As the new year fast approaches, more people than ever will be contemplating a healthier lifestyle change. This means that fitness and martial arts gyms everywhere will be engaged in advertising campaigns with the hope of recruiting new customers. 

Many of the ad pitches will be the same cliché slogans of “New year, new you!” and other similar, time-tested phrases, so it’s of vital importance that your offers to customers are more appealing and enticing so that they separate you from the rest of the competition.

People are figuring out that martial arts schools are great alternatives to a traditional fitness gym because they help people reach their fitness goals while also teaching useful and practical forms of self defense. Most people also cancel their gym memberships after just three months of signing up, which means that you also have to focus on why people will want to stick around once they commit to starting their martial arts training. 

Below is a list of marketing ideas that will help provide any potential future members with enticing offers to really kick the new year off with a bang. 

Referral Programs

You can never go wrong with a good referral program to help spread the word about your martial arts gym. Offering current members discounts on their membership is a great way to incentivize them to go out and recruit new members. 

Personalized Training Sessions

When most people hear about personal training, they think about it in terms of a traditional fitness gym, not necessarily a martial arts gym where every class is a group workout. Since many people are apprehensive about trying a martial arts class due to the intimidation factor, it is comforting for them to know that your gym provides personal training sessions as well. 

Advertising New Year’s specials offering free or discounted sessions that include fun activities such as focus mitt workouts, heavy bag training, technique training, jiu jitsu lessons, and functional strength training will undoubtedly spark a new interest in people.

Host a Seminar

Hosting a seminar is a great way to recruit new members because people don’t have to be members to attend. A seminar will allow you and your coaches to share a plethora of martial arts knowledge in a short amount of time. Once newcomers start to see a few of the countless ways in which they are to defend themselves, they will want to learn more and more. Beginner and fundamental classes will be more exciting because they have seen what it leads to and will understand the necessity for enduring some of the less-exciting aspects of martial arts.

Membership Gift Discounts

Another good way to recruit new members is by offering memberships as gifts for a discounted rate, and by also incentivizing current members to purchase them for friends and family members.

For example, anyone who purchases a one-month membership as a gift for someone else receives a discount from the original price, but if an existing member takes advantage of the offer then they will also receive a discount on their membership contract as well. 

Offer Group Discounts and Family Plans 

As mentioned above, most people cancel their memberships after just a few months. Getting the whole family involved will motivate them to push and hold each other accountable in making sure that they are attending classes. 

New Gloves, New Membership

If you sell equipment such as gloves, shin guards, and mouthpieces, it might be worth connecting a new purchase with a free trial membership. A purchase like this makes a great gift for those who have been seriously considering trying martial arts because it incentivizes the person receiving the gift to go ahead and try a few classes. 

If for some reason they are still ambivalent about joining once the free trial membership is over, they will still have their own pair of boxing gloves to remind them that they need to get back in the gym. In this instance, feeling guilty is a good thing.

Offer Free Trial Periods

Offering potential clients free trial periods is a tried-and-true method for getting people to join because it allows them to experience the world of martial arts firsthand before making any kind of contractual commitment. This gives you and your other coaches a chance to really make an impact and a good first impression.  

Host an Open-House Event 

What better way to ring in the new year than by hosting an open-house martial arts event? Have a friendly tournament or seminar that extends into the new year while supplying food, drinks, and safe rides home for those who need one.

Hosting an event like this not only gives existing members the chance to interact with their fellow sparring partners, but it also lets non-members do the same and get a sense of the camaraderie and the talent level that is prevalent in your gym.

An open-house event is also a good opportunity to educate the public about the history and practicality of martial arts along with the philosophy that comes with it.

Host a Friendly Martial Arts Competition

Smoker matches have become common for people who are still new to martial arts and want to eventually compete at the amateur level. A smoker match, sometimes simply referred to as a “smoker,” is a practice match between two competitors that takes place in a gym and is carefully monitored by the coaches. It gives the competitors a way to experience the accelerated pace of an actual competition without the risk and anxiety of a potential serious injury or it negatively affecting their official record.  

