How Gyms Can Advertise during the COVID-19 Lockdown

With the continued spread of the coronavirus, gyms and fitness studios all over the world are closing their doors to customers even as they find ways to adjust to the new normal. Gyms in the UK are no exception to this.

According to The International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association, the fitness industry was worth US $94 billion in 2018. However, that has changed in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

It is indeed a stressful time for UK gym and fitness club owners, many of who have undoubtedly suffered financial losses. Helping customers stay fit through the quarantine and retaining them for the long-term are concerns that are keeping most gym owners up at night.  

Ask any fitness marketing agency and they will tell you that marketing your gym business during the indefinite lockdown is extremely critical since your customers cannot access your gym physically. You don’t want to be forgotten by your patrons. If you go off their radar, you may end up downing the shutters of your gym permanently. 

The good news is that all is not lost!

We live in the age of the internet and lead generation for fitness clubs is possible through the continuation of services to customers via digital channels. These health club marketing channels are also highly effective in finding new leads, nurturing them, and converting them into loyal customers. 

Know this for a fact: an increasing number of people (or your target audience) are spending their time online, and are accessing the internet more frequently. Make sure you are where they are, and can be easily found by them. Here are some gym marketing ideas that will allow gym and fitness club owners to advertise themselves, connect with prospects, and continue to stay relevant amid the ongoing coronavirus lockdown.

Optimise Your Business Website

We live in the digital age, when customers form opinions about any business on the basis of their website. It is, therefore, important that your website is not only user-friendly, but also SEO-optimised. 

It is a good idea to have some attractive images of your gym and the equipment available, a demo video of some workouts, as well as some interesting tidbits about your trainers on your website. Make sure to address the COVID-19 situation on your website and explain how your gym is responding to the crisis. This will help you gain your audience’s trust. 

Your business can benefit immensely from local SEO. This includes, but isn’t limited to, conducting keyword research, optimising your website with specific keywords, and developing content which includes these keywords.

Identify the main keywords that target your gym and insert them strategically throughout your website. This will greatly improve its visibility in SERPs, which in turn, will enable potential customers to find your business easily. It will also give them your relevant business and contact information, thereby driving more traffic through online leads. 

You should also add a blog to your website. The blog posts you create should be based on topics related to your industry such as gym equipment, tips from trainers, importance of staying fit, eating healthy, and so on. These relevant topics will bring more leads to your website. You should also optimize your posts with suitable keywords and use internal linking for better engagement on your website. 

Leverage the Superpowers of YouTube

With the number of YouTube users crossing the 1.68 billion mark in 2019, you want to make sure you’re using this platform to your advantage. Whether you work with a gym marketing agency or implement your own gym advertisement tactics, make sure to be present on it. 

Typically, instructions in gyms are passed on practically. Your clients learn various types of exercises by watching trainers or experts perform them. If they find the exercises doable and beneficial, they recommend your gym to others. It, therefore, makes perfect sense to create video tutorials of your trainers performing exercises and publish them on your YouTube channel. 

Consider making high-quality and attractive free as well as paid video tutorials that focus on specific workouts, where each video feels like a full-on fitness session. Ensure to create content around at-home workout methods. Create a playlist that your audience can access easily and continue with their workout. 

Make sure to give a relevant title to your videos along with an accurate description. To improve engagement, encourage your viewers to subscribe to your channel, post their comments, ask questions to clear their doubts (you will need to answer them at the earliest), and share your content on their social media account.

Make Mobile Marketing Work for You

As of February, 2020, the number of smartphone users worldwide has surpassed three billion, and is expected to further grow by several hundred million over the next few years. In fact, in the UK alone, the number of monthly active smartphone users is projected to reach 88.1 percent of the total population by 2024.

Almost everyone carries a smartphone and uses it for various purposes, including for physical training. This is a crucial reason why you should optimise your online fitness platform as a part of your mobile-centric marketing strategy.  

Further, people are spending more time on their smartphones using different kinds of gaming and social media apps. You may want to capitalise on this and use mobile marketing to enable your gym business to grow. Simply run your ads on mobile gaming or a healthy-eating applications or similar kinds of apps where your target audience is likely to hang out. 

Creating location-based strategies will help bring in more leads from people around your location. It will also make them aware of your brand identity. 

Be Social on Social Media

Social media has several tools that can make video streaming a viable option for advertising and promoting your gym. Take the example of London-based fitness establishment, Frame, who used Instagram to engage their audience by asking them about what exercise classes they would want streamed. Immediately after this, they launched Frame Online

Similarly, US gym giant, Planet Fitness is providing free workouts to their audience for two weeks. These sessions are streamed on their Facebook and YouTube channels. This step is sure to help them retain their audience and position them as gym brands that care about the fitness of patrons. 

