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Entries in trends (14)


UK Consumer Spending on Club Memberships Soars 

The following is an excerpt from The 2016 IHRSA Global Report: The State of the Health Club Industry.

Consumer spending on club memberships is soaring in the U.K., according to two new studies. Cardlytics, an Atlanta–based firm that monitors consumer spending via credit cards, debit cards, and direct debits, reports that the overall figure jumped 44% over the past year.

The strong growth, Cardlytics suggests, is due, in large part, to the dramatic increase in the number of budget facilities, which consumers can join without signing contracts. 

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Budget Brands Drive Growth in the UK 

The popularity of the budget brands—e.g., Pure Gym, EasyGym, Anytime Fitness, DW Sports, etc.—produced a 66% increase in monthly purchases when May/June 2014 was compared with the same period in 2015. However, mid-market and high-end club players, such as Virgin Active and Holmes Place, also reported spending increases—of 22% and 14%, respectively. 

A new study by the Mintel Group, Ltd., an international, London-based marketing research firm, also acknowledged the boom in the budget sector, suggesting that the recent recession in the U.K. was also a contributing factor. 

“Nearly four-fifths of U.K. adults have set themselves at least one health or fitness goal, yet only 12% currently use a gym,” Mintel reported. “However, the indications for the private health and fitness club sector remain promising, with the continued rise of budget gyms helping to break down the barriers associated with more established clubs—i.e., cost, location, and the commitment of entering long-term contracts.” 

The UK’s Thriving Health Club Market 

In November, The Gym Group, based in London, went public, making the business the only listed club operator in the U.K. Founder and CEO John Treharne rang the bell on the London Stock Exchange as the shares began trading under the ticker GYM. Founded in 2008, The Gym Group now operates 66 clubs, which are open 24/7, and serve some 363,000 members across the U.K. With $136 million in gross proceeds from the offering, the chain plans to open between 15 and 20 locations per year. 

Pure Gym, a six-year-old, budget club company based in the U.K., has acquired 43 more-traditional fitness facilities from a competitor, LA Fitness, in a deal estimated to be worth $125 million. Pure Gym notes that the transaction will increase the availability of affordable fitness centers to people across Great Britain, particularly in London and the South East.“ 

With the addition of (these) sites, Pure Gym will continue to innovate with new facilities, technologies, and services for our existing and prospective members,” said Humphrey Cobbold, the CEO of the chain. Pure Gym currently operates 98 gyms, open 24 hours a day, which serve more than 520,000 members across the country. The company also has announced plans to add approximately 30 new sites to its portfolio this year. 

“This transaction will give users of LA Fitness access to high-quality fitness centers through a network of existing and new gyms,” noted LA Fitness CEO Martin Long. “I’m confident that our facilities and members will benefit from Pure Gym’s investment and attractive proposition.” 

Learn more about the 2016 IHRSA Global Report, including how to download a free preview.


Personal Training Usage Continues to Grow Among Health Club Members

This feature is brought to you by the IHRSA Store spring sale. Now through June 30, save 25% on reports, webinars, and all other resources in the IHRSA Store by using promo code 2016SALE at checkout. 

Personal training is often the second-largest source of revenue for many health clubs and, in the case of many studios, it’s their primary source of revenue.

IHRSA’s Profiles of Success notes that leading club operators generate a median of 10% of total revenues from personal training. Incremental membership growth over the past several years has motivated club operators to seek new revenue sources and, consequently, the emphasis on monetizing the member experience through personal training (individual and small group). This year’s findings offer a window into the world of personal training to identify behaviors and trends that might help club operators prosper.

Personal Training Usage Moves Upward in 2014

In 2014, 15% of health club members and 15.4% of non-member users engaged in at least one personal training session. This represents an 11% increase over 2013, when 13.5% of members took part in at least one personal training session.

Among the 15% of members who have taken at least one personal training session over the past year, men are more likely to participate than women, with 16% of men and 14% of women engaging in personal training at least once in the past year, both increases from 2013. Among non-members, where overall participation was 15.4%, men and women were equally likely to engage in personal training.

Key distinctions in personal training participation can be observed across the various industry segments. The penetration percentage for members using personal training at least once in 2014 for traditional clubs ranges from 15% in nonprofits to 28% in multipurpose clubs, while for studio segments it ranges from 28% to 57%. It should be noted that the high levels of personal training participation for many of these studio facilities could be attributed to their heavy reliance on small group training.

