As we’ve discussed here on the Gym Insight Blog several times before, special populations provide a path to an alternative business model that could take you to another level of success.
Have you considered working with Special Populations to differentiate your gym business? Specializing your fitness club offerings is part of finding the niche that is the best fit for your business goals. Working with one or more category of special populations is a way to achieve that objective.
As a fitness center owner, you face an uphill battle if you attempt to compete with the big box fitness brands head on. Fitness is such a large service industry that it’s so easy to get dragged down into the sameness.
Categories, Opportunities And Niches
If you can earn a decent income doing the same as the average of every other gym in your community, it’s a good thing. However, if you can go even further by standing apart from the crowd, wouldn’t you want to do that?
A special population, as a term, comes from sociology. Educators and the fitness profession adopted the label to talk about groups of people that you can define by some common characteristic.
Special Populations Certifications Required
Special populations in fitness are groups with special needs of some kind. You could make a convincing argument that anyone who doesn’t exercise enough is part of a special population. That’s true, but you can clarify and narrow the definition more precisely than that.
Some groups gain health benefits if you understand their constraints and can provide programs accordingly. Working with the categories of members that need special services demands that you have special population certified trainers.
Fitness By Age Categories Older Adults And Children
Older adults who might be vulnerable to injuries, but they get real benefits from gentle client programming. Seniors get benefits from training as much as anyone, maybe more. Working with this group has some risks, and your trainers need the proper special population certifications to address the issues that are likely to limit the performance of older members.
Children’s fitness is a growing category even as schools continue to scale back physical activities. The youth fitness niche requires that you appeal to parents while making the experience fun for the kids too. More parents appreciate that an early start in fitness helps to build life-long habits and prevent later health and weight problems.
Chronic Conditions And Disabilities
The list of chronic conditions that trainers and fitness clubs can help is long and diverse. Finding the right niche to target is a matter of researching your local community and fitness market.
All buildings in your community must meet accessibility requirements under the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990.The ADA includes gyms of course, but you could specialize even further.
If the market is there, focus your practice on members with limited mobility and wheelchair users. The transition is likely to involve investing in a combination of specialized programming and disability-friendly equipment.
Transient Conditions And Obesity
Obesity is an epidemic in the developed world as I’m sure you know. Working with this population helps individuals directly and lowers the burden on the healthcare system. You might employ a nutritionist directly or work with an independent consultant.
Prenatal and postnatal fitness for women who might be looking to stay in shape during one of the most demanding times in their lives. Pregnancy presents future mothers with a host of specific concerns and hazards along with health benefits from working out.
Making Fitness Inclusive
Whether you consider supporting older adults, mothers-to-be, or both depends a lot on the demographics of your community. In any case, the chance to help people who struggle with fitness is the perfect chance to differentiate your services from your competitors.
From the inside of the industry looking out, it’s so easy to miss the factors that make walking into the gym a daunting experience for many people. You’re likely to find that people from these special populations to expect fitness to be very intimidating.
If you can provide the supporting framework and enough encouragement to make special populations feel more at home in the gym they’ll return the rewards to you in all the right ways.
Brones, Paul. Personal Training: Special Populations Offer Unique Opportunity. March 11, 2015. https://clubsolutionsmagazine.com/2015/03/personal-training-special-populations-offer-unique-opportunity/ (accessed November 20, 2017).
Fagan, Lawrence. Special Populations: Responding Proactively to Current Fitness Industry Trends. June 25, 2013. https://blog.gyminsight.com/1177-special-populations-responding-proactively-to-current-fitness-industry-trends/ (accessed November 20, 2017).
-. Why It’s Important for Fitness Centers to Hire Trainers with Special Populations Certification. April 23, 2013. https://blog.gyminsight.com/732-why-its-important-for-fitness-centers-to-hiretrainers-with-specialized-populations-certification/ (accessed November 20, 2017).
Luque, Maria. How To Create An Inclusive Experience For Special Populations. January 1, 2017. https://www.clubconnect.com/blog/how-to-create-an-inclusive-experience-for-special-populations (accessed November 20, 2017).
Thank you for the great feedback Jennifer!
Thank you for highlighting the benefits of making inclusion a priority for gym owners. Not only does inclusion provide a great way to differentiate your business in a very competitive market, it also is an opportunity to truly make a difference and change lives!
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