Category Archives: health club marketing

Summer marketing for fitness and cycling studios……take a deep breath

 Summer Marketing?  Yikes….take a deep breath.

Whether you operate in the colder states of the Northeast, the Midwest and the West, or in the moderate climates of the South or the Far West…….the summer slows down.   Even in places where the summer heat is intolerable for outdoor work outs, the summer slows down.
Outdoor exercise and nicer weather is part of the reason, but more importantly the “rhythm” of people’s lives changes dramatically in the summer.  School is out which directly or indirectly affects a huge percentage of your customers, and of course it is a time where many people take time for special trips and vacations.  For most local business, and definitely for fitness businesses….the summer slows down.
|Can you change that?  No.  Remember that old saying about “Give me the strength to change the things I can….etc. etc. etc.?   It’s true!  Remember it this summer.  Can you take some steps to minimize the slow down?  Yes.   Here are five Spynergy Consulting strategies for dealing with summer.

  1. Target specialty niches.  Even though your core customers are fewer, there may be groups you don’t typically target during the year.  Students are an obvious one, what about seniors?  Teachers?  Tourists and visitiors?  Town employees?  Others?
  2. Good time for discounting.  Since your sellouts will be fewer, what about Groupon deals, or annual “sales” where you discount.  Make the offers limited time and for limited term (“40% off 10-class package, must be used by labor day”)
  3. Specialty classes. Heartrate training, outside ride themes, Tour de France, musical themes, anything to spice things up a bit.
  4. Customer events.  Informal outdoor “group ride” starting at your studio, or even a “thank you” beach party that you ride your bike to.
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  5. Most important….”take a deep breath”.   It’s OK to be slower.  Plan for it to be slower, don’t beat your head against the wall.  Use it as a time to spruce up, organize fall marketing, complete long-delayed projects, work on your playlists and take some time off yourself to re-charge your own engine!  C’mon…give yourself a break.

Each part of the country and the world  has it’s own rhythm…don’t fight it.  After 7 years operating in Boston, we know we have 6 months of “high season” (Nov thru April)  4 months of mid-season (Sept, Oct, May, June), and 2 months of “down season” (July and August).  We budget and plan for it being sure to optimize efforts when they will do the most good —- and “taking a deep breath” when our customers do too.

Spynergy Consulting provides marketing and operational consulting to fitness studio owners and mangers. Contact Bill to brainstorm: billpryor@comcast.net

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Targeting all types for your indoor cycling or SPIN® studio

targetWho’s your target customer?   If your studio is like most…..there is not one correct answer and there are multiple groups that you can attract.   One way to think about the two broad communities your studio will likely serve is as Fitness and Training oriented riders

Fitness riders are not outside cyclists, are not training for an event and are likely primarily concerned with conditioning and weight control.  Training riders have a sport, race or event they are thinking about, it could be cycling but it could be something else.

Each of these types of clients can become  dedicated loyal participants if you cater to their needs and construct an environment they like…..AND they can co-exist nicely.  Our studio has 48 bikes and 30+ classes a week and I have seen it every day in my studio.  

Four Tips For Attracting and Retaining ‘Fitness’ Riders
1)  Provide useful articles and content regarding nutrition, weight control and how the cycling workout can be most effective
2)  Provide free “intro” sessions so newcomers can learn properly.  It is important to de-mystify cycling classes for many who think it may be too intense.
3)  Be careful the environment is non-intimidating to all fitness levels.  One of the reasons you will attract people who won’t walk into a large gym is because your place is friendlier and less intimidating.
4) Actively talk about and promote your appeal to beginners as well as to advanced cyclists and fitness levels.

Four Tips for Attracting and Retain ‘Training’ Riders
1)  Find instructors that are outside riders or active athletes and speak the language
2)  Educate yourself and your team on Heart rate, cadence, power and other metrics that help folks understand what they are accomplishing.
3)  Create and note special classes on the schedule that promote
specific training objectives (endurance, intervals, etc.).
4) Provide informative articles and content about the latest in training methods and technology

Online coupon marketing (Groupon, etc.) The good, the bad, the ugly

OK, these things work….really work.  But there are some things to think about and consider.  Be careful before rushing right in:

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The Good:  hundreds of new bodies will walk into your studio
The Bad:  many are bargain hunters you will never see again
The Ugly:  if you’re not careful, they will take the seats of your full price regulars

There are some things you can do to optimize this powerful new advertising medium.  For a complete round-up and analysis of how these things work and what to consider, check our sister blog site  www.cyclingstudio.org

The crucial importance of attracting multiple groups to your cycling studio

One of the beauties of a cycling studio is that Lance Armstrong and your grandmother could both sit through the same class (assuming each could tolerate the music), and if properly coached, each could receive awesome fitness benefit given their own fitness levels.  Isn’t that amazing?

For a startup cycling studio (or any cycling studio) to be a successful business, the available seats need to be filled.  Our experience over 7 years, is that no single constituency is enough…..we need them all.   Your marketing, AND your class offerings need to appeal to serious “suffer-loving”  cyclists — AND overweight weekend warriors, and everything in-between.  Don’t assume everyone has the same motivation.  Sure, the number one reason people attend spin and indoor cycling classes is to control weight, but here are other reasons we hear:

  • My cholesterol is high, I want to help control it
  • I am a runner, but want to cross-train to protect my knees
  • I just love the darkness and the mind/body elements
  • Indoor Cycling complements my other workouts
  • I meet interesting people at your studio
  • It’s the only workout I can enjoy with my spouse

Many of your potential customers are outdoor cyclists ….Many aren’t.
Many of your prospects are after weight loss….Many aren’t.
Many are young…..Many aren’t

It’s not easy targeting multiple communities of exercisers.  But is is possible.  Be sure you think about this aspect of your marketing and of the classes and environment you create.

