How to Market Fitness: 3 Generations Impact on the Industry

Published on: 
25 May 17
Posted in: 
10 minutes

There’s one golden question every fitness industry entrepreneur wants the answer to: How to market their fitness business to their target client.

In an industry that generates over $80 billion every year, it isn’t easy to effectively grab your slice of the pie. In fact, the number of gyms and fitness studios in the US continues to increase each year. It’s more crucial now than ever to stand out from the competition.  

We’ve covered aspects of this topic before in Marketing your Fitness Studio 101, but today, we’re talking about how to market your fitness business to three specific generations:

  • Generation X
  • Millennials
  • Generation Z

We’ll discuss the impact each generation has had on the industry, what their fitness priorities are, and strategies to get fitness lead generation under way.

Let’s dive in!

Fitness Lead Generation – Gen X

Gen X, born in the mid 1960’s to the late 1970’s, is at the forefront of the current fitness movement. Their health motto is “live life to the fullest”. They favor fitness plans consisting of doing things versus exercise for the sake of exercise.

Gen X has embraced the notion that movement through fun can be integrated into daily life better than a regimented exercise plan. This has pushed classes like martial arts or rock climbing, driving a mindset that fun sport activities can be the ultimate fitness plan.

Fitness Lead Generation

How Has Generation X Influenced the Industry?

Generation X took your basic step classes and turned them into the popular hyped up choreography of the early 1990’s. With a new emphasis on “fun” fitness, variety was added in the form of pivots, jumps, and other complicated moves to keep Gen Xers engaged.

It has been suggested they are even responsible for today’s wide variety of dance-inspired  and high intensity spin classes. 

What Does Generation X Want?

This group wants variety in their workouts mixed with technical execution. Essentially, they want fun mixed with performance — these are their priorities. This means classes that are as much about entertainment as the workout.

Generation X is notoriously heralded as cynical. They refuse to invest in fads or crazes without strong justification that it’ll benefit them long term… minus monotony. As they’ve aged, their mentality has shifted from “no pain, no gain” to “work smarter, not harder“.  

How Do I Market to Generation X?

Generation X is still extremely active in the fitness world. And this generation is 55 million people strong… don’t miss out on an opportunity to engage this large market. 

Here’s some tips to get fitness lead generation from this influential age group:

1. Stress Work-Life Balance

Your gym or studio could target these clients by mixing technical training with leisure activities –  like dance, spin, or martial arts.

2. Set Realistic Intensity Levels 

Gen Xers don’t want programs that are overly intense or too stressful on the body. However, workouts do need to be effective. Measurable goals and results are certainly necessary to keep this generation coming back to your facility. Align goals with optimising movement and flexibility as opposed to high intensity workouts. 

3. Offer Group Training

Group training gives your Gen Xers the excitement they crave and also, the opportunity to create social bonds at your facility. If a member is thinking of skipping a class, their fear of missing out on the social aspect will kick in, boosting your class attendance rates.

Learn more about the benefits of group training for your facility


The Millennials group comprise those born in the early 1980’s to the late 1990’s and are renowned for being complicated individuals.

Millennials value priorities much different than the previous Gen Xers. Exercise to stay thin is a concept of the past for this group, with a motto of “strong is the new skinny”. They’re using words like eating right more than previous generations. However they still struggle to fit exercise into their routine, even though they hold health in high regard.

This busy age group seeks a like-minded community where they can have fast, social workouts. The industry is just beginning to truly accommodate and adapt to their unique desires.

Fitness training

How Have Millennials Influenced the Industry?

This complicated brood has started the movement of “fitness communities”.  

But what is a “fitness community”?

Essentially, Millennials have intertwined social atmospheres with their fitness environments. For them, it’s as much about getting together with like-minded people as it is about working out. This generates the idea of a community encompassing their loyalty to certain fitness facilities.  

They identify with their fitness community as part of who they are. Think Crossfit or other well marketed fitness communities that have intertwined their brand with the identity of Millennials.

The most common excuse of this group is they’re too busy to workout. This mentality has helped drive concepts like High Intensity Interval Training, also known as HIIT, into popularity.  Effective but quick is continuing to gain momentum due to Millennial influence.

What Do Millennials Want?

This generation values feeling special. As a fitness industry entrepreneur, this means you need to provide the ultimate “personalized” member experience in order to attract and retain the Millennial market.

Pay-as-you-go classes are frequently sought after by this busy generation.. even if it means they will pay more in the big picture. The concept of inflexible traditional gym memberships just doesn’t appeal to this group. 

Millennials also want fast. Guided group classes which have them in-and-out in under an hour is the perfect balance.

How Do I Market to Millennials?

This age group is entering their prime spending years… and to top it all off, they’re the biggest generation yet. Millennials define “wellness” in a whole new way than previous generations. For them, it’s more than exercising and eating right, but a lifestyle choice. This has them continuously investing in the industry.

