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How to Market Fitness based on how Gen X, Y and Z choose their gym

As a gym establishment, your target clientele can be very broad and diverse, attracting people of almost all ages. The key here is segmentation; dividing the market into sub-categorised groups based on their demographic and other shared characteristics, in this case by generation and adapting your marketing efforts to suit each group. With an estimated market value of £4.7 billion, there is plenty of opportunity to win over your share of the competition – you just need to know how!


In this guide, we’re going to take a look at the typical traits that are important to the following generations when selecting a gym and how you can effectively market to them:


  • Generation X (customers in their 40s and 50s)
  • Generation Y (Millennials – mid 20s to early 40s)
  • Generation Z (teens to early 20s)


Generation X (40s and 50s)

Born in between the mid 1960’s and the late 1970’s, Gen X can be seen to be at the forefront of the fitness industry, currently representing 33% of all health club members (IHRSA 2017 Health Club Consumer Report).


According to Club Industry, Gen X are more likely to be consumers of health clubs than any other demographic, so it is essential to keep this market engaged and continuing to invest in their gym and health memberships.


So what is important to Gen X when considering a gym? Gen X invented the basic ‘step’ class, involving choreography and an emphasis on ‘fun’ fitness. At this stage in life, generally people are focussing on leading more fulfilling lives, and are likely starting to really consider their health, if it’s not been at the forefront of their mind previously.


It needs to be an enjoyable activity as well as a means of getting fit. This means classes are the perfect element of the health club to market to Gen X. They want an entertaining experience mixed with performance and results, and are easily marketable to both men and women.


Tips to Market to Gen X:

Lacking a good work-life balance can be prevalent within this age group, as typically they are in high responsibility roles and peaking within their career, alongside the demands of family life. Target this demographic with activities that are specifically designed to relax and disengage the mind from stress. It’s about leisure just as much as it is about fitness results, so classes such as martial arts, pilates, dance, zumba, spin and rock climbing are some suitable activities to consider.


The opportunity to be social is important to this age group and so group training opportunities should be promoted extensively. People (in general and not just those in Gen X) are more likely to attend a class if others are relying on them to be there, so your class attendance is likely to increase too.


Gen X-ers have a tendency to want to be knowledgeable and make informed choices, so using informative marketing methods and promoting personal training services that involve both training and nutritional education that they can take forward to practice on their own will also be beneficial.


Generation Y (Millennials) (20s – early 40s)


Gen Y, or Millennials, are those born in the early 1980’s to the late 1990’s. According to Nielsen: Les Mills Global Consumer Fitness Survey (2013), Millennials are taking part in more gym-type activities than any other generation and make up 48% of all over 18 regular exercisers, however this does not necessarily mean they are taking out gym memberships.


Millennials view exercise as a part of their overall wellness, as opposed to older generations who use exercise as a leisure outlet and to stay slim and ‘get fit’. Millennials seek out community-based workouts that are quick and yet effective. This busy age group gravitates towards activities such as HIIT, where they can see and feel the benefits but don’t have to commit too much time to the cause. They have also integrated fitness with a sense of community – think group fitness clubs such as Crossfit.


For Gen Y, exercise is about the lifestyle attached to it; it’s part of their persona and general interest. Exercise advocates, through the rise of social media, are now achieving celebrity status. Joe Wicks, known as The Body Coach, is now a multi-millionaire due to his accessible, everyone-can marketing. His social media following and YouTube videos are a style of their own, leading him to worldwide success and his own empire – built from his backyard.


This generation strongly values feeling special, so personalising the member experience for them is paramount to keeping them engaged and loyal. They are also big tech lovers, so implementing an interactive points-based system such as a fob they can plug into machines to monitor their progress and earn points as they exercise is a great personalised offering that is likely to appeal to this demographic.


