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European Club CEOs Weigh in on Trends 

Three leading club company CEOs discussed the trends they are seeing in a panel discussion moderated by Jay Ablondi, IHRSA’s Executive Vice President of Global Products, today at the 14th annual IHRSA European Congress in Amsterdam. Here is a sampling of the insights they shared:

Valerie Bonnstrom, Mrs. Sporty:  We see McFit (budget club chain) doing an amazing job. The competition is increasing on the low-cost side, with more companies opening smaller, low-cost clubs. There is an opportunity on the higher end to provide a greater brand with strong positioning. Otherwise it becomes more difficult in a market that is increasingly price sensitive.

Olav Thorstad, Health & Fitness Nordic:  Functional training is a trend. Instructors are really important in driving profit. We also have to look at outdoor opportunities – people don’t necessarily want to go to the club. How do we serve them? This market is growing more rapidly than the club market. We have a big opportunity here, but we have to do more to catch the potential members interested in exercising outside of our clubs.

Irina Kutina, Russian Fitness Group: We continue to work closely with our personal training because it’s a good indication at how well the clubs are doing in engaging members. We are also looking at small group training – yoga, cycling – because it’s putting people together.

All three panelists agreed that the boutique model is an important trend. Bonstrom is operating some small, functional fitness training studios and notes that participants are very different from the target group that goes to a club. Thorstad said, “There is a market for it, and we should be in it. The margins and profits are bigger, and it will be positive for members.”

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