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Gym Advertising Guide: Fitness Ads Tips And Examples


Fitness ads are one of the simplest ways to bring new leads to your gym and reactivate former members. There's a lot of opportunity here to boost your revenue and grow your gym, so let's cover the most crucial advertising tips you need to get started.

Here's your guide to fitness advertising for your gym:

  • How to attract gym members
  • Fitness ads 101
  • Benefits of gym ads
  • Why you need gym ads
  • Launching a gym advertising campaign
  • Types of fitness ads
  • Gym advertising platforms
  • Promoting fitness ads on Facebook
  • Promoting fitness ads on Google
  • Ideas for gym ads
  • Examples of health and fitness advertisements
  • Tips for creating more successful fitness ads
  • Gym advertising challenges
  • Gym advertising solutions

How Do You Attract Gym Members?

Group of athletes hanging out at a CrossFit gym

There are tons of ways to attract new members to your gym.

Tried-and-true methods like referral programs, free trial offers, loyalty rewards, and old-fashioned networking are fine to use, and they often work great. But if you want to give your membership numbers a real boost, consider advertising your gym online. Fitness ads can help you reach potential members who may never discover your gym without them.

What Are Fitness Ads?

Fitness ads are a kind of advertising that promotes health and physical fitness, typically for the purpose of marketing a particular gym or group fitness regimen. They come in many forms and appear in all media (TV, print, online, radio, etc.), helping to motivate people to work out.

Benefits of Gym Ads

The benefits of running your own health and fitness advertisements are massive. They include:

1. Reaching a Larger Audience

Health and fitness ads are a great way to make your presence known to would-be members who otherwise would never have found out about your gym. Without the benefit of advertising, your potential reach is limited to whoever walks by your location or hears about your gym through word of mouth. It’s nearly impossible to calculate how much you could expand your membership by placing a few ads here and there.

2. Communicating Value

Another huge benefit of gym ads is the ability to communicate the value of your services to leads and existing members. Advertising makes it tremendously easy to announce promotions, list your gym’s location and hours of operation, and educate people about the value of being physically fit — placing particular emphasis on how your gym or fitness program would work for them.

3. Increasing Brand Awareness

Have you ever been introduced to a brand or company without the help of an advertisement of some kind?

While it is possible, the chances of boosting your gym’s membership without first raising brand awareness are slim. Gym advertisements can provide a healthy increase in awareness for your brand, opening up the possibility for an influx of new members with each new ad.  

4. Retargeting Existing Leads

In addition to reaching potential gym members, good fitness ads can have a remarkable impact on leads who are already on your radar.

Whether they’ve expressed interest in joining your gym or just fit your ideal customer profile, your existing leads are the perfect target for your advertising. These ads can be more specific and tailored to this particular set of leads, so you should refine your messaging to suit their goals and lifestyles.

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Learn how to set up retargeting ads with our free guide! Click the image to start.

Why You Need Gym Ads

Advertising your gym is more than just a good way to increase your membership — it’s an essential part of growing your business.

Rather than seeing gym and fitness ads as nice-to-haves that you could do without, it’s important to recognize them as an integral piece of your marketing and, ultimately, your business operations. By not advertising, you risk losing potential members to gyms that are expanding their reach through fitness ads, threatening the health of your business.

Now we’ll look at what steps you should take to launch an ad campaign for your gym.

The 10 Steps To Launch a Gym Advertising Campaign

Launching an entire ad campaign may seem like an intense undertaking, especially if you’re not already familiar with the most popular advertising platforms. But, if you stick to these basic steps, you’ll be releasing good fitness ads that connect with your audience.

1. Set Goals

Your ad campaign has to start with well-defined goals. Ask yourself the following questions to help create your ad strategy:

  • What do you hope to achieve with your campaign?
  • Are you just trying to raise brand awareness?
  • Are you trying to attract new members? If so, how many?
  • Do you want to get current members to renew their memberships? In what timeframe?
  • Are you hoping to retarget former members?
  • What would entice someone to rejoin your gym?
  • How would you measure your progress?