In 2014, personal training clients worked with a trainer an average of 25 times over the course of the year, with women using the services of a trainer for an average of 32 times, in comparison with 20 sessions for men. The majority of members engage in personal training less than 10 times annually, with 59% of personal training clients using a personal trainer fewer than 10 times annually. On the other end of the spectrum, 15% of members engage with a trainer at least 50 times a year (super consumers) and women are nearly twice as likely to be a super consumer as men.

Personal Training Demographics – The Influence of Age and Income

Adults ages 25 to 34, along with youth 6 to 12, were the most likely to engage in personal training. Adults between the ages 35 and 44 closely followed these two younger age groups with 19% of personal training clients derived from this audience.

It’s worth noting that adults over age 55 are the least likely to leverage the expertise of a personal trainer, with fewer than 10% doing so. Viewing personal training trends by age group as a percentage of the overall membership, rather than just as a percentage of a specific age group, reveals that 6- to 12-year-olds, 25- to 34-year-olds, and 35- to 44-year-olds each represent 3% of the total membership base.

Personal training has proven to be the domain of the more affluent; 7% of members earning in excess of $100,000 annually engage in personal training—more than twice the percentage of any other HHI group that engages in personal training. No other HHI group has more than 2.4% of its membership group involved in personal training.

Finally, nearly 8% of all personal training clients are Caucasian health club members (over 50% of all personal training clients). Hispanic members are the second largest segment of personal training clients, representing 3.5% of all members (17% of all personal training clients). 

This post was excerpted from the 2015 Health Club Consumer Report.


Are These 2016 Fitness Industry Trends Here to Stay?

A number of the world’s most prescient industry experts have made the following predictions regarding 2016 trends. Now, at the end of Q1, it’s fair to ask: Are these really trends? And will they stick around? 

Partnerships, private/public: Partnerships can extend the industry’s reach, but also disrupt buying patterns. Class Pass is a perfect example. It’s essential to be aware how this has changed the way people are buying, as well as the economic impact it’s having. Partnerships between the fitness and wellness sectors continue to grow. 

Movement for a cause, community service: This is important to Millennials, and to operators and clients who consider themselves part of a “tribe” or “community.” Sweat Angel, Check-In Angels, Joining Forces, Clubs for the Quest, #whygetactive, Project Walk, The Roadless Ride, club financial assistance programs—all good ways to make a difference. 

Technology, in all of its many forms: Technology offers many opportunities to make our industry more efficient, more data-driven, and more consumer-powerful. This may involve members having access to online account and class information; members using wearables in class, and obtaining output data afterwards; and clubs engaging in real-time dialogue with clients. 

A fresh look at staffing models: For instance, members being greeted by a floating concierge carrying an iPad, as opposed to dealing with three people at a reception-desk hub. Many boutique models operate with the class instructor as the “receptionist” before and after class, using technology to support and enhance the experience. 

Experience-based exercise: “Experience” is at the center of the boutique model and has put traditional club operators on their toes. Making exercise entertaining, fun, educational, inspiring, impactful, transformational, and memorable is quickly becoming a basic expectation of today’s consumer. 

Exercise as part of a well-rounded approach: Today’s consumers are better educated than ever. They’ve learned that “harder is not necessarily better,” and that nutrition, sleep, rejuvenation, and recovery are as important as the work itself. All play a major role in the results the consumer is looking for. 

Education: With access to sound information generally available—via videos, wearables, “fitness on demand,” “fitness in a box,” “fitness via YouTube”—the consumer expects a fitness “expert” to be exactly that: an educated professional. But one of the few things these methods can’t replicate is a person-to-person, personalized approach rooted in caring, and validated by education and professionalism.


This Week in the Fitness Industry: Health Clubs Benefit from 30 Day Fitness Challenges

Health Clubs Stand to Benefit from 30 Day Fitness Challenge Trend
Thirty-day fitness challenges continue to grow in popularity, with many using them as a more manageable alternative to exercise-related New Year’s resolutions, The Wall Street Journal reports. Birkram Yoga NYC is capitalizing on this trend by encouraging members and potential members to participate in a 30-day challenge at their four Manhattan locations. “Those who finish a challenge receive two guest passes, discounts on future classes, and, sometimes, a round of applause from classmates,” The Journal reports. “The challenge costs $39 for Bikram Yoga NYC newcomers and $145 for members. The owners estimate that a few thousand people have completed the challenge since they launched it in 2002.” 

