The Best Content Marketing Idea of 2021 for Gym Owners

A client in a suit consults a personal trainer about pre-workout supplementation.

Need a killer content idea in the last quarter of 2021?

Here it is: a best-of list.

People love lists and annual compilations, and you’ll love this opportunity to help clients and prospective clients, establish expertise, connect with other local businesses, and score some SEO points for your business.

The best part: This project is low drag. You just have to list stuff you like and tell your audience why each thing made your list.

For an example, check out the GQ Fitness Awards 2021.

Below, I’ll give you three approaches to this kick-ass piece of content.

A head shot of writer Mike Warkentin and the column name "Pressing It Out."

Quick and Easy

If you’re busy and want to hit “publish” fast, here’s your step-by-step plan.

Pick a topic from this list:

  • Best workout clothes.
  • Best wearable fitness tech.
  • Best at-home fitness equipment for [your client avatar].
  • Best at-home fitness movements for [your client avatar].
  • Best shoes for fitness training.
  • Best places to run in [your town].
  • Best places to do an outdoor workout in [your town].
  • Top 5 strength workouts of 2021 for [your client avatar].
  • Top 5 conditioning workouts of 2021 for [your client avatar].
  • Top 5 high-intensity workouts of 2021 for [your client avatar].
  • Best local restaurants for fitness freaks in [your town].
  • Best local services for gym goers in [your town](massage, physio, etc.).

I could go on, but you get the point. Pick a topic that doesn’t require much thought, list five things, and write a short blurb about each thing. Whatever you choose, look for ways to tailor the topic to your audience.

For example:

  • Good: Best wearable fitness tech.
  • Better: Best wearable fitness tech for people in New York.
  • Best: Best wearable fitness tech for busy parents in Manhattan.

Be sure to add a call to action. Examples:

  • Got a question about something on this list—or did I miss something? Message me here!
  • We’re your local fitness experts. To talk to us about your goals for 2022, click here (link to calendar).

Hit publish—then send the blog to your mailing list and post about it on social media.

Go Bigger

If you want, you can put in more effort to create a “pillar post”—a big-deal post that really stands out.

Here’s the plan (feel free to omit parts if you like):

Pick five or more topics from the list above and present them in a “best of 2021” guide.

Follow the same plan described above for each section: list stuff, then say something about each thing. Add hyperlinks to everything you’re recommending so people can get more info.

Be sure to close with a call to action, and then share your post everywhere.

Rule Your City

If you want to, you can make your pillar post even more effective with a few simple steps.

First, dial in your best-of lists to your exact audience. For example, here’s what I would do if I still ran a bricks-and-mortar location in Winnipeg.

  • Best outdoor workout locations for busy professionals in St. James (the area of the city my gym was in).
  • Best places to run in Winnipeg.
  • Top 5 fitness gear retailers in Winnipeg—and the first 5 items busy parents need at home.
  • Best places to buy workout clothes in Winnipeg.
  • Best Winnipeg restaurants for people who want to lose body fat.
  • Best supplement stores in Winnipeg for people who want to build muscle (I didn’t retail supplements).

The purpose: Help people in your area find the stuff they need. The benefit: This post will be packed with terms local people are entering into search engines. (Check out Gym Lead Machine’s blog for a definitive guide to local SEO.)

Here’s the power-bomb finishing move: Contact the local businesses you’re writing about and tell them they made your list. Ask them if they might want to highlight a special product or service or provide a discount or deal for your audience. If nothing else, you’re starting a conversation with a local entrepreneur who might send clients your way.

If you happen to earn a commission from referrals, be sure to disclose that so it doesn’t look like you’re accepting a bribe to include people on your list. I don’t recommend setting up commissions in most cases. You want connections and clients, not 50 cents for each person who buys Syko-Jakked Elite Muscle Enhancer Pre-Workout Serum.

When your article is published, share it everywhere—but be sure to contact every business on your list again. Congratulate each one and ask the owner to share your post and link to your article. Backlinks are great for your site’s SEO—especially links from prominent local businesses.

Protip: Provide a hyperlink and a simple, social-optimized graphic local businesses can share—like a badge that says “We made the [your gym name] best of 2021 list!”

Extra credit: Create a video in which you go over the list and get it out on social media or YouTube/Vimeo.

Pick and Publish

Don’t feel pressure to go big. Just get something out in the time you have available. If you’re swamped, pick a softball topic and list five things fast. Do it in 500 words and publish.

If you have more time, spend 2,000-3,000 words creating a definitive list for 2021. Help your audience, make local connections and generate more web traffic.

Whatever you do, start planning now and get your blog published before the end of the year.

And then put “best of” on your content calendar for 2022. The best part about this idea: You can create a new list every year.

Start typing!

Two-Brain clients: I’ll lead you to create this blog in Office Hours on Oct. 27 at noon Eastern.


One more thing!

Did you know gym owners can earn $100,000 a year with no more than 150 clients? We wrote a guide showing you exactly how.