Strategies for Attracting Gen Z to Your Fitness Business

When it comes to fitness, there are so many options out there – it’s a great thing for consumers as there’s bound to be a flavour everyone enjoys. This smorgasbord of choice, however, can make retention harder than ever for fitness business owners because there’s always a bright shiny object calling your members away. In this article, we’ll discuss strategies for attracting Gen Z to your fitness business.

Are Gen Z your ideal members?

For larger fitness centres, or gyms that operate in remote locations and have very little competition, the strategy of tailoring an offering to suit everyone might be the right one. For the vast majority of businesses, competition is rife, and it’s wiser to really dial in on your target members and create a community and an offering for them that makes you irresistible. Sure, there’s logic to the thought that you should be tapping in to sections of the population who you haven’t yet connected with and finding ways to bring them through your doors. When it comes to retention, however, we know a strong sense of community is key to members sticking around, and at the end of the day, there are different strokes for different folks.

Recently, we visited the location of one of a large chain of gym franchises and chatted with the studio manager. She commented that they had  a surprisingly large cohort of their members that came from the Indian community. While the area itself was not overly dominant with people of Indian descent, their membership had organically grown that way, via member referrals. They had embraced this and were structuring some of their social events and challenges to fit in with a few key dates on the calendar that also applied to members of the Indian community.

attracting gen z to your fitness business

If you haven’t taken stock of your business to look at the demographics of your membership, now is as good a time as any. Who are your most committed members? Who are the ones that have stuck around for the longest? The ones with the highest attendance levels? The members signing up for challenges or community events that you’re involved in, time after time?

If Baby Boomers are your quiet, unassuming, stronghold – maybe it’s time to focus on how to increase their ranks. After all, it’s easier to go with the flow than turn a ship around. But, if under 30’s are already making up the majority of your numbers, strap in and let’s explore ways to get more of the Gen Z cohort on the gym floor.

Looking at Gen Z exercise behaviour

Recent data released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics showed that Gen Z Aussies are collectively more active that other generations, spending an average of 1.7 hours per day doing physical activity. Other generational groups recorded an average of 1.4-1.5 hours per day, in comparison.

Generation Z includes people aged 14-29 years old, so it’s fair to assume they may have more available time for exercise (with less people in this age bracket having fulltime carers responsibilities) and also carrying less injuries or chronic health conditions than some of their older counterparts.

AusPlay data released last year also supported this, with clear trends of this age bracket being engaged in exercise through gyms or organised fitness activities.

ausplay data 2023

Group training has shown to be highly popular among Gen Z and there are a few theories around this. One thought is that societal shifts towards remote working arrangements, online dating and even social connection often being virtual through social media, has made the communal nature of group exercise a way for people to “fill their cup”. We’ve all heard the trope about how, in a world where we’ve never been more “connected” to one another, loneliness is being felt by people more than ever. The shared experience of a group workout provides more than just physical benefits, and whether conscious of it or not, those benefits are probably more profound for a generation who have grown up with the smart phone as the status quo.

The effects of the global pandemic were felt by every generation, but when all forms of socialisation were literally forbidden at what is usually the time of our lives where our social calendar is at its fullest, may be part of the reason why many Gen Z-er’s seize the opportunity to mingle. There are also those whose introverted tendencies were magnified by Covid, but fortunately there are increasing numbers of fitness options available for the socially anxious.

Mental health awareness has never been so high. This awareness has brought with it a new trend for wellness, where physical fitness is just a single component of a more holistic approach to health. With breathwork, saunas, and cryotherapy entering the scene with passionate followings, the sub-30’s are placing health higher up their priority list than their predecessors, and spending more money on wellness, whilst cutting back on the alcohol. Unfortunately, whilst we are at peak levels of awareness, it’s done little to bring the actual numbers down as far as those experiencing poor mental health.

gen z fitness trends

What about attracting more Gen Z members into your gym?

As we discussed earlier, sometimes it’s best to be a really, really good fit for a smaller portion of the community, rather than trying to please everyone with diluted results. In a fitness industry where there is competition on every corner, how can you make your fitness business stand out and attract more of your ideal members?

Know where your target audience are hanging out:

Haven’t quite gotten around to setting up Tik Tok yet? If the younger folk are who you’re after then you need to be seen where they’re already placing their attention. In fact, up to 40% of Gen Z use Tik Tok as their primary search engine. If social media isn’t your strong point, engage a professional, but do your research first and ask for previous case studies with proven results. There are many people claiming to “do” social media marketing, simply because they spend a lot of time on social media.

Health-check your website:

No matter what generations you’re targeting, your website and search engine optimisation (SEO) needs to be a priority. If you aren’t showing up in Google for the right kind of search terms, get a professional in to help you. If you’re already paying a professional and not sure if you’re getting results, get a second opinion.

