Five Ways to Get New Members for Your CrossFit Gym While Keeping the Current Members Happy

Results of CrossFit workouts

There’s good news and bad news about marketing your CrossFit gym and both are based on the same fact.  In 2005 there were 13 CrossFit affiliates and as of the writing of this blog, there are more than 13,000 in 120 countries. This means two things: (1) this is a wildly popular exercise program – in fact, THE most popular – on the planet (good news) and (2) this is a hyper-competitive landscape for any gym operator (bad news).

On any given day, a potential CrossFit member will likely pass 2 or 3 gyms on her way to work. Plus, current CrossFitters are like any other consumer in that they are always looking for a better, cheaper, more rewarding experience, which might be down the road only a few blocks away.

In a very real sense, success in building a sustainable CrossFit business involves the survival of the fittest. This is made more challenging by the fact that the people who decide to start their own affiliate are most likely fitness experts, but not business or marketing experts. Both skills are critical to success. Hopefully, this post will begin the process of connecting those marketing/business synapses.

Here are five ways to attract new members while keeping existing members happy.

  • Decide on your gym’s identity
  • This seems pretty simple. You want hundreds of fitness fanatics, who are also paying customers, to show up every day and then tell their friends about the cool box where they sweat their guts out. Simple.  Right? Not so fast Sparky!

    This identity decision is the one factor that many unsuccessful CrossFit affiliates failed to think through. As Webris founder/contributor Ryan Stewart noted in his piece on marketing CrossFit gyms, “This can be simplified by two choices: catering to experienced CrossFit athletes or newbies.

    “Having experienced CrossFitter’s work out at your gym is great for building a brand for your gym – the better your athletes, the higher you place in competitions, the greater the association between your gym and quality training.

    “However, this can have a negative impact on training new athletes. New athletes need a lot of attention before and during the workout – advanced athletes don’t.”

    It is certainly possible to have a box with both of these groups, but the marketing focus will be different depending on the target population.

  • Use smart tactics and media that appeal to your target group

  • Track your sessions of CrossFit on Faecbook

    Again, this seems pretty straight-forward but the devil is indeed in the details. The types of incentives that are used to attract experienced CrossFitters are much different than those used for people new to the CrossFit experience. However, everyone wants a chance to check out the facility with little or no risk.

    The most important consideration on any marketing tactic is its relevancy to your target market. According to Vanessa Rodriguez in her post on this subject, “Reaching your ideal audience has never been easier but you do need to know what to market to them once you’re in front of them. You need to make sure your “offer” is something your target finds interesting.”

    Whatever incentives are used for getting new members – coupons that are good for one free workout, two-for-one memberships, free workouts in return for writing and posting online reviews – are best delivered via social media such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or other, more targeted social media such as Pinterest, which caters to a more female audience.

    The prime CrossFit member lives on social media. They read almost no newspapers, watch almost no network TV, listen to very little commercial radio and wouldn’t think of going anywhere without their phone. Since most prospective and existing members are on social media, this is where a smart gym operator should focus his/her marketing efforts.

  • Work the internet

  • It’s true what your mama said. You never get a second chance to make a first impression. In case you’ve been living in a cave for the past decade, that first impression for your gym starts with a website. In many cases, this website is poorly designed and difficult to navigate. Unfortunately, when you hire someone to design your website you either get MORE or you get LESS but never what you pay for. Here are some suggestions for getting more.

    Thousands of books have been written on the subject of building a company website and there is not enough space in this post to do this topic justice. However, hiring someone (please resist the temptation to hire your brother-in-law or cousin who lives in the basement of their parent’s home!) to design your CrossFit gyms site is pretty much a crap-shoot.

    Before hiring anyone for this make-or-break business tool, ask for examples of other sites they have created/designed in the “fitness” or “self-help” categories. Then ask them what they were trying to accomplish with the design and elements of content for these sites. If what they were trying to do comes close to what they actually did with the site, they should at least be on your list of possible contractors.

  • Spring and summer promotions

  • Vanity can be a powerful motivational tool and it can get otherwise lazy couch potatoes off their butts and into your gym. The best time to start these types of promotions is immediately after January 1st when men and especially women are thinking about how they are going to look in a swimsuit, come spring.

    Summer body with CrossFit workouts

    Any variation on the “Summer Slim Down promotion, suggested by Rodriguez, is a good approach for this time period. The basic promo involves using Facebook to attract new members. “This involves marketing this as a special 6-month high-intensity program that is different from the regular class workouts. New members would sign up for six months at a special price and once they are hooked and love the results they see they would sign up for a long-term commitment to your gym.”

  • Get business people busy at your box

  • As we noted in an earlier post on the demographics and psychographics of CrossFit members, most of these folks bring home a decent income, which means they work hard in their chosen profession. Plus, they are extremely competitive. A corporate wellness challenge promotion is a great way to channel these factors into new memberships for your gym. A variation of this idea was proposed by Rodriguez in her post.

    “Get local businesses to compete against each other. Give the winning business either a free membership for 6 months, products (such as vitamins, protein powder, etc.) or a trophy (because everyone loves to brag with a trophy).

    The competition could be whatever suits your gym. It could be weight loss, the total time devoted to working out, increasing in strength, or training for a triathlon or something like Tough Mudder.”

    The great thing about this promotion is that it appeals to both existing members and potential members. Plus, many companies would consider paying for the membership costs for their employees as a part of a corporate wellness program.

    Start Slow and Go for It!

    The number of marketing ideas for your gym is only limited by your imagination. Since every business has a constant turn-over of customers, a year-round marketing schedule it critical to the success of your box. Don’t wait. Start this process now.

    In the coming months, we will offer more marketing suggestions for CrossFit boxes in this space. In the meantime, if you have any killer ideas, send them our way. Post a comment below.

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