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Chapter 01

Your Fitness Marketing Plan: How to Get Started

Welcome! We are so glad you are here.  

At the beginning of this guide, we introduced you to the NPE Perfect Client Journey™- Systems, tools, and skills development to attract, convert, and WOW your best clients for life. 

This guide is broken down into nine chapters with each chapter focusing on one step of the journey. 

It is a framework that is going to show you how to attract, keep, and serve the best fitness clients for your fitness business for life

In this chapter we will cover the first three things you must figure out before going any further with your marketing plan:

  1. How to identify your perfect client avatar
  2. What you need to understand about your client in order to develop and communicate your message effectively
  3. How to position your business as the best choice for that client

Our goal for this chapter is to show you how to start identifying areas of weakness in the marketing of your business and give you specific tools and strategies to fix those areas and solve those problems. 

But first, if you are curious to see how your fitness marketing skills stack up, check out our free assessment.

Assessment to check your marketing skills

Every Fitness Business Gets Stuck

Fitness business owners have a big job with lots of plates to keep spinning.  

You work hard at bringing in new clients each month, keeping the clients you have satisfied and happy, managing and growing your team and finances, looking after yourself, and a whole lot more. 

It’s a lot to juggle! 

At some point (in fact MANY points over the years in your journey of business ownership), you will get stuck. 

We’ll talk more about the problems and root causes of this in a moment.  

But first, when you look at the graph below you see that you have two choices once you get stuck. 

IF you know how to fix your problems, you can adjust to overcome the new challenges you’re facing, and you will experience the rewards of new growth.

When you don’t know how to fix your problems, you won’t get the results that you want in terms of income, time freedom, and overall satisfaction with your business.

This generally means a decline in business.

And this often leads to frustration, anger, (maybe some tears!), and losing confidence and hope in your team.

graph-two paths for fitness business new growth or death spiral

And unless something changes your business starts to take on a death spiral that feels next to impossible to control. 

We get it and you are not alone. 

Every fitness business gets stuck…at some point.

And when it happens, you have to make some hard choices about your business.

Are you going to dig in and fix it, or are you going to fold?

There are three main problems that lead to businesses getting stuck.

Problem #1. Not Enough Revenue

line graph-profit at a plateau moving with turtle speed

→ What it looks like: 

You have reached a plateau and are stuck at the same average monthly revenue for months or years. Your business becomes stagnant.

→ Root causes: 

The first reason is because the number of new clients you are gaining is equal to or less than the number you are losing. 

The second reason is because client lifetime value has stalled. 

They are signing up for a short period of time and then when that time is up they leave. 

That leads to a decline in the amount of time they spend with you and the amount of money they spend with you. That means they aren’t seeing the value you have to offer.

When your business experiences this, it really becomes a grind for you and your team. 

It can sneak up on you even when you feel like you are doing all the right things. 

You might be really good at one area of your business, so you continue to play offense, but in the meantime, another area of your business is suffering.

When that happens, you shift your focus to go play defense. When you start playing great defense, the offense suffers.

What happens is your business ends up in this cycle of constant competition (defense vs. offense) for focused attention instead of making all of the parts of your business work effectively at the same time (defense & offense).

So, instead of understanding how to play great defense and great offense you end up getting stuck.

If this sounds familiar, then you are more than likely also experiencing…

Problem #2. Not Enough Profit

→ What it looks like: 

You’re losing profits. You’re running from one thing to the next and not getting any traction to improve your business, and you end up in reactive mode spending more time working IN vs. ON your business. 

→ Root causes: 

Lots of errors and self-inflicted wounds are created because you are not clear on your key business process execution and you lack efficiency. You also don’t have a good cost structure, which eats away at your margins and profit. 

Cost structure 

    • Labor (affecting gross profit margin)
    • Expenses (affecting net profit margin) 

The final area that may be an issue with larger fitness businesses comes after you’ve had success, growth, and operational efficiency. 

Problem #3. Not Enough Capacity

→  What it looks like:  

Everyday the same. Squirrel behind the wheel with Bill Murray

You’re living Groundhog Day working “IN” your business for months or years. You have more people in your business, but they’re not solving problems to grow the business with you. That means all the problems flow up to YOU. And the investments you’ve made in your team to date just aren’t translating into continued growth for the business.  

When this goes on for too long, it’s easy to fall out of love with your business. You’re no longer feeling passionate or fulfilled in your current role. And you’re not having the impact on the world you desired.

→ Root causes: 

You are the strongest player on your team. 

There aren’t any more hours in the week or projects you can personally lead and manage to support the work required for continued growth. 

You haven’t developed the leaders needed to own key areas of responsibility for continued business growth and freedom.

We don’t want you to lose sight of your goals. 