Whatever your objectives are, make sure they’re clear and relevant to what you’re looking to accomplish.

2. Plan Your Ads

Now that you’ve set clear goals for your campaign, how are your ads going to help you meet them?

You’ll have to come up with a solid plan to guide your advertising efforts, or else you could end up wasting tons of time and money. Develop a budget for your campaign after deciding on what medium you’ll use to launch your ads. Then start thinking about the message you’d like to convey to communicate your offer’s value to customers.

3. Choose Your Offer

So, what will your ads offer?

A gym ad will often include some kind of promotion, like a free trial membership for newcomers or discounts for referring new members or signing up for an annual membership.

Depending on what goals you’ve set for your campaign, you may want to advertise one or more of these offers. Whatever offers you choose to include in your ads, be sure they align with your campaign objectives.

4. Choose an Audience

This step is absolutely critical, and it will often hinge on the medium and what sort of offer you choose.

If you want to attract new members, you’ll be targeting your campaign differently than if you’re trying to boost renewals. Similarly, if you’re trying to get more 20- and 30-somethings into your gym, you’ll likely want to craft a different message than if your goal is to bring in more mature members. Think carefully about who your audience is.

5. Write Ad Copy

Typing on laptop

Now you’re ready for the nitty gritty.

When it’s time to write your ad copy, you’ve established who your audience is, where they consume advertising content, and what messages are likely to resonate with them. This knowledge will be crucial as you craft your:

  • Headlines, which grab your readers’ attention
  • Graphic copy, which complements graphic elements like images
  • Body copy, which forms the bulk of text in your ads
  • Call to action, which serves as motivation to get your readers to join a class or make a membership purchase

Once you’ve completed the copywriting, next up are the visual elements of your ad campaign.

6. Develop Ad Creative

Ad creative refers to the visual attributes of an ad, which may or may not be applicable to your campaign.

If you develop ad creative for your campaign, it’s important to remember that you’ll have about a second or less to get your message across to your audience. Therefore, it’s best to use visually striking faces, colors, and objects to get their attention. You’ll also want to use fonts and colors that fit with your brand aesthetic to maintain consistency.

7. A/B Test Your Ads

To evaluate your ads’ performance, you’ll need to run some tests to compare them. A/B or “split” testing is a simple, effective method for gauging the strengths and weaknesses of the various ads of your campaign.

To get the most out of these tests, be sure to keep the variations between the ads you’re comparing small, like different shades of color or slightly varied headline copy. Also, you’ll want to test the ads on audiences of a similar size.

8. Ensure Proper Tracking

Tracking is a must for measuring the performance of your fitness ad campaign. Whether you do it through Google, Facebook, or any other method of ad tracking, such as UTM parameters, it can help you discover more effective ways to craft your ads and run your campaigns.

The 3 basic ways to track ads are:

  • Tracking URLs
  • Tracking pixels
  • Cookies

Each of these methods has its own pros and cons, but the benefit of any kind of ad tracking is being able to monitor the performance of your campaigns.

9. Monitor Ad Performance

Number of accounts reached on smartphone

Keeping tabs on how your gym ads are doing will give you valuable insights into what channels and platforms are best for reaching your audience, helping you adjust your campaigns where needed.

Simply placing a bunch of ads without watching how they perform would be a waste. You need to find out as soon as possible whether or not your ads are helping you generate leads. Otherwise, you could wind up overspending on a campaign that’s not producing results.

10. Optimize Your Ads

With the insights you gain from seeing how your fitness ads perform, you can fine-tune your ads and revise your advertising budget to maximize your returns. When you’re optimizing your ads, remember to concentrate on boosting your conversion rate and minimizing your cost per acquisition (CPA).

A good tip for ad optimization is to keep an eye on what your competitors are doing to inform your strategy. If your main competitor sees huge success with one of their campaigns, try to understand how you might turn that knowledge to your advantage.

You’ll also want to practice careful audience segmentation. The more you segment your audience, the more targeted and effective your ad campaigns can be.

