What are the issues facing gym owners in the near future? How is our world changing and what does that mean to boutique fitness gyms and their counterparts – general service fitness centers?
Just as the pandemic upended fitness routines, changing demographics and shifts in how individuals perceive health and fitness are driving adaptation and innovation.
Let’s look at a few of the concerns facing our industry.
Gym truth One: We’re all getting older.
One statistic we’ve seen asserts there will be more people over 50 years of age than under 50 by the year 2030. That year, as well, every Baby Boomer will have reached retirement and, again, are redefining an era. As well, middle-aged Generation X-ers, and even aging Millennials, grew up in gyms and are approaching their golden years with a fresh perspective.
What does this mean for your gym?
In a sense, it’s a series of pragmatic decisions. Is signing up to offer Silver Sneakers memberships advantageous for you? Do you have the staff and interest to encourage, engage, and persuade this older population? If your gym is growing into the wellness service sector, attracting Baby Boomers could result in multiple potential sources of revenue – from physical therapy appointments to longevity treatments. Or, these members may simply refuse to pay for anything not covered by Medicare and you’ll be left holding an empty bag.
Do your research. Just as in their younger years, wealthier clients with active lifestyles are usually willing to pay for the extras. Millennials and Generation X will show you their way, too. Read “Who’s Training in Your Gym” to learn differences between the three groups.
Gym truth two: We are still not going to the gym.
Statistically, only about 20 percent of Americans exercise regularly. The other 80 percent may sign up for a fitness membership, but won’t use it.
Yet, simultaneously, due to wearable technology, and the growing understanding between physical activity, long-term health, and decreased medical expenses, corporations and insurance companies are turning back to encouraging gym memberships.
How can your health club take advantage of this confluence of change?
- Identify insurance companies which reimburse gym memberships, and use this information as a marketing tool.
- Build wearable technology bling into your gym.
- Expand space to incorporate mental health and other wellness support services.
- Stay up with what the wearable corporate world is doing to create relationships between technology and health.
Sell the inactive differently.
This 80 percent represent a world of potential for small gyms. Yet, they are not being courted and reached.
Current thought suggests our inactivity might be due to how we mentally motivate ourselves. Much of fitness is driven by idealized goals. Sign up for a 5K. Hit the gym at 5 a.m. five days a week. Take an evening class twice a week for a month by buying 10 sessions.
Yet, we know, success in exercise is more about sustained activity over time. Regardless of the type of activity – walking, lifting, HIIT circuits, or bike riding — moving regularly helps our overall functioning, from our heart to our head.
By removing this all-or-nothing attitude, we can help individuals see that a step, any step, is one in the right direction. Society is eliminating much of the stigma around differing body types. Now, we just need to convince this community that it’s ok to miss a workout — that the secret is getting up, taking a walk instead, and then showing up at their favorite class the next day. Be gentle, but be consistent.
Gym truth three: Gyms need female management.
Although the idea of diversity is almost cliché right now, truth is, it’s still an important consideration. Especially for women in management. In the fitness industry, the higher up the executive chain you go, the fewer women in the “C-Suite” of publicly traded corporations. But it’s getting better.
In 2021, IHRSA hired Liz Clark as CEO, based on her work for the confectionary industry during the COVID shutdown. Women started well-known firms such as Pure Barre and Jazzercise. They also make up the membership majority of organizations such as IDEA Health and Fitness Association.
Such representation is even more critical for the day-to-day fitness center. Why? Because women in management provides faces that matche the one still fearing the gym. Women sign up for memberships, but are less likely to go. Why? Childcare responsibilities, body image issues, less exposure to athletics when younger – the list surely goes on
But, if the person in charge looks like them in all their complexity – female, caregiver, mom, grandmom, middling-sized, multiracial – then it might be easier to take a step across the threshold. And this is, we all agree, the first step to creating lasting progress.
Gyms love change – just on their own terms.
In between all of this is your small, privately owned gym, just trying to kick it back to the future and make a little profit. Buddhist ethos recommends embracing suffering. And in a sense, that is where we are – not quite suffering but facing a different way of thinking. Fact is, we just need to dive in, accept the world as it is, and let the metamorphosis occur. Your gym will become stronger, healthier, and more resilient because of it.
Our gym management software is priced to grow with your gym. We never take a percentage of sales, our flat monthly rate is based on membership, and we provide ongoing customer service to ensure you use our software to its best advantage. Call us today for a free demonstration on how we can lower your software management costs and free up more of your time and capital. Or tell us your perspective by becoming a guest on our “Gym Owner’s Podcast,” hosted by Anthony Pasquale, our #1 sales guy!