Today, almost everyone is present on social media. This will help you convey your advertisement messages to a large audience at once. Create high-quality images, tutorial teaser and promotional videos, and share them to your Facebook and Instagram pages with appropriate hashtags. Use the Live feature to conduct real-time light exercise sessions for free. Encourage customers to leave their comments and feedback to maximize engagement. Publish positive feedback regularly in your Stories.

Use Influencers to Inspire 

For fitness enthusiasts, being unable to go to the gym can mean more than just the loss of their daily routine. They could also be missing out on opportunities for social interaction or even stress-busting workouts (especially since the present crisis is likely to affect people’s mental health negatively).   

This is a good time to tie up with fitness influencers to promote physical and mental wellbeing through exercise. More often than not, people look to influencers for all types of content, including that meant for self-care, whether it is through guided exercise, live music sessions, yoga classes, home workout guides, healthy recipes, and more. 

The stage is now set for influencers who previously created content related to gym workouts to hone in on changing consumer habits, and come up with content that focuses on overall health and wellbeing.   In the current situation, TikTok is emerging as an effective platform that is being harnessed by established as well as new influencers. Working with influencers make sense as they can keep your audience inspired and motivated to stay fit during the pandemic. The right influencers can get your target audience to engage with your brand by posting videos related to home workouts, preparation of healthy food, mindful meditation, Zumba, and more.

Create a Virtual Community

A lot of people frequent gyms not only to sweat it out, but also to strike new friendships from the gym community. Needless to say, group sessions are more enjoyable when taken with friends and running on the treadmill is more entertaining with good company by your side. In view of this need to connect, consider establishing an online community, where your customers can interact with each other, and share their experiences, tips and workout videos while beating the lonely blues. 

You can spur even more engagement by posting daily questions, following up on progress stories, and hosting monthly fitness challenges. Providing helpful content and conducting live exercising sessions are other ways to keep your subscribers coming back and spreading positive word-of-mouth about your initiatives.

Offer Discounts

The time is ripe for enticing long-term purchases and memberships with discount offers. This may mean tweaking your existing gym membership marketing techniques. If your business model allows you, encourage prospects and customers to go for a one-year membership now at a discounted rate. These memberships can also start or continue once the coronavirus situations has settled.

If your gym sells equipment or workout gear that can be purchased online, consider offering free or discounted shipping. You can also do your bit for the small businesses around your gym by offering a discount to customers who bring in a recent receipt from a small merchant other than your competitor.

Mould Your Offers According to Circumstances

As the circumstances around you change, so should your gym marketing strategies. Doing so will help you stay relevant and with-the-times. After all, you don’t want to end up sounding like one of those television advertisements for travel agencies, which suggest you take a break and travel far and wide. Or even one of those ads that implore you to buy and save on toilet paper brands that have already been lapped up by panic buyers. 

During times of uncertainty, it makes sense to be agile with your advertising and move quickly to adapt to the changing circumstances. If your customers are unable or unwilling to utilize your usual services and/or products at the moment, it is best to change your advertising strategy according to the situation around you.

Focus on Creating Exceptional Customer Experiences

In times when uncertainty reigns supreme, you will do well to instill confidence in your customers by helping them cope with the situation, providing factual information, and going the extra mile to help them. This is the time to show empathy and prioritize customer experiences. Your consideration for your customers will help you be perceived as genuine and trustworthy, which in turn, will earn you a loyal customer base. 

Like most businesses, your gym is also likely to suffer financial losses because of the pandemic. In a situation like this, it is better to be by your customer’s side and show that you’re there for them rather than crumble and go into hibernation. It is crucial that your customers do not notice an interruption in the way you’ve been serving them. This means focusing on providing extraordinary customer experiences more than ever before. You may even need to intensify your efforts to ensure you deliver the most outstanding experience through optimal service delivery. 


Like numerous other industries where business revolves around people’s participation and communities, the fitness industry is also reeling under the effects of the coronavirus and the quarantine. While it is clear that the pandemic will have a long-term financial impact on gyms and fitness centres, there are several steps you can take to keep your business afloat and leads coming in. Digital channels can be your best allies in helping you position your gym as a reliable one that’s interested in helping people stay fit whether they are at the gym or in their homes. Do give the above tips a go and with time, you will be able to spring back in business with a bang! Or reach out to us for any help.!

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Rob Simpson

Rob started Judo at just 7 years old and, after years competing at national and regional championships, he discovered Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. The rest, as they say, is history! He turned his hobby into a business when he opened a martial arts gym. This lead to consulting and developing leads and marketing systems for major businesses, franchise brands, fitness entrepreneurs and gym owners.

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