As an owner or operator of a fitness center you’re probably going to find in the near future that your clientele will include more members of special populations. By this I mean groups such as seniors and people with fitness and diet related health issues. These are growing segments of the population and there is a market to be found by catering to their needs.
The reason special populations are distinct categories; separate from your average gym member is that they start from such a delicate level of health. They need to work with trainers that are special population certified both for their safety and the safety of the fitness center.
The changes they need to make can be very stressful from their point of view. They need the kind of TLC that comes from the leadership and enthusiasm of professionally qualified trainers. Many seniors are aware of the true benefit of physical activity and intend to use it to get the most out of their golden years. The baby boomer generation is a demographic that is a very receptive market segment.
People who have to make life changes to remedy illnesses caused by poor diet and inactive lifestyle are in a similar group as seniors and there is a lot of overlap in how to best serve them. Their issues include diabetes, obesity, heart disease, and those suffering from chronic illness. Their need for physical activity is both urgent and very often beyond their abilities and experience.
So What’s The Secret?
It’s tough for a non-athletic person to make that first step into the gym to start getting fit. Taking up a gym membership under doctor’s orders can be a little intimidating for someone who may have last entered a gym in the eighth grade.
As a person who is comfortable in the gym and may be involved in the business as a trainer, manager or gym owner, it may not be natural to put yourself in their shoes. Personally, when I enter a gym I feel like I’m coming home or at least into a welcoming environment. That is a conditioned response based on many positive associations I’ve built up over the years.
I’m talking about associations like friendships formed in the gym, satisfaction from progress made toward fitness goals and of course that ripped feeling I get after recovering from an intense workout session. I’ve got lots of positive feedback that make me feel like I belong in a gym. That may not be true for new members with serious health issues.
The Key To Unlocking This Segment
For someone who has never been into fitness, walking into a gym full of fit and healthy people can be intimidating at best. Factor in some past bad experiences they may have in the past as well as the self-conscious fear of being judged for being unfit and you get a person who’s in the double bind of desperately needing to get fit and being totally overwhelmed by the thought of taking the first step.
All of that is something that fitness centers can overcome. So, it’s the management’s responsibility to be sensitive to both the needs and fears of special populations and that this message is sent loud and clear. Create a welcoming and supportive environment with special population certified training staff and you can open up a whole new segment of the market. Focusing on special populations is a way for fitness center owners to anticipate and ride a growing trend in the health and fitness industry supported by overwhelming statistics.