A Beginner's Guide to Attracting Fitness Beginners
By Lauren McAlister
If you've been in the industry for a while, you may have forgotten what it's like at the beginning of a fitness journey: to choose a much-too-heavy dumbbell weight, to attempt your first Chatarunga, or to get mixed up during fast-paced choreography. I'm speaking from personal experience, by the way.
For individuals trying a different form of exercise, or those who are new to working out altogether, stepping into a new fitness facility often feels intimidating. But it doesn't have to be—your staff, workouts, and community can make all the difference to ensure clients of all levels feel welcome, and excited, from day one.
When looking to expand and encourage beginners to work out at your studio or gym, first, put yourself in their shoes. You were a beginner once, too, remember?
Then, you’ll want to consider the following:
What's a good gym workout for a beginner?
At the start, new clients should be focused on building their stamina and strength, which is why workouts that combine some element of cardio and strength training (bodyweight counts!) are often a great place to start.
For beginners, starting off slow with a workout they genuinely enjoy is key. Since they'll be new to the movements and learning proper form, it will probably be best to work with a trainer or sign up for a group class with a certified instructor, which is exactly where your fitness business can help.
Do you provide offerings customized for beginners?
Whether you offer personal sessions, classes, or both, create offerings that are specifically catered to beginners. Depending on your business, this may include modified classes (express classes, bodyweight-only classes, etc.), foundational workshops (e.g., Squat 101), or perhaps, an entire introductory series for beginners set up within your fitness software. An added bonus of a dedicated beginner series? Accountability and community, essential elements for those who are just getting started in the gym.
Does your staff welcome newcomers warmly?
Every new client, especially a beginner, should be greeted, given a tour of your studio or gym, and carefully asked about their goals, experience level, and any injuries or limitations to determine the right starting place for them. Your staff should be well-versed in your services and schedule, including any beginner-specific offerings, to guide each new client towards the workout that's right for them.
As part of your operations manual, create a documented new client welcome process and be diligent with training to it. Take time to role-play with your team to make sure each interaction, especially while getting to know workout beginners, is both friendly and encouraging.
Is your physical space suitable for those just starting out?
For workout beginners, it’s especially important your studio or gym provides a variety of equipment that can accommodate modifications, including mats, blocks, straps, various sizes of weights, etc. You might also consider offering rentals at your front desk, just in case a new client doesn’t have their own yoga mat, cycling shoes, or other necessary equipment.
Is your community inclusive?
While your equipment and your schedule are important, your community, which includes your existing clientele, is the most important factor when looking to attract and retain beginners. As a studio owner myself, I can attest to the impact having a welcoming and positive community has on our new clients—especially when they're just getting started on their fitness journey. Even simple things like encouraging clients to introduce themselves before class, pairing newcomers with class regulars, and post-class high-fives make a big difference.
As the business owner, a welcoming community starts with you. If you make a point to welcome clients of all levels with open arms and encourage your clients to do the same, you’ll be well on your way to expanding your business, one beginner at a time.