Gym Owner Musings - Installment #11

In this eleventh edition of Gym Owner Musings, I’ve got some thoughts on brand positioning, the value of LinkedIn for fitness professionals, and the direction we need to go with marketing performance-oriented fitness businesses.

Here. We. Go.

1. Sometimes a new product deserves a new name

Do you have some brand awareness at your gym? Maybe you’re known as “the guys for XYZ” locally, or even nationally?

If so, you might want to fight the urge to slap your logo and name on that new service offering you’re considering rolling out to an entirely different segment of the training population than you typically serve. Remember, your well-known brand became well-known because it stood for something specific. Your business already occupies a defined position in the mind of the consumer.

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For example, if we (Cressey Sports Performance) decided to introduce a 6-week transformation challenge component to our service offerings tomorrow, we’d be better served to label it “Fit In 6” than we would be going with “CSP Transformation Challenges.” The consumer shouldn’t be scrolling their Facebook feed asking themselves: “How are the baseball guys going to teach me to lose my spare tire?”

If your new service appeals to a new market, it’s likely time to consider a new positioning strategy.

2. You might need LinkedIn, but not for the reason you’d think

I’ve been toying with the idea of being a little more active on LinkedIn as of late, but the only true motivation I have has been a sneaking sensation that I “should” be on there. I understand that there is a valuable opportunity to build my professional network on this platform, but I also know that very few fitness professionals are bothering to use it.

In fact, thanks to the wonders of the poll feature in Instagram stories, I was able to conclude that only about a third of the people in my audience use LinkedIn.


In the dozen or so “DM’s” received after posting this question, I spotted three useful insights:

  1. The general consensus is that LinkedIn doesn’t traditionally appeal to fitness professionals functioning in the performance enhancement space. I can’t argue that.

  2. If you’re looking to drum up corporate fitness business for your gym, this platform is a place that you need to be. This makes sense, as the decision makers in a corporate setting who will ultimately make the call regarding where health and wellness dollars are spent are exactly the kind of people that I would imagine LinkedIn was designed to serve.

  3. My buddy Joe Aritari explained to me that college students who dream of one day securing employment following their academic pursuits seem to think that LinkedIn is “the end-all-be-all for finding internships.” Apparently a considerable portion of his business’s intern candidates are drawn from this very platform. Why the hell did it take me until now to realize this (kicking myself)?

My primary takeaway from this Instagram dialogue was that LinkedIn is immensely valuable to fitness professionals if they can get past the mindset that the platform is solely designed to serve as an electronic resume board that only applies to cubicle dwellers. If the educated coaches who will soon be seeking employment are on there along with the people holding the key to corporate fitness spending, I probably should be as well.

3. The path to profitable growth is in satisfying wants, not needs

This is actually a quote I came across in Seth Godin’s Lynchpin, and it resonated with me because of how accurate it is in relation to the way we need to position Cressey Sports Performance in the eyes of the average baseball player.


You see, 9 out of 10 athletes who walk through our doors “need” to be introduced to quality arm-care protocols and sport-specific corrective exercise, but what they all “want” is to throw 100 miles per hour and hit for power. When it comes time to market to this audience, we’re better off delivering visuals of athletes throwing medballs, sprinting, and explosively moving weights than we would be showcasing how skilled we are at executing a “Half-Kneeling 90/90 ER Hold” (arm-care).

Remember, that thoughtful Instagram post you published yesterday about improving range of motion isn’t going to entice the high school football player around the corner to ask his parents if he can train at your space...he has no ability to envision how or why that will help him to run through a middle linebacker.

You may not like the rules of the game of marketing here in the performance training segment, but the market doesn’t give a shit about your desire to flex your intellectual muscles and call it “advertising.”

One last thing…

If you enjoy this “musings” content format, I think you’d really like the weekly newsletter I publish at the end of each week, titled my “Friday 4.” Each week I round up four fascinating business-related articles, share my two cents on how the message applies to fitness or operating a gym, and drop it into your inbox.

If this sounds like your kind of thing, I’d love to have you take a look at the archives here and maybe sign up.