Once you solve your revenue problem, you earn the right to work on profit – next goal. 

Once you have solved the revenue and profit problems, you earn the right to hire more team members, which increases your leadership and team capacity. 

Business is much like fitness. You can’t buy a thriving business and you can’t buy health. 

If you want a strong, healthy body, you have to do the work to earn more energy, lean muscles, and a healthier lifestyle. 

If you want a thriving business, you have to have a plan and do the work.

We have a plan for you, because we want to help you get unstuck.

As we dive into the three core problems we just discussed, we will share other frameworks in addition to the NPE Perfect Client Journey™ that address specific problems in each of those areas in detail.

The NPE Perfect Client Journey™ is just one part of the plan. It’s geared towards taking care of clients. It’s one part of the trifecta we call the NPE 3X Method™.

The NPE 3X Method™ is made up of three frameworks each with its own step-by-step process to solve marketing, business, and team problems.

The NPE 3X System™  

  • NPE 3X Method systems and tools for clients, business, teamThe NPE Perfect Client Journey™ (revenue issues: acquisition, retention, net client growth, client lifetime value)
  • The NPE Business Optimization
    System™ (profit issues: cost structures and operational efficiency)
  • NPE Team Development System™ (team issues: leadership) 

As we dive into the nuts and bolts of these different systems that need attention (your clients, your business, and your team) we will address the problems that affect each of these areas and how to solve them. 

Think of your business like the engine of your car. If you don’t put oil in your car…you’re going to have big problems.

The same goes for your fitness business, you’ve got to keep it well-oiled to prevent loss. 

These frameworks work together to assure that you are proactively addressing issues in your business.

You can get a sneak peek of our NPE 3X System™ here

Since 2006 we have helped over 45,000 fitness business owners just like you in over 96 countries get unstuck.

You don’t have to figure this out alone.

By getting all the right tools and systems in place through the NPE 3X Method™, you can and will have a thriving business that looks like this:

  • Consistent increase in client count month over month
  • Steady Increase in revenue and profit
  • Happy clients that eagerly promote your business 
  • Freedom and capacity to make a bigger impact in the world with a TEAM of leaders
  • Freedom that allows you to live the life you want because you have the income to support that life

We are here to be your biggest cheerleader, and to support you at every step of the journey so your business can stop surviving and start thriving. 

The NPE Perfect Client Journey™ is where it begins. 

In this chapter we will be focusing on the first stage of this journey. 

After reading this chapter, you will: 

  • Know who you want for your dream client and how to target them
  • Understand your client on a deeper level that allows you to have conversations and create messaging that actually matters to them
  • Be able to position your business as the absolute best choice for them

Let’s get started!

Step 1: Target Avatars

What clients should my fitness business be targeting and how do I communicate in a way that inspires and engages them?  

Stage 1 NPE Perfect Client Journey Target Avatars

There is no right or wrong market to serve; it’s about the best client that you love to work with and best fits your business. By refining who YOUR perfect client is, you will better understand how to serve and communicate effectively with them.

So, as you think about your current client list, begin to assess if you are serving the best clients for your business.

Are you trying to help everybody?

  • 80 year old recovering from injuries 
  • 40 year old working mom who wants to lose weight      
  • 25 year old who wants to get ripped

You can still serve a broader range of people, but you need to focus these three things on a primary avatar:

  • Messaging 
  • Communication strategy 
  • Targeting 

If you are afraid to choose, you end up talking about things that don’t matter and don’t connect with the clients you want to attract!

Guy driving wondering why nobody will listen to him

Don’t be afraid of missing out on new revenue by making choices and narrowing down your focus. 

Prospective clients aren’t going to pay attention to what you have to say anyway if you are talking about things that don’t resonate with them. 

An older lady recovering from hip surgery that is looking to strengthen her body to help her recover and hopefully avoid breaking the other hip, doesn’t want to hear about how to get ripped. 

For start-up fitness businesses: You may still be in start up mode and are testing things out while trying to figure out who you want to serve and what programs you want to offer, and that’s OK because that is all part of the learning phase. If that’s the case, then spend time interviewing clients you think you MIGHT want to serve. Spend time getting to know them, understand their goals, their problems, and see if you’re inspired to serve them. That’s how you move forward with finding a target market your passionate about

For mid-size and larger fitness businesses: As your business grows you can even extend your focus to a second and maybe even a third avatar.

But, to move to the next level, you’ve got to get clarity on whom you are going to speak to and how you are going to speak to them.

How to Choose the Right Avatar for
Your Fitness Business

Target Avatars: young mom, middle aged man, older woman

Problem: Not knowing the ideal client that you should be targeting, what to say to them, and how to position your business as the BEST one for them.

