How to Sell Fitness in a Crowded Market

Chuck Leve | 14 Mar 2017

Many times in the fitness industry, we hear a great deal about brand differentiation – the “what are you famous for?” or “what makes your business special?”

The reason, of course, is to give people a reason to sign up at your studio as opposed to the other guy’s.

The Reason to Buy

If you’re from a decently sized metropolitan area, then maybe you have noticed how the cuisines are often clustered into segregated areas. There’s Chinatown, Little Italy, and Greek town, etc.

In these areas, restaurants abound – and guess what?

All the menus are pretty much the same in the same area. How do all these places survive and often flourish, when their competition is, literally, right next door? First, they need to sell the idea of eating Italian, or Chinese, or Greek and create an experience out of it.

The business owners know that the real market is one of abundance (so many people desiring to eat my cuisine) rather than one of scarcity (how can I attract/keep my clients?).

To translate this into fitness terms, what are you selling? Are you selling personal training, group X, cycling, yoga? Are you selling this cool equipment that the other guys don’t have? Are you selling the best trainers in town?

Or are you selling fitness? Health and well-being?

The buyer is sitting across from you because he or she has already made a conscious decision to “get back in shape” or “get off the couch” or otherwise embark on that difficult journey to good health and well-being.

Who (or What) Is the Competition?

When the prospect is in your office, 90% of sales reps are quick to point out how “our facility does things differently” or “our equipment is state-of-the-art.”

And then the rep repeats the same pitch that everybody else uses.

Or they make the classic error of pitching what they have rather the listening to understand what the client needs.

Your competition – and this is the key – is what’s going on in your potential client’s life. And the only way to understand what’s going on there is to ask.

The side benefit to this strategy is that it provides you the opportunity to develop a relationship with the client by showing interest, concern, empathy, agreement, and understanding. The client is there because he or she knows they must alter their lifestyle to achieve their objectives.

You then, become the agent of change.

Painting the Picture

It’s fair to say that the clear majority of the potential clients you see have previously tried – and failed – at the fitness game. They are wary of false promises. They are also aware of their own shortcomings. They know they gave up the last time – and it wasn’t because of the trainer or the studio or the equipment. They fell off the wagon because of their inability to sustain the effort.

The beauty is that the journey is where it’s at. In theory, every one of your clients is still on their own personal fitness journey to change their life for the positive. If they know that journey is getting them closer to where they ultimately want to be, then they’re happy, and happy clients tell their friends and that’s how referrals happen.

And that’s how you deal with objections.

No time? "Do you have 30 minutes, three times a week, so that you can look better, feel better and have more energy?"

Too expensive? “Is it worth the price to look and feel your best for that wedding in six months?”



Paint the Picture.

And the sale will be yours.

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Chuck Leve

About the author: Chuck Leve

Chuck Leve is a 40-year veteran of the fitness industry and proven successful developer of fitness industry associations. Currently he serves as the Executive Vice President of Business Development for the Association of Fitness Studios (AFS). He's been involved in the creation and development of some of the most successful trade associations in the history of the fitness industry. For more information on AFS visit

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