Types of Fitness Ads

Besides all the channels and platforms to choose from to launch your campaign, there are a few kinds of ads to consider as you make your plans. The 4 different types of fitness ads are:

1. Awareness Ads

Awareness ads are geared toward people who haven’t heard of your gym and may not even be thinking about joining one. They let people know that your gym is there and that you offer real value to your members.

These ads are supposed to put you on the map in terms of what people think of when they think about gyms. Awareness campaigns aim to broaden your audience and generate leads for your business.

2. Consideration Ads

Consideration ads target those who are thinking about working out and are weighing their workout options. They’ve heard of your gym, and know about several others, and maybe they’re also thinking about joining a team fitness community.

These ads target leads who have engaged with your awareness ads and are meant to help you learn more about their intentions so you can determine if your gym might be a good fit for their needs.

3. Conversion Ads

Conversion ads, naturally, are for converting your leads into customers. They can be more personalized for this segment of your audience since you’ve learned more about what your leads are looking for throughout the consideration stage of their buyer’s journey.

These ads are intended to compel your leads to take a particular action, like attending a free class or renewing a current membership. Their calls to action should be specific and should create a sense of urgency in your audience.

4. Remarketing

Remarketing is about engaging audiences who’ve interacted with your gym already, but didn’t convert.

If someone emails you to ask about joining your gym, but they don’t reply to your initial offer, you could follow up with a better offer for their membership. The best way to reach a customer is by the way they prefer to be reached. Email, text, and social media have eclipsed the traditional phone call, so be prepared to use a combination of them all.

UpLaunch provides email and 2-way texting for just this purpose. A potential member who leaves you a voicemail may not be reachable by phone, preferring text messages instead — a perfect opportunity to text them back!

Gym Advertising Platforms

Social media icons on a smartphone

There are many platforms where you could advertise your gym. However, you’ll want to pay particular attention to 4 platforms that dominate the online advertising space. They are:

1. Facebook

Even on a tight budget, your gym can see a real impact with the help of Facebook ads. With billions of users, Facebook is a great platform to experiment with campaigns and measure their performance so you can get the most out of your ad spend.

Facebook gives you the opportunity to do highly targeted marketing so your message gets in front of your ideal customers at the right time, making it one of the most valuable tools for advertising.

UpLaunch guide: How To Write a Facebook Ad for Your Gym
Download your Facebook ads guide by clicking the image!

2. Instagram

Instagram lets you reach a wide audience with no cost investment and just a few hours a week. Although posting on Instagram is free, paying to post your fitness ads to attract new members is a great way to market your gym with visually enticing content.

Instagram Stories are a post or series of posts that are only visible for 24 hours, allowing for polls, surveys, and countdowns as fun ways to engage with your members and prospective customers.

3. YouTube

Filming a barbell workout on smartphone

Second only to Google in daily visitors, ​​YouTube is a powerful advertising tool to attract new members to your gym.

Fitness is something people would almost certainly prefer learning about by watching videos rather than reading articles, making it an ideal platform for gym advertising. Your audience is waiting for high-quality content that excites them, so you’ll want to focus on releasing well-produced fitness ads in a video format that entertains as well as educates.

4. Google

The most successful Google ads are full of relevant content that answers users’ questions. To create fitness ads for Google, you’ll need to specify keywords or phrases that your potential members may search for. Then, you’ll bid on these keywords using the platform’s auction model for selling ad space.

Although using Google to advertise your business calls for a strong combination of knowledge and hard work, there’s no denying how effective it can be for attracting members to your gym.

What You Need To Know About Promoting Fitness Ads on Facebook

Let’s take a look at some things you should know before promoting your gym on Facebook.

Facebook Ads Objectives

Users on Facebook are constantly providing personal details about their interests, behaviors, and values. Facebook then predicts the actions that each user is most likely to take on its platform. Therefore, choosing the most fitting objective for your campaign is essential to ensure that your ads are shown to users who are likely to take the action you’d like them to take.

The 6 types of Facebook ads objectives are:

  • Awareness
  • Traffic
  • Engagement
  • Leads
  • App promotion
  • Sales

Choose your objectives wisely to get the most out of your Facebook ads.