Solution: Get crystal clear on your target avatar with a plan so you can communicate with them effectively.

How To Refine Your Target Avatar

What problems do you want to solve and who do you want to solve them for? You can approach this two ways:

  • Look at your existing customer base and refine those customers by learning how to understand them better, and then figure out a way to get more clients like them.
  • It might be time to reassess and establish a better quality target avatar to go after because you’ve been aiming at the wrong target altogether.

Different people have different goals, different problems, and different feelings about their goals and problems.

The “Supermom” is trying to take care of kids, run a household, and still look great in a bikini.

The “Busy CEO” is committed to his work and has to get creative with not only how to schedule his workouts in a very narrow window but also to be laser focused during that workout on exactly what he wants to accomplish.

The older woman that may have gained weight throughout the years is ready to feel strong again, get off of meds or stay off of meds, and is ready to challenge herself in new ways.

These avatars have clearly different goals, needs, and reasons (such as beliefs) why they may or may not think they can get fit.

It’s critical that your message speaks directly to that individual.

Psychology is the Fuel
that Defines Your Message

We need to understand the people we serve so that we can communicate effectively with them.

Who is this person you want to connect with?

These are the things about your target that you need to uncover:

  • Their desires
  • Their goals
  • Their problems-the things standing in their way
  • The feelings they have about those problems
  • Their mindset

Here are three areas to consider when gathering information about your target avatar in an effort to understand them better.

First look at their demographics:

  • Male or female
  • Age
  • Employment
  • What else defines them? (moms, executives, busy professionals, etc)

Next, look at their geographics:

  • Where they live 
  • Where they work
  • How close are they to you (if you have a brick and mortar facility)

Finally, look at their psychographics:  

  • Their motivation
  • What’s standing in their way
  • How they feel about that
  • What success looks like to them
  • What failure looks like to them

How they feel (their psychology) is probably the most important part of getting to know your perfect client and their mindset.

Understanding Your Target Avatar’s Mindset

According to the Oxford dictionary and Google, mindset is “the established set of attitudes (beliefs) held by someone.”

Do any of these objections sound familiar?

  • “I just don’t have time right now.”
  • “I’m super busy at work and so tired when I get home.”
  • “I’ll start Monday.”

These are not real problems. 

They are beliefs resulting in mental blocks. 

The Psychology: A Chain Reaction

The psychology behind this idea is that these beliefs determine our thoughts, which determine our feelings, which determine our attitudes, which determine our actions, and inevitably determine our reality. 

Psychology pyramid demonstrating how our beliefs ultimately shape our actions

We all have the same amount of time.  

Fit people don’t have more time than unfit people. 

They’ve just realigned their values, priorities, and schedule to be able to do the things that are going to give them a good return in the face of all of their challenges, responsibilities, and roles in life between work and family and whatever else they have going on.     

Understand what your target avatar’s mental blocks are – their beliefs – so you can lead powerful conversations that challenge them to let go of those beliefs, replace them with new ones, and can step into operating from a new frame with you.

You have to be that guide to help them understand that they are getting in their own way and then help them get a plan to get on a path that moves them forward.

Six Questions to Use to Define Your Message

Below are six questions you can use to dig into the psychology of your target avatar and use to define your message.

Define your fitness marketing message

        1. What are your avatars’ goals/desires?  
        2. What obstacles are standing in their way?
        3. How do they feel about their obstacles?
        4. What mindset is holding them back from moving forward?
        5. What does success look like to your avatar?
        6. What does failure look like to your avatar?   

When you understand their psychology, you will communicate with them much more effectively.

How to Establish Your Positioning

The final item to take care of in Step One of the NPE Perfect Client Journey is to establish your positioning with your target customer.

Why are you the best choice for them? 

Why should they trust you over someone else to take care of their fitness needs?

This is where you differentiate yourself with your purpose, your category, and create authority in what you do and why you do it the best.

There are six elements of positioning:

  • Category – What is your “thing”?
  • Credibility – WHY should someone believe and trust what you have to say?
  • Purpose – WHAT do you care about?
  • Target Customer – WHO do you serve?
  • Benefit – WHAT problems do you solve, goals do you help them achieve?
  • Differentiation – HOW is your business different from others?

Establish your positioning six questions

The way we teach fitness business positioning at NPE is inspired by
our good friend Greg Head and his Scaling Point System.

Over the years, we’ve had a tremendous amount of experience and how to dial in positioning for fitness businesses. As markets evolved, competition grows, it becomes more and more important to address both your category and differentiation to win the hearts and minds of the market you want to serve.  

How Are You Defining What You Do?

You need a clear, well-defined category. 


  • Personal trainer
  • High performance training facility
  • Yoga Instructor

What Is Your Purpose?

What do you care about, and why are you here doing this now? 

