Special Populations: Responding Proactively to Current Fitness Industry Trends

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  • Special Populations: Responding Proactively to Current Fitness Industry Trends

The emerging trends in healthcare and the fitness industry are starting to become clear, and they are trends that are currently on a path toward merger. What does this mean for fitness club owners? You can increase your potential market size by refocusing, to include programs that are designed to address the health of clients. To do this you need the knowledge base to support the participation of the people who would benefit most from increased fitness. These special populations include the elderly, diabetics, the obese and survivors of heart disease.

But how Does That Tie Into Fitness?

One thing is certain, health care costs will continue to rise and regulation will increase. The desire to prevent illness and associated costs is a proactive approach in healthcare that is certain to continue in its development. Fitness is gradually being drawn into the equation of helping special populations to increase fitness and quality of life. With an aging population and many problems being caused by sedentary lifestyle choices and poor diet, answers can come directly from the sort of resources that fitness clubs provide.

The fitness market can be expanded to include special populations and the benefits they gain will enable insurers and government agencies to reduce the cost of caring for those who need it the most. Now, this sort of implies that there are going to be a lot of noses stuck into the business of fitness club owners. Disheartening as that may be, the only effective way for a business owner to respond, at least in the short term, is to proactively anticipate the trends and adapt in a way that will support their business.

Proactively Anticipate the Hockey PuckHockey player hitting a puck

Like Wayne Gretzky used to say, "don’t skate to where the puck is, skate to where it’s going!" Whatever your beliefs about this issue and values, more oversight is something that is likely to be thrust upon the fitness industry as this trend continues to gain momentum. The most proactive response is going to be to find the opportunities that present themselves.

A good example of a trend that has developed and to which all business owners have had to respond and submit to legislation is the inclusion of disabled members of the public under the Americans with Disabilities Act. It did place a burden on businesses to adapt by paying out of pocket to provide accessibility to the disabled. It caused expense but it’s difficult to publicly argue that it was a bad expense to pay.

No Pain, No Gain

Regardless, arguments about such things are emotionally charged and should be handled elsewhere. That is not the point of this blog or this post. Because history has a tendency to repeat itself, regulations won’t be far behind. That is just a fact. There is already pressure to standardize the training for special population certification. The truly proactive response is to seek the sweet spot of finding new opportunities in this new paradigm and to attempt to thrive and contribute.

In the short term, expanding your fitness club to include classes and facilities that cater to special populations is a powerful step in the right direction. Obviously, you’re going to want to make changes, which adapt facilities and equipment, while causing the least cost and interruption. However, it may mean you have to make some capital investment and sacrifice. Bringing trainers on board who are special population certified and encouraging staff to seek certification will support that move and position you to continue to have a relevant and profitable fitness club.