Understanding Your Target Market as a CrossFit Gym Owner

Your target market is where your marketing efforts should be focused, but what if you don’t know your target market yet? Strap in - we’re about to tell you what it is.

Sam Karoll
June 22, 2022
Understanding Your Target Market as a CrossFit Gym Owner
Your target market is where your marketing efforts should be focused, but what if you don’t know your target market yet? Strap in - we’re about to tell you what it is.

Your target market is a niche group of people who are most likely to buy from you. The group who needs your services. If you can’t find them, you’ll waste time, effort, and money marketing to the wrong group. If you don’t know how to find your target market, you’re not alone.

It’s a difficult task, but thankfully, there are systems you can put in place to help you understand your target market. They can also help you understand their evolving needs as time carries on, which is helpful for staying relevant. Let’s go into this in-depth strategy and get you sorted.

What Are Buyer Personas

Buyer personas are artificial personalities that are devised in marketing. You build a list of character traits and personality traits that you would expect to see from members in your gym, and then you create a buyer persona. Oftentimes, you will make more than one buyer persona for a marketing plan.

It sounds simple, but there are certainly in-depth elements to buyer personas. You’re getting the full profile of behaviors, impulses, and personalities from your ideal members. You want to know what will make them purchase something, how they’ll do it, how long it will take, and what emotional responses you can trigger in them.

Developing a Buyer Persona

When you develop buyer personas, you don’t just make one. You don’t have just one ideal customer. You have to take a few steps and create multiple personas for maximum effectiveness.

1. Create Persona Names

How many different types of personas can you reasonably expect? Is there one just for the 25-35 age demographic? A persona specifically for male or female customers? Identify which personas you’re targeting, and name them.

2. Create a Backstory

What’s leading your buyer to this specific stage in their lives? Why are they buying a membership in your gym? Is it routine, life changes, or a hobby? This information is important to know how to market to your prospective audience.

3. Demographic Information

You need to know the environment you’re selling in. If your local demographic has a specific age range (younger, up-and-coming communities versus older communities) and median incomes that are much different than you thought, that affects the buying process.

4. Their Goals and Needs

What is the entire point of them buying a membership or class subscriptions? What goals will your gym help them achieve? At the end of the day, that’s (reasonably) all the end user cares about. They’re not interested in how your business does long-term; they want to know what your business can do for them long-term. As it should be.

5. Opportunity

What opportunities can you create for your gym members? How can you use personas to help your members achieve their goals? It’s a simple step, but one you should visit at the end of this little journey.

CrossFit Target Personas

CrossFit includes their own target personas in the CrossFit Affiliate Playbook, and it provides a good level of insight into what you should do with your own target personas. It’s a cross reference chart where you define the persona names, their ages, genders, and approach their unique selling points.

This is a breakdown of their target personas worksheet:

Age is simple enough; define personas by their age range.

Gender is also pretty simple. Men and women tend to have different goals with fitness.

What type of work or student? Now we’re getting into the nitty gritty of it. This question helps you understand how you approach their budget and their goals (as well as their availability).

What do they do for fun? For some folks, fitness is fun. For others, it’s a means to a goal. Other interests can help you shape their persona.

Where do they live? If you’re in a dense area, this one is important. Certain areas will have higher costs of living and paint your personas as viable customers.

What are their goals and reasons to work out? Seriously, what is the point for them? Is it a fitness-driven community, or is it vanity? You have to know why and approach it.

What prevents them from joining our gyms? Are they not in the target market because CrossFit seems too elite to them, or are there too many choices? You’ll have to come up with a unique solution to this problem.

What makes them join our gyms? What’s the sales funnel and buying process that turns them into a paying client?

How much are they willing to spend on membership? This encompasses all of the previous information in each persona. Put a value on each persona.

Target Persona Worksheets

Basically, CrossFit breaks this process down into some simple parts.

Take the facts of your buyer personas. Analyze their fear and pain. Find out how those can lead to goals and aspirations. Determine how those behaviors affect the workflow.

It’s a very simple formula, and one you can emulate in a flowchart to figure it out for your specific demographic.

Marketing Funnel

Funnels exist in every vertical of marketing. It has three parts, specifically for CrossFit: awareness, trial, and assimilation. In short, this is what you need to know:

Awareness is essentially answering the question: what is CrossFit?

Trial is, as you might have guessed, the trial stage. An introduction to CrossFit, a free class, free trials, and free events for non-members.

Assimilation has to do with community, your fitness regimen, and healthy lifestyle. Encompass everything into how it affects goals.


Selling is a skill. There’s a difference between marketing and sales. Marketing is what brings people in front of your product or service, and sales is where you seal the deal.

You need to know how to bring the value in front of them, and then reasonably convince them that they need this value in their life, and they need it now.

An Individual Approach to Membership Sales

If you sell to everyone, you’re selling to no one. In short, don’t try to capture every single person as a prospective sale. You can’t please or appeal to everyone.

Selling is a process. You have to understand the individual needs of the individual user. Even if two people walk in with similar personas, they may not have the same end goals, and so your sales pitch might fall on deaf ears for one of those prospects.

It’s rare to get someone to walk in the front door and immediately know what they want. Most customers don’t. You have to be able to guide them through the process, just like this.

10 Steps to Successful Member Conversion

If you want to convert more members, you need a framework to do so. This is outlined in the CrossFit Affiliate Playbook, and has a surprisingly simple, yet dynamic way to approach member conversion.

1. Meet and Greet at the Front Desk

As they outline in the playbook, your team members should make anyone and everyone who walks in through the front door feel like they have that team member’s full attention. Customers respond best when they know their needs are being met, or at the very least, that their needs are being approached.

