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How Fitness Hashtags can Grow Your Online Audience in 2021


Looking across Instagram sometimes you may think that hashtags (especially fitness hashtags) are overused from time to time. Some people seem to pack in more hashtags than actually copy in the post, even extending the hashtags into the comments below.

This may seem a bit over the top and in some cases it is. People honestly will use lots of hashtags because they see others doing the same. But what if there was actually a strategy to using the hashtag? What if there was a reason that people packed a range of popular hashtags, niche hashtags etc into their posts? An actual method to the seemingly random madness?  

Consider the example of Power Professionals founder Kim Walsh Phillips. She increased her Instagram followers from 360 to 6,000 in an incredibly short time frame of three months. She lays out her journey to social media success in which you can read here. 

The key lesson I would take from Ms. Phillps is that a well thought out hashtag strategy can be implemented by anyone looking to grow their account. There’s no doubt that social media platforms can be challenging to get right for a business owner.

Considering 45% of the world’s population use social media,  learning how to use hashtags correctly you have a great chance to grow your platform and get your brand name out to a wider audience.

Skip ahead to:

Fitness on Instagram

Instagram has always been held up as one of the fastest-growing social media platforms and in 2018 it reached over 1 billion monthly active users –  an incredible number. In 2020, as the COVID-19 pandemic began sending countries into lockdown, people began to spend more and more time on social media, especially Instagram. Hootsuite estimates that there was a 13.8% increase in time spent on Instagram from 2019.

If you thought that Instagram is brimming with #fitspiration before, it went into overdrive as everyone began posting fitness content online. Everyone from your typical personal trainer to your neighbor seemed to be sharing sweaty HIIT sessions, workout tutorials, healthy recipes, nutrition tips, and the all-important motivational quotes. This really reinforced Instagram as the perfect place for people to share their fitness journeys and inspire others.

Instagram Connects Businesses to their Audience 

Gyms and studios learned an important lesson this year about the value of online fitness. Forced into closure by lockdowns they needed a way to help their members continue on their fitness journey and to keep motivation high. Online workouts have exploded in popularity and gyms can now cater to people well outside their local area. For example once Barry’s Bootcamp launched its online offering Barry’s at Home, it attracted users from across the globe. 

So how do you connect with a potential global audience?

One way is through a social media platform like Instagram. In fact, 80% of users are following a business on Instagram, and 60% now first hear about a product or service on the platform. This makes it an ideal space for gyms and studios to connect with their audience. We have profiled some excellent fitness brands are killing on social media so take a look for some inspiration, 

Clearly, building your presence on social media is a winning strategy for 2021. The reason being is that it’s one of the best tools for building brand awareness, attracting new members, and engaging your existing ones. However, just because it’s the best doesn’t mean it’s the easiest. Regular growth happens through a lot of different avenues. In this article we will use hashtags that help make you more easily discoverable on the platform.

How Do Hashtags Work?

Like every aspect of marketing, Instagram hashtags need strategy and clear thinking. Crafting the perfect Instagram captions, taking great photos, and making graphics take time and effort. You don’t want it going to waste by tossing a selection of random popular hashtags on your content and hoping for the best.

Maximizing Your Reach With Hashtags

Think of hashtags as you think of searching for something on Google; it’s like using fitness SEO keywords to drive people to your website. Audiences can discover content by searching for specific hashtags. Instagram will also prompt a ‘related hashtags’ option, enabling people to explore a whole world of relevant content. Users can choose to follow hashtags, which means they’ll then see the associated Instagram posts in their feed, without even searching for them. 

Attracting New Members With Hashtags

According to recent social media statistics, posts with at least one hashtag get more engagement than those with none. But a crucial rule of using hashtags on Instagram well is making sure they’re relevant. As an example, #love is the most popular Instagram hashtag in the world, but that doesn’t mean you should use it for a post from your studio. Sure, it may get a few random likes, but it doesn’t relate to fitness in any way.

Is a user who’s searching for the hashtag ‘love’ looking for fitness tips or a new gym to join? Probably not. So will the tag entice them in through the doors of your studio? Probably not. 

Let’s take a look at some examples of relevant fitness hashtags on Instagram and how you can utilize them. 

Fitness Hashtags on Instagram

You can use up to 30 hashtags on an Instagram post, so use them wisely. There’s no “perfect” number of hashtags that you should use, but the process should be simple: If you have 30 relevant hashtags, great! Use them. If you only have 6 relevant hashtags, stop at 6. 

Popular Fitness Hashtags for Instagram

If you’ve been searching for the best fitness hashtags, you’ve likely come across a lot of “top hashtags” lists. Right now, these are some of the most popular fitness hashtags on Instagram:

  • #fitness – 376,305,497 posts
  • #gym – 180,144,076 posts
  • #workout – 152,862,438 posts
  • #fit – 151,856,761 posts
  • #fitnessmotivation – 76,924,058 posts

While these examples are great for showing what other people are posting and may have a wide reach, they don’t show what users are searching for. Plus, with so many posts using these popular hashtags, how will your content stand out?

Generic Fitness Hashtags

There are hundreds of general hashtags for Instagram that relate to the fitness industry; think along the lines of #active #training #exercise and #health.

Again, like the popular fitness hashtags, these examples could potentially reach a broad audience and, in turn, promote brand awareness. But that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the right target audience for your studio, so at best, the most you stand to gain is random likes. 

As they’re relevant to fitness, you can use a couple of popular and generic hashtags to help maximize your reach. However, depending on what services you offer, you can probably narrow these examples down a little more.

