What’s In A Name?: Branding Your Gym

How do you brand your business? Are you a gym, fitness center, studio, health club, or something different? Although there are around 30,500 facilities in the U.S. focused on gym-like fitness and activity, they tend to brand themselves very differently according to their offerings and clientele. So what are you? Let’s go over the method behind this peculiar kind of branding in the fitness industry.

The typical word used for the classic fitness center is the ‘gym’. Nobody really says, “oh, I’m headed to the health club”, they say they’re “going to the gym”. Still, in branding your business, gym isn’t always the best way to go, even if it’s the simplest. A ‘gym’ is typically a very informal affair. When many people hear ‘gym’, they picture a $10 a month chain that offers standard workout floors and maybe a yoga class or two. ‘Gym’ is bare-bones, somewhat masculine. Not a bad thing, but not bringing in any juice bars or highfalutin members.

Fitness center is a step above ‘gym’ in expectations, perhaps. Not so rough around the edges, a little more modern. They may offer more outdoor amenities and a larger space. Fitness centers typically provide more group classes and extra offerings than the typical gym.

Now, fitness studio? That carries a bit more weight. ‘Studio’ comes with a bit more prestige and expectations of a smaller, exclusive space. You might be focusing on certain activities like yoga or cycling.

‘Health club’ is usually the top of the chain, acting as more of a ‘lifestyle’ offering for members. They’ll have luxury amenities perhaps, like laundry and steam rooms or spa treatments. There will be an array of sport and class offerings, and likely a pool area. ‘Health club’ comes with the idea of full-service, luxury, lifestyle appeal.

The nice thing about branding? It’s just branding. The infrastructure of your business can stay the same. In particular, billing systems for gyms don’t change much just because they’re being used in a health club. Same for check in software for gyms. Gym management systems may change up a bit from fitness studio software or health club software, particularly if you’re offering online signup for classes. Remember that your branding may change while your business grows, too. So while your branding may change, your fitness studio software doesn’t have to.