Facebook Ads Formats

To use Facebook ads effectively, you’ll want to match the ad objectives to the right ad formats. Facebook gives you a wide variety of formats to choose from. By knowing the various specs for each, you’ll be in a good position to use Facebook ads to attract members to your gym.

There are 11 formats of Facebook ads. They are:

  • Video
  • Photo
  • Slideshow
  • Carousel
  • Instant Experience
  • Dynamic Product
  • Lead Form
  • Collection
  • Event
  • Messenger
  • Stories

Each of these formats offers its own advantages and disadvantages, depending on your objectives. Be sure to use the formats that best suit the objectives of your fitness ad campaign to maximize the effectiveness of your ads.

Facebook Ads Audiences

Facebook audiences refer to the group(s) of people you’re trying to reach with your campaign. The platform makes it easy for you to select the demographics, locations, and interests of users so that they see the ads that are most relevant to them.

With Facebook Custom Audiences, you can connect with users who’ve shown interest in your gym based on your sources, like web traffic. You can also make good use of Facebook’s sources to make a custom audience based on users who watch your videos, open a form on one of your ads, or follow your Facebook page.

Facebook Lookalike Audiences can be used to reach users who are similar to the target audiences you’ve already identified in Facebook ads. The platform leverages algorithms to locate people who’d be suitable for these target audiences. This enables you to grow your target group to include more relevant leads instead of guessing who might be interested in joining your gym.

What You Need To Know About Promoting Fitness Ads on Google

Google search on tablet

Let’s look more closely at what you should know before advertising your gym on Google.

Google Ad Campaign Goals

When you start an ad campaign on Google, you’ll be asked to choose a campaign goal. All goals are intended to drive traffic to your website, but each one has its own special function.

For your gym, your goal will be to increase memberships by attracting new leads and retaining your existing members. Google will want to know how you plan to achieve your goal. In your case, your strategy will involve phone calls and visits to your site.

Types of Google Ads

The Google Search Network, a collection of search-related apps and websites where your fitness ads can appear, offers 6 ad categories:

  • Image
  • Video
  • Text
  • Dynamic Search
  • Call-Only
  • Shopping

When you’re using the Google Search Network, ads show up by the search results after a user looks for terms related to the keywords you’ve selected, like “fitness center” or “gyms near me.” With these types of ads, you’re able to capitalize on the users’ intent when promoting your gym.

The Google Display Network (GDN) is a list of millions of websites, videos, and apps where your fitness ads can appear. The GDN allows you to choose between these 8 types of ads:

  • Image
  • Video
  • Text
  • Responsive
  • App Promotion
  • Call-Only
  • Product Shopping
  • Showcase Shopping

When you launch your campaign in the GDN, your ads appear as targeted displays on websites, YouTube videos, Gmail accounts, and mobile apps. Advertising in this network helps you expand your reach and attract lots of new leads for membership.

Google Ad Groups

According to Google, an ad group consists of 1 or more ads that target the same set of keywords. The platform recommends that you use this feature to organize your ads by a common theme, creating possible ad groups with keywords that are similar to ones you’ve chosen.

Ad groups will show you the search volume for these keywords, which can help you gauge interest in relevant topics and select the keywords you want to target to promote your gym.

Ideas For Attention-Grabbing Gym Ads

There’s no end to the list of ideas that you could use to make your fitness ads. However, there are a few types of attention-grabbing ads that you should consider using in your campaign. They are:

1. Testimonials

Customer testimonials can take different forms, such as written quotes, case studies, and videos. They can be displayed across your website, social media, and print materials — whatever formats you’ve chosen to use for your campaign.

Testimonials help you build trust, proving that you offer real value to real members who’ve chosen your gym as their fitness solution. Customers who trust your business are much more likely to become loyal members and help you convince others to join your gym.  

2. Discounts

Online Black Friday sale sign next to laptop

Offering discounts in your fitness ads is a great way to draw attention to your gym. Discounts are highly effective in advertising, since the prospect of saving money makes for an attractive offer among your potential members.