2. Build Rapport With Potential Members

Be empathetic, show emotion, and create a solid status of rapport between yourself and potential members. Your interaction with them will hopefully lead to them converting to being a member, but if it doesn’t, that’s okay too. You want to operate on your core principles and be kind to everyone regardless of what they stand to offer you.

Be nice and not pushy. If they’re not sure about what they want to do right now, that’s okay, they’ll likely come back later. If they don’t, you still build candor and kindness that they’ll likely tell others about. Word-of-mouth marketing is the biggest benefit to any business (and technically, it’s free marketing).

3. Understand the Needs of Your Potential Member

How can you direct them to use your facility if you don’t know what they need? It doesn’t take long once you build rapport to find out what a person wants or needs from a gym. In fact, you can just straight up ask them what they want. It’s the best way to directly tell them if you have what they’re looking for, or if you don’t.

Every single potential client should feel as though they’re the center of attention. If you find out their needs, it’s because you paid attention to them, and they’ll note that. It creates amazing interactions and opinions of you and your business.

4. Don’t Talk About Price, Talk About Value

If something is valuable to someone, they’ll pull the trigger and pay for it. It happens all the time across tons of different verticals. Your gym is no different.

Talk about the value in your gym. The high-end machines you offer, amazing instructors you work with, and the culture you’ve created. Those are all things that a prospective client will hold valuable. If the conversation shifts to price, it’s very easy to fall into the cycle of selling and justifying your position. People are sold to enough; just give them value and information.

5. Give Them a Tour

Once you know what they want and you’ve determined whether or not they’re a good fit for your gym, it’s time to take a tour around. You explained the value, but now it’s time to show them the value. Show them what that value can do for them. Bonus points if you have the opportunity to pop in on an in-progress class to really show how the instructors do it.

Once someone agrees to a tour, you get a valuable piece of information: they’re in the sales funnel. Instead of declining and walking away, they want to look around and see if it’s for them. It’s not a done deal, but you’re halfway there.

6. Price Presentation

You’ve talked, shown the goods, and now it’s time to capitalize on the emotions of the prospective client. Are they impressed? They’ll let you know. Is this enough value that they’ll consider spending money? They might. You won’t know until you present the price.

Mention plans without being salesy. Mention the bare minimum cost for gym membership, class costs, and quickly discuss a few add-ons if you offer them. Don’t overwhelm them with information, or they will feel on the spot. If it’s reasonable, they’ll hopefully sign up now. That’s when we get to step seven.

7. It’s Time to Close the Sale

Without pushing the concept of your gym down their throat, you’ve effectively gone through the motions of selling to this prospect. Now, what are you going to do with that information? You’re going to close the sale.

Create urgency, perhaps offer a deal, or provide limited-time guest passes. Get them used to the environment as a trial before they pay. You want to make them think that this is the right choice at this time, and that they’ll get continued value from their purchase, because they will.

8. Understand, Predict, and Overcome Objections

Your prospects will come up with objections during the process. They may not find value in one part of the package, or they’ll simply have a difference in opinions. That’s okay, and it’s entirely natural. The difference is how you deal with it.

Be ready to discuss every possible issue that they could bring up. Understand what they will be, be ready to listen to prospects and honestly, openly discuss those issues with candor. Your gym isn’t perfect, and if you act like it is, it will leave a bad taste in the prospect’s mouth. Be honest and listen to their concerns.

9. Don’t be Afraid to Offer Trials

A common practice for health clubs and gyms all over is to offer trial memberships. No strings attached memberships that are good for a week or a weekend. This gives prospective clients a taste of what your gym offers, especially if you throw in a voucher for a free CrossFit class or something along those lines.

How many times have you signed up for something because they offer a trial period? Many of us do. It’s a great gateway to give away something for free, grant value, but also entice prospective clients to pull the trigger and buy that membership.

10. Begin a Referral Program

Referral programs allow local websites to earn a commission through a sign-up on your website, or it can be an in-person review. CrossFit cites a Harvard Business review that talks about an average 16% increase in profits when you have a referral program.

Referral programs are used by affiliate marketers, so they may create localized lead generation platforms to basically send customers your way in exchange for a small percentage of the initial sign-up sale. It’s a legitimate business model that brings in more than $8 billion every year, and could help your business grow completely hands-free.


Surprisingly, some gyms actually make a decent enough percentage of their annual revenue from retail. If you’re working on branding your gym properly and want your name to go places, retail can be as much as 5% of your total annual revenue.

However, you should let these margins come as a surprise and not part of your plan.

It’s good to have merchandise and branded items, such as water bottles, gym bags, and more, but it’s not the main business model here. The bonus to selling retail items?

Free advertising. Someone sees a client with a duffle bag that has your gym name and logo on it, and now they know your name. The same goes for t-shirts.

Overall, retail depends on your target market. If there’s a reason to believe your clientele has disposable income, merchandise sales may do well at the front desk for people who are entering and exiting the gym.

Thanks to modern print-on-demand companies, you don’t have to buy an absolute ton of product to store in your gym. In fact, you can have seasonal styles available at the front desk, and a sign that says “Shop our previous styles on” and include your website.

Set it up as a print-on-demand service, and you won’t have to hold onto inventory. It becomes passive after the style has left your gym. Retail can be a powerful little way to increase your revenue.

If You Aren’t Marketing, You’re Already Behind

Your target market might shift and sway from time to time, but overall their needs and interests remain pretty much the same. Plan for the future, watch the industry like a hawk, and make sure that you’re not putting marketing on the back burner. Your target audience needs to know that you’re ready to give them the solution they’ve been waiting and searching for.

Sam Karoll

Sam is our Community Manager for PushPress. He also owns and operates Xplore Nutrition, a personalized nutrition coaching service designed "for your lifestyle and goals by a Coach who's always available."

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