Blink these days, and the state-of-the-art in fitness has changed. That being said, these are some trends, events, and concepts that will dominate the gym management world in 2019. These six fitness industry news items may sound off-the-cuff or random at first glance, but what they say to me is that club owners, and managers need to plan for change the way a batter needs to be ready for a fastball from the pitcher.
1. Acquisition Strategies abound in 2019
Do you have an exit strategy? When you start your business, you should keep in mind the alternative paths out of it. One of them is an acquisition, which is what happened to numerous clubs in 2018. Acquisitions are about as big a change you can experience, and they’re real possibilities if one of the big box brands covets your business proposition, location, or intellectual property.
In 2018, that is what happened with two landmark acquisitions. Anytime Fitness acquired Basecamp Fitness and Bay Club bought five properties from Leisure Sports. In the former case, Anytime Fitness wanted the intellectual property of Basecamp’s client programming. In the latter case, the prize was the gyms in five high-income Central California locations.
2. The Elder Fitness Trend
The Baby Boomer population is aging well and full of energy. Programs that cater to special populations, such as seniors are set to thrive in 2019. You can now source equipment that accounts for the frailties of age and certifications that focus on seniors. Once you start serving this demographic, there will be a continuous stream of people who grow into it naturally.
3. Wearables And Apps
For some time, I thought wearables were going to turn out to be insignificant, at least for a couple more years. Now, with smartwatches and other wrist devices, as well as chest strap heart monitors, and now wireless earbuds like Apple’s Air Pods are taking center stage in fitness technology.
The causes of the upturn are the improved form factors and data collection accuracy. The results are better, more useful experiences that make the investment worthwhile. Wearables aren’t just accessories for smartphones now, they’re proving to be body-hugging alternatives.
4. Podcasting as Media
So what do podcasts have to do with fitness? Quite a lot actually, they are a cost-effective method of connecting with audiences around the world. Podcasts could quite possibly be an antidote to the blip culture of talking head television, where hosts coral multiple guests on screen, giving each just enough time to score points against one another.
Podcasts are practically free of constraints, and they are becoming a medium for thoughtful, in-depth conversations that carry on for as long as it takes to explore a topic. The format is an mp3 file, on a special download file server that sends new content out via RSS syndication for subscribers to download.
The critical factor in success for podcasters appears to be the habit of posting new episodes regularly. The most popular ones seem to post once or twice weekly. Audiences seem to like predictability and regularity. Topics covered in the fitness category include everything from weight loss to ultra-marathoners. Shows feature the hosts talking about the subject matter alone, with a regular sidekick, or guests.
The appeal is that now that podcasts are becoming a growing medium, you can find the narrowest of niches and build a loyal following. Podcasting opportunities are definitely worth watching out for in 2019, and with a little inspiration, it could be a channel by which you can connect to potential new members and help your business grow.
5. The High Cost of Insurance
Health insurance is expensive in the U.S., and prices don’t appear to be going down any time soon. The incentive to stay fit and healthy in America has never been more financial. A minor illness can result in huge costs if your policy does not cover it. Even with the finest policies on the market, a major illness can bankrupt you for the price of medication alone.
Fitness club memberships are becoming part of health care with insurers and employers demanding mandatory attendance to qualify for pricing discounts. The trend has opened opportunities for the fitness industry to grow more closely allied with health and medicine.
6. Fitness Is More Attractive Than Ever in 2019
The implications of growth include the need to certify employees to the highest level and to hire qualified trainers. As the industry continues to grow, the need to compete for the best fitness pros means supporting your staff and rewarding them is greater than ever.
The fitness industry continues to grow and those of us directly involved will benefit. Club owners can have the rewards of thriving memberships that are more than financial. The rewards of helping others and making a real difference are not far behind in 2019.
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