Hosting a smoker tournament as a New Years promotional event is exciting and can be a great way to attract those who are curious about the nature of competition since it allows them to see everything up close and personal while also getting to know the coaches and other members.

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Advertise a Rewards Program 

Implementing a program that rewards members once they reach certain milestones will further incentivize them to keep coming back.

This could include a discounted rate or free equipment once someone earns a new belt or if they get their first win at a competition. 

Promote Off-Site Training at Corporate Offices

Collaborating with big businesses by coming to them is a great way of introducing and demonstrating why your martial arts gym is the place to be if someone wants a fun and healthy way to improve their confidence and fitness levels. Doing this will eliminate the excuse that work is too far or that they work too late and don’t have time to attend classes. 

Promote Additional Programs

A lot of martial arts gyms also provide specialized programs for basic self defense and to improve one’s functional strength. Many gyms also offer women-only classes that focus on self defense in realistic situations along with regular martial arts classes. 

It’s not unusual for inexperienced women to feel intimidated in a sport that is overwhelmingly dominated by men, so offering additional programs lets people know that your gym is inclusive and is the place for them as they enter the new year.

Offer Specialized Training Courses for Security Purposes 

Many martial arts gyms also collaborate with local law enforcement and private security firms for safety and liability reasons. Once a person begins training in martial arts, they develop a sense of control that those who aren’t trained fighters simply don’t possess. They understand the dangers of their own strength and power and soon learn how to better utilize technique instead.

Certain dangerous yet realistic scenarios can also be practiced, such as which techniques work best when the attacker has a gun or a knife and how much force should be applied with a choke or joint lock to mitigate the chances of accidental deaths, injuries, and lawsuits from occurring.

Offer Discounts to Employees of Local Businesses

Collaborating with local businesses and community organizations will incentivize certain members of the local community to check out your martial arts gym. 

Offer people who work at certain businesses membership discounts and specialized group classes for a reduced rate. This is a surefire way to spark interest and get new clients through the door.

Host a Charity Event or Fundraiser

If you are looking for a way to promote your martial arts gym for the new year while also giving back to the community, hosting a fundraising event is the way to go. Auction off services such as martial arts classes and personal training sessions while providing demo sessions during the event so people get a preview of what they will be getting. 

Allocating a certain percentage of new memberships to certain local charities is also a good way of letting the public know that your gym cares about the well-being of others.

Booking Software Makes it Easy for Everyone to Get Involved

Regardless of which types of New Year’s promotional specials you decide to go with to promote your martial arts gym, booking new and existing clients has never been easier thanks to our booking function

It’s a feature that allows members to ensure they have a spot in the class of their choice and gives non-members the chance to book a trial class online. The booking function also generates leads for potential new clients while disseminating information and alerting people about any upcoming specials and promotional events via text message and email.


The fitness and martial arts industry is gearing up for an influx of individuals eager to embrace a healthier lifestyle. With an array of gyms vying for attention through common slogans, it becomes crucial to stand out by offering unique and enticing promotions. The success of martial arts gyms not only lies in attracting new members but also in retaining them beyond the initial excitement of signing up.

The provided list of marketing ideas serves as a comprehensive guide for martial arts gym owners looking to kickstart the new year with a bang. From referral programs that leverage the power of word-of-mouth to personalized training sessions that ease the intimidation factor, each strategy is crafted to not only attract but also retain members. Special promotions, seminars, open-house events, and friendly competitions contribute to creating a sense of community and camaraderie within the gym.

Membership gift discounts, group plans, and the connection of new equipment purchases with trial memberships adds a layer of excitement and commitment to potential members. Free trial periods and booking software ease the entry for newcomers, allowing them to experience the benefits firsthand and seamlessly integrate into the martial arts community.

Beyond the conventional marketing strategies, collaboration with businesses, promotion of additional programs, and specialized training courses for security purposes demonstrate the practicality of martial arts training. Further, hosting charity events not only contributes to community welfare but also showcases the gym’s commitment to making a positive impact beyond its walls.

By adopting these strategies, martial arts owners not only attract a wave of new members but also foster a sense of commitment and enthusiasm that extends well beyond the initial resolution-driven phase.

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