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How to Gain a Competitive Advantage in Today’s Fitness Industry

December 4, 2023

The fitness industry is more competitive than ever before. There are over 32,000 health clubs in the United States alone (as of July 1, 2021) vying for members. With new boutique studios and budget gyms entering the market, competition is fierce.

While this may seem daunting, competition isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It keeps you on your toes and pushes businesses to be the best possible version of themselves, while also motivating continuous improvement. Competition inspires innovation as you look for ways to stand out.

Experienced gym owners know that the right tools and technology give them an edge over the competition. ABC Ignite is the #1 rated gym management software for a reason—we create winning experiences for your members and team alike. 

In this post, we’ll explore how to develop a competitive advantage in the fitness industry today. Then we’ll dive into seven proven strategies to help your gym gain an edge over the competition. Let’s get started.

The Role of Your Competitive Advantage

Competitive advantage plays a pivotal role when creating your business plan and pitching to investors. It’s what sets you apart and gives you an edge in the market. Without it, you risk blending in with competitors—becoming forgettable—rather than memorable. This can lead to prospective members struggling to understand why they should join your gym over another.

For startup fitness entrepreneurs, defining your competitive advantage is step one. But even established gyms need to reevaluate their edge to stay on top. As new competitors enter the market, it’s absolutely critical that you must continually sharpen your advantage.

Your competitive advantage should inform all aspects of business decisions. From pricing strategy to customer service to facilities— every choice should align with and reinforce your advantage.

Keep this top of mind as you read through the strategies below for gaining a competitive edge in today’s fitness marketplace.

7 Ways to Gain a Competitive Advantage in the Fitness Industry

There are seven proven ways for your gym to get ahead of the competition:

1. Identify Your Unique Differentiators

Start by taking stock of what makes your gym unique. How do you differentiate from competitors in your area?

Your brand identity, values, facilities, amenities, services, pricing, and customer service all contribute to setting you apart. Identify the stand-out elements at your gym.

For example, Anytime Fitness differentiates through its low membership fees and 24/7 gym access. Equinox offers a luxury fitness experience focused on community.

Determine your own differentiation points. What do members rave about? What keeps them coming back? Double down on your existing strengths and showcase them in all aspects of your branding and marketing.

2. Hone Your Niche

Take time to reflect on who you serve. Get crystal clear on your target audience and how to best reach them.

It’s easier to market to someone when you know exactly who they are and what they want. Defining your desired audience will help you cater your offerings directly to them.

Your goal? To be known as the go-to fitness provider for your niche.

Ask yourself the following reflection questions to help uncover your niche:

  • Who do we serve best right now?
  • What common interests/goals does our target audience share?
  • What do they value most in a gym? How can we deliver on this?
  • What are their pain points that we can help alleviate?

3. Refine Your Pricing Strategy

Pricing is another important way for gyms to differentiate themselves from their competitors. Evaluate your current pricing and membership options. Does your pricing properly convey your positioning? Is it aligned with your competitive advantage?

For premium gyms, higher pricing may be warranted based on amenities, services, and overall experience. Meanwhile, budget gyms like Planet Fitness compete on lower pricing. Their stripped down facilities and offerings allow lower fees.

Ensure that your pricing matches the experience and value delivered by your facility. Avoid pricing gaps where members feel they overpay or underpay. Remember to price according to your competitive advantage.

4. Deliver Exceptional Service

As competition increases, customer service becomes even more vital for retention and growth. Going above and beyond for members is a key advantage.

Studies show 96 % of customers say customer service is a major factor in their loyalty to a brand. Providing an exceptional experience keeps members coming back.

Take the proper time to hire friendly staff who build personal connections with members. Train them to be attentive to member needs, and empower them to handle issues quickly.

Customer service covers everything from facility tours to cleanliness, class quality, and handling concerns. Identify any service gaps to strengthen the member experience.

5. Invest in Human Capital

Your team members are your greatest asset. Investing in human capital gives your gym an edge.

Be selective during the hiring process to find candidates that fit your culture and values. Look for people driven by passion—not only the salary you’re offering.

Ongoing professional development is also a huge attraction point for prospective staff. Support career growth by offering workshops, mentoring programs, and paying for relevant certifications. This boosts job satisfaction and retention, while simultaneously improving your employees’ skills and knowledge.

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An engaged, enthusiastic team provides a better member experience, which in turn drives retention and referrals. Combined, this will help fuel sustainable growth for your gym. 

6. Seek Out Aligned Partnerships

Look for potential partnerships that can further differentiate you in the community. Collaborating with aligned businesses and organizations gives you an opportunity to cross-promote and bring in prospective new members. 

Consider co-hosting events that introduce prospects to your gym and partners. For example, partner with a local smoothie shop to showcase healthy eating options. Or team up with a physio clinic for injury prevention workshops.

Supporting community initiatives also builds goodwill. Get involved with charity fitness fundraisers or sponsor events by health-related nonprofits.

Strategic partnerships boost your competitive edge through shared marketing and increased community presence.

7. Apply for Industry Awards

Pursuing industry awards positions your gym as a recognized leader and innovator. They showcase your success and credibility to current and prospective members. Awards also maximize positive, local brand exposure.

Winning awards also validates your team’s hard work. Prominently display plaques and use logos on your website and marketing materials.

Ignite Growth with Your Competitive Advantage

Gaining an edge often starts with rediscovering the unique attributes that drew members to your gym in the first place. Then you can build on your differentiation points through enhancements across all aspects of your gym. 

But maximizing your advantage requires more than just passion—it requires the right tools and technology. This is where ABC Ignite comes in.

ABC Ignite provides gym owners with:

  • 360-degree view of members to identify needs
  • Automation to improve efficiency and service
  • Analytics to reveal growth opportunities
  • Staff management tools to drive employee success

Our platform integrates all aspects of running an exceptional gym. 

Interested in igniting growth through a true competitive advantage?

Experience ABC Ignite for yourself today.