#009: Increase the Perceived Value of Your Gym

#009: Increase the Perceived Value of Your Gym

Podcasting for the first time from Markus’s awesome new office space, for this edition of the Facebook Live Q&A weekly education session on The Network, Markus takes us through a proven system to increase retention, boost referrals, and drive a gym’s overall perceived value.

Recorded live on The Network, Friday, November 3, 2017, at 10:00 a.m. PST

Table of Contents


0:01 What the Gymwright Perceived Value Builder Does

The primary function of the Gymwright Perceived Value Builder is to improve retention and referrals to increase lead flow, engage your staff, and cultivate increased enthusiasm from your member base.

We created this system years ago, and Markus has implemented it in several hundred gyms at this point. It’s worked

Perceived value is one of those things that gym owners often leave to happenstance. The feeling is that if you’ve got good programming, good equipment, good coaches, etc., those things should speak for themselves and should naturally communicate the value of your services to clients and prospects.

These same gym owners who take the passive approach often find themselves later lamenting that the members just don’t understand how expensive it is to provide quality programming, buy the good equipment, and hire the best coaches. Surely if people knew how much all this cost you, they’d understand how valuable the whole package is. Unfortunately, that’s just not the case.

Without implementing a strategy specifically to address perceived value, your day-to-day offerings keep you right on par with your competition. And you want to stand out as the best.

What Is Perceived Value?

It’s the value that members put on your services, and what they think it’s worth. And it’s your responsibility to communicate it to your clients. The Perceived Value framework allows you to quickly and systematically increase the value that people see in your gym.

2:46 Three Categories of Perceived Value

There are three categories by which members measure the value of your services:

  1. Training – How good is the programming, what kind of specialty classes and workshops do you do, etc. Members who place the highest value here tend to be lifelong athletes who come to your box for the training.
  2. Social – The gym is their happy place. As compared to other types of gyms, CrossFit boxes particularly attract members interested in the social element of working out. This kind of member puts a lot of value in your fundraising events, your social events, and the overall fun factor of your gym.
  3. The Physical Gym – The aesthetic and cleanliness of the gym, the quality and type of the equipment, and the overall look and feel of the physical space.

Each of us as a gym owner has one of these categories that we’re naturally drawn to. If I’m a social butterfly, I’m already going to make sure we have a ton of member events on the calendar, and I’m probably doing a good job at them.

This means I’m doing a great job for the type of member who only cares about the social element, while I’m likely neglecting my members who are there for quality training or a certain type of multi-sensory experience in the physical space.

4:40 Planning and Promoting Valuable Events at Your Gym

The system works as follows:

Phase 1: Take a quarter of the year, and assign one category to each of the three months.

Phase 2: Decide what the events are going to be for each month. So for example, in Month 1, you’ll do a training thing. In Month 2, you’ll have a bowling night. In Month 3, you’ll get some new equipment, like those assault bikes you’ve had your eye on.

Phase 3: Promote your event. This is where most drop the proverbial ball. It’s insufficient to casually be all, “Hey dudes, let’s go bowling.”

You have a promotion for the event in three parts, pre, intra, and after the event. If you’re only doing one of these events per month, crush the event. Treat it like your one crown jewel. Build excitement leading up to it, take and share pictures during the event, and, once it’s over, let everyone in the gym know how much fun they missed out on if they didn’t attend.

With these events, you’re trying to fill up the well for someone who cares about that category most.

This isn’t to say that each event will only be meaningful for the people who care the most about that particular category. In fact, part of the reason to use this cycle, and to repeat and continue it, is that it allows all your members to see the joy and value to be found in the aspects of your gym experience that they hadn’t previously paid attention to.

Here’s how to handle your three iterations of promotion:


  • Put the event up on the whiteboard
  • Coach your coaches on how to introduce it before class during the two weeks leading up to the event. Make sure they engage with people authentically, make sure they’re bought in, and make sure they announce it before every class.
  • Set up a Facebook event
  • Put the event in your newsletter
  • Put the event in your flier
  • Engage your social influencers. This means texting your gym’s cool kids to make sure they’re coming bowling. Tell them to bring their friends and family.

