Facebook Advertising For Gyms: 5 Unique Target Ideas To Increase Membership and Maximize Visibility

Every time I open Facebook, I’m hit with a different ad for “BeachBody.” These guys really have it together when it comes to Facebook Advertising and they have obviously identified me as a member of their target audience! But what about YOU: the local gym who’s trying to recruit new members? I’m not hearing much from you, unfortunately, and that’s a problem. You’re the one with the hefty investment in a brick and mortar location and a boatload of equipment. You’re the one that needs my money!

Seems to me, every good sized city has at least a dozen gyms and they’re all offering customers…

A better self image…more confidence…a longer, more enjoyable life…if they would just…

“ Join up Today ”

Managers of a Gym Doing Facebook Advertising

So how do you separate yourself from the pack and attract a wide audience of people to join up?

Facebook! That’s how. There’s more to Facebook advertising than simply posting a picture and waiting for “Likes” and “Comments.” If this is the extent of your strategy, keep reading.

It All Starts With Targeting

Every good Facebook advertising campaign starts with sophisticated, thoughtful targeting that sets you apart from other gyms in your area.

Consider these target audiences:

  • Parents
    Does your gym offer free childcare? If so, snap a quick video of the room for kids and include your staff in the vid. Promote the video to local people who have small children. Facebook knows who has kids based on their browsing history and frequently visited pages, so you can use this information to your advantage.

  • Business Professionals
    Many people want to network while also getting in shape. Tapping into this audience is easy by displaying a photo of people connecting with one another at your gym and by choosing relevant targeting options like “networking.” You might also choose terms like, “Small business owner,” Entrepreneur Magazine,” “CNBC,” “Digital Marketer,” and “Grant Cardone.” These interests all indicate that the person might be in business where networking is very important.

  • Current members of other gyms
    This one seems simple, but keep in mind that people who really enjoy fitness might also want to change up their routines now and then. You can easily target other gyms’ clients with this simple three step process.

    • Google “[Other Gym Name and City] Address” – Choose all the locations in your area.

    • Type the address(es) into your location targeting field in Ads Manager

    • Choose “People Recently In This Location”

    • Choose your target age range

    • In “Detailed Targeting,” add other things your target audience might be interested in, such as “Fitness,” “Planet Fitness,” “BeachBody,” “MetRx,” etc.

Location targeting coupled with age brackets and “Interest Level Targeting” should give you a pretty darn accurate audience of your competitor’s current clients. Will you end up marketing to some people for whom your ads are irrelevant? Sure. But you’re also guaranteed to get most of the people you do want to target, so it’s a great tradeoff.

  • People who are interested in the “extras” you offer
    Facebook makes it super easy to find the people in your area who might be interested in fitness activities you provide. Do you offer basketball, tennis, floor hockey, weight lifting, rock climbing, group fitness, treadmills, swimming, racquetball, LesMills, BodyPump, Kickboxing, boxing or crossfit? Choose some targeting options based around these activities, and start serving ads to these people! Even simple ads like these ones should do the trick:

  • People interested in the “ends” your gym provides:
    Why do people work out, anyway? Surely there are many answers to question but among them are…

    To lose weight…to look better…to feel better…to build confidence.
    And perhaps most important: to live a longer life! How about these terms for awesome targeting options?

    • Weight loss
      A simple interest level targeting search demonstrates that weight loss is (not surprisingly) a very popular interest among Facebook users:

You can run ads specific to this target audience and highlight your group fitness programs, success stories, or any other content you produce that this audience might find helpful. However, you must be careful with this. Facebook has strict policies against “Before and After” photos and anything that might jeopardize users’ privacy. For more info on this, check out Facebook’s Advertising Guidelines:


You can also target using other subjects your audience might care about, such as:

  • Increasing confidence and attractiveness
    People who are interested in working out might also be interested in looking and feeling good in other areas of their lives. For instance, you could cross target using resources like “GQ Magazine,” “Men’s Health,” “Cosmopolitan,” etc. The readership for these publications is comprised mostly of people who are concerned with self image and looking good. Your gym is the place for them! Maximize your visibility and increase your membership.

Bonus: Create your own audience with a video or piece of original content

Facebook’s advertising platform allows you to identify people in your market who might be interested in your service and “retarget” them later. How to go about this?

Make a candid video. As an example, how about “5 Smoothies to Pump Up Your Workouts.” The video might feature a friendly employee of your gym making the smoothies at your facility (so people can see how nice it is). Publish the video on Facebook and promote it to people in your area for, say, $50. Most likely, you’ll have a lot of people watch that video! Let’s say that number is 1,000. You have now identified 1,000 people in your area who care enough about nutrition and exercise to watch a video about it. Those are 1,000 great prospects! You can now create a “Facebook Custom Audience” with those 1,000 people and continue serving them with different advertisements in the future. Wow! Cool huh?

With good content production, thoughtful advertising and intelligent targeting, you can quickly increase your gym’s visibility online. For more help with this, or to quickly get started with Facebook advertising, contact us below or call us at 603-605-1133.


want to advertise on facebook, but not sure where to start?

Let’s talk about your specific needs.  We can design a program that is perfect for you.