Traditionally, gyms were separated into two established pricing categories: budget gym and elite fitness clubs, leaving these two genres to price themselves according to the categorization.
However, since fitness clubs have expanded to include so many different types of experiences, pricing options and strategies have changed to match this transition.
Membership fees now vary in styles (time-fixed price for unlimited use, pay-by-class, optional pricing for access at different times of day, etc).
As a manager, you are tasked with finding the appropriate price while drive up profit and stand up against competition while still making your customers feel like they are getting a great deal.
Steps Before You Set Pricing
Establish the sources of revenue
When devising your own pricing strategy, first you need to gauge all of your sources of income. Apart from just memberships, many fitness clubs profit from secondary spend by members buying additional services or products.
Since these figures are imperative in order to establish your pricing models, consider using analytic tools to breakdown your exact revenue streams in order to see which of your services have historically been the highest earning as well as which are projected to be the highest earning according to client behaviors. If you own more than one fitness club, these tools can also break down revenue patterns by location, allowing you to make connections between which services you should price highest to make the most out of your budget.
Know your margins and overhead thoroughly
Regardless of what type of fitness club you own, you should be very well acquainted with your cost of doing business. More specifically, how much money comes out of your pocket just to open your doors everyday when you factor in: rent, utility costs, paying staff, insurance, etc.
As gyms are notorious for having unexpected expenditures, your margins and overhead should also factor in these likely expenses and account for them. Similarly, as you continue to build and expand your gym, your margins are subject to change on a consistent basis, while your membership fees should be stable.
No pricing model can begin to be successful until you calculate how much money you need to bring in per month in order for your fitness club to be profitable.
Keep in mind that when most fitness clubs launch, it is expected that their first months or even years will not generate substantial profit. So as a general policy, playing it safe with your prices is highly advised.
2. Gauge competition to set your own prices
At the end of the day, the majority of your clients are going to weigh price as the leading reason to either join or pass on a gym. Therefore, if a neighboring fitness club similar to yours’ can undercut your prices even by a little, clients are much more likely to join your competition.
Surveying your local market to establish a base for your membership fees and pricing structure is a great place to start.
Since different regions or even neighborhoods will be subject to price variability based on demographics, simply relying off your services alone to set prices could leave you under or over charging your customers.
WIth this in mind, most clients will have a general idea about price expectations for the area, so you should still be prepared for you exact selling point:
Are you services worth bring five dollars more a month than another club similar to it? Why?
Does your club provide an extra detail or accomodation that others have not thought to do?
Do your services fill an underserved need in your community based on the market?
Pricing Strategies by Fitness Club Niche
Your pricing is directly proportional to services offered: the lower your prices, the less you need to spend on providing a world class experience. Here are some factors to consider for pricing based on your fitness club model:
As your selling point is marketing as an affordable option for everyone, your memberships should be scaled as low as possible with your expenses in mind.Your pure volume of memberships in itself will serve as your club’s main source of revenue
You do not need to be concerned with keeping your gym uncongested or additional services for your members. Although your gym will probably deal with overcrowding, you can try to negate this problem with space optimization tactics from the onset.
However, your gym should be as easy and convenient for your members to access with extended hours, which should be factored into your fees (price of membership vs. operational costs)
Your model needs to be based off selling as many memberships as possible. However, there are other ways a budget club can justify slight price jumps, like with 24 hour access, self check-in, multiple location options, or small perks offered for consistent customers.
For example, probably the most famous budget fitness chain in the United States, Planet Fitness, offers its members pizza on every first Monday of the month as well as free bagels on the second Tuesday.
Your pricing model should not be subject to too many surprises and should follow patterns seen in your local market. However, you can consider alternate pricing by allowing clients to buy memberships that are subject to different periods of the day or month.
For example, discounted memberships can restrict gym usage to less crowded morning hours or strictly weekends if that accommodates the schedule for the user. It’s a win-win situation, not only will the patron be saving money, but you will also help your gym to be less congested in peak hours while still retaining a membership sale.
Common mid-level gyms, like 24 Hour Fitness or Gold’s Gym, still offer affordability as well as convenient locations spanning hundreds of cities and a handful of states. Although price ranges are not notably different from budget clubs, amenities, locker room facilities, and class options more than quantify the bump in cost.
