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14 First Class Gym Event Ideas to Boost Your Acquisition and Retention

14 First Class Gym Event Ideas to Boost Your Acquisition and Retention

These days conversation about how a fitness studio should market themselves usually centers around digital. There is no doubt that digital should be the focal point of your overall marketing strategy. However, as we discussed in The Fitness Founders Guide for the Modern Fitness Founder, there should be a range of different marketing strategies to complement your digital efforts and events is one of those strategies. For businesses in general, events are an excellent way to meet potential customers face to face.

Recent studies by the Event Marketing Institute show that 74% of event attendees have a more favorable opinion of a brand or product once that have attended an event related to it. There shouldn’t be any surprise about this, as nothing beats the effect of an in-person encounter in building trust with someone.

Events also give the potential customer the chance to experience the product or service you are offering. This can be much more effective than selling something online where a person can just scroll past an ad. In fact, 79% of US marketers generate sales using event marketing.

So what does this mean for you as a studio owner?

Well, it means events are a great marketing idea and a fantastic way to target new customers. For many people, joining any type of fitness center can be an intimidating experience. What better way to introduce them to what you are offering than by meeting them in a more relaxed event setting? Here they can see what your gym is all about and meet the trainers and other gym members, so their first visit to class won’t be as intimidating.

Events are also a great way to boost retention. Events build the community aspect of your gym and allow current members to build relationships with fellow members and trainers in a more relaxed environment. This helps create a better emotional tie to your fitness studio and hopefully increases those retention rates. Events centered on challenges and competitions break up the routine of weekly classes and give members a way to put their hard-earned fitness gains to good use.

In this article, we split up a list of gym event ideas into the following categories:

  • Challenges
  • Community
  • Expertise
  • Brand Awareness

At the end will go through the steps you need to take to make sure you successfully implement your own gym event ideas!



In-club Competitions

Putting on an in-club competition is a fantastic way of instilling a healthy spirit of competition amongst your members. Deciding on what type of competition to put on will depend on what type of fitness studio you are and the level of fitness of all your members.

While we don’t always recommend putting on “Gladiator” style events, you should create a competition that is challenging enough to generate interest but not overly ambitious as to intimidate members. Figuring out the level of your competition is very simple – ask your gym members! Having their input from the beginning will get them excited about taking part and get them into that competitive mindset!

Weight-loss Challenges

For most fitness studios the weight loss challenge is a standard event. And the reason for this is that it works! Most people join a fitness studio with the goal of losing weight in mind and giving them a set period of time in which to do this really motivates them to take part.

Challenges are a fantastic way of acquiring leads. Say you are doing a “28 Day Challenge”. Open it up to members of the public to get new members in the door. Once you have them signed up to the challenge, you have 4 weeks to build a relationship with this person into a full paying member of your gym. Not only is it a great marketing idea, but it is another revenue stream for your business.

Train for Local Sports Events

If setting up an in-house competition proves to be a challenge in itself, why not see what’s going in the local area. There is always lots of 10ks, marathons, Tough Mudder-style endurance races, and triathlons happening all year round – so ask your members what interests them. Then you can tailor specific training sessions to help them perform to their best at these events. Having everyone train together for a common goal is a fantastic way to build a sense of community. Also think of making branded t-shirts and water bottles specifically for the event to give that extra sense of team spirit!



Social Gatherings

Despite your best efforts to create a community in your gym, some gym members find it more difficult to socialize in a class environment. To help foster that sense of community spirit, why not organize a social event for your members?

You could try a group dinner after one of your evening classes, an outdoor picnic or a trip to the local juice bar. Even try a non-alcoholic night on the town! Whatever you plan on doing, keep it health and fitness related. Going for a few drinks in the local bar might sound like an excellent way to get members bonding but may not be for everyone.

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Finally, think of asking members to bring a friend along. This could be a great way to talk to potential new members and give them a taste of the overall vibe of your gym while also giving existing members a way of incorporating their friends and making them more comfortable.

Health Food Tastings

It is well-known that 80% of weight loss occurs in the kitchen rather than the gym so introduce your members to some healthy snacks to inspire them. Set a day with some local health food business owners (more about this later) either at their place or yours. This is a great way to educate your members on healthy eating habits, something which people struggle with often on their fitness journey.

