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Is the Fitness Industry Way too Saturated?

Mike Arce

Mike Arce

If you’re in the fitness industry, then you’ve probably started to feel the space get crowded. It seems like every month another fitness studio or gym opens up within just a few blocks of your location, which makes it extremely difficult to get the amount of members you need to not only be successful, but also keep your doors open.

In such a saturated space, how do you stand out? How do you attract enough people to really grow your business and achieve your goals? The answer is simple — and it’s going to take a real mind shift to execute this idea properly.

What Is A Saturated Vs. Unsaturated Market?

Did you know that there are 46 Italian restaurants in San Diego’s Little Italy? And it’s only 120 acres (0.1875 square miles). Pretty small area. How do they all survive? Well… some don’t. However, many do. And they thrive!

San Diego’s Little Italy understood that in order for everyone in the neighborhood with very similar offerings to be successful, they first needed to sell the idea of eating Italian food and create an experience out of it.

Fitness studio and gym owners think in a way of scarcity rather than abundance. They implement the same way of thinking that would work in an unsaturated industry or market.

I’ll give you an example:

Last month I had a fitness studio that we work with get upset because our company took on a “competitor” that was only 4 miles from their location. Each studio targeted a 5 mile radius in advertising, which equated to about a 9 mile accumulative advertising zone. However, there were 92,000 people in their targeted demographic within the overlapping zone (where both of their ads could be shown to the same people).When I say targeted demographic, I mean 92,000 women between the ages of 25-55 that live or work within 5 miles of their studio that have interests ideal to those that would fit the description of a perfect customer.

Each studio aimed for a total of 300 paying members. If they decided to stay open 7 days per week and run classes all day, then maybe they could reach 500 paying members each. That would equal 1,000 people. What about the other 91,000 women who fit that demographic in their area? Where are they going?

Short answer:  Most aren’t working out at all.

What Little Italy knows that most fitness studios don’t yet, is that you first have to sell people on the idea of fitness before anything else.

Who is Your Real Competition?

Too many times I visit fitness studios on a pass and overhear sales pitches or role-play sales strategies with fitness pros and I hear the same stuff:

  1. “Here at ABC Fitness, we do things a little differently. We believe in [enter same thing that everyone else says].
  2. “We’re more focused on results than other places you’ll find out there. We  believe in [enter same thing that everyone else says].
  3. “Our instructors at ABC Fitness are extremely experienced. We don’t just hire anyone. All of our instructors are [enter same thing that everyone else says].

Whether you believe that other fitness studios are saying the same thing or not… it’s true. They are. I’ve seen it. And I continue to see it over and over again.

Stop telling the world you’re different and better. Do you really think most people are making a decision between you and another fitness studio? They’re not. So stop selling like one.

Your biggest competition isn’t another fitness studio. It’s everything.

Say this out loud to yourself: I am competing with EVERYTHING.

When Sally Jones gets her paycheck, it’s not segmented in a way to where portions of her money are only good for certain types of things and nothing else. If she gets a paycheck for $2,000, it’s not broken down like this:

  • $300 of this paycheck is for fitness
  • $400 of this paycheck is for auto
  • $900 of this paycheck is for mortgage/rent
  • etc.

Money is money. And Sally gets money every week or two. And every time she gets money, she makes a choice. She can choose to spend it on her fitness goals. Or… she can choose to spend it on:

  1. Little Jimmy’s basketball league
  2. Little Jane’s dance classes
  3. A much needed family vacation
  4. Improvements to the yard
  5. Christmas presents
  6. A new phone, Apple Watch, tablet
  7. Or literally ANYTHING!

You shouldn’t sell Sally on the idea that your fitness studio is better than Joe Shmoe’s fitness studio. You should help Sally realize her potential and dig deep into the reasons why she doesn’t currently make her fitness goals a priority.

Learn about her and her challenges.

What’s her schedule like? What does she do for a living and how has that impacted her ability to stay in shape? How many children does she have and has that gotten in the way? Are the kids something she’s willing to continue to use as a reason to not get fit? Is she married? How’s married life? Has it changed since having kids? If so, how?

You’ve got to dig for the pain because it exists. Sally may not even know it exists, but it does. She’s been dealing with it and hiding it from even herself for so long that she believes it’s not an issue.

The Sales Process

When you have conversations like this, the issue surfaces. Sally’s true feelings on her current physical state come out. She knows what her potential is and she knows she’s nowhere near it.

If you truly believe you can change her life and make her look and feel more confident that she has in a very long time, then it’s your obligation to have this conversation with her.

If you don’t think you can help her, then let her go.

I personally sell a product I believe in. Any time I get on the phone with a fitness studio or gym owner that I know struggles and I can help, I learn everything I can about them. I do everything I can to help them understand the value of advertising because I know that if I can get them to see that value, their life would change.

I know this from experience. You know how many times I hear someone tell me their life has changed since working with us? Every time I hear it I can’t help but think what their life would be like today if they just kept doing what they were doing. Then, I feel great about my choice to improve my sales skills and get them to see the value in working with us.

This is how you should think too.

Every time a member tells you how happy they are and how much you’ve changed their life, you must take a minute to think about where they might be today if you never sold them. What would they look and feel like? Doesn’t it make you feel amazing to know you shifted their journey in such a positive way?


Now that you know that … every single time someone sits with you, learn about them. Your goal is to sell them on the idea of fitness. If you, out of everyone else out there, are the one that gets them to have a mind shift on fitness, then you’ll be the one to earn their business.

Collaborate With Your “Competitors”

Get to know the other “competitors” in your area. Work together to make your neighborhood the healthiest neighborhood on the planet. Where your neighborhood has pound-for-pound the highest percentage of people who exercise and stay fit.

Here’s a great episode from our show, The GSD Show, that covers “How Successful Companies Look at Their Business, Customers, and Competitors” to help get you in that right mindset:

Episode 011: How Successful Companies Look At Their Business, Customers, and Competitors

So don’t focus on your slice of the pie. Focus on ways to make the pie bigger.

Remember… most people don’t choose another fitness studio over you. They choose something other than fitness over fitness. That’s why most of the world is out of shape. If everyone chose a fitness studio, we’d have a pretty healthy nation.

Check out this free training for even more strategies to get people to choose you:

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