Boutique clubs thrive and prosper based off the idea they fitness studio owners and trainers can cultivate a more personalized experience for these clients. Therefore, securing “regulars” is essential in order for your club to not only be profitable, but to also to continue to grow in popularity and reputation.
Similarly, boutique clubs benefit most from personal referrals and word of mouth, so developing this family type of dynamic is crucial, and how you structure pricing alone can directly contribute to establishing this community..
Make the decision between pay-per-class scale or unlimited fee or both. Each option presents pros and cons, and can even leave you susceptible to profit loss if you do not properly understand your cost overhead
This package holds your clients accountable for attending classes by paying individually or for a certain number. A popular consideration would be to also have an expiration date on the classes to make sure that you’re clients are staying engaged with your club and continuing to become more familiar. Paying by class also will give you proper information to gauge class attendance so your instructors can adequately prepare before each session,
The downside: paying by class tends to lose the appeal that your customers are getting a good deal since you get exactly what you pay for. Also if your prices are high, this could be considered a luxury option instead of a regular routine.
To continue to draw your clients in on a consistent basis, consider offering special deals or rewards for return customers. If your classes are as exceptional as they are priced, the incentive will keep clients coming back for more.
Pay for Unlimited Classes:
Pricing here can be difficult as a means to be affordable enough to convince clients to buy it while still generating revenue regardless of how many classes attended. This pricing option is very appealing to the consumer, who will feel incentivized to get the most out of their membership by attending classes as often as possible. Therefore, unlimited pricing can be great for customer retention as long as it is priced in respect to clear profit objectives.
Unlimited also comes with additional difficulties: say for example you offer three classes a day, and one of your unlimited clients can only attend one class that day that has full attendance, you will be dealing with an unsatisfied customer who is spending the maximum possible at your fitness club.
To avoid or mitigate these issues to the best of your ability, have a clear and concise policy established for protocols regarding class sign ups.
Due to the tricky byproducts of offering unlimited classes, boutique studios tend to favor pay-as-you-go pricing by buying classes individually or in a block, disregarding the allure the unlimited style pricing can have,
With that said, since boutique fitness clubs tend to run unconventionally, you are also free to experiment with pricing strategies with more leniency than traditional gym models. For example, you can offer discounted class prices for less popular times, you can create a reward system that impacts pricing based off customer loyalty and attendance, or track fitness goals for individual patrons.
Boutique clubs thrive directly from their ability to make their customers feel recognized and validated on a personal level, which is why these clubs are known for attracting devoted followings that eventually turn into true communities.
Therefore, rewarding your clients in ways they will appreciate most (financially) can be a crucial factor in both boosting retention and expanding your business and brand.
High End Gyms:
For high-end self service fitness clubs that offer a full-luxury experience, your membership pricing should be high, but every detail of your fitness club has to match the price. This is not just limited to state-of-the-art machinery, an immaculate facility, and spa services: you need to guarantee that the full experience is exceptional.
Since your membership fees are significantly above the average, your members will expect to not have to deal with a packed gym and long lines to use different pieces of machinery. You also should budget for community experiences, like club events, fitness challenges, or barbecues. Furthermore, your class options should be included in the membership fees and should be similar exceptional quality to what could be found at a boutique studio.
Additional Pricing Considerations
As mentioned above, secondary spend can be crucial in your overall pricing strategies. Fitness clubs can earn a considerable amount based off add-on packages, like private training sessions, discounted longer term memberships, or branded gym merchandise.
Your fitness club can also provide healthy food or supplement options, like protein shakes or energy bars at reception as well.
For extra revenue that exceeds typical gym Point-of-Sale products, high-end clubs or boutique clubs have the unique advantage of taking their Point-of-Sales revenue to extremely profitably highs. Apart from price mark ups for private training sessions and spa services, your clientele will likely not be scared off by luxury products sold through affiliate brands or businesses.
These could include high-end beauty and wellness products, athletic apparel or equipment companies, or similar adjacent fields. Not only is the additional income be great for your club and impress your clients, but you will develop financial relationships with other industries which will benefit your gym in the long run.
Pricing your gym accounts for so much more than just monthly membership fees. In fact, some of the most successful pricing models factor in alternative membership pricing and special services unique to your own fitness club. Although pricing strategies can be tricky, they will be the centerpiece that allows your club to grow, and obviously, profit and be successful over time.