Fitness fads come and go, but one popular type of fitness class that has stood the test of time is outdoor fitness boot camps.
There’s something about getting outside with a group of other people and pushing each other to the limit that keeps clients coming back for more. Boot camps take people way out of their comfort zone(and out of the warmth) and are great for helping them reach their fitness goals.
As a business model, boot camps have a relatively low barrier to entry. In fact, many famous fitness pros began building their empires from the humble local park. One such example is British fitness entrepreneur Joe Wicks, who began his business in Richmond Park, London.
Unable to afford a van, he hitched a small trailer full of gear to the back of his bicycle and cycled across London to set up class every morning at 6 am. Slowly but surely he grew through hard work and dedication. The days of half-empty early morning classes now seem a distant memory for the Body Coach.
However, a lower barrier to enter the market doesn’t mean a smooth road to success. Every type of fitness business, from the boot camp in the park to the shiny new chain of a big franchise, will face intense local competition. For that reason, you need to have a marketing plan in place as early as possible.
In our main guide on building an outdoor fitness business, we gave an overview of fitness boot camp marketing. So in this article, we want to go more in-depth into the actual strategies you can use to get members and scale your fledgling boot camp business.
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What Is an Outdoor Bootcamp?
Outdoor boot camps come in many shapes and sizes, but almost all share similar characteristics.
Typically, boot camps combine a series of calisthenics such as push-ups and lunges, with running, crawling, jumping, and other high-intensity aerobic movements that are loosely based on methods used for preparing new recruits for the physical demands of service.
While bodyweight exercises make up the majority of the training, many boot camps will make use of minimalist equipment too – often using sandbags, lump hammers, kettlebells, and tractor tires to train different movements.
Usually, the workouts are set-up in a circuit format with trainees alternating between periods of high-intensity work and rest as they move between exercise stations.
Boot camp workouts are designed to work the upper body, lower body, and core simultaneously. They emphasize total body training and combine mobility, strength, aerobic, and anaerobic training into a single session.
The science says they’re very effective too. A study published by the American Council on Exercise found that the average boot-camper expends about 10kcal per minute. According to the ACSM, the average heart rate during a boot camp session is about 77% of the maximum, which means they’re perfect for promoting both aerobic and anaerobic gains.
While that’s not quite as intense as some other forms of training such as spinning, boot camps have some other killer benefits too.
We all know that exercise is great for our mental health. But research has shown that green exercise, aka training outdoors improves mental health outcomes such as depression and anxiety at a greater rate when compared with indoor exercise. So, boot campers are likely getting an extra mental boost over their indoor gym counterparts.
What’s more, there’s solid evidence to support the group fitness approach to increase exercise adherence – i.e. getting more people to stick with a training plan. It becomes a lot harder to skip your training if your buddy is going to know about it.
In one study, over 90% of people who started a weight loss program stuck with it to completion when they had a partner to keep them accountable. Moreover, they were almost three times as likely to keep the weight off at follow up 10 months later when compared with people going the distance alone.
3 Awesome Outdoor Fitness Bootcamps
When planning your boot camp marketing, it’s a great idea to check out what the leaders in the outdoor exercise space are doing. So, before you do anything else, feast your eyes on these top outdoor boot camps.
Examine their websites, sign-up to their email newsletters and follow them across social media. Pretty soon, you’ll have a good idea about what they’re doing to engage their audience, attract new clients, and increase their overall revenue.
1. Holly Ringer’s Training, New York City]
Holly Ringer is a Nike master trainer, and her inspirational attitude attracts swarms of folks to her spring and fall training camps in Central Park. She’s a former collegiate athlete who has an unshakeable belief in teamwork.
She kicks people’s butts with suicide relays and partner drills, and each session starts with the mantra, “You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.”
2. BodyCore, San Francisco
BodyCore provides exciting, adventurous, and fun daily outdoor workout in San Francisco for people who want to make health and fitness a priority in their lives.
What sets them apart is that they don’t just train you and send you home – they’re big on taking a holistic approach to things by encouraging and educating members about the importance of lifestyle factors such as a healthy diet, good sleep, and social interactions.
They leverage the beauty of the environment and climate around San Francisco and position themselves as an alternative to ‘musty gyms.’
3. Bulldog Bootcamp, Chicago
Appealing to consumers looking for something a little bit more military-esque, Bulldog Bootcamp delivers no-frills outdoor workouts to trainees most mornings and evenings in Lincoln Park.
The badass female instructor known as ‘Sargent Friday’ puts attendees through their paces with running drills, plyometrics, and body-weight exercises. None of the workouts repeat for a full 12 weeks.
5 Ways To Boost Your Outdoor Fitness Bootcamp Marketing.
So, you’ve picked a location, got your permits, collected your gear, and planned super workouts, but now you’re sitting on your own in the park wondering where everybody is.
Don’t worry, that’s totally normal. Without well-planned marketing strategies, you’re unlikely to attract enough customers to make your new enterprise a roaring success.
Many boot camp owners are working with a tight budget, so here we’ve chosen to focus on the strategies that’ll bring you the maximum return for the minimum financial investment.
So, without further ado, let’s look at some techniques that’ll get folks interested in what you have to offer.
1. Build A Referral Programme
When it comes to fitness boot camp marketing, referrals are your greatest ally. When somebody vouches for your boot camp to the people in their social circle, it adds more influence than almost any other marketing strategy.
