11 Special Populations That Could Change Your Club

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  • 11 Special Populations That Could Change Your Club

Modified Programs That Satisfy Niche Demand

A special population is any category of fitness club members who need a doctor’s note before they start working out. That’s not an official definition but, as a small gym business owner, it might well be the difference between business model and liability.

Unless you are the only gym in a one-club town, you know what it’s like to face competition. Your fitness club was a substantial investment in capital or hard work. You owe it to yourself to find a niche that is underserved and hungry for high-quality service. Special populations fit the bill as an opportunity to stand out from the gym business crowd.

These Special Populations Could Change Your Club

So, what sort of special populations are there, and why might they be a source of revenue for your business? The National Strength and Conditioning Association, the NSCA, has a list of eleven special populations definitions and, since 2012, the organization offers certifications for special populations to fill any need.

Special Populations

  1. Heart disease
  2. Respiratory conditions
  3. Metabolic conditions such as diabetes
  4. Immunological disorders which include conditions from HIV/AIDS to autoimmune disorders
  5. Musculoskeletal disorders like osteoarthritis and disabilities such as amputations and joint replacements
  6. Neuromuscular conditions
  7. Cancers that affect multiple organs and body systems
  8. Behavioral and psychological problems, eating disorders, depression, and addiction
  9. Children and adolescents suffering from poor diets and sedentary lifestyles
  10. Pregnancy-related fitness training
  11. Seniors and older adults have physical limitations and other special considerations

As you can see, there are enough conditions and profiles that require specific knowledge to attend properly. While these conditions may be problems for the people who have them, they can be opportunities for fitness clubs and trainers to render.

Find The Niche That Puts You on Everyone’s Speed Dial

You probably have plenty of competitors in your fitness marketplace. If you can find the right basket of special populations to serve, you can transform your practice.

You can become the local go-to center for special populations. Instead of a rival to all of your competitors, you could become the one collaborator in the community that more of your local gyms want to work with and recommend.

Conversion from an opponent into a partner is a real possibility. However, it will take time and effort. It is also going to require that you think outside the box.

Special Population Certification Is Key

Begin by taking stock of the knowledge base that you have in-house already. Your certifications and those of your employees may add up to something unique. The certification inventory you have on hand may surprise you.

Look at how your trainers see their careers developing. Staffers may jump at the chance to achieve a new purpose as part of a team initiative. The right set of certifications might add up to a new business model.

If you can fit into a niche that bridges healthcare and fitness, you will never be short of members again. Offer your special population services at local hospitals and medical centers.

A Fine Line of Fitness at The Edge of Healthcare

There is one limitation, and it’s a big one. If you cross over the boundary from being a fitness club to being a healthcare services provider, the laws change drastically. Medical organizations have to abide by strict rules about how they manage the personal identifying information of their patients.

Providers that participate in Federally funded programs such as Medicare and Medicaid, face scrutiny and compliance demands that are even more intense. If you do find that a relationship with healthcare providers might be beneficial, stop and get proper legal advice before you jump in.

Support Healthcare With Fitness Services

It is possible to stay out of patient care and still offer services to special populations. With the right certifications for yourself, partners, or members of your team, you can capture a slice of a market that has a genuine need for help.

Gym Management software from Insight handles all of the membership accounts and fitness club operations activities. For those clubs that want to include a special population segment to the mix, it could be a niche to higher income and the satisfaction of valuable service.


Fagan, Lawrence. Broaden Your Horizons By Supporting Fitness For Special Populations. June 10, 2013. https://blog.gyminsight.com/1083-broaden-your-horizons-by-supporting-fitness-for-special-populations/ (accessed March 27, 2017).

Let The Trend Be Your Friend With Special Populations. July 8, 2013. https://blog.gyminsight.com/1220-let-the-trend-be-your-friend-with-special-populations/ (accessed February 27, 2018).