There are a number of other posts on this blog addressing various aspects of opening a cycling or SPIN® studio.  For a free consultation/brainstorm, contact  Bill at 781-254-3677   billpryor@comcast.net

Opening a SPIN® studio

7 Questions to ask yourself

  1. How much money will I need to cover the cost of launching….and to support myself until the business can? This is a core question that should come well before you get into the specifics of how you want your studio to operate.  The answer will only come from the development of an exhaustive business plan (see #7 below).
  2. Who is your primary target audience? Stay at home moms?  Outdoor cyclists?  Singles?  Baby boomers?  Probably some combination, but the mix will have a major impact on your scheduling, marketing and other factors.
  3. Are you opening a Spin® studio or an indoor cycling studio. There is a difference, and you need to know the specifics to avoid legal hassles.
  4. What is your strategy for connecting with the community?  Especially early on.  There are number of tactics, you need to implement them early on so you don’t see empty classes.
  5. When you open a Spin® or indoor cycling studio you will need to think carefully about your location. What are the factors with noise?  parking?  access?  How many square feet are needed to accommodate the number of bikes you will have to have to make your financial model work?
  6. Marketing? Ads, eNewsletters, Direct mail, Web 2.0, what’s the right mix?  How can you build a great website?  How do you build the all important word-of-mouth once you open a Spin® studio or indoor cycling studio.
  7. Do you have a business plan that takes into account the rate at which your business will grow AND the rate at which it will churn out profit?  This is a critical question.   Having opened a number of studios, we have seen that the business gradually builds…….but how fast?   We have a track record so we can help you figure that out.

There are a number of other posts on this blog addressing various aspects of opening a cycling or SPIN® studio.  For a free consultation/brainstorm, contact  Bill at 781-254-3677   billpryor@comcast.net

Launching your own indoor cycling or SPIN® studio: 6 challenges to consider

In the last 3 months, I have had over 40 inquiries from around the country from people curious about starting their own indoor cycling or SPINNING® studios.  I am working closely with a number of these folks developing business plans as we speak, and several are launching studios this month!  Congratulations to Jody at Just Ride in Plymouth, Mass, Lorie at Joy Ride in Salem, Oregon, and Russell at Body Cycle in Philadelphia, PA……..I have had the privilege of working with each of them over the exciting (and nerve-racking) months leading up to their launches.

At some point along the way, each of these folks, faced challenges in each of 6 critical areas……and you will too if you are serious about opening your own cycling studio:

Pre-launch challenges:
1) Am I suited to being an entrepreneur?  A few months ago we posted on this topic.  In addition to a passion for fitness and the cycling experience, you also need to enjoy the business, planning, organization and marketing side of your new enterprise (or have a spouse or partner who does!).  Think long and hard about this, it is not insignificant.

2)   Where do I get the money?  You either have it or you don’t.  If you don’t there are some ways to get it, and they all involve having a compelling plan to show.  People with money to lend or invest,  whether it’s friends, relatives, banks or your own spouse —- need to see that you have thought through the issues, that you have a plan, and that the payback of the money is a reasonable risk.

3)   Location, location, location?  After money, this is the biggest stumbling block to getting a studio going.  The right location cannot be rushed.  It needs have 3 things, and 2 out of 3 aint good enough.  It has to have 1) proximity to the right target audience (that’s another whole discussion), 2) the right logistical traits like parking, noise sensitivity, convenience, and 3) be reasonably priced on your build out and your monthly rent.

Operating challenges:
4) Instructors…..ya gotta have good ones or the whole thing collapses.  You need to find them, recruit them, and keep them happy, all on an ongoing basis.    This will be a challenge as long as you are open.  A process needs to be developed.

5) Automation….this is not a business that can sustain a large or expensive staff.  It is critical to automate (via web) your key operations like scheduling, payroll, marketing, financial and others so that it is easy and cheap to administer.  The good news is that there are great online tools to do this now available.

6)   Marketing….word of mouth will be huge and important, but it is also critical to continue marketing even as you become more and more established.  There are are variety of online, offline and “guerilla” marketing tactics that need to be addressed on an ongoing basis.

Best of luck to Jody, Lorie and Russell!  They’ve made it through the first 3 challenges and are now moving into the really fun part!  Operating classes and making the world more fit……..one rider at a time!   If you have questions on any of this, give me a call at 781-254-3677 or email me:  billpryor@comcast.net.

De-mystifying indoor cycling and SPIN® classes

Whether you are writing a business plan for a studio, teaching a class, trying to run and operate a cycling studio — or just trying to “spread the word” about this amazing workout, you will need to address a pervasive perception that these classes are insanely intense.

“Those people are crazy”.  “I almost threw up”.  “It’s insane in there”.  I remember the first time I wandered past the door of a spin room back in the early 90’s, peeking in and thinking to myself:  what the @#$% is going on in there?

To have a successful cycling studio, you will need to break down the perception that these classes are insanely intense “suffer-fests”.  Yes, there are people who seek that experience, but as you know, a class does not HAVE to be that way.  The reality is that each individual can adapt the workout to their own fitness level.  This is a critically important concept to communicate in your marketing if you want to broaden your customer base.  In every piece of promotion we do, we are careful to stress that these workouts CAN be intense, but that each participant can determine the intensity level that suits their needs.

As a practical matter, there are several ways to get this across.  You can run “intro” sessions (we do them for free at our studio), that provide an overview without all the distractions of a full blown class.  We have also produced a tri-fold informational brochure that explains the work out and attempts to de-mystify it.  Your website should address this issue in an “FAQ” section or in some other way.  The reality is that in order to attract a broad audience to this workout, it has to be marketed as something folks of all fitness levels can enjoy and benefit from.