Marketing Group Fitness Classes: Ultimate Guide

If you are wondering how to market group fitness classes, you are on the right path toward success.

Using the “build it and they shall come” method that most group-ex teachers employ, that is: getting your certification, finding a gym that will let you use their studio, and then hoping people come to your classes and pay you lots of money, is a shortcut to failure.

In this article, I will be showing you the most effective ways that you can market your group-ex classes to make sure you have a line of people queuing up outside each week.

Sound good?

Let’s go…

Sure, you may start your classes in a gym and have a few people turn up to it, maybe they enjoy it, maybe they tell a few friends about it and maybe there are a few more people the following week.

This is fine, and it’s how a lot of people start their group fitness class careers, but there’s a big problem with it.

You’re going to be broke for ages!

Do you really want to be teaching classes to three people each week until things start to “pick up”, or would you prefer to open with at least half a class of people waiting for you?

In 2018, 4.6 million people attended group fitness classes on a weekly business, there’s clearly plenty of people interested in it, so let’s get them coming to your classes.

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how to market group fitness classes

Take it online

Take your group exercises online

Why not double your chances of making money and increasing your group fitness class participation by not only relying on people coming to the gym? Instead, open up your classes to live streaming services that people can pay for so they can take part in your classes without needing to be there in person.

This method is great for busy people that don’t have time to make it to the gym after work or people who plain don’t like training with other people.

By using online streaming services, even if you only have five people attend your class, you can still have another thirty people paying and taking part at home. In these uncertain times, you need to protect yourself financially in any way you can, and people are far more used to using video services since the Covid 19 pandemic began.

You can offer pay-as-you-go or subscription services for your classes, whichever feels best.

Here are some options for you to check out.

Use content marketing

use content marketing for your group exercises classes

How did you come across my site? Because I wrote articles that I knew you’d be interested in and made them really great resources.

You can do the exact same thing with your classes, find out what people are asking by using the Google autosuggest feature or by using a great site called answer the public (link takes you to site).

All you need to do is plug in the keywords for your class and see what questions people are asking. In Google, type your main keyword, for example, “spinning”, then “how” or “why” etc, and wait to see what comes up as suggested topics. You can get more ideas by putting each letter of the alphabet after your terms to see what comes up then.

Answer the public straight up tells you all the questions people are asking, so if you have a creative side, you can use these questions to write articles that answer the questions that come up.

From there, you can direct them to your online classes to see if you can pick up more participants for your next session.

It takes a little time and effort, but it can keep clients coming to your classes each week, and you can even monetize it with advertising to help bring in some additional cash.

Use Google my business

use google my business to market your group exercise classes

I’d be willing to bet that this is an opportunity that at least 80% of group-ex teachers miss out on and it’s perfect for them!

Google my business (link takes you to Google page), is simple to set up and an excellent way of getting people in your local area to know that your business exists, and attend your classes.

You know when you search for things in Google like “Pizza restaurants near me” and that box appears on the right side of the screen? well, that’s because the company has set that up so you are the first option they see.

You can easily set up your own Google my business account (it’s free btw), so if anyone is looking to attend classes in whatever you teach in their local area, you are the first thing they see.

If you can get your members to give your business a few good reviews, that’ll really help with getting new people to attend your local classes. Give it a try!

Offer a one-off “try before you buy” class

Everyone loves free stuff, but giving a free class is more than just being charitable, it lets people know what they are getting themselves into without having to commit.

Commitment is hard for a lot of people, and asking people to give up their Wednesday evenings for the considerable future might take some convincing.

There’s nothing wrong with putting some marketing materials (flyers etc) around the gym to let people know that there is a new class starting soon with a date and time of the session and a note to say that it is free of charge. You will certainly get plenty of interested people signing up for this.

Will they all stay with you and keep training each week? Absolutely not, but will a lot of them? If you give them a great class and show them how much fun it can be to exercise, then yeah, a lot of them will.

Don’t feel like you are selling yourself short by giving away free sessions to drum up business, it’s common in the fitness industry and plenty of other industries for that matter. Companies give away free cheese samples in shops so you buy their cheese next time you’re shopping.

