Everything you need to run a successful fitness website
Whether you’re a personal trainer, coach, or small gym owner, your business is going to need a website! Joining an engaging community is currently one of the top reasons people have for going to the gym, and creating a fitness website is an important way to add to that community.
And starting a website doesn’t just make for a better customer experience – it will also help you promote your business and stay organized. When we interviewed Lisa Olona, a fitness and lifestyle coach, she emphasized the benefits of having a website:
“It’s a much simpler way to promote my business, provide information to potential clients, enroll clients, and create and nurture a database.”
So – how exactly do you start a fitness website? We’ve been helping people get online for over 10 years now, and we’ve narrowed this one down to five steps:
How to Make a Successful Fitness Website
- Get a domain name
- Choose a website building platform
- Customize your website
- Add apps to your website
- Promote your website
We’ll break each step down in detail below, and you’ll be on your way to success in no time!
Before you can set up a killer website, you need to make sure you have a domain name to help visitors find your website. A domain name is like your website’s virtual address – people type it into their search bar, hit enter, and arrive at your site.
For example, ours is websitebuilderexpert.com. In this example, “websitebuilderexpert” is our second-level domain (SLD), which is basically just the name of the website, and .com is our top-level domain (TLD), otherwise known as a domain extension. Your domain name will vary in cost depending on the TLD you choose (.com, .net, .biz, .us…).
Like we said, the price of your domain name will vary depending on the TLD you choose, but registering a new domain typically costs between $10 and $20 per year. That’s excluding the first-year introductory discounts that many registrars offer, which will likely mean a cheaper initial payment (good news!).
How should I choose a domain name?
The SLD you choose – for us, “websitebuilderexpert” – won’t affect the price of your domain, unless the domain name you want is already taken by someone else. We’ll be honest: in that case, the cheapest option is to brainstorm a new domain name. This is because popular SLDs end up selling for crazy amounts of money, while a little bit of creativity will get you a great SLD at no extra cost. So, how do you come up with a good one?
Since you’re starting a fitness website, you’ll want your domain name to look professional. This is the easy part: only include information related to your brand, industry, or location. For example, JohnDoePhysio.net or RocklandCountyFitness.com.
But there are some easy mistakes that will quickly derail a great domain name. In fact, it’s more helpful to know what not to include:
- Don’t include words with multiple spellings: Even if your domain name is easy to remember, it’ll be no use if a potential visitor types “too” instead of “to”
- Don’t include numbers if you can avoid them: Same reason here! You don’t want someone typing “four” instead of “4” and ending up on a different site
- Don’t include dashes (-): Dashes may seem like a good way to separate the words in your domain, but they make it difficult to explain your domain name by word-of-mouth. Not worth it!
Other than that, try to keep your domain name short and relevant, and you’ll land a great one!
Now that you’ve got your web address taken care of, it’s time to build your house! In other words, it’s time to choose a platform to help build your fitness website.
There are two main platforms you can choose from: website builders, and WordPress. We’ll cover both options, but in short, website builders are best for getting online quickly and simply, while WordPress is better for design customization.
Using website builders
Website builders are tools that offer pre-designed website templates which you can customize without having to know anything about coding or web design! You can drag-and-drop page elements like images and text boxes to where you want them, and easily change colors, fonts, and layouts with a few clicks. It’s also easy to add more pages to your website from a menu of options.
Creating your fitness website with a website builder is fast, easy, and ideal for those of us who aren’t super tech-savvy. If you’re more comfortable with digital work and don’t mind a little bit of coding, then you may want to skip ahead to “Using WordPress.” But for the rest of us, let’s talk about which website builders are the best – and why.
We’ve been researching, testing, and comparing website builders for over 10 years now, and we take it pretty seriously. Our overall ranking of the best website builders reveals Wix, Squarespace, and Weebly as the top three options. Weebly is the best website builder for small businesses, but each builder has different strengths and weaknesses, so you’ll still want to take a look at all of them. You can expand each of the bars below to learn more about these three powerhouse platforms:
Wix is the best overall website builder for good reason. It was most likely to be recommended by the users we surveyed, and it scores well for both customer support and ease of use. Check out this summary of Wix’s performance to see the rest of its scores:
Wix has a free plan, which is a good way to get a feel for it, but not ideal for running a professional fitness site – you can’t even use your own domain name! Instead, we recommend using one of Wix’s eight premium plans, which start from $13/month. You get over 500 templates to choose from, including over 40 fitness-focused ones, plus easy social media tools and a convenient mobile editor that lets you make edits to your site on-the-go.
In short, if you’re looking for all-around performance and ease of use, then consider trying Wix.
