Commercial benefits and potential pitfalls of affiliating your fitness business
For a bricks-and-mortar fitness business, affiliation brings opportunities and challenges. Before you collaborate with bigger brands or partner with local experts, explore the commercial and reputational risks and rewards.
How can fitness businesses affiliate with other companies?
There are two main methods of collaborating with other businesses in the fitness and wellbeing space. You could affiliate with food, drink, supplement, or apparel companies. Or partner up with local service providers that complement your offer. We’ll look at the pros and cons of both.
How to affiliate your fitness business with a B2C brand
If you run a facility, it might make sense to promote or re-sell products that your members will love. We’re thinking supplements, drinks, ambient food items, meal prep, apparel, or kit like straps and wraps.
Providing your members with products is a great opportunity to associate your business with well-known brands, whilst adding a low-effort income stream. What would your clients would genuinely find useful for individual workouts, or to support their training journey in the longer term?
Using affiliation as an education piece for members
How can you weave your own value into a B2C affiliation? This could be a great opportunity to educate members about how to choose and use quality supplements, or when and why to use gymnastics grips.
It’s in your interest to be affiliated with brands that you know, like and trust so you can honestly recommend the items to your members. Don’t stock anything unless you can tell members why you believe in the product, and why you recommend they use it.
Provide big-brand value without the outlay
It can be difficult - and expensive – to produce your own merchandise with top-quality materials and finish. Affiliating with an established apparel brand is a great way to give your members good quality merch that also promotes your brand.
Partnering with food companies is a next-level way to look after your staff, as well as helping members keep on track with their goals. When it comes to supplements, drinks, and bigger ticket items like meal prep, you can offer your members and staff a popular product at a discount – and make some commission for yourself.
Challenges of affiliating with fitness product providers
There can be downsides to affiliating with consumer products like apparel, supplements, and food brands. Ordering and managing stock will naturally demand extra admin time, so be sure you’ve got the capacity for that extra task. You’ll also need to do a little extra marketing to members about costs, stock levels, and the inevitable requests for different products.
One last thing to consider before you partner up with a consumer-facing brand. If that brand is caught up in any negative PR, or makes any commercial decisions that you don’t agree with, this may reflect on your business – even though it’s out of your control. It’s unlikely, but worth thinking about.
Should you partner with local fitness and wellness experts
Perhaps you’ve thought about leveraging partnerships with other local service providers in the wellbeing space. There are lots of ways to approach this and achieve win/win outcomes for both businesses – and your members.
Do you have an area of empty or underused space in your building? Why not rent it out to a physio, sports massage provider, chiropractor, or other professional who can add value to your members’ training journey.
Having an affiliation with a physio or massage therapist is likely to drive traffic in both directions. Think about how you can design all-round service for members that includes Personal Training, regular check-ups, or treatments.
Having a physio or massage therapist on site might also bring non-members through your doors, giving them a glimpse of your gym. This could lead to them taking out a membership, or telling others about the facility. This is particularly useful if your gym or studio is tucked away from a town-centre location.
We understand that partnering and affiliation isn't for everyone and at times it's best to introduce new services yourself, for more on this check out our blog: Introducing New Services To Your Business
Partner with other fitness providers to give your members more
Do your members ever ask you to add classes or sessions to your programming? Or tell you that they regularly do another type of training in addition to yours? This could be your sign to partner up with another local fitness outlet.
Think about what kind of training would complement the sessions you offer – yoga, HIIT classes, indoor cycling? Agree a partnership deal that gives clients a discount on membership or session packs, and ask the other provider to offer the same to their clients. Work together to promote the benefits of each other’s training methods.
Affiliation not only benefits your members but can serve as a support network for you as a business owner. See more on this in our blog: How To Build A Support Network For Fitness Entrepreneurs
Additional fitness services without the overheads
Forming an unofficial partnership with another local fitness facility is a great way to help your members build a rounded training routine without adding to your overheads. Buddying up with an established fitness provider is much quicker, easier, and cheaper than recruiting and onboarding new coaches (or building an entire indoor cycling studio!) It will also show your members that you care about their fitness journey as a whole, even outside of their time with you.
Potential pitfalls of partnering with local fitness businesses
As with any business partnership, look out for clashes of personality and other human-led issues if you choose to buddy up with a local business. Keep your expectations and boundaries clear, and speak up quickly if you feel the relationship is becoming unbalanced. Set out the terms of your arrangement at the outset, and revisit the agreement every 6-12 months to check both parties are still happy.