There are many great examples from NPE clients in our NPE Helping Fitness Professionals Grow to 6-Figures Facebook Group that share their purpose. Many of them are brand new personal trainers. 

One example is of a personal trainer that grew up doing competitive gymnastics and is passionate about helping others reach their full potential through fitness.

Another newly certified personal trainer suffered from postpartum depression and after overcoming it decided to get her certification to help other people overcome their difficulties. 

And we have a very successful NPE client whose journey began through the loss of his brother in a tragic car accident.  

The point is your purpose matters and it’s a powerful point of connection in positioning who you are and why people should care about what you have to say.

Need a little inspiration? 

Meet Lauren Burke. She has Cerebral Palsy, she’s an NASM certified personal trainer, and she helps the disabled population. 

“I’m on a mission to help every person manifest the lion heart athlete inside of them.”

Now, that’s a purpose…and it establishes her credibility as well.

People are much more interested in hearing “why” you do something vs. “what” you do. 

What’s YOUR story? 

If you are interested in sharing your story with us, we would love to hear it. 

Become a part of our NPE Facebook family today to learn more about others who are sharing your same journey.

Join the Private NPE Facebook Group button

How are You Differentiating Yourself?

What makes you stand out in the sea of fitness business owners out there? Make sure you have established the benefits you can provide over someone else. 

Have a plan in place that clearly positions yourself as the best in your category.

One way to differentiate yourself is to tell how your method or the system you use to help people reach their goals is unique to you. 

How do you take people from where they are to where they want to be?

How do you do it in a unique and powerful way that distinguishes your business?

If you are new, you can leverage any system you learned through your certification. 

For example, did you learn the OPT™ Model through NASM? If so, that sets you apart.

It’s important that you find the areas that make you different and are prepared to put a spotlight on them because people are going to want to know why they should choose you vs. someone else.

How Will You Establish Credibility?

In order to establish credibility with your clients, you must become the authority. 

How do you do that if you are just starting out?

Tell them your story. Everybody loves a story. 

What was the motivation behind starting your business? How did you become a personal trainer? 

Tell them what you are passionate about. Your story not only helps people understand your purpose, but it can also be leveraged to establish credibility…so use it.

Passion goes a long way in drawing people in.

Other ways to establish credibility

  • Your certifications or educational background
  • How many years you’ve been in business
  • Number of clients you’ve served
  • Celebrity or high-profile clients you’ve served
  • Media that has recognized you (have you been on the news?)
  • Articles you’ve been featured in
  • Awards you’ve won
  • Other professionals or companies that endorse you, your business, and you can show on your website

Don’t be afraid to share all of those things. This builds your credibility and will position you as an authority in your area.

When you position yourself as an authority it will come across in your offer as well. More on that in Chapter 5. 


Growing a fitness business without a doubt takes a lot of work.

BUT if you are willing to put in the time and effort, you will enjoy great benefits.

That means you are willing to look at all facets of your business from how to do marketing, how to run the business side, and how to grow a team of leaders.

Once you have immersed yourself in NPE’s 3X Method™, you will have all the tools and systems you need to effectively manage all aspects of your business. You’ll know how to be proactive, efficient and understand how to play both defense and offense.

In this chapter we covered:

  • How to define and target your perfect avatar
  • How to understand the psychology that drives your avatars’ actions so you can use that psychology to plan your message 
  • How to establish your positioning by being clear on your category, being able to state your “why” (your purpose), knowing who your target customer is, what benefits you offer through your services, and how you are different from others

So, that wraps up Step 1 of the NPE Perfect Client Journey™. 

We are going to leave you with some key points, so put them in your notes as a reminder or snap a pic with your phone so they stay fresh, are easy to access, and can be used as a source of inspiration. 

Each chapter will build on the next, and a lot of information is coming your way!

Key Takeaways

  • Every fitness business gets stuck.
  • When you have specific tools and strategies in place,  you will be able to identify and fix areas of weakness in your fitness business.
  • You have to be willing to commit to the process.
  • You must get clear on who you want to serve and how you want to serve them.
  • You have to dig into the psychology of your target avatar to truly understand them and craft a clear message that speaks to them.
  • Bring out all the bells and whistles when you position yourself and your business – don’t leave out one part.
  • Join our NPE private Facebook group to connect with others for support during your journey.

What’s Next?

Stay on the lookout for chapter two of The Ultimate Guide to Fitness Marketing Strategies, where we are rolling out Step 2 of the NPE Perfect Client Journey™: How to Generate Leads. 

In this chapter, we teach you how to generate DIVERSIFIED, CONSISTENT, and EFFECTIVE leads. 

It’s a biggie!

It’s coming soon, so stay tuned.

Talk to you soon!

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