What Does Corporate Social Responsibility for Gyms Look Like? | Exercise.com Learn: Your Fitness Business Resource

What Does Corporate Social Responsibility for Gyms Look Like?

Corporate social responsibility is important for gym growth and retention. Fitness businesses can incorporate corporate social responsibility while including members in philanthropic events, charitable initiatives, and even environmental affairs. This article dives into what corporate social responsibility for gyms entails and how to execute it.

Thomas Barnett is a writer for Exercise.com and a Professor of Exercise Science at Keiser University. He has over eight years of experience working in rehabilitation, personal training, and strength and conditioning. Additionally, Thomas holds a Master's Degree in Human Performance, a Bachelor's Degree in Exercise Science, is an NSCA Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS), a Certifi...

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UPDATED: Apr 1, 2021

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  • Corporate social responsibility for gyms has emerged as an important part of business development and longevity in recent years.
  • Implementing a social responsibility plan often includes contributing to charities, volunteering, and supporting the local environment.
  • Getting the community and members involved can be an effective way of executing corporate social responsibility while building your fitness brand.

For gyms, corporate social responsibility is almost as important as typical day-to-day operations. Growing a well-known and respected gym requires community outreach and participation. Gym owners are already in the business of improving lives so corporate social responsibility should come naturally.

Did you know that the Exercise.com fitness business software platform helps save fitness business owners time so they’re able to devote more hours in the day to things like corporate social responsibility? Book a free demo today to learn more.

What Is Corporate Social Responsibility?

In essence, corporate social responsibility is an effort to improve the community or society in a public manner. This could be through donations to charities, volunteering, sponsoring youth sports teams, environmental assistance, and even maintaining a diverse staff or clientele. In many ways, CSR and the fitness industry go hand-in-hand.

Why Is Corporate Social Responsibility for Gyms Important?

Corporate social responsibility is important for gyms and fitness studios because these businesses rely on people who trust them. By providing the local community with different resources or assistance efforts, the community often responds by supporting your business. As competition grows for gyms, corporate social responsibility becomes increasingly important.

Corporate Social Responsibility in the Fitness Industry

Many of your top fitness brands, such as Nike, Planet Fitness, and others, promote their social responsibility endeavors openly for the public to see. Although they may not necessarily need the business, these acts could be enough to persuade some potential customers to choose their products over similar competitors. The intent isn’t just to do good but to be recognized for doing good as well.

Below, we highlight a few ways you can beef up your CSR policy and create lasting change in your community.


Philanthropy can be a rewarding way to promote your business, support a good cause, and in many cases, you can take advantage of various tax breaks. Gym social responsibility should be headed by philanthropy. This could be supporting your local schools, fundraisers, charities, research, or many other options.

One example of a gym franchise using philanthropy to promote corporate social responsibility is Planet Fitness.

Planet Fitness is well-known for its Judgement Free Zone™ but they take social responsibility even further. Planet Fitness takes a stand against bullying by partnering with The Boys and Girls Club of America. This is a great example of a fitness business supporting something impactful that they believe in and represent.

Being philanthropic is a great way to give back, and many times your customers will follow suit. How you decide to integrate philanthropy is up to you. Some examples of philanthropy include:

  • Creating a fitness challenge with a portion of proceeds towards charity
  • Donating X dollars for every sign-in to your gym
  • Raffling off memberships or products with a portion of proceeds to charity

One of the biggest mistakes gyms make with corporate social responsibility is not using the business as a platform. Your philanthropy doesn’t have to be you just cutting a check. A strong business owner will find ways to increase participation or camaraderie in the gym while still contributing to a good cause.

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Community Outreach

Serving the community should have a purpose for you and your customers. Some events will have a more hands-on approach than others. For gym owners, getting to know your clients is of utmost importance. You’ll learn that many of them are business owners or strong community affiliates that are connected to large operations or events. These members are invaluable.

Creating philanthropic events is great, but there are limitations to who will see your efforts, who will participate, and so on. By becoming more involved in the community, you’ll increase your exposure in a positive light.

Some ways you can improve community outreach as a gym or fitness studio are:

  • Sponsoring a local sports team
  • Sponsoring local events where you can display your logo(s)
  • Hosting events that get other businesses involved (Mud Runs, 5ks, competitions)
  • Creating a scholarship fund for a school or team

Community outreach might not bring you massive returns in the blink of an eye, but over time these returns can add up. Many of the expenses you would incur while sponsoring teams and events could be considered tax write-offs if you fill out the necessary paperwork. This means that you are basically getting free advertising and your gym’s brand becomes a staple in the community.

There are many great ways to get involved with the community that can help promote your brand, create an active environment beyond your members, and that can help build your social reputation. Representing popular causes like breast cancer awareness, autism, or similar concerns can help create an emotional tie to some prospective customers.


In today’s world, many people want to see that your company cares about the environment. Green gyms, for example, are increasing in popularity – a notable example being the Green Microgym in Portland, OR, whose cardiovascular equipment actually generates electricity for the rest of the gym.

You don’t necessarily need to go that far to create sustainable change. You could reward members for running outdoors instead of using the treadmill to help save energy.

Pro Tip: This would be a great opportunity for gym owners to take advantage of Exercise.com workout software which allows you to run challenges and track workouts seamlessly.

There are more traditional ways to incorporate environmental solutions, too. Many gym owners take advantage of eco-friendly products including paper towels, cups, and more. You can also participate in county clean-ups, Adopt-a-Highway, or other similar events that don’t require a substantial time commitment but do help to make a difference for locals.


Diversification is another key part of corporate social responsibility. This includes diversifying your employees just as much as your members. It also means that, as a gym owner, you’ll need to find ways to continuously involve a variety of gym-goers to make them feel at home.

Unless you’re relying on a specific demographic like D1 athletes, you’ll want to be sure you are reaching as many prospective members as possible. As a gym owner, this means that you’ll want to make a few considerations during your day-to-day operations.

  • Employ a diverse staff with variations in age, gender, and race
  • Offer specials that cater to different populations
  • Celebrate different holidays
  • Provide apparel or merchandise supporting the above demographics
  • Make sure your gym policies, forms, and signage are inclusive

By including the above tactics, you show your members and prospective customers that you care about them, their beliefs, their cultures, and their backgrounds.

Corporate Social Responsibility for Gyms: The Bottom Line

With the emergence of social media came the evolution of business ownership and management. Customers are looking to support like-minded businesses while avoiding companies that have questionable morals. Even industry leaders like CrossFit are not immune to the backlash that ensues when corporate social responsibility falls to the wayside.

Creating and implementing social values is an important step in establishing a reputable fitness brand. Finding ways to involve philanthropy, community outreach, environmental support, and inclusion can be great tactics while developing a plan for corporate social responsibility for gyms.

Find out how Exercise.com software can help you stay in touch with your members and update them on your new CSR plan by booking a demo today.

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