Remember the days when all you had to do to usher in a rush of new clients was run a Facebook campaign or a Groupon offer? Those days are long gone. The market is becoming saturated, and fitness facilities are popping up on every corner, each wanting a piece of the pie. Also, consumers are becoming more educated about fitness; they’re more cautious about where they spend their hard-earned exercise dollars—and for good reason!

In this environment, it’s important to understand the power of marketing, to be more selective with your marketing budget and your target audience, and to follow up on that extra attention by delivering better services and results. To make this happen, you need to know your ideal client better—much better. If you want to deliver a superior service, you need to go beyond the basics of age, gender and where your ideal clients live. You need to know what makes those clients tick and what their core, hidden problems are. Then, you offer the best solutions.

In a nutshell, you need a client avatar. Think of it as a visual client roadmap that tells you everything you need to know about your “ideal client,” so that you can attract clients like this and help them achieve their dream outcomes. You’ll reference your client avatar when you’re creating ads and programs, designing your studio and services, hiring staff and making any other major decisions. This avatar tells you who the people in your target market are, the problems they have, their wants and needs, the solutions you can offer, and where/when you can communicate with them. It gives you a deep view of the lives of your favorite clients and why they need you in the first place. Let’s take a closer look.

Market, Media and Message

Your client avatar tells you about the life of your “perfect client”: what the people in that group do outside the gym, what they desire, what their frustrations are, where they like to hang out, who their friends are, what they value about health/fitness and why they’ve chosen you over your competitors. It’s “ground zero” for the 3Ms: market, media and message. Your market refers to the people you want to talk to (demographics, psychographics and geographics); media is where and how you engage those people (social media, radio, print, etc.); and the message is the story you tell (attraction, engagement and offer). A well-designed 3M package is good for you and for your specific customers, because trying to market to everyone is useless.

Having a client avatar doesn’t just get clients in the door; it also keeps them there by providing a great experience. It empowers you to have more meaningful conversations rather than taking shots in the dark by targeting simple factors such as location, age and gender. The client avatar approach aligns you with your clients’ pain points, frustrations, fears, desires and needs. When used correctly, it makes your ideal client perk up and say, “Hey, that makes sense . . . it’s as if they’re talking to me!” Once you’ve nailed this down, you’ll be able to sell the right service to the right person at the right time.

How to Build Your Client Avatar

Start with a survey. Ask your top 20 clients and also your training staff specific questions. (The purpose of surveying both groups is to understand both perspectives and to identify whether your clients and staff are on the same page.) You know who your top clients are—they’re your raving fans! They show up, listen to your coaches, are engaged, refer clients and are committed to their goals. You want more of these clients and their success stories so that you can attract more folks like them.

Break your survey into three parts. Under each section, identify the goal and the questions that will provide the information you need.


The goal is to find out the client’s geographics and demographics.

Sample Questions

  • How old are you?
  • What neighborhood do you live in?
  • How far away is your home from our fitness facility?
  • Do you visit our facility primarily before/after work, or do you come in on your days off?
  • What is your occupation?
  • Do you have daycare needs?
  • Do you play sports?
  • What are your hobbies?


The goal is to find out whom a client associates with and what media the client consumes.

Sample Questions

  • Do you belong to a Rotary Club or other business networking group?
  • Do you belong to a local church/mosque/synagogue/etc.?
  • Where did you go to school?
  • What magazines or newspapers do you read?
  • What radio stations do you listen to?
  • What social media platforms are you on most often?
  • What’s your favorite coffee shop?
  • Where do you buy your groceries?
  • Do you visit a massage therapist, physio or chiropractor?
  • What are your hobbies?

For the VIP Client Survey Part 3 and sample avatar descriptions, see “Why You Need a Client Avatar” in the online IDEA Library or in the February 2019 issue of IDEA Fit Business Success. If you cannot access the full article and would like to, please contact the IDEA Inspired Service Team at 800-999-4332, ext. 7.

Jack Wheeler

Hi everyone, I am a personal trainer and owner of 360 Fitness Personal Training in Alberta, Canada. 360 Fitness was named to the Top 100 Fitness Businesses in the World 3x times running :) Jack is a personal trainer by trade and Founder of 360 Fitness Personal Training in Alberta, Canada. Jack has been in the industry for 12 years and is well known for his fitness marketing. 360 Fitness was named to the Top 100 Fitness Businesses in the World 3x times running with numerous local, provincial and national awards for excellence. Jack recently hit the stage last year as an international speaker on everything fitness marketing with IdeaFit, NPE and IHRSA.

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