A few of the most popular types of discounts that gyms can provide are:

  • Seasonal
  • Referral
  • Early payment
  • Time-sensitive
  • Loyalty program

Percentage discounts are typically more effective than price discounts because they carry a higher perceived value. For instance, a 10% discount on $20 is likely to seem more valuable to a prospective member than a $2 discount, even though the actual value is exactly the same.

Craft your discounts with your members in mind. What kind of offer is most likely to attract members to your gym?

3. Personalized Exercise Plans

Personalized workout plans are an especially effective advertising strategy because they can engage current gym members while also attracting new members.

Choose a marketing channel you like to use where you already have an audience, such as email, social media, or your website. Set goals that are going to attract new members while addressing common pain points your audience is likely to have, like building muscle tone.

4. Fitness Tips

Everyone likes getting a few insider tips to help them improve their health and fitness. You can deliver real value for your audience by including some of these in your gym advertising campaign.

Your knowledge is the perfect marketing tool, so if you’re an expert in a sport or a particular workout regimen, take advantage of your expertise to make your gym stand out. When your potential customers see you as a fitness authority, they’re more likely to join your gym.

5. Nutritional Planning

Healthy bowl of food

If you’re giving out fitness tips, it also makes sense to offer advice to people on their nutritional choices. Poor nutrition can spoil all the hard work your members do at your gym and convince them not to come back to work out once their membership expires.

Position yourself as a thought leader by including well-researched information about health and nutrition in your ad campaign. Or, if you’re not well-versed in nutrition yourself, partner up with a local dietitian in your area to help create this type of content.

6. Fitness Myth Busting

Along the same lines as fitness tips and nutritional planning, you can provide outstanding advice about what not to do in the workout space.

Anyone who’s spent more than a few minutes at a gym has probably heard several myths and misconceptions about how to get and stay in shape. By correcting some of these mistaken assumptions that people may have, you can instill confidence and trust in your audience and keep them tuned in to your thought leadership.

7. Giveaways or Contests

Giveaways and contests are a couple of the most attractive ideas to include in fitness ads. Since gym memberships tend to be pricey, offering them for free is an effective way to bring traffic to your website and raise awareness for your gym. Tapping into your customers’ competitive spirit with a fun contest is also bound to increase engagement with new and existing customers. In addition, you can use the information that your leads provide to you for remarketing.

8. Free Trials

As with giveaways, the promise of something free can be too good to pass up. Free trial memberships make excellent offers to include in your fitness ad campaigns, as they give your customers real value and provide you with the opportunity to get to know their goals and needs better once they’re in your gym.

Lots of gyms offer a weeklong free trial, or a free trial class, or even a full month at no or low cost.

9. Referral Programs

Advertising a referral program is an ideal way to boost your gym membership. Depending on your gym’s size, referrals can help you build a community that’s focused on health and fitness.

As more members join your gym, you’ll be able to attract even more members to grow your customer base. This feeds positive word-of-mouth marketing, which passively grows your gym while you turn your attention to more proactive marketing efforts.

What Are Positive Examples of Health and Fitness Advertisements?

With so many things to consider when you’re creating your ad campaign, just getting started can seem daunting. To help you get going, we’ve assembled some of our favorite health and fitness advertisements to give you some inspiration:

Example 1: CrossFit Eclipse

CrossFit Eclipse online fitness ad

Example 2: CrossFit Eclipse

CrossFit Eclipse free trial class ad

Example 3: CrossFit San Marcos

CrossFit San Marcos personal training Google ad

Tips for Creating More Successful Fitness Ads

Knowing how to run an ad campaign for your gym is one thing, but creating a successful series of ads is another. To help you put together some killer fitness ads, we’ve included these bits of advice:

Understand Your Prospects’ Needs

Advertising can be like performing — you’ve got to know your audience. Otherwise, you won’t be able to give them what they want.

By understanding the needs of your prospective members, you can craft offers and ad campaigns that speak to what they’re looking for from their workout experience. Conduct surveys, pay attention to social media chatter, and above all, listen to your audience to find out how you can help them achieve their fitness goals.