Intra-Event Promotion

  • Have someone there whose job it is to document the event. This means posting to Instagram, maybe posting a Facebook Live video, getting a good group shot after the first round of bowling when the most people are there, getting silly shots and action shots, getting pictures of the coaches, etc.
  • Come in with a game plan about what moments you plan to capture. Make a checklist if you have to, and hand it off to your designated documentarian for the night.
  • You don’t need any special equipment or a fancy camera. Bring your iPhone or whatever you’ve got.
  • Tell your coaches in advance that you’re documenting the event and will be tagging them in the pictures.


  • Within 24 hours or so, post the good pictures and videos to your social feeds.
  • Tag every person in the pictures.
  • Create some good FOMO for the people who missed it. Even if the event had low turnout, make sure to post pictures of y’all having the time of your life.
  • Put the event in the next newsletter, thanking everyone for coming, noting that it was a huge hit and that you look forward to seeing them at the next thing.

11:27 Training Events for Your Gym

Continuing with the scenario where you’ve decided you want to focus on training in month 1, a really easy kind of event to start with is a workshop. Let’s say it’s a double under workshop. That’s a good choice because it appeals to the majority. You want to pick something sexy that you know people will want to go to.

Treat it like something you would charge $250 per person to attend; that’s how on top of the content and promotion you want to be. Have another coach there to support the event. Plan to spend four or so hours on a Saturday knocking it out of the park, with people having fun (and posting said fun to social media).

When you’re done with the event, you can use the documentation to promote premium services or membership, but don’t use the event itself to try to sell anything to your members. This workshop is an included benefit of their membership, and it’s fabulous. Let them know that it’s $75 or $100 for non-members, but for you, our beloved members, it’s free.

No matter the event you put on, make sure that you’re always hosting the event: The place looks great, there’s an agenda that’s been set, the food is tasty and planned with intent, etc.

14:00 Social Events for Gyms

If you decide to go bowling or to do any similar kind of social outing, don’t make people pay for their own lanes. Buy the first round of beers. Again, you are the host.

Even though you’re at a structured event, you still have an agenda. Here’s what an agenda could look like for Bowling Night:

  • At 7:00, gather your group together to welcome them and thank them for coming.
  • Instruct them to pair up with someone they don’t know yet. “Great, get to know each other,” and then, “Great, bring it back in.”
  • Introduce the first activity: “For this first round of bowling, I’m going to pair you guys up. Each round of bowlers is going to alternate, and you have to bowl with your non-dominant hand at least one time.”
  • Let them know about the very nice prize package you’ll present to the person with the (most spirit, funniest picture, whatever light/fun thing) at the end.
  • Invite them to make sure they buy a round of beers for someone they don’t know yet, and tell them to have a great time.

Now this event is your thing instead of a smattering of fitness associates who happen to be at the same bowling alley.

15:16 Events for Your Physical Gym Space

For the month you focus on your facility, you don’t have to go all out and buy new equipment every three months. You could instead put some art up on the walls, rearrange the members’ area, detail the gym, or add a new coat of paint to a wall. Whatever it is you need to do will fit this process, but we’re going to use the example of purchasing the Assault Bike here.

For pre-promotion, build anticipation.

  • In your social posts, let them know something new and cool is coming, but don’t let them know what it is yet. For example you could take a picture of the receipt and blackout what the product is, and post it with “5 new [blank] coming soon!” You can post a picture of the boxes upon product delivery, with the logo blacked out. “They’re here! Surprise workout tomorrow.”
  • On the whiteboard for delivery day, you might just put up a bunch of question marks for your WOD.

Then when people come in, they see that the workout is Assault Bike intervals. You’re there to document the reveal with an Instagram story, and you’re taking pictures of people as they’re falling on the floor in agony. A good time is had by all!

You’d post the pics to social with something like, “Welcome the five newest members of our gym, everyone’s favorite Medieval torture devices, the Assault Bikes!” Your community is brought in on the reveal, which in this case is the “during” of your event.

18:17 Viewer Questions

Krista H.: Would you send a survey out to gauge percent of membres who may fall under each of those categories of interest?