According to Nielsen, 92% of people trust recommendations from friends and family over any other type. On top of that, a recent study by Ogilvy, Google, and TNS revealed that 74% of consumers identify word of mouth marketing as a key driver in their purchasing decisions.
So, it only makes sense to encourage your current client base to spread the word. We’ll leverage their results, satisfaction social proof to generate new clients faster than a buttered bullet.
Decide on an incentive to push your r member to refer a friend – it could be a free one week pass, some branded swag, or extra one to one personal training. Research has shown that non-cash incentives are typically 24% more effective than cash rewards, so put your wallet away.
Keep it simple and promote it to your customer base through email, by handing out marketing materials like flyers and on your social media channels. For a more in-depth guide on how to create a successful referral program, check out our complete guide here.
2. Run a Fitness Challenge
People love fitness challenges. Working out seems so much easier when there’s a clearly defined goal mixed with a healthy dose of competition – plus challenges and boot camps go together like bicep curls and tricep push-downs.
Challenges are a great way to boost your customer retention and acquire new clients at the same time, which means you’ll spend less time worrying about the books, and more time focusing on developing incredible classes.
Consider running a weight-loss challenge, charity challenge, a healthy eating challenge – there are loads of options to choose from. Just make sure it’s something your audience will want to get on-board with.
One powerful tactic is to align your challenges with different seasons. This taps into shifting consumer desires across the year and maximizes uptake. For example, you could run a 16-week summer shred during Spring or a new year’s re-boot following the holiday period
Additionally, fitness challenges are well suited to corporate clients. Many business owners will be willing to subsidize or fund the cost of a boot camp challenge for their workers. They love the buzz it creates in the office and will be more than happy to pay for the rewards of a fitter, more productive workforce.
To supercharge your challenge, why not combine it with your referral program and encourage your clients to bring a friend to take part too? If you’d like more info on running a fitness challenge, we’ve written a lengthy blog post on that here.
3. Leverage Social Media
Social media is a popular fitness marketing tool and needs to feature in your boot camp business plan. Using it the right way increases your reach, showcases your talent, bolsters your authority, and brings in leads on auto-pilot.
Create a Facebook and Instagram page for your boot camp and share daily updates, from pictures of morning workout to quick tips for healthier living. This keeps you at the top of your client’s minds and makes them feel a more personal connection to you.
Post pictures of client’s achievements, tag them, and comment about how hard they’ve been working. Your members will love the social credit they get from being publicly praised on social media, and you’ll start to pique their friends interest too.
It’s also worthwhile exploring paid ads on platforms such as Facebook and Instagram. These have the potential to supercharge your boot camp business, but they do have a somewhat steep learning curve. To learn how to create laser-target boot camp ads that work, download our free playbook here.
4. Create A Website
Many fitness boot camps don’t bother to create a website and rely on more old-school forms of marketing. While traditional methods can be useful, a website is needed now more than ever if you’re going to be taken seriously.
Research has shown that the majority of consumers are regularly searching for local businesses online, with 69% of them searching at least once per month. It’s the perfect way to put yourself ahead of competitors and present yourself as the best boot camp in town.
You don’t need to go out and drop a bomb on a website. You can create a simple, professional looking site on your own for just a few dollars per month. Check out some of the major DIY website builders like Wix.com and Squarespace to get you up and running in under a day.
Include basic info about you, what services you offer, a simple FAQ page, a few quality testimonials, and how people can get in touch with you. See some quality fitness websites for inspiration here.
If you’re going to invest in paid traffic, make sure you get your google analytics and facebook pixel set up. Then register your business with Google My Business so that your details will appear straight away when somebody searches for you. Don’t forget to ask clients for honest reviews too if they’re happy.
Also, if you have the time, it’s worth your while to add a blog to your site. Putting out content that fixes the problems of your audience will help shoot you up the search engine rankings and add serious credibility to your brand.
In fact, content marketing produces one of the highest ROIs of all marketing types, costing, on average, 62% less than traditional forms of marketing and generates up to three times as many leads.
5. Try a Lead Box Contest
In the initial stages of your boot camp business, you need clients fast. If you’ve got no clients or very few, then lead boxes is a low-cost marketing tactic that produces great results.
Lead boxes allow you to generate leads for incredibly little compared to other forms of advertising. They’re a powerful way to jumpstart your business, so you hit the ground running.
Here’s how they work: get your hands on some boxes – you can order branded ones online or, if money is tight, reuse old cardboard boxes – and advertise an offer to ‘win a free month of boot camp’ on the outside.
Then make your way around your local community. Hit up places where your target demographic might hang out – frozen yogurt shops, health food stores, vegetarian restaurants, mom and pop burger joints, etc and strike a deal to have your lead box on display in their premises.
People enter by putting their name, email address, and telephone number into the box – thereby generating you a collection of red-hot leads.
You choose one lucky winner, but then the real fun starts. Instead of just picking one winner, you call all entrants, to tell them that unfortunately, they didn’t win, but as a consolation prize, you’d like to offer them a 50% discount for the first month instead.
It’s best to avoid the temptation to offer a free trial to every entrant because you’ll end up lowering the perceived value of your boot camp.
By offering a discounted price, you’re still asking potential customers to commit financially, which will make sure your boot camp is filled with dedicated people, rather than just a bunch of free-trial hoppers.
Now that you’re equipped with these five boot camp marketing strategies, you can start to take your fitness business to the next level. No matter if you’re launching your boot camp as a standalone venture or adding it to your existing offering, these strategies will help you capture leads, bring in revenue, and rise to the top of the fitness industry.