Squarespace earns the title of “best for creatives,” because it offers the best template designs of any website builder on the market. If you want beautiful designs with minimal effort, then Squarespace is a great option. Here’s a quick snapshot of this builder:
Squarespace offers a 14-day free trial, after which you can sign up to one of four premium plans, starting at $12/month. Squarespace also offers a ton of helpful features that make it great value for money, such as an all-in-one email marketing system to help you promote your fitness website.
In short, if you’re looking for creative template designs, then consider trying Squarespace.
Weebly is the best website builder for small business sites. It offers scalable features and built-in Search Engine Optimization (SEO) guides for marketing purposes. Check out this summary of how Weebly performed in our research:
Weebly offers a free plan (but again, free plans don’t allow professional domain names), plus three paid plans that range from $6-26/month. Weebly doesn’t allow as much creative freedom as Wix, or offer templates as good as Squarespace’s, but its App Center makes up for it by offering all kinds of tools across categories like marketing, communications, ecommerce, and social.
In short, if you’re looking for professionalism and scalability, then consider trying Weebly.
The first thing to know about WordPress is that it’s a content management system (CMS), not a website builder. Content management systems are more advanced platforms, because they allow for the storage and organization of more content than website builders can handle.
The benefits of creating your fitness website with WordPress are increased design customization and control. You can take premade themes, and customize the code until you’ve created a completely original design – there are virtually no limits!
The drawback of creating your fitness website with WordPress is that it’s a bit more complicated than using a website builder. You’ll need to learn a little bit of code to get the most out of WordPress, and although the end result is often impressive, it’ll take more time to get there. Using WordPress to create a fitness website is kind of like cooking a family dinner in a restaurant kitchen – you’ll be over-equipped for the task!
In short, if you’re looking for design freedom and don’t mind a little bit coding, then consider trying WordPress.org.
Now for the fun part! Once you choose a platform and start building, it’s time to think about the best ways to customize your fitness website. It only takes about 0.05 seconds for visitors to form an opinion about your website, so it’s important to make it count.
Branding your website
Regardless of whether you’re using WordPress or a website builder, it’s important to choose your template design wisely. If your business already has a set color scheme reflected in a logo or on flyers, then stick to it! If not, you can read up on our tips for choosing a website color scheme – it can be a fun opportunity to get creative! And if you haven’t made a company logo yet, we’ve got you covered there, too.
As you customize your website, keep one thing in mind: consistency is key. If you decide to spring for bright colors and a playful tone, then stick to it! You never want to contradict yourself – in one study, consistent branding was said to increase revenue by 33%! That means that the fonts, color schemes, and tone of voice that you use should be the same on every page of your website.
Every website starts with a home page, where you should express your company’s name and mission as clearly as possible. Keith McNiven of Right Path Fitness recently gave us his insights on having a great home page:
“The most important page is definitely the home page, because that’s the page that has to grab a potential client’s attention in the first instance, and give them a reason to stay on the site and have a look around. On the home page, we have carefully placed link buttons for our contact form, as that’s the action we’re looking for – for a potential client to get in touch and make the first step towards their fitness goals.”
So, we know the importance of a great home page. But what other pages will you need to include on your fitness website? We asked Lisa Olona what’s worked for her site:
“I believe the Contact Us form, About Us page, and a testimonial page are important. The testimonial page is social proof of the results your clients are getting. The About Us page gives the prospect an opportunity to connect with you as a potential coach, and the Contact Us form lets them reach out so you can connect personally with the client.”
For many sites, the Contact Us page gets more page views than any other section. This page is an opportunity to get in touch with potential clients, and it’s important to take advantage of that. Our advice? Only include the necessities: your phone number, email address, opening hours, and location. Most website builders will also let you include a form that visitors can fill in and send straight to your inbox, as well as an interactive map that can show your location in greater detail. You can see one of these maps in action on this website for a Retro Fitness gym in upstate New York:
It’s also important to include an About Us page on your fitness website. 77% of B2B marketing leaders say that branding is critical to growth, and there’s no better place to showcase your brand than on your About Us page. We’ve written a step-by-step guide to writing a great About Us page that you can read to get inspired, but in short: take this page as an opportunity to showcase your team and your values.
Lisa also offered some great advice about setting up a page for testimonials. Adding customer reviews to your website can gain you more business than you might think – in fact, 95% of shoppers read online reviews before making a purchase. A little bit of social proof goes a long way! But how do you collect customer testimonials, and how do you use them effectively? We’ve written a guide to using customer reviews online that breaks this strategy down further.
In this case, “apps” are additional tools you can use to add extra functionality to your site. Basically, adding apps will make the user experience better. Whether you’re using WordPress or a website builder, you’ll be able to access a collection of apps and plugins that you can easily include on your site. Some are free and some are paid, and the cost (or lack thereof) will depend on which platform you’re using.
Whatever platform you’re using, the following apps will be available in some form, and we recommend these in particular to take your fitness website to the next level:
- A booking app – Create, schedule, and organize new appointments with ease.