Focus on Benefits

You could have the best gym around, sporting the best equipment and coolest environment. But if all you talk about is how great your gym is, your audience will start to wonder what’s in it for them.

It’s crucial that your fitness ads highlight the benefits of joining your particular gym, and not just its features. Your customers need to know that they’re not enrolling to marvel at how great your gym is — they want to see results!

Know Your Competition

Just as knowing what your prospects are searching for is key, so is knowing how your competitors attract customers. This can save you loads of time and headache, since you’ll learn to avoid mimicking ad campaigns that haven’t worked. You’ll also be able to absorb ideas that have worked well in the past, providing you with some direction for your own campaigns.

Study what others have done and learn from their successes and failures to inform your advertising strategy.

Adopt the AIDA Model

AIDA stands for:

  • Attention
  • Interest
  • Desire
  • Action

This model identifies the stages that a prospect goes through on their journey to becoming a customer.

Getting your audience’s attention is just the first step — you’ve got to drive their interest in your gym with exciting promotions, fueling their desire by showing them the benefits of membership. Once a potential customer has been primed with these initial steps, they’ll be much more likely to take the action of joining your gym.

Pair Paid Efforts With Organic Efforts

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To maximize the effect of your ads, you’ll want to use a combination of paid and organic content to engage your existing members while spreading the word about your gym to potential customers.

You’re more likely to attract new members when your gym features prominently on a search engine results page (SERP). Using both organic and paid content means you’ll have a better chance of driving prospects to your website, since you’ll own more SERP space.

To help you get the ball rolling, UpLaunch publishes a weekly newsletter that includes a free organic social post for you to use every Monday. You can subscribe to the UpLaunch newsletter here.

Personalize the Selling Experience

No one likes to feel like they’re just another customer. To make your customers feel special, it helps to personalize the experience for them.

One way to do this is by giving your prospects a virtual gym tour. This will give them a peek at your equipment and the classes you offer as well as any extras they can look forward to. This is typically a more effective strategy for selling gym memberships than rushing prospects through your sales process.

Follow Up Promptly

This may seem like a given, but it’s surprisingly common for businesses to lose potential customers by not following up promptly once they’ve been in touch.

Similar to the effect of a personalized experience, the feeling someone gets when you quickly respond to their inquiry can mean the difference between gaining a new gym member and losing a lead. The sooner you follow up with a potential customer, the more likely you’ll benefit from the effort.

Gym Advertising Challenges

2 athletes hydrating in the gym

Running a fitness challenge is one of the easiest ways to attract members to your gym. While the list of challenges to run is practically endless, here are a few to get you brainstorming:

  • 6-week challenge: Not too long and not too short, the 6-week challenge is just the right level of commitment for most people.
  • Hydration challenge: Participants earn points by drinking fluids to stay hydrated, ensuring a healthier diet and happier living.
  • 7-day free trial: Prospects get a taste of what your gym has to offer, and you can challenge them to keep going after the trial ends.
  • Nutrition challenge: During this challenge, participants are encouraged to eat wisely. This type of challenge is perfect for leveraging the New Year’s rush.

Gym Advertising Solutions

There are a ton of gym advertising solutions to choose from. Many of them offer content, creative services, and strategies that are designed to bring in new members and grow your gym. However, it’s important that you do your research to find out what options are going to work best for you.

You’ll want a solution that can scale with your business without overwhelming you with a bundle of services you may not need. Also, you’ll want flexible pricing plans in order to adjust your commitment as you see fit.

Before jumping into this decision, be sure you’ve scoped out your available options to find the one that’s right for you and your gym.


Save Time and Hassle by Trusting the Pros!

UpLaunch offers a full set of digital marketing services to promote your gym. For as little as $149 a month, you’ll get:

  • Full-service ad strategies and management
  • Copywriting, creative design, and implementation
  • Reporting on ad strategy performance
  • Landing pages
  • Live initial onboarding call
  • Customization for special offers
  • Quarterly progress reviews

For more information, reach out to the UpLaunch team today!

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