Skip to main content
How To

All About Hashtags! Boost Engagement with Your Fitness Business

Here's how to use social media hashtags on Instagram, Facebook and YouTube to grow your fitness business.

December 10, 2020

Using hashtags correctly is critical to building community for your fitness business through social media. Once you understand a few key strategies to using them, you can exponentially increase the number of people who find you and engage with your content. Hashtags are one of the most important ways to attract the exact right people to your content – and your classes.

While hashtags are used on multiple social media platforms, including Instagram, Facebook and YouTube, and many of the same rules apply, we are going to focus on how your fitness business can use hashtags the right way on Instagram.

What are Hashtags?

A hashtag is a combination of letters, numbers, and/or emoji preceded by the # symbol (e.g., #NoFilter). They are key words and phrases used to categorize content and make it more discoverable. You can think of hashtags as Instagram’s built-in search engine.

Anyone who clicks on an Instagram hashtag or conducts an Instagram hashtag search will see all the pages who use that hashtag in their posts, and by Instagram’s aggregated library of content linked to the specific hashtag.

Hashtags can be used in posts, Stories, Reels and IGTV. 

How Do I Know Which Hashtags to Use?

The first step is to identify the hashtags that are relevant to you and your fitness business brand. For example, if you run a local gym, you wouldn’t use #beautyblogger because it wouldn’t position your content in front of a relevant audience, and therefore would be a waste of a hashtag.

A good place to start is to analyze your competitors’ hashtags. Check out local and national fitness brands by scrolling through some of their posts and Stories. Consider using 5-10 of the universally applicable ones you find there (provided they fit the following criteria). Avoid using brand-specific hashtags that are attached only to that business or a special event or theme they have custom created.

You’ll also want to type your keywords, location, and niche into the search bar and see which hashtags come up. For example, #BoulderFitness (which has 9.6k posts) would be a great tag for a Boulder-based fitness business to use, whereas #BoulderFitnessBlogger (with 9 posts), is not a good tag to use.

A good rule of thumb is to use hashtags that have no less than 10k posts tagged, and no more than 500k – and then vary the size within that. Here are some general best practices to follow:

  • Use no more than 5 hashtags that have over 200k posts
  • Don’t use hashtags with under 10k posts unless they are location-specific or specific to an event
  • Vary tags between niche, location, and keywords (i.e. – don’t use 30 location-based hashtags and nothing else)

It’s likely that if a hashtag has less than 10k posts, nobody is looking for that hashtag, therefore nobody will see your post. On the flip side, if a hashtag has more than 500k posts, there are constantly posts being tagged with that same hashtag, which will lead to your post quickly being buried and therefore nobody (or very few people) will see your post.

Instagram allows up to 30 hashtags per post. We recommend using all 30 in order to increase your reach the most, quickly.

Here are some examples of commonly used fitness-related hashtags:

  • #fitness
  • #gym
  • #workout
  • #fitnessmotivation
  • #motivation
  • #fit
  • #bodybuilding
  • #love
  • #training
  • #health
  • #lifestyle
  • #instagood
  • #fitfam
  • #healthylifestyle
  • #sport
  • #instagram
  • #healthy
  • #like
  • #follow
  • #gymlife
  • #life
  • #bhfyp
  • #crossfit
  • #personaltrainer
  • #happy
  • #goals
  • #fashion
  • #exercise
  • #muscle
  • #bhfyp

Create a “Hashtag Bank”

If you post to Instagram from your phone, you can use the “notes” feature to type your favorite hashtags into. If you tend to edit and upload posts from a desktop, Google Docs is a great option.

Within your hashtag bank, create “buckets” of hashtags for different types of posts. For example, if you post inspirational content for #motivationmonday you’ll only want to use that hashtag on posts you publish that day. Update the document with new hashtags periodically, as social media platforms are constantly evolving.

You can also use your hashtag bank to keep track of and share custom hashtags that your fitness business creates specifically for your brand, contests, challenges and user-generated content. For example, at Punchpass we use #peopleofpunchpass to identify our tribe and help you find us!

Where Can I Use Hashtags?

In-feed is likely the place you see the most hashtags. While you should be using hashtags on your in-feed posts, you can also use them on:

  • Stories (the limit is 10 hashtags here)
  • Reels
  • IGTV

There are a few tricks for “hiding” your hashtags such that they still get used, but are virtually invisible to users. In Stories, you can make hashtags super small and put stickers over them. And in your posts you can publish your hashtags as a comment attached to your post. This  both boosts your post’s engagement score and delivers the searchable hashtags. 

I’ve Heard That Hashtags Don’t Work?

It’s true, hashtags are not a get-you-famous-overnight quick fix solution to becoming Instagram famous. However, hashtags do increase your reach, position your content in front of relevant, interested, and engaged audiences, and ultimately bring in new followers (therefore leads and potential clients) over time.

Not only that, but they also help to increase your engagement statistics, meaning that Instagram will rank your content higher in the algorithm.