Group Fitness

How to Attract More Men to Group Exercise

As stereotypes go, you could say group fitness is the domain of women. Men are of course welcome. It’s just that, at many facilities, they seem to overlook group fitness classes as a viable workout option. But why? One good guess is the way group exercise is promoted, namely with women in mind.

Sometimes a gym-goer’s reluctance to venture into group fitness territory has to do with feeling intimidated or uncoordinated, which applies to both men and women. Someone’s interest (or lack there of) in group X might simply be a matter of personality or preference. Still, if you want to specifically attract more men to the fitness classes at your gym or training studio, consider the ideas below. Sure, they’re based on generalizations, but they might just work.

  1. Choose Your Words Carefully

Have a look at your class titles. Do they speak equally well to women and men (e.g., “Booty Toner” versus “Glute Builder”)? Next, unpack how you describe your group workouts online and in your class schedule. Do you think the wording and messaging appeals to both men and women?

Analyze the list of words in each of the four categories below. Which ones might align with one sex over the other (or perhaps neither)? Which words feel the most neutral? Consider if and how certain words might resonate with or repel prospective male participants in particular.

  • Muscle: tone, tighten, strengthen, ripped, strong, sexy, gain, sculpt, shape, firm, build, conditioned, cut, stacked, shred, lean, six-pack, sleek.
  • Cardio: high-energy, high-intensity, dynamic, sweaty, heart-pumping, killer, heart-healthy, choreographed, competitive, fired up.
  • Calories: burn, blast, obliterate, torch, incinerate, zap, destroy.
  • Fat loss: shed, lose, trim, burn, slender, thin, get lean, whittle down.
  1. Put Men in the Picture    

Along with your written messaging, size up any photos, graphics, logos and color schemes you use to market your group fitness classes in the club, online and even on social media. How do they fit your goals to bring in more men?

Do the photos you use in your marketing and on Facebook or Instagram show both women and men enjoying the classes? If you want to attract more men, showcase scenarios that include them.

  1. Program With Men in Mind

Marketing is how you get people into the group exercise studio. But your programming—and the equipment you offer in class—has to live up to expectations. Otherwise, new participants won’t become regulars. This is true for men and women.

As a generalization, classes that have a bit of a rugged edge to them might be especially popular with male participants: bootcamp, MMA-inspired, HIIT, etc. Circuits that include equipment like battle ropes, kettlebells and sandbells could also be a good fit. But even traditional group exercise items (like steps, stability balls and resistance bands) or formats (like yoga) might be a welcome change from what some men usually encounter in the weight room. A change of pace could lead to enhanced training performance, which is a stellar selling point.

Whatever the equipment you have on hand, be sure that it allows male participants to achieve positive results, which is what will ultimately bring them back for more. For example, the range of dumbbells stocked in your group X studio should be adequate for the average man’s strength. If the heaviest weight is eight or 10 pounds (typical in many group exercise studios), you might have a hard time turning strength classes into an engaging, long-term option for male participants.

  1. Actively Recruit When Needed

As a rule, people are more likely to consider attending a class when they see others similar to them in the studio—or perhaps even teaching the class. It’s possible that men will be more prone to check out a class where other men are present.

This sounds like a reasonable theory, but what if there are currently NO men, or very few, attending group exercise classes at your facility? You might have to bring some on board by actively “recruiting” male participants at first. Could you convince male staff to join a particular class for a short time?

What about personally inviting several men who work out at your gym to give group exercise a shot? This should be gratis, if you charge extra for classes. Hopefully, once they try it, they’ll want to come back! In fact, invite them back, perhaps with a special offer, such as an introductory month of complimentary classes.

With the right marketing, programming and equipment in place, you might find that regular attendance and word of mouth quickly become your most powerful strategies for building up a larger male presence in group fitness.

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The Author

Amanda Vogel, MA

Amanda Vogel, MA

Amanda Vogel, MA, human kinetics, is a self-employed fitness instructor, presenter and writer in Vancouver, B.C. In addition to being a social media consultant, Amanda tests fitness gadgets, gear and clothes and writes about them on her blog www.FitnessTestDrive.com. Find Amanda at @amandavogel on Twitter and @amandavogelfitness on Instagram. She will be presenting workshops at #NASMOptima 2017 on: 1) social media’s impact on body image and the fitness message, and 2) social media marketing for fitness professionals.