Marketing Aimed at Older Fitness Center Members | Athletic Business

Marketing Aimed at Older Fitness Center Members

Use words that stir emotion, and develop a marketing tool kit to attract older members to your fitness center.

At some stage in your life, you may have heard the phrase, "Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me." As a kid, I learned quickly that this comment was inaccurate. Many times, the words used in marketing efforts can have a direct effect on the results you achieve. So, how can you find the right words to use when marketing your wellness programs to baby boomers and beyond?

What's in a name?

Let's start with what to call this group. Research conducted by the Natural Marketing Institute found that using terms that described previous generations just won't cut it. Ninety-eight percent of respondents gave two thumbs down to the term "senior." Eight-five percent rejected "older adult." Seventy-five percent turned their backs on "middle-aged," while two-thirds said they don't like to be called "baby boomers." "Active adult" and "50-plus" were also rejected by a clear majority. So, what do you call this group?

Based on this, and other research, stay away from names that reference age or getting older: "65-plus," "senior fit," "fit after 60." You may want to hire a writer for this. Designate your older adult program by the functional levels of your participants, and not by their age: "just getting started," "needs a little help" or "athletic performance."

When it comes to images, research shows that the average older person relates to people like them, not beautiful models. By incorporating these elements into your marketing message, it may now be heard. But, how can you take it to the next level?


Wellness Dimensions

The following emotionally charged words can help you describe each of the six wellness dimensions your program meets.

Physical dimension: functionality, energy, activity level, challenge, independence, limitation, attraction

Intellectual dimension: self-actualization, brain fitness, imagination, engaged, problem-solving, contribution, growth

Spiritual dimension: serenity, transformation, fulfillment, relaxation, purpose, journey, destiny

Emotional dimension: passion, courage, joy, balance, friendship, support, feelings

Social dimension: family, belonging, community, relationships, traditions, entertainment, status

Vocational dimension: skills, experiences, value, identity, productivity, security, expertise


Creating your tool kit

Whether it's research, concepts, images or words, an "ageless" marketing tool kit is a must. At a recent meeting, the International Council on Active Aging asked 40 professionals who serve the older market to choose words that best described their organization's vision. The following is a sample of the results:

Words that describe the vision of their ideal program included purposeful, comprehensive, affordable, preventive, restorative, measurable, innovative, intergenerational, friendly, welcoming, fun, user-friendly, empowering, diverse and engaging.

Example. "Our wellness program empowers individuals to stay engaged in life by offering innovative and diverse activities that are purposeful, affordable and fun."

Now you try. Create a paragraph that describes the physical aspects of your programs using the following words: functionality, energy, activity level, challenge, independence, limitation and attraction. Once you finish, try applying each dimension of wellness (see Wellness Dimensions). Last, try creating a description for one of your programs that incorporates words from each dimension (as long as the program supports them).

Example. Here is an example for a meditation program: "Are you seeking the energy you need to become more engaged in life? Let us help you. At The Club, our Zen Meditation program will take you on a journey of self-renewal, helping you transform your mind, body and soul. Throughout this experience you will learn the skills you need to find a greater sense of balance in your life."

Brainstorm better ideas

To enhance your tool kit, ask your staff members to create a series of words that will identity your wellness programs. Then ask your baby boomer and older members to do the same. This simple process will illustrate how your staff and members think. It will also give you the information you need to create effective communication tools for your sales, marketing and customer service efforts.

If you would like a complete list of words for your tool kit, email me at

Buyer's Guide
Information on more than 3,000 companies, sorted by category. Listings are updated daily.
Learn More
Buyer's Guide
AB Show 2022 in Orlando
AB Show is a solution-focused event for athletics, fitness, recreation and military professionals.
Learn More
AB Show