The International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association is the fitness industry's only global trade association representing over 10,000 for profit health and fitness facilities and over 600 supplier companies in 75 countries.



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Innovative Brazilian Health Clubs Leverage the Olympic Spirit Despite Recession 

It’s no secret that Brazil has recently faced several hardships, from political instability to an economic recession—all while Rio de Janeiro is hosting the Summer Olympic Games. 

The difficulties have hit Brazilian health clubs hard, but some innovative IHRSA clubs are using the Olympics as a springboard to generate positive publicity and inspire young athletes to get active. 

“Brazil is suffering from a political, economical, and financial crisis, that have strongly affected our segment in terms of retention and new memberships, especially among adults,” says Flavia Brunoro, operational director of Competition. “In contrast, kids’ visits and retention have increased and we believe that they will be inspired by athletes and idols during the Olympic Games, leading us to even better results.” 

Examples of Competition's ads that target younger audiences.

Companhia Athletica has been focusing its efforts on younger gym-goers for the same reasons. 

“We don’t expect to see more people coming into our clubs due to the Olympics. That's why we are not using the theme for promotions or campaigns,” says Edward Bilton, marketing director for Companhia Athletica. “Right now, our industry is still fighting against the increase in costs, and the lack of demand due the economic crisis.” 

Competition Promotes Its Differentiator in São Paulo 

Competition's Passport Program. (Click to enlarge)One of the biggest market differentiators for Competition, located in São Paulo, is that it offers more than 15 Olympic sports—the largest variety in the city. 

“We started planning for the Olympics in late 2014/early 2015,” Brunoro says. “Our aim was to show the market our differentiation and, at the same time, encourage our members to discover and experience the variety of Olympic sports we offer.” 

To achieve those goals, Competition implemented the following initiatives:  

  • The Olympic Weeks: From March to July, each week they gave their members the chance to try one of their Olympic sports by offering special classes and events (for kids and adults), supported by related content about the same sport on social media.
  • A partnership with a sports journalist, who shared her experiences practicing in these sports at the gym on her social media accounts.
  • An Olympic Sports Passport for kids: A special booklet filled with stimulating challenges and stories about the Games, that encourage the kids to go to the gym, rewarding their efforts with special stamps and medal stickers.
  • Highlighted differentiation in their on- and offline communication.
  • Increased investments on their competitive swimming, basketball, and soccer teams. 

Despite the economic hardships, Competition’s efforts have garnered results. 

“We noticed that our kids’ visits increased 5%, especially from the ones competing in our teams,” Brunoro says. “Also, we perceived a growing demand for the Olympic sports: swimming, judo, soccer, and athletics, above all.” 

Companhia Athletica Features Olympic Athletes in Rio 

An ad for Companhia Athletica's vacation camp.

Companhia Athletica captured the spirit of the games by creating Olympic-themed content and materials, especially for kids. Some of their activities and events include:  

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