If you’re not currently focusing your marketing efforts on Millennials, you may wish to reconsider. 

So, how can you capitalize on this group? Here are some suggestions to get your fitness lead generation strategy in place:

1. Get With the Tech Times

Don’t kid yourself into thinking Millennials will notice that promotional poster on the wall. The best way to get this group eating from the palm of your hand? Be in the palm of theirs. You guessed it, you need a mobile app for easy on-the-go class bookings.

There’s no better way to prove you’re truly invested in your member’s experience than making booking a two tap process. With in-app mobile notifications, you can ensure your messages get noticed: special offers, limited time promotions – you’ve a direct marketing channel to keep your millennial audience engaging with your business. 

Fitness studio management software can help you keep up with this technologically savvy group.

2. Go Boutique, Go High End, Go Specialized

It’s not uncommon for Millennials to have multiple memberships for studios with different specialisations. They will pay more to feel special and like to be part of something bigger: a community. This is exemplified by the rising popularity of movements like Crossfit and SoulCycle. Could it be time to craft a strategy that makes your service more specialised to specfic millennial needs?

3. Implement Short, Varied Workouts

Clubs, like F45, have started to target Millennials by offering short classes that have a lot of variety. Millennials do not want a repetitive experience. They want varied workouts that are short, intense, and effective. Why not implement some “fitness blast” themed classes at your facility? 

Fitness Lead Generation – Gen Z

Who is Generation Z? They may be off your radar now, but Gen Z is an up and coming market to the fitness industry. They’re our teens, born after 2000.

In fact, this group is blossoming and projected to be 2.56 billion strong by 2020. Now is the time to start planning for this influx of future spenders.

Fitness team

How Will generation Z Influence the Industry?

This group is slowly shifting fitness towards body confidence, balance and feeling good. They use the word balance more than any previous generation. The focus is on their health in a more holistic way than ever before.

Exercise for Gen Z is focused on stress management and mental well being versus strength and aesthetic appeal. For these teens, their mind’s health is intertwined with their body’s health — fitness is about overall well-being.

What Does Generation Z Want?

To prepare your business for this generation, you will need to focus on transparency and being a trusted resource. This technology centered group knows how to access information instantly. If you aren’t selling the truth, you won’t sell them anything.

Overall, Gen Z is seeking fresh, exciting, lifestyle enhancing fitness programs that promote balance. Strong emphasis will need to be put on mental health’s link to physical fitness.

How Do I Market to Generation Z?

There are a few ways you can prepare for this upcoming generation. Understanding how to market fitness to millennialls will help bridge the gap to Gen Z. Implementing these strategies now can help you get ahead of the generational curve — and give you a one up on rival gyms and studios.

1. Offer Social Media Share Worthy ExperiencesThis generation is constantly sharing with their online network through platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and Twitter. The more shareable experiences you offer, the more free marketing you’ll get in the form of client posts. 

To do this:

    • Create ‘hashtags’ specific to your brand. Encourage your members to use them in their posts.
    • Encourage your instructors to interact on social media. Each team member can have a social account that is linked to your gym or fitness studio.
    • Offer specials through your company’s online social accounts to grow your following. For example, “Like our page today & get 10% off your next session!“.

2. Market Your Programs as a Lifestyle

If you want to create the winning recipe for Millennials, you will have to create a program that integrates physical fitness with nutrition, body image and mental well-being. From here on out, it’s time to stop neglecting these aspects of wellness and acknowledge how they play together as a whole.

3. Embrace the Times

This group in particular has grown up surrounded by technology. If you believe that easy mobile booking is important for Millennials, it’s critical to your success with Gen Z. Ensure your gym or studio excels with this group by providing value added benefits through your business mobile app. For example, you could send inspirational client stories straight to their smart phone.

This up and coming fitness market is virtually untapped. Kick start your company’s branding by being forward thinking: start marketing to Generation Z now! 

Marketing a Fitness Business – You’re Ready!

Learning how to market a fitness business is no easy task. This tricky industry has an annual growth rate of about 2% each year — it’s imperative to stand out as an industry leader and maintain an edge over competitors.

Choose your target: Is it the group currently filling the most roles in the industry, Gen X? Is it the people who are influencing fitness the most NOW, Millennials? Or do you want to up your game and plan for the future by targeting Gen Z?

Make sure your marketing plan considers the priorities of your target generation. The more on board you are with what they want, the more fitness lead generation your marketing will create.

About the Author

Dana Dolan

Dana Dolan (Dayna Lisa) is a fitness + food freelance writer and the founder of Fierce Fit Copy

She’s combined her writing passion with her background in culinary arts, marketing/sales, and fitness. When she isn’t writing bomb blog posts that convert clients, she spends her spare time experimenting in the kitchen and lifting heavy things.

To contact dana, email [email protected]