Fitness Holidays

Wellness and fitness tourism is a fast-growing sector of the tourist industry in general. Recent studies show that wellness tourism now a $639 billion market and will reach $919 billion by 2022. It has taken over fitness as well as the tourism industry. Again it a fantastic way of building the community aspect outside of the gym and it and arranging fitness retreats for your members for weekends is an excellent way to add another income stream to your business. We aren’t saying plan a trip to Bali for an all-inclusive yoga retreat (though you can if you want!), but pick a destination that’s easy enough to get to and doesn’t break the bank!

Client Appreciation Days

Your gym members are the literal lifeblood of your business so why not celebrate them by putting on a free day of events centered around their health and wellness. Combine some of the gym event ideas we have discussed on this list like bringing in a fitness expert for a talk or training session, holding a health food tasting event, or putting together a cool social gathering.

Local Community Focused Events

Building social bonds with the local community should always be at the forefront of your mind when running a fitness business. Local businesses are the backbone of any community and getting yourself involved in what’s going on in your area will give your gym a good name and make you known to potential new members. Simple ideas for events you can run include seminars on healthy eating for families or a free over 60s functional fitness training session.

Brand Awareness

Launch Events

Great for the opening of your studio or the introduction of something like a new fitness class. If you are opening for the first time or opening a second location, launch events can get significant attention for your business. They also should be part of your pre-sales strategy to get members in the door before you open. Invite members of the local media to try the fitness classes to get some media coverage and get your name out there. It is the type of gym marketing strategy that can create a bit of hype for your business. Combine this with an effective social media campaign to promote your gym on all fronts

Partner with a Local Business

If you want your events to have a higher impact and way more reach, consider talking to other local business owners about partnering up to run larger scale events. This type of partnership benefits both sides as they can reach your audience and more importantly you can reach theirs. One great idea we discussed already is partnering with a health food company to do jointly branded tasting sessions. You can also consider sponsoring a set menu of branded recipes that you can promote in a local health food restaurant.

Social Media Events

Running online events especially through your social media channels is useful if you think you don’t have space to hold them in your fitness center area. A straightforward way to do this is to run a competition or even run a Facebook or Instagram Live stream showing fitness and nutrition tips. Also if you hold the event in the gym, document as much as you can on social.



Workshops are a fantastic way to introduce members to new health and fitness concepts. They can provide your customers with great training on a particular part of health and fitness over a short period. Their specific nature enables members to grasp the concept in a short space of time quickly. You can charge a small fee from your members to cover the costs of the event and to bring in some revenue. Consider this as another good gym marketing idea as you can open up the workshops to the public as a way of acquiring new leads.

Bring in Interesting Speakers

Invite experts from the world of health and fitness to share their knowledge with your members. People love hearing insider knowledge they would not get anywhere else and interesting stories about the person’s background. The speaker you invite benefits from the chance to promote a book or other product they might have. Two good ideas for a type of speaker you could bring in are a successful athlete from the local area or a motivational speaker.

Guest Instructors

While bringing in guest speakers is a great idea, why not go one step further an bring in an expert or a local fitness influencer to run a special class for your members. If they have a sizeable social media following leverage this alongside your own following to raise the profile of your gym among their target audience. The workshop event idea we discussed above is also a great format to host guest instructors.

Putting Your Ideas Into Action

The ideas we have discussed in this article are great for creating brand awareness, building community both inside and outside the gym and ultimately growing acquisition and retention. But before you rush into putting one of these gym event ideas into action here are a few pointers.

Be Prepared

Preparation is key. Start with a well-defined goal for your event. Is it acquiring new members or retaining existing ones? Or is it about community building or brand awareness? Whatever the target may be for your event, have a strategy in place with measurable objectives you need to hit to make sure the event goes off without a hitch and returns on your investment!

Social Media Is Crucial

No matter what gym event idea you pursue social media is key to the success of any gym event idea. It is a huge promotion tool and a great way to tell the story of an event as it’s happening and after. Facebook and Instagram Live are brilliant for recording events in real time. Hopefully, this will get the viewers excited to come to your next event!

Give Away Branded Swag

Have some branded merch available to give away for free at some of the events you run. Things like t-shirts, water bottles, pens, and hats are useful for turning people into walking advertisements for your gym!

Get Feedback

You should always look to improve each event you run. The best way to do this is by gathering feedback from attendees to figure out what was good and what could be improved on. Maybe email out a simple survey after the event or gather input from members at your next class.


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Mehdi Elaichouni
Owner at Carpe Diem BJJ

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