Building Your Fitness Brand in a New City

Amanda has over a decade of experience teaching fitness and spin classes in New York City. She recently re-located to San Francisco and is faced with a common challenge of building her personal brand in a new market. 

Earlier this summer I made the cross-country move from New York City to San Francisco. After nine years in a very familiar city, I was entering into a world of unknowns and I had a lot to figure out: where would I live, how do people get around, where would I work out, how would I find my routine? And with all of that, the looming question of what would I actually be doing in San Francisco. This is where brand building comes in.

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In New York, fitness was my part-time gig. I taught a couple of classes each week before jetting off to my office marketing job and blogged on the side when I found the time. With the West Coast move, the time was right for a career shift, making fitness and health more than just a side hustle. Building a personal brand is essential, whether you’re blogging and teaching part-time, or shifting your priorities and making your side passion a full-time gig.

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Here are my tips for building your fitness brand in a new city:

  1. Make the rounds: When you’re new in town, leave no stone unturned and no studio unvisited. Explore the fitness scene; figure out which studios you connect with, and become an expert on what the city has to offer. As you build your own brand, you should know the other brands that you coexist with in the city.
  2. Introduce yourself: Just say hi! Whether you’re squeezing your way into a crowded yoga studio or spinning in the dark at a hole-in-the-wall cycling joint, introduce yourself to the instructor and other students. The best way to get your brand out there is to connect with the like-minded fitness community.  Once you make connections, invite all your newfound friends to take your class.
  3. Figure out what makes you different: The fitness scene is a bit saturated and you need to identify what makes you stand out from the crowd. It might be your quirky approach to nutrition, your offbeat personality, or your unique race-training style. Take inspiration from the fitness community around you, but be true to yourself and don’t try to copy someone else’s style. Once you identify what sets you apart, put it at the forefront of your brand strategy. 
  4. Tell your story: When teaching, take time on the mic to share something personal.  Don’t go too deep, remember the class is about your students, not you, but your students will connect with you on a deeper level if they feel like they know you. For me it was as simple as saying I moved from NYC and am new to SF. Immediately I had a crew of former East Coasters chatting with me after class.
  5. Don’t be afraid to self-promote: Telling people to follow you on Instagram and check out your blog might make you cringe, but get over it. How will anyone know who you are and how will you grow your following if people don’t know about it?

Building a brand, especially in a new city, takes time. Don’t let this become your main objective as you settle in, but keep it in the back of your mind as you go about finding your footing.  As you learn more about yourself and what you have to offer, bit by bit, your brand will form and your connections and reach will grow.

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Blog: ShapinUp.com

Instagram: @ShapinUp

Want to move with Amanda? Follow her here.

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