Presale campaigns

Are you opening a gym? 7 presale strategies for a successful launch

Are you opening a gym? 7 presale strategies for a successful launch
Written by ALEXANDRA Published on 2020-08-31 7 minutes read

As most fitness operators already know, opening a fitness club means a lot of work and many, many months of preparation. One of the greatest challenges when launching a new gym is recruiting members. The first 50 members are always the hardest to find, particularly if it’s a new brand.

The smartest strategy you can implement when opening a new club is the presale campaigns. Membership sales should not start the day the gym opens but many weeks, if not months before.

Even if you don’t have a date set for your launch, that doesn’t mean you can’t start selling memberships that will become available the day you finally open your doors. This campaign type is called presales, and it’s one of the simplest and easy ways to promote your new gym and create a community of members ready to train with you from day one.

No matter what presale strategy you choose, I recommend making sure that you already have a high-performance management system before launching the campaign. This should allow you to configure your memberships and campaigns with different prices and benefits. And most importantly, that gives members the option to self-register and purchase memberships online.

This way, you’ll have all the necessary tools to create successful presale campaigns without having a reception desk or hiring staff for this department. What is more, it will be a lot easier to sell memberships online than convincing potential clients to visit your gym with the sole purpose of buying a membership. Surely, you’d like your new members to see your fitness club in the best light, not when it’s an empty space under construction.

Discounts for members registering online

Price discounts are the simplest strategy for presales campaigns. Offer short-term memberships with a high discount. For example, it will be more difficult to convince someone to invest in a one-year membership to a gym that theoretically doesn’t exist yet. But a 1-month or 3-month membership will not be such a significant investment.

To avoid having to layout your reception desk, invest in fiscal equipment and hire receptionists months before opening, only to sell a few memberships per day, you should make this entire process online only. That means those interested in your new gym can create a member account online, filling in their contact details. Then they can purchase memberships online and take advantage of your fantastic promotion.

Since the entire process is online, including the payment, the new member will receive an email with the fiscal invoice, and you won’t have to bother with other tax records. In addition, the membership will be automatically saved in your management system, so you’ll know from the start how many members you will have when you open your gym.

Online registration is the most convenient option for members because they don’t have to make the trip to your gym just to buy a membership, and they can register whenever they want.

Online payments

Referral campaigns

A list of potential clients or leads is its greatest asset for any gym starting out. That is why it’s wise to have 1+1 memberships in your presale campaign. More precisely, the member that buys the membership can work out with a friend on the same membership. This offer should be limited only to the 1-month membership.

Make sure you create a member account in your database for both individuals using that membership. Then, after that membership expires, you can offer them a special rate and have two new members with individual memberships.

Another way to increase your leads list is to create a referral system. For example, if a person buys a membership during the presale campaign and then convinces someone else to do the same, the first member can get a reward like a few days extra, a PT or massage session.

Also, all memberships sold during presale should include a few vouchers for friends. Those vouchers can activate a free day pass members can gift to their friends and loved ones. This way, your presale memberships are even more enticing. Furthermore, all the people who use those day passes become new leads that can easily be converted because they have already tested your services.

Bonus days for memberships

Suppose you don’t want to give a too significant discount. In that case, there is another way to make your presale offer more attractive – bonus days. That way, you can sell 2-month memberships for the price of 1-month.

You can establish the official launch date a few weeks after you are ready to open. Then, those who have already bought membership can train for free until that launch. So, if you plan to open the gym on the 1st of the next month, but the space is already completely set up, you can open the club two or three weeks early and give exclusive access to everyone who bought a membership during the presale. Even though their membership will actually start on the 1st of the following month. This way, you can create an exclusive experience for your first members and promote it as a special offer.

Contests with memberships as prizes

If you can’t convince people to buy memberships, you can give some as prizes. Usually, it’s more challenging to convince someone to buy something that doesn’t exist yet, even if it’s about services and not an actual item. However, if they receive a membership for free, surely, they will be curious to visit your gym and try it. So, create partnerships with other brands and local businesses in your area and give out free day passes or weekly passes to their clients.

Organize contests on all social media channels and reward your fans with test memberships of one or more weeks. Don’t forget to promote these campaigns as much as possible so you have as many participants as possible. Make your fans share a specific post from your account for social media contests. Their friends will also see your post and therefore get more brand awareness.

All the memberships you give out as prizes should be short-termed. For example, 100 week-long memberships sound better than 10 three-month memberships. What is more, this campaign aims to bring as many people as possible through your doors. They can test your services and understand how great your club is. Then they will be more inclined to buy long-termed memberships.
Access to online workouts

Suppose you already have a great team of trainers and instructors before your official opening. In that case, you can provide exclusive access to workout programs online created by your team. That means everyone that buys memberships during presale has access to a dedicated platform where you publish these videos.

Virtual workouts have become more and more popular, particularly after the pandemic. They can be an efficient method to convince members to buy a membership even months before the launch. And that’s because until that day they can work out at home with your trainers.

It is also an excellent way for new members to get to know your trainers and become more involved and engaged with your fitness club.

PT sessions included in the membership

PT workouts are one of the most expensive services you can offer, and not many members invest in them. However, suppose you include a handful of PT sessions in your presale memberships. In that case, they will be more interested in your memberships and PT packages.

Moreover, this would be an excellent opportunity for your trainers to convince members to invest in PT packages after their complimentary sessions are up. This way, you can quickly increase PT sales without too much effort.

Launch event with dedicated promotions

A few days before the official launch of your gym, when the space is laid out and the equipment is in its proper place, organize a special event or a soft launch. Invite as many people as possible for a tour of the facilities to convince them in person that the services you’ll be offering are outstanding.

During this event, you can offer a very hefty discount on memberships, but the offer is only available during the event. For this campaign, you will need a working front desk and a team that can help you register all the new memberships.

You can organize a few group X classes, open to anyone, to be more persuasive. Still, nothing will be more convincing than a good discount.
A quick catch-up...

No matter if you open a brand new gym or a new location as part of your fitness chain, you must have a well-thought-out presale strategy. If you wait until you open the gym to recruit members, you have already lost the momentum.

Ensure you have all the necessary digital tools to register memberships at least a few weeks before the launch. For this, you need a management system where you can save all the contact details of your new members and the type of membership they bought.

You also need a way in which clients can buy memberships online. Though this last part might sound a little complicated, think what would be more difficult? Implementing a platform where clients can register online, buy memberships on the spot, or set up a front desk, hire people for this department, and configure fiscal equipment long before your gym is ready?

What is more, it will be a lot easier to convince a client to go online and buy a membership than to visit your gym just for that purchase.

Once you have established all these technical aspects, all you have to do is... sell memberships.

First of all, presale memberships should have lower prices than the standard ones, and they should have more benefits included, like guest passes for friends or PT sessions.

Delay the official launch by a few weeks and provide exclusive access to the gym to those that bought memberships, even if they haven’t technically started.

You can also partner with other brands and local businesses and provide free day passes to their clients. Don’t forget, the secret to this type of campaign is to give out as many memberships as possible in a short period of time. The goal is to bring as many people into the gym and then convince them to stay on as members.

If you manage to finish setting up the gym before the deadline, organize a soft launch where those invited can have exclusive access to a hefty discount on memberships, but only during the event.

No matter what strategy you choose, it’s crucial to put it into action as early as possible to have enough time to attract a large number of members. Then, when the club opens its doors officially, you will have a good roaster of members ready to train.


Alexandra loves researching and writing about the fitness industry and the latest technological developments. She always knows what the latest online trends and challenges are and where to find the best memes.

Fitness Business Romania
Fitness Business Romania

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