How to Run a Fitness Study


The 21-day Fitness Study: Don’t be Afraid!

Once upon a time I ran a multi-purpose health club that was afraid of the 21-day Fitness Study. “How do we do this?” “Do we have enough staff?” “Can we afford it?” Those are just a few of the objections I overcame.  Honestly, we couldn’t afford NOT to run a prospecting campaign of this type. It truly is one of the best ways to reach the de-conditioned population in your market that aren’t walking into your studios now.

Whether you’re an independent trainer working with clients in their homes, are operating a small studio, or you’re large enough to have a staff, this program can be done and done well!

Before I go further, I’d like to make a distinction between the words campaign and program. They’re featured throughout this article, however; they are not being used interchangeably. Campaign refers to the marketing piece of the study and program refers to the structure of the 21 days. The primary focus of this article is to teach you how to market this campaign.

Let’s start with why. That’s easy! You’re running this campaign to get more long- term clients. I’m sure you’ve identified areas of your business that you want to grow. Channel these prospects into those areas. (Hint: use your Marketing Plan as your guide) Let’s say you offer private, semi-private and small group programs. My bet is you’d like more clients in your small group programs. My advice is to use the time slots you already have in place and fill the gaps with these prospects.

Your targets are the ‘fragile eggs’ who are intimidated and overwhelmed by what you do seamlessly everyday. They are the same people who won’t walk into a fitness studio until they first lose weight! This is an ideal way to reach the approximately 84% of our population who don’t currently exercise in any type of facility, large or small.1 Many of these folks have experienced frequent failures dotted with small, fleeting successes. In their minds this program is safe. These prospects will likely feel as though you have their best interest in mind and are creating a non-intimidating environment for them to get started. As an added bonus, you are converting these prospects into long-term clients which helps them immeasurably and leads to client referrals!

What does this program look like? Quite simply, it’s going to be unique for each business. There are certain key pieces that you need to incorporate, but the layers you can add are extensive and wholly dependent upon your current ability to successfully support the campaign and program from start to finish.

The Campaign Components
The magic is in the mix! Work with professionals to develop compelling creative with a clear message and use it in every piece of marketing you produce. Below are three packages I’ve put together for small, medium and large budgets.

Small Budget

  • Guerilla Marketing is your best friend. This method of promotion is a trade off between your time and money. The less money you have to spend, the more time you will spend. (It can be effective for just about every budget and in most every market, too.)
    • Door hangers, take ones, & double-sided flyers are all great ways to spread the word amongst local small business owners. Of particular interest to you should be the businesses your clients patronize. If your current clients shop there, you can bet that your prospective new clients are shopping there, as well.

Medium Budget

  • Guerilla Marketing as detailed above, with the alternate option of using the double-sided flyer as a newspaper insert.
  • Prospect Email Blasts are a low-cost way of reaching prospects you don’t have in your database already.

Large Budget

  • Direct Mail is a powerful medium in this context. By choosing mail routes that have identifiers in common with your current clientele, such as age, income level and location, you are more likely to reach the targets previously identified above.
  • Digital Marketing, as in pay-per-click ads.

Regardless of budget, the following components are a must for everyone.

  1. Social Media posts and shares. Use the social media outlets you’re active with and watch it go viral!
  2. Add a landing page for e-blasts, whether you’re sending to your lists and/or sending to an outside prospect list. Make it easy for prospects to register right then and there when you’ve captured their attention. Not only that, you’ve captured their contact information, too!
  3. Promote this on your website. Prominently.
  4. Add URLs to your website and landing pages to all your printed pieces to drive prospects to your website.
  5. Write a news release to be published in your local paper detailing the program, who it benefits and why you’re running it.
  6. All marketing vehicles employed must have the same message, look and feel to be easily identified.
  7. Use a ‘register by’ date to enable you to easily extend the session dates, as demand requires.

Have an incentive to ‘join now’ in place. Be prepared for the possibility that a prospect may decide to commit today!
You may want to add layers to the program, such as:

  • Waivers
  • Client testimonials and before/after pictures
  • Study results suitable for publishing on your website
  • Current client and non-client pricing (figure about 30% more for non-clients)
  • Articles discussing proper nutrition, hydration, exercise and rest
  • E-mail survey for participants

Put a tracking system in place for each aspect of the program. Record those that expressed interest and which marketing vehicle drove them to you. Of that, how many registered, showed up, participated and completed the program. How many prospects then converted to clients?

360 Fitness in Tyler, TX has run this program very successfully over the years. Using the 21 Day Fitness Study, they generated 150 leads generated with 75 – 80 signups for the program. Of those 75% signed on as long-term members/clients! Worth it? I’d say so!

Let’s start planning your 21 Day Fitness Study today! Contact us today!

1 Source: 2012 IHRSA Health Club Consumer Report