a well-placed ad in a local newspaper or a relevant magazine. Print media advertising allows you to reach a broad demographic and can be especially effective when targeted at specific groups, like seniors or parents of young children. Whether it’s a full-page feature or a small corner ad, print media can add credibility to your gym’s brand.

Television Ads

Television advertising, with its combination of visuals, sound, and motion, can be tremendously captivating. However, the high production and distribution costs make TV ads better suited for large fitness chains. These ads can be particularly effective during specific times when people are likely contemplating a lifestyle change, like after major holidays or right before the New Year.

Radio Promotions

There’s a reason why radio has stood the test of time: it’s effective. Radio promotions allow you to reach potential members during parts of their day when other forms of advertising can’t—like during their commute or while working at their desk. Seasonal offers, special membership packages, or even a catchy jingle can be broadcast to thousands of listeners, amplifying your gym’s message.

The Importance of Localised Advertising

The fitness market is increasingly saturated, so a one-size-fits-all advertising approach won’t cut it. You need to make your messaging relevant to your local community.

In fact, 37% of people say price and contract terms are important factors when choosing a gym. With this in mind, geo-targeted digital campaigns allow you to showcase competitive rates and flexible options to neighbourhoods and postcodes where people are actively looking for gyms.

In this 2024 Fitness Advertising Guide, we stress the importance of tailoring your offers and messaging to align with local sentiments, ensuring maximum efficacy.

For example, commute time is important for many urban gym-goers, so call out how your location offers convenience.

Localised relevance should shape your advertising across platforms, whether you’re running digital ads, radio promotions, or posting on neighbourhood forums. Speaking directly to the needs of the local community makes your gym stand out.

A location marker hovers in the sky above a rural UK town
Localised advertising

Crafting Your Message

An effective advertising campaign is not just about where you place your ads but also what those ads say and how they look. Here are some tips for crafting a compelling message:

Effective Copywriting

Be Clear and Concise: Your message should be easy to understand in a quick glance. Avoid jargon and get straight to the point.

Call to Action (CTA): Encourage immediate action. Phrases like “Sign Up Today” or “Limited Time Offer” create urgency.

Highlight Benefits: When promoting new offerings, like a state-of-the-art treadmill, focus on the experience it delivers. Instead of just stating its features, emphasise how it can simulate real-world terrains, help members achieve their marathon goals, or offer personalised workouts to boost their fitness journey.

Visual Design

Consistent Branding: Use colours, fonts, and logos that are consistent with your gym’s branding. Consistency enhances recognition.

High-Quality Images: Use high-resolution, professional images. Poor quality visuals can turn potential members away.

Legibility: Ensure that your text is easy to read from a distance. This is especially important for formats such as transit advertising, where viewers may only have a few seconds to absorb your message.

Budgeting and ROI

Getting the most bang for your buck is a key aspect of any successful advertising strategy. But how do you divide your budget among the various channels? And more importantly, how do you measure the success of your advertising efforts?

Allocating Budget Across Channels

Start with Research: Understand where your target audience is most likely to engage. This can inform how you allocate resources.

Trial and Error: Especially if you’re new to certain types of advertising, start with a smaller budget and scale up based on performance.

Mix It Up: Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. A blend of digital, traditional, and outdoor advertising often provides the most comprehensive reach.

Measuring ROI

Key Performance Indicators (KPIs): Define what success looks like. Whether it’s new sign-ups, website traffic, or another metric, make sure everyone on the team is aligned.

Data Analytics: Tools like Google Analytics for digital ads and foot traffic counts for outdoor ads can give you quantitative measures of your campaign’s success.

Cost-Effectiveness: Calculate the Customer Lifetime Value (CLV) against the Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC) for each channel to measure its effectiveness.

The Future of Gym Advertising

As technology advances and consumer behaviour changes, the landscape of gym advertising is in a state of flux. Here are some emerging trends to keep an eye on:

Sustainability

Highlighting eco-initiatives, such as energy-saving gym equipment or water conservation measures, can resonate with environmentally-conscious consumers.

Voice Search

Optimise your digital presence for voice-enabled devices. For instance, ensure your gym’s location, opening hours, and membership deals are easily accessible through voice searches on platforms like Google Assistant or Alexa.

Hyper-Personalisation

Harness data analytics to send customised workout plans, class recommendations, or diet tips to members, enhancing their gym experience and loyalty.

Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR)

Incorporate VR tours of your gym facilities or AR previews of fitness classes, giving potential members an immersive experience before they even step through your doors.

Ephemeral Content

Create short, engaging video snippets showcasing a day at your gym, special events, or member testimonials. Platforms like Instagram and TikTok can amplify your reach, especially among younger audiences.

Staying ahead of these trends and effectively allocating your advertising budget can make all the difference in a competitive market. Use this information to start planning your 2024 fitness advertising strategy today.

A woman uses a VR headset in a gym

Seizing Tomorrow

As the New Year approaches, gym owners are presented with both a challenge and an opportunity. In the UK, with well over 10 million gym memberships, the stakes are high. But remember: While January is a peak month for interest, the journey with your members is year-long.

Understand their motivations—whether it’s the simple joy of exercise or the desire to connect with a community. Leverage diverse advertising avenues, from the visibility of outdoor advertising to the immediacy of digital platforms.

And don’t forget the power of localised strategies like banner advertising, which speaks directly to your immediate community. 

Ready to give your gym’s advertising strategy the revamp it needs for a successful 2024? The time to start planning is now. Don’t get left behind in the competitive race to capture new memberships and retain existing ones.

Bay Media are an outdoor advertiser based in the UK and Europe. We are the largest provider of lamppost banner advertising services in the UK, and we also offer illuminated roadside posters and premium billboards in shopping centres.

Contact us to find out how we can help boost local awareness of your gym across your local area.