Everyone, it seems. From teens to octogenarians, we’re all pumping iron and taking classes to stay in shape. Thanks to medicine and technology, we are both living longer and more aware of how habits impact our health. And because of that, gyms are no longer the realm of young, beautiful adults. Today, your gym can attract everyone from a 16-year-old high school athlete to an 76-year-old retiree, and chances are, it will.However, just because everyone’s exercising, doesn’t mean we are all the same. There are many key generational differences and understanding them will help you refine services without wasting time and money.
Baby Boomers (56-76 years old)
This is the generation of “go big or go home.” They like to overindulge and then fix it with diet and exercise. They prefer expensive, “best in the class” equipment, generally enjoy disposable income, and will spend money on large purchaseswhen convinced through facts.
Emotionally, they want to feel valued and needed. Open to digital communication such as cell phones and laptops, they still favor in-person or by-phone communication, and to be called by name. Going back to the money driver, they prefer reward programs that provide tangible benefits – something they can put in their pocket – not personal recognition.
However, they are your oldest members and, as such, facechallenges unique to their age.
You Need To:
• Provide support — Consider designating a technology specialist to ensure they understand how to use today’s tech-dependent services, such as on-demand classes, registration, mobile apps. Or hire an individual capable of managing this population through designing age-appropriate services, providing ongoing personalized programming, and establishing long-term relationships.
• Recognize their differences — According to the Federal Reserve, the average net worth for Americans between the ages of 65 and 74 is $1.07 million. This extra financial padding means they can invest in their health throughservices such as small group training or personal training, which can make exercising in public places less intimidating. This individualized attention builds loyaltyand trust, breaking down barriers natural to this generation.
• Acknowledge their age — No matter how healthy, your older Boomers (65 +) ought to undergo a movement screening assessment that tests for limitations, imbalances, and weaknesses. Prior to starting a new exercise program, their fitness history, injuries, lifestyle and goals should all be part of an initial discussion so your new customer cansafely exercise in the right environment.
Generation X (39-54 years old)
These guys should be called the adults in the room. They’re busy with raising families, working at demanding jobs, caring for aging parents, and juggling a ton of debt from all that college. Now, they like their phones, email, and text, but want to make decisions on their own and prefer communication, including webpages and app platforms, that is direct, focused, and easy to understand. Being concerned about money and constrained for time, they need personal, data-driven feedback, cost-effective, easy-access programming, and a family-friendly facility. To keep them in your gym — make it easy to use and reasonably priced.
This age group drove the “renting revolution.” Because of student debt and financial instability, they prefer access over ownership, which translates into a desire for on-demand services and creative pricing models.
Now outnumbering Boomers, Millennials, aka “Gen Y,” approach fitness from a lighter perspective, preferring to follow a healthy lifestyle of daily, unstructured, fun exercise. They don’t want to be defined by their training, eager instead to share stats and photos showcasing their amazing experiences and cool environments.
This demographically enormous group now numbers among the nation’s largest living adult generation and their heft is driving change within the fitness industry. They want to measure, track, and share their fitness experience. Their noncommittal approach requires accommodating schedules, a generous mix of workout styles, and excellent instructors, all built on a seamless, mobile technology platform.
Generation Z (7-22 years old), aka “Generation Active”
Tagged in conjunction with the Millennials as Generation Active, this group collectedly represents 80% of all gymgoers, according to the 2019 Less Mills Global Consumer Fitness Survey. Cumulatively, these two groups make up nearly 90% of all users of online or app-based workouts.
Like their older siblings, Gen Z loves to market your gym, so showcasing a vibrant, interesting environment makes them look good. For the Active Generation, exercising is a social activity, not a punishment, and often, they mix social with socially-conscious decision making — an important consideration when planning and promoting community involvement. The bigger your heart — the more brand loyalty with these very active exercisers.