- Email capture – Easily collect clients’ email addresses, and integrate with email marketing software like Constant Contact or Mailchimp.
- Payment processing – Simplify the payment process, and accept payments from multiple card types and/or currencies.
In addition to helpful apps, most website builders will also let you set up a “members only” area on your website, which enables your customers to have their own account on your site. This is a great addition to any fitness website, since marketers see an average increase of 20% in sales after personalizing the customer experience. A members only area is easy to create and customize, and it gives customers a good reason to keep visiting your site!
At this point, you have all the knowledge you need to create a great fitness website. The final step is promoting your website, to make sure it gets as many visitors as possible (and generates as much business as possible!). There are a few important types of promotional tools you’ll want to use, and we’re going to cover them all.
You may already have accounts set up on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter for your fitness business, and that’s great! Social media offers endless potential when it comes to connecting with clients. We spoke to Lyndsay Hirst of YourPilatesPhysio about the benefits of social media for a fitness website, and she agreed:
“Social media is where lots of people may search for your business if they are interested in the service you offer, so your social media posts need to reflect what your website offers.”
“Reflecting what your website offers” means advertising appointment bookings and news updates, and introducing yourself and your team. You can accomplish all of this in bite-sized Instagram captions and Facebook statuses. But an equally important part of social media marketing is engaging with your community.
71% of consumers who have had a positive experience with a brand on social media are more likely to recommend that brand to friends and family – which means that liking, commenting, and sharing your audience’s posts is super beneficial to your business. You’ll also want to make sure that you’re engaging with pages that are similar to your own. For example, interacting with fitness bloggers or local gyms in your area is a great way to get your name out there and gain more followers. It’s not enough just to have a social media page – you also need to use it regularly!
One social media platform that can be especially valuable in the fitness industry is YouTube. These days, it’s often overlooked in favor of Twitter and Instagram, but YouTube offers a great opportunity to expand your reach by posting workout videos and tutorials online. It’s also easy to embed YouTube videos on your website, so you can get the most out of any content you create!
Search Engine Optimization, or SEO, is the next tool in your arsenal. SEO is the process of making your website more attractive to search engines like Google. The more Google likes your site, the higher up it will appear in search results, and the more people will click through to your page.
Google uses countless factors to decide what a website’s ranking should be – you can even read some of Google’s own SEO advice, if you’d like – but there are a few simple steps you can take that will instantly boost your website’s SEO, and make your pages more attractive to Google:
Every page you create for your website will need its own URL. For example, our home page URL is websitebuilderexpert.com, but this page’s URL is websitebuilderexpert.com/building-websites/how-to-start-fitness-website/. When you create page URLs, try to keep them as short and relevant as possible. This will ensure that search engines and potential visitors know exactly what the page is about. Google also recommends separating the words of a URL with hyphens for an easier reading experience.
A typical Google search result looks like this:
For each result, A is the page title, and B is the meta description. You can edit both of these elements before your page goes live, and it’s important to keep them short and relevant so that visitors know what to expect from your page. Action words, like “join today” above, also help push potential customers to click.
Before you upload images to your site, you’ll want to compress them to reduce the file size. This will make it easier for pages to load quickly.
Don’t panic – you don’t need any technical skills in order to compress images. There are plenty of free services online that will compress them for you in the click of a button. In fact, we use ImageResizer.com for our own pictures!
During the uploading process, you’ll also be able to add “alt tags” to your images. Alt tags are just descriptions that appear in place of an image in case of loading issues, and Google likes to see them – so keep an eye out for these when you upload your pictures!
Whether you’re using a website builder or WordPress, adding a blog section to your website is easy, and can be done in the click of a button. But it’s getting the blog content right that’s the hard part. Not every fitness website will have the time to include a blog, and that’s fine – it’s definitely not a requirement! That said, if it’s something you can do, then including a blog will only help your promotion efforts. In fact, nearly 80% of companies that use blogging as part of their marketing strategy reported acquiring customers through their blogging efforts.
As a fitness website, your potential blogging topics are limitless. People love to read about workout tips, healthy recipes, and training how-tos. Just pick whatever topics you’re interested in, and your knowledge and expertise will show through! If you can update your blog once a week with a new, short post, you’ll be adding incredible value to your site. And don’t forget to include photos if you can – articles with images get 94% more total views than articles without images!
Starting a fitness website can be a fun process, and there’s no shortage of tools to help you accomplish your goals. Whether you use a website builder or WordPress, if you follow this guide, you’ll be on your way to success in no time. Let’s recap the steps:
- Get a domain name
- Choose a website building platform
- Customize your website
- Add apps to your website
- Promote your website
And that’s all from us! Leave us a comment if you have any questions – we’d love to know how you get on!