Answer: Nope. Just start. You’re going to have all three kinds of people in your gym, and you want to make sure they’re all three being catered to. At this point, it’s a fairly safe assumption that you’ll have a high number of members with the same primary interest as you have as a gym owner. We tend to attract like-minded members.

Meg O.: What are some of the best examples of social events you have seen?

Answer: Fundraisers tend to do really well. Same with barbecues, bowling night, pizza night, going to the bar to watch a game… Anything like that tends to work really well. You can be creative here.

Kyle T. When starting a box, how do you know how much money to put into the gym as far as asthetics?

Answer: Markus tends to prioritize them. He recalls spending $7,000-$8,000 on the aesthetics of his gym when they opened, excluding the cost of the floor. But it doesn’t take a lot of money to make your space look really good. A clean canvas goes a long way. Make sure the floor is nicely done, with good baseboards all around. Get a nice, clean coat of paint on the wall, and paint the ceilings if you can. Be intentional with branding throughout the space. A well-placed, well-designed vinyl logo goes a long way. 

Robert H.: On the facility aspect, you said obviously eople can’t just buy equipment every quarter. For those of us that definitely applies to, what are some good examples? I am definitely a big “training aspect” person so doing workshops are a no brainer but I see “facility” being a huge obstacle.

Answer: If you don’t have the cash to buy equipment,  even something as simple as Gym Cleanup Day is a good facility-focused event. It doesn’t have to be a big deal. You’d provide pizzas and beer to everyone who helped out, and that’s about the end of the investment. There are plenty of low-cost ideas: You can also lay out new markers for your running paths. You can freshen up the bathrooms. When Markus mentioned putting up new art earlier in the show, it doesn’t have to be fine art. Posters and frames cost way less than a Lichtenstein.

Kristina H.: What are your thoughts on outsourcing someone to lead the clinics under the programming focus? For example, if we feel someone out of state or a pro would best lead a clinic is that as impactful if we are still in attendance, engaged, etc.

Answer: Yes, you can absolutely do this. In fact, Markus preferred to let other people be the content experts for workshops at his gym. In most cases, one of his specialist coaches would lead the training events, but he also had great success bringing in the occasional special guest. Just make sure that you’re still hosting the event, even if you’re not the content expert. Bringing in special guests to facilitate in their area of expertise is a terrific way to add value for your members while still positioning you as an authority on training.

?: Do you rinse and repeat on this 3-month cycle every quarter?

Answer: Yes indeed. Getting this system or something like it in place is a great solution if:

  • You have a membership base that’s already fired up, ready to go, and eager to strengthen connections. These events are the way to keep your value high to them.
  • You have a weak member base or a revolving door of members. The events can cement disengaged members into your community.
  • You need to raise prices. This is the way you do it. When the value increases, the price increase is more justifiable to people outside your staff. Run this cycle at least twice before the price increase starts, in order to get members buzzing about the good stuff happening at your gym.

So yes, you will cycle through the cycles. But once you’re looking past your first three-month mark, it’s important to zoom out your view to your full year as you plan. Look at who your brand heroes are. Does your gym primarily cater to parents (as a lot of our boxes do)? If so, there’s a good chance your membership is a mix of soccer-mom types and working professionals.

Then take a look at the times of year where you tend to get more memberships put on hold or canceled. For this demographic, it might be September when the kids are back to school. The holidays can be pretty brutal on this front, too.

Once you’ve identified your gym’s most vulnerable time periods, double down on the months leading up to the Season of Doom. So, leading up to September, consider doing both a training event and a social event in the months of both July and August. Overwhelm those people with value before they get into their tough season, so that they look at what they can cut in their budget, their gym membership is the last thing to go. Because you just spoke their love language.

By the way, The Five Love Languages is a fantastic book. Read it. It applies to business so much more than you’d think.

Finally, if you work with a Gymwright coach, make sure you talk to them about this cycle. They can help you plan the right events for the next three-month cycle and beyond.

Jessica Depatie About the author

Jessica is the marketing maven here at Gymwright. She's a business consultant and holistic marketer for fitness businesses. She specializes in the decision-making psychology of what makes everyday people want to optimize themselves. She dives deep into how people seek out growth in the pursuit of living happier and healthier.

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