It’s an age-old marketing method, but that’s because it works so well.

Prepare weeks ahead of your first class

Prepare your marketing weeks ahead for group fitness

It’s not going to be enough to put a few leaflets on the gym reception a day before your first class is due to take place.

If you want your classes to be successful, you should be planning and organizing your marketing several weeks beforehand. This means creating and printing leaflets that let people know that in two weeks’ time (or however long), they have the opportunity to take part in a free 1-hour class of their own.

You can arrange with the gym reception team to make announcements either every day or every other day at peak times to announce your class name, time, and place. You need to give people plenty of time to book into your class, however, for the announcements, I would recommend that you only start these one week before your class, that way, you can use FOMO (fear of missing out) to help fill your class up.

For example, if each announcement makes it clear that the new and free class is happening at 7 pm next Tuesday and only has 8 places left, the scarcity will make people want to sign up before they miss out.

Whatever methods you use to market your classes, the main point I want to get across is don’t leave it until the last minute. Give yourself and your potential members, plenty of time to organize yourselves.

Give taster sessions before your first real class

People are nervous about anything different, so if they have been going to the gym for the last two years and sitting on an exercise bike for an hour, you are going to have to convince them that your classes will give them a much better workout.

Are they going to see your leaflets and think “I’ll give that a go, it’ll be a much better use of my time”?

No, they won’t. They will likely ignore them, so instead, you need to go to them.

Take your class out onto the gym floor a few weeks before your opening night and show people what they can expect. Don’t give away too much, if your class is an hour long, give a twenty-minute freebie, if it is a half-hour long, give them 10 minutes. Give people just enough to show them that they will enjoy the class and should come to the main event, but don’t give them so much that they feel like they don’t need to come to the actual class.

Create marketing materials to place around the gym

create marketing boards to promote your group fitness classes

This is an easy way to get seen around the gym whilst you are not actually in the building.

Most gyms will let you promote your classes ahead of time, so they should be ok with you leaving some marketing materials around.

These can be:

  • Leaflets/flyers that you leave in the reception or in the changing rooms
  • Display boards that explain what your class is all about and its time and place
  • Loudspeaker announcements are made at the peak times of day in the gym
  • Business cards with your name and number
  • Advertising boards placed at the gym entrance with details of your class

At the end of the day, you will be paying the gym to be able to use their studio, this counts as part of the gym revenue, so they want this money. Because of this, they should be more than happy to help you make your class a success, and letting you market your classes should be part of this.

Give tasters in local businesses and offer discounts

give free taster classes to market your group fitness classes

This is without a doubt, my favorite tip for marketing your group fitness classes because it works so well, you’ll find it’ll massively increase your group fitness class participation!

Companies want their staff healthy, if their staff are healthy, they work longer and take fewer sick days, which means the company is more profitable.

Companies love this!

So, why not use this to your advantage, by going into local businesses and arranging to speak with the higher-ups about running a promotion where the employees of that company get a 20% discount (or whatever you can afford) off all your classes? You may be making less per person, but it’s totally worth it for a packed-out class.

You may want to offer to come into the building a week or so ahead of the opening night to give some free samples of your class. I’ve visited a lot of high-profile company buildings, and they are always offering health days and gyms are always running promotions so they should have the facilities for you to do this.

Make use of social media

Use social media for group fitness marketing

Social media is such a powerful way of reaching out to potentially thousands of people each and every day.

Use the reach it has to let as many people know about your classes as possible. I’m not talking so much here about your physical classes, but more about your online streaming classes.

You can do something very similar to the above point, in that you should offer free trial sessions so that people can see how you teach and if they enjoy your classes, and then pay to join in more if they want to.

Your options here are great, you can offer free workout tips every day, show people how to perform movements correctly, answer common questions about fitness, offer diet tips, and the list goes on and on.

The main point is to get your name and face out there and recognized. This is your chance to make yourself famous across the internet for the fantastic classes you teach. Remember that there will be no limit to the number of people that can attend your online classes, so the more, the better.

