Fitness trends have had lots of ups and downs that are related to culture and fashion. But there is also an influence on trends that comes from the innovations of technology. Still it’s hard to read the tea leaves out beyond a year or so, as the apparent trend today can quickly show itself to be a fad that disappears overnight.
In the gym business we always have to keep a lookout for what is coming because it can determine the capital investments that we would make and nobody wants to take six months to refurbish for the latest thing only to have no interest when they finally open the doors. That is a nightmare for any business.
From the late 70s to the late 80s, the trends centered on aerobics, cycling, rowing and other similar activities, in the 90s the trends moved more to weightlifting and strength training. There has been a long trend shifting back in the other direction with activities like Tae Bo and more recently, high intensity interval training regimens such as CrossFit.
What have we seen come and go in the last few years? Remember Nordic Track? How about the Thighmaster? These were really marketing attempts by brands, more than they were trends. In fact, the more a trend or fad is associated with a particular brand, the more quickly it seems to fall out of favor.
Embracing the Tech
In my opinion it is the deeper trends that are more interesting and more important. Physical fitness is right at the heart of the matter, because it appears that there are declining levels of activities for children in all of the developed nations. This has a very real impact on the lifespan of a generation that should have everything going for it. Health and Socially motivated trends are likely to continue.
A dominant trend in IT and consumer tech is the merging of digital and mobile. The growth in mobile will continue and mean that it is now the mode by which the majority of people view and interact with the Internet. Apps are a huge area of future growth; the fitness profession will be no exception. I would go even further and claim that the boundary between tech and all other businesses will erode away until tech is synonymous with all forms of business. Look out for trends and opportunities in fitness that put apps in the center of the workout space.
Retention Is An Actual Trend Now
Technology can certainly help to address the issue of gym retention management. This is something that Insight is particularly focused on. If you can make marginal improvements in holding on to customers it can reduce your marketing costs significantly. This can be addressed directly with gym management software. It is also very much part of the current discussions in the industry, so more gyms will be adopting best practices. Not keeping up means falling behind so, in a competitive market it’s very important to have a strategy to improve retention.
Keep Eyes On the Prize With Insight
Perhaps the lesson is to take a creative, open-minded attitude to change. Use tech to help illustrate and clarify results, to give feedback that confirms results and reinforces progress. Fitness will continue to expand away from an elite of super-fit buffed-up athletes to include more of the general population, get children in on the act and support fitness for the less fit and for special populations, such as the elderly and recovering patients.
The trends come and go and the ones to watch are usually the ones that are more than a single product or promoter. The changes in society that come from tech and innovation will keep throwing curve balls. Here at Gym Insight we are always watching the trends because of our supporting role in the gym business. As a gym owner, I am always concerned that there will be something to watch out for around the corner. There are so many different things to consider! So I will keep you posted with every thing that I think is worth watching.
Club Industry. “ACSM Announces the Top Fitness Trends for 2014.” December 1, 2013.
Fagan, Lawrence. 3 Key Elements In Retaining New Gym Members. October 10, 2013. https://blog.gyminsight.com/2013/10/3-key-elements-in-retaining-new-gym-members/ (accessed June 27, 2014).
Harold, Tracy. “The Shape of Things to Come.” Entrepreneur, March 1, 2014.
Picture Source: Suzanne Somers. http://www.suzannesomers.com/products/suzanne-somers-thighmaster-gold. (accessed June 27, 2014).