Tips to Market to Gen Y:

Promote a lifestyle, not just your facilities and services. Millennials like to feel ‘part of something’ and integrate their fitness program with their overall being. Offer short, varied group workouts that evoke a sense of community and culture, providing support and specialised guidance with a specific goal in mind.


Having a strong online presence is incredibly important to appeal to this generation as they like to research potential purchases thoroughly before buying into them. Eight out of 10 millennials never buy anything without reading reviews first and 45% admitted they prefer buying online because they can run comparisons on products and prices. Ensure there are options to sign up for a membership online, as well as being able to book classes in advance and view all facilities and services.


Apps are a way of life for Generation Y – so an app that helps them track their progress, count their reps and build a training plan with helpful advice would also be of benefit.


72% of Millennials think that gym memberships are too expensive. Offering adaptable and personalised member packages could be the solution to this issue, keeping memberships free of contracts and providing flexible pay as you go options. Incentives such as pay as you go classes with every 10th class attended free is a strategy that may increase class attendance amongst this generation.  


Generation Z (teens – 20s):

Born after the year 2000, Gen Z are an up and coming market to the fitness industry. This demographic – much like millennials – views fitness as part of a lifestyle, but in a slightly different way. They use fitness as part of an overall wellness regime, aiming to feel good and have strong body confidence, as opposed to striving for a specific body shape. Body confidence as a newsworthy issue is a continually evolving beast, and offers great opportunities to connect with both men and women. Generation Z are encouraged more than ever to celebrate diversity, whilst maintaining health.


Exercise is focused on stress management, mental wellbeing and a balanced, holistic lifestyle with Gen Z. They connect body and mind and like them to work harmoniously to create an altogether sense of wellbeing and health. Breaking the mold and offering Meditation as a class, or an “add-on” to other classes could be a potential win for the gym industry.


Gen Z are cautious spenders and are generally concerned with their financial security in later life. According to a survey by Lincoln Financial Group, Gen Z is saving much earlier than previous generations, with 60% of them already having a savings account.

Although they are cautious spenders, this does not necessarily mean that cheaper is better. They need to trust and feel a connection with a brand before they invest in it, but are willing to pay for what they get. The best way to develop a relationship with Gen Z is through social media – this generation has grown up surrounded by technology and have never lived in a world where social networks don’t exist. They use social apps almost constantly throughout the day, so ensure that you are on their radar.


Tips to Market to Gen Z:

Promoting mental wellbeing is extremely important amongst this demographic. Providing a program that combines a fully integrated approach to wellness is the way to appeal to Gen Z. Offer fitness, nutrition and stress-combatting experiences and market programs as a way to nourish the body, feel strong and confident and promote positive mental health.


A video presence is essential to gaining the attention of Gen Z, with 70% of them turning to Youtube before making a purchase. Tours of your facilities, detailed guides to the programs you provide and the benefits that come with a membership to your health club are a great place to start.


Social media obsessives, Gen Z crave share-worthy experiences. Provide specific points within your gym that can be used for photo opportunities and create ‘hashtags’ specific to your brand that members can use to ‘tag’ themselves when visiting your gym. Encourage this generation to engage with your own social channels, offering to share photographs they have taken at your gym or competitions for exclusive offers and experiences.


This generation is all about technology, so embrace it. Provide phone charging outlets throughout your club as Gen Z’ers like to be constantly ‘switched on’. Implement an app where they can book classes and studio spaces etc. on the go. An app is a great way to further market to this demographic too, giving you the opportunity to push notifications of offers, client success stories and specific events straight to the palm of their hand.


As the changing generations become increasingly diverse, it can seem like a lot of hard work to be able to appeal to each specific demographic. Ensuring that you have a fully integrated marketing strategy in place, that is personalised to each group is essential to gaining new customers and keeping existing ones interested and engaged in your facility. At Alphagraphics, we specialise in helping gym and hospitality establishments segment their marketing to suit an extensive and diverse target audience. If you’d like to find out more, please contact us on 01642 525100 or email


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