Get your face out there, get known, make an impact, and gather a huge following. You will soon find yourself teaching classes to hundreds of people at a time.

Encourage member referral schemes

Use member referrals to market group fitness

What’s easier than trying to reach out to loads of gym members to get them to come to your classes?

Getting their friends to do it for you!

Once you are running an established and popular class, let your members know that if they refer a friend and bring them along to the next class, they will get their session free.

I know that it may sound bad that you are losing the money a member would have paid for that session, but if the member they bring carries on training with you, you now have the original member and their friend paying for sessions.

This is totally worth doing, as plenty of people will be willing to bring their friends along to train with them. In fact, people training with their friends makes it much more likely that they will carry on training for a lot longer, which is the ideal situation for you.

Use Google ads

Use google ads to market group fitness

You’ll hear a lot of people on these sorts of articles suggesting that a great way of getting people to know about your business is to make a website. And they are right, to an extent, they just happen to be missing out on a really important detail.

Make a website, or better yet, get a professional to make you a website and then advertise it!

If you create and just let your site sit there, no one will ever see it.

Think about how many fitness professional websites there are out there on the internet, hundreds? thousands? Maybe even hundreds of thousands. So, you are going to need to use advertising to help people discover your website so they can join your online training classes.

Using Google ads isn’t too difficult, but for a total novice, you might need some guidance. Luckily, there are plenty of resources online to help you out. I’ll leave a link to a video that will teach you how to set up and run your first campaign below.

Set Up Your First Google Ads Campaign

Use email marketing

Use email marketing for your group fitness business

Along with making your website, I would suggest creating a subscribers list so you can send out promotional emails letting people know when your next workout will be airing so that no one forgets to join in.

There are many tactics you can employ to get people to sign up for an email service, you can offer free eBooks that only require an email address to access, ask for email addresses in exchange for the opportunity to win free classes or other prizes, have popups on your site that ask for signups in exchange for tips and tricks emails, offer discount classes in exchange for email addresses, etc.

There are plenty of options to choose from, so see what works best for your customers and your site.

Make sure you are in the right time slot for your area

Right time for your fitness classes

Timing is crucial to the success of your class, if you get your session slot wrong and you could be looking at empty classes week in week out.

When you are choosing the gyms you’d like to work in, don’t just go for the first one that says yes.

Look at the area you will be working in, are there lots of businesses nearby? Are there affluent people there that look like they wouldn’t mind paying an additional fee to come to your classes?

Once you are happy that these members exist, you need to scout out busy times of the gym when there are free slots available in the timetable.

For example, if you find that the only time available for your classes all week is 5 pm, you may want to consider looking for another gym to work. 5 pm may sound good because most companies let their staff leave work at 5, however, they need time to be able to leave work, get to the gym, and get changed, so 5:30 pm or even 6 pm would be much more likely to give you a busy class than 5 pm.

The advice here is not to rush into things, if you’re excited about starting teaching, that’s great, but don’t let that be spoiled by a bad experience. Take your time, scout out your venues, and see what time slots are available. You are looking for 7-8:30 am 12:30-1:30 pm and 5:30-8 pm session slots if you can find them. If not, then look somewhere else!


Well there you go, these are some of the most effective fitness class promotion ideas to market your group exercise classes and give you packed-out studios week in and week out.

I hope you have enjoyed today’s article and have some good points to take away with you and try out.

The cool thing is, none of these methods is particularly difficult to implement, but they all get you great results.

You don’t need to do all of them at once, in fact, I would suggest you don’t. Pick one or two and put it into practice, if it works, cool, add another until you can’t take any more participants.

These are standard marketing practices that have been around for a long time, and that’s because they work. I hope they bring you a great deal of success and you have fun trying them out.

Go get ’em!

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Chris Walker

Chris Walker worked in the City of London as a fully qualified REP's level three personal trainer for just under ten years. He built and maintained a client base of 40 individuals and worked with several high profile clients, including actors, actresses, comedians and politicians.

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