You don’t want to be too generic, so there’s no sense in using all of these hashtags. Doing so will mean that your post gets lost in an overwhelming sea of fitness content with the same tags. You’ll need to up your hashtag game if you want to reach the right audience. 

How to Reach Your Target Audience With Hashtags

Focus on the Big Picture

We already know that standing out on Instagram is tough, but we also know that the platform is an excellent source of inspiration. So use it. Find a couple of fitness businesses on Instagram that are similar to you. 

If you’re a boutique studio offering a selection of specific classes, take a look at 1Rebel’s Instagram account:

The Top 10 Barriers
Slowing Your Fitness
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Discover more

Choose examples that inspire you, have a large following, and have great-looking content that’s engaging the audience. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • What are they doing well?
  • Would their content inspire you to find out more about the studio?
  • What generic hashtags are they using?
  • What hashtags are they using that are specific to their brand? 

Starting your hashtag strategy with research like this will help paint a picture of what you want to achieve on your feed, and what you need to do it well. It’s a simple equation:

Great content that engages your audience plus… Relevant hashtags that prompt people to your posts equals… A killer Instagram page that builds community and drives members through your door.

Understand Your Market

If you understand what your target members want – you know what they’re searching for on Instagram. And if you know what they’re searching for, it’s easier to create highly relatable content.  

Being specific with your hashtags means cutting through the noise of fitness influencer content on Instagram. But getting this right is an artful balance; if a hashtag is too niche, it’s unlikely that many will find it. Too popular? It’ll get lost. You need to use the right combination of both. 

It’s something that requires research and trial and error before you find what works for your studio. Here is an example:

Say you’re a Yoga studio based in South West London. At face value, there are two generic hashtag pools you can draw from here:

Generic yoga hashtags. #yoga #yogaposes #yogainspiration #yogaeveryday #yogalife

Generic London hashtags. #london #londonlife #londoncalling #londonliving

Using these hashtags is a good place to start to gain general interest and raise brand awareness. But if you want to reach your target audience it’s difficult as they’re too broad and already being used for millions of posts. The key is to experiment with a combination for more niche tags, ones that your potential members are more likely to search for:

#londonyoga #londonyogastudio #londonyogateacher #londonyogacommunity

Combining the two major categories, the hashtags above have good traffic volume while being more niche and they’ll reach a relevant audience. Plus, you can still include some of the broader hashtags as well. 

Jump on Trending Topics

Using topics that are already trending is a smart tactic for extending your hashtag reach. The general rules we’ve outlined so far still apply; make sure your content is still relevant and outside of the trending hashtag, use a combination of popular and specific fitness tags.

The trending hashtag that you’re jumping on doesn’t need to be related to fitness, but you’ll need to make some form of link with the post that you share. If you use social media, you’ll have seen an example of this spread over your feed recently in the form of the #dollypartonchallenge. 1Rebel used the hashtag as an excellent opportunity to promote its team on social.

For trending hashtags, you have to act fast or you’ll miss the mark. But there are trending hashtags all year round that you can pre-plan content for. Take a look at this example of Jeep making the most of the #monthersday hashtag:

It’s worth planning out a marketing calendar that includes holidays, national and international awareness days, so you can plan your hashtags and campaigns accordingly.

Keep Your Hashtags Varied

When you’ve found the hashtags that draw your audience in, it’ll feel like you’ve found the recipe for success. 

If you’ve been using the same hashtags for a few months and they’ve brought new followers to your page – that’s great. But at some point, things might slow down. And that means that there’s a chance that the people you’ve won over are already following you, and the ones who aren’t will continue ignoring your posts. You’ll need to change things up to keep attracting new people. 

Aside from seeing your followers go up, or hearing from new members that they heard about your studio on Instagram, you’ll need to monitor results to know what’s working and what’s not.

Experiment With Social Media Tools

Like any marketing strategy, it’s no good diving in without metrics. Monitoring your hashtag performance can be a lot of work if you’re doing it manually, but there are tonnes of free tools that you can utilize to lighten the burden.

The best Instagram marketing tools can help you engage with followers and analyze your overall performance. Here are a few that help with hashtags, you’ll never be stuck for new ideas again:

Display Purposes

Display Purposes is an excellent tool for researching hashtags for a post, especially if you’re new to using them. Start with one of your existing hashtags, or if you don’t have any in mind yet, you can use a keyword. The app then recommends additional relevant hashtags to include. You can also choose the number of hashtags you want to include, and the app will fill in accordingly. 


This app uses AI to recognize what’s in your photos and generates relevant hashtags based on what it picks up. It’s a winner if you’re sharing photos, but may not be the best choice for graphics. You can save your favorite hashtags in the app, so it’s easy enough to go back to them for future reference. 

Sprout Social

Sprout Social offers a variety of helpful marketing tools for a range of social media platforms. It’s hashtag tracking tools for business allow you to track hashtag performance and trends, helping you see what resonates with your audience and ultimately – perform better. 

In Summary

Finding the hashtags that drive results for your business comes down to doing your research, sharing great content, and figuring out the hashtag combination that’s relevant and right for you.

Hashtags help users cut through the social noise and have the power to direct your target audience straight to you. You just need to know what your audience will be looking for, so your posts are waiting for them as soon as they hit search.

We empower you to boost your business

"I think Glofox speaks to lots of different fitness businesses. I looked at a few options, but the Glofox positioning was more flexible. Without it the business wouldn't be scaleable”
Mehdi Elaichouni
Owner at Carpe Diem BJJ

Trusted by studios, and global gym chains.

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