Before you hire another salesperson or run more generic ads in the hope of increasing sales, you should first consider this: Most people love to work on their abs and want a thinner, tighter waistline. Club operators can appeal directly to the needs and desires of their members and prospects by doing two things: install dedicated areas in their facilities for core training and offer short-term ab-focused programs.

If you were to ask your members about which body part they want to improve this year, you can bet seven out of 10 would say, “My belly and waistline,” or “My abs.” A recent IHRSA survey ranked ab machines as a top activity that your members value the most in their health club, along with treadmills, ellipticals and free weights. The survey is not surprising because the primary reason people join health clubs is to feel and look better.

But the vast majority of health club marketing fails to capitalize on these trends. Many club operators run generic ads such as: “Save 50 percent off XYZ club membership this week!” or “Sign up for seven private training sessions and receive two sessions for free!” These ads focus on financial features of your offer rather than focusing on what your prospects really want—great results. That's why an ad focusing on a short-term ab-focused program promising real results is more effective. Why not try an ad that says: "Tighten your belly in two weeks—guaranteed. Sign-ups end in seven days. Limited to people who need to lose 10 pounds or more."

Every major fitness magazine knows the value of result-specific targeted marketing. Look at the headlines on the covers of top fitness magazines such as Shape, Men's Health, Fitness and Oxygen:

  • Your Six Pack Solution
  • Flat Belly Fast
  • Two Weeks to a Tighter Tummy

Magazines use these headlines on the cover because they help sell millions of copies. They know that ab-focused marketing works. It makes people want to buy.

You might think it is too time-consuming to offer short-term ab-focused programs just so that you can develop this type of results-focused marketing campaign, but there are resources available to help you get started fast. You just need to do the following:

  • Download examples of ab ebooks at that you can use to create your program and share with participants.
  • Create an ad or postcard promoting the programs. Use compelling result-specific headlines as described above.
  • Create a flyer or poster to offer the program to your members.
  • Create two price points: one for nonmembers and one for members.
  • Pick a start date and allow at least two weeks to promote the program.

Hold an initial group meeting for all participants. This is a great way for nonmembers to meet your current members.

At the end of the program, schedule a one-on-one result review meeting with each participant and offer them to continue as a member. You may want to offer a discount off the enrollment fee or a free one-on-one training session as an incentive.

By offering short-term ab-focused programs to prospects without the long-term membership commitment, you will attract people who probably never would have stopped by your club. These programs also work for your members who need a little challenge to get them back on track. Just make sure your member price is less than the nonmember price.

Ab-focused programs are becoming mainstream in several club chains across the country. Both Planet Fitness and Retro Fitness offer a special area or circuit dedicated solely to ab training. These dedicated areas are like your "silent salesmen" who help prospects get excited about joining your club. Think about the key moment for prospects who are considering joining your club—the all-important club tour. People understand the cardio area is for your heart, the strength area is for your muscles, and group exercise rooms are for classes. Now, imagine showing them an area in your club for core training—a place where they can focus on their abs with innovative, effective and fun equipment to use for training their core. What better way to complete your club tour before beginning to review various membership options?

A slim, strong waistline is not just about looking sexy. Many studies show that a healthy and slim waistline also is an indication of heart health. In other words, where fat is located on your body matters when it comes to health risks. Researchers have found that people who have high amounts of fat in their abdomens compared to other parts of the body have higher risks of cancer and heart disease. The bottom line: You are not just selling vanity when you are selling abs—you also are selling good heart health.

If you want to increase your membership and generate more revenue from existing members, offering short-term ab-focused programs combined with a dedicated core training area will enable you to deliver to people what they really want: great-looking abs and a slender waistline.

Content Sponsored by The Abs Company.

Don Brown is the president of The Abs Company, a company specializing in intuitive and unique commercial-quality abdominal exercise machines. Brown has more than 30 years of experience in the fitness industry, from health club owner to product developer. In 1986, he opened his first health club and sold the chain 20 years later. In 1994, he invented the Ab Roller, which has generated over $1 billion in worldwide sales. His most recent success has been the Ab Coaster, which is used in more than 10,000 health clubs in over 25 countries. The Abs Company now offers The Core Strength Zone, a turnkey package featuring unique abdominal machines.