Aesthetics are important:

Like it or not, Gen Z are big on capturing moments of their life and sharing them online. If you can help them create some great content, they’ll share it, and if done right, they’ll be the best marketing weapon you’ve got! Consider spending some money on quality lighting installations and Insta-worthy backdrops (with a cleverly positioned logo, to ensure you get every drop of branding juice from them!).

Fitness Audio are sound and lighting specialists and can create custom lighting installations for gyms to enhance the workout experience for their members. Fire Fit Alexandria in Sydney used Fitness Audio to deck out their brand new premises and received positive feedback from their members. “The feedback that we’re getting from our members is amazing. They love the sound and lighting – it really gets them going for the rest of the day!”

A holistic approach to fitness:

The additional revenue that can be gleaned by adding a wellness component on your gym or fitness centre is definitely worth exploring. Recovery is featuring heavily on the radar and becoming a routine part of the weekly exercise routine. Do your research and find out what other facilities in your area are already available and how popular they are.

If purchasing an infrared sauna is beyond the budget right now, find out if there’s a local business such as a day spa that features an infrared sauna. Why not enter discussions about offering sauna benefits to your members in exchange for them advertising their other services to your members?

If everyone’s installing infrared saunas, consider opening a traditional Finnish one. Recognise the trends and ride with them. Consider getting involved in community groups that focus on mental health and cross-promote their events and activities. Make it known that mental fitness is an integral part of your values.

Check your offerings:

Fitness trends are evident across the generations and it can be easy to fall victim to staying where you’re comfortable. If Gen Z are your target audience, make sure that you’re offering them what they want. Les Mills have released a global report titled “Gen Z Fitness: Cracking the Code”, that explores the motivations and training habits behind those born between 1997 and 2012. They’ve also launched new workouts to their group exercise repertoire that are specifically designed to attract Gen Z members.

Strong has replaced skinny for younger females and functional fitness trumps bulkiness for Gen Z males. A workout doesn’t count unless it’s tracked and your data has been captured, so gamification in workouts is proving to keep members motivated. If you’re looking for ways to level up your relationship with tech, consider products such as MyZone, which is now compatible with other smart watches or linking existing cardio equipment up to the big screen so that users can track their heart rate as a group.

Body scanners are also a great tool for allowing members to track their progress and keep motivation levels going through monitoring changes in body composition.

Infographic courtesy of Les Mills Asia Pacific. Read the full article here.

Generation Z are definitely worth taking notice of as they are the most active section of society and have years of participation in the fitness industry ahead of them. Some facilities are set up to be able to provide something for everyone, but for many smaller gyms and studios, it can be worth noticing who you’re already appealing to and offering them more of what they want. As a fitness business, your choice is whether to be a jack of all trades and master of none, or to really drill down into one style of fitness or targeting a narrower demographic.

Some more articles you might enjoy:

BFT franchise of the year

BFT Franchise Of The Year… again!

It’s been a massive few years for fitness giant BFT. Most recently their efforts have been recognised by being awarded the 2024 APAC Franchise of the Year award at the Beyond Activ Summit, held in Singapore. BFT has taken out the title three times over the past four years, cementing its dominance as a business

Read More »
ausfitness industry sydney 2024

Gear Up for AusFitness Industry Sydney 2024!

It’s the fitness industry trade show and summit that brings Australia’s fitness, health, and exercise professionals together to collaborate, educate, showcase, and network. AusFitness Industry Sydney 2024 is set to run over two days in October and we couldn’t be more excited. Rumour has it that this year’s event will feature a record number of

Read More »
low cost fitness franchise

The Fitness Franchise with Low Overheads and High Temps

There’s never been more choices available than there are today, when it comes to owning a fitness franchise and finding a brand that aligns with your interests and values. And just when we thought we had every kind of fitness offering covered, we were introduced to J.I.M, the lovechild resulting from the combination of a

Read More »
tony zonato cover me app

Get Your Group Exercise Classes Covered With The Cover Me App

CoverMe Fitness, the innovative studio management app for the fitness industry, launches this month in Australia, with industry veteran Tony Zonato leading the rollout as Managing Director for the region. The Cover Me app is set to change the landscape of casual group exercise instructors by creating a pool of available and qualified instructors for

Read More »
Australian Calisthenic Federation APRA award

Australian Calisthenic Federation is the APRA 2024 Licensee of the Year

The APRA Music Awards is an annual music awards event which recognises Australian songwriters. Each year, Australasian Performing Right Association Limited (APRA) gives an honour for the Licensee of the Year. This year that award went to the Australian Calisthenic Federation for being good musical citizens. How is the APRA Award decided? The Licensee of

Read More »
Scroll to Top