Study: High Fitness Levels in Middle Age Tied to Bigger Brains
A new study has discovered yet another benefit of exercise: larger brains. For the study, researchers looked at 1,583 men and women who didn’t have dementia or heart disease and found that those who weren’t as physically active in midlife had smaller brains than their more-active peers 20 years later. “The brain scans revealed that people with a lower exercise capacity — defined as the amount of time people could exercise on the treadmill before their heart rate hit a certain threshold — in midlife were more likely to have smaller brains years later, compared with people who had high fitness levels in middle age,” Time reports. “They also found that people whose blood pressure and heart rate went up more during exercise were more likely to have smaller brains down the line. Higher-than-average blood pressure and heart-rate spikes could indicate a lack of physical fitness.”

Resolutioners’ Commitment Falters After February 9 ‘Fitness Cliff’
This year’s “fitness cliff”—the turning point where New Year’s resolutioners stop exercising regularly—occurred on Tuesday, February 9, according to research by Gold’s Gym, CBS News reports. "What we see from Gold's Gym's proprietary research is that Tuesday, February 9th is the Fitness Cliff—the day when New Year's Resolutions go astray, gym check-ins begin to steadily decline and members begin to lose focus on their goals," the company said in a statement,” Gold’s Gym said in a statement. The company created a mnemonic device to help members recognize when their health goals are at risk: C (Can’t find the time), L (Lacking a game plan to keep you going), I (Ignoring your commitment and falling into old patterns), F (Frustrated with lack of early results), F (Forgetting why you started).

Study: Good Weight Loss Programs Are Hard to Find Online
High-quality weight loss programs are difficult to identify online, a small U.S. study suggests. Researchers from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore, MD, found that fewer than one in 10 websites gave enough information to suggest the programs they promoted followed widely accepted medical guidelines for weight loss by including elements such as regular in-person meetings, daily food and activity tracking, calorie reduction, and increased exercise. Once researchers conducted phone interviews with some of the programs, they found some where more adherent to medical guidelines than they appeared online; they rated 19% as high quality based on their meeting guidelines for weight loss, up from just 6% when the businesses were evaluated based on their websites alone. “Weight-loss programs that follow the expert guidelines exist, however, they are few and far between,” the study's senior author told Reuters. “To identify these programs, patients will need to be proactive and call to verify that the components offered meet the recommendations before signing up.”


How Health Clubs Can Appeal to Big Fitness Spenders

The media has been buzzing about the large amounts of money today’s consumers are willing to spend on fitness, but this trend isn’t exactly news to the health club industry. 

In fact, IHRSA reported on this shift in the 2015 Health Club Consumer Report, which found that, on average, consumers spent approximately .8% of their income on membership at clubs and studios, overall—but members of studios spent as much as 1.9% of their income.

To get to the root of this trend, we spoke to two experts (and IHRSA 2016 speakers) about consumer purchasing behavior and how health clubs can best appeal to members who are willing to spend big on fitness. 

Consumer Purchasing Behavior and “Affordable Luxury” 

The millennial generation—those born from the early 1980s to early 2000s—are thought to be the driving force behind the increase in fitness spending, as well as the rise of boutique studios. Millennials have more buying power than previous generations and place a high value on health and fitness, says Tara Sampson, general manager for VIDA Fitness & Aura Spa in Washington D.C. 

“There is also some behavioral economics woven in there as well, where spending $500 a month in studio classes is much more easily justified than spending $500 on a purse or a pair of expensive shoes,” she says. “Even though they come away from these classes with nothing concrete to show for their investment, the purse strings are much looser when they are spending on their health.”    

This behavior is sometimes called “affordable luxury,” or the purchase of products and experiences that, while expensive, align with the customer’s lifestyle values, says Steve Tharrett, co-founder of ClubIntel, a consumer insights and operational consulting firm based in Dallas, TX. When it comes to spending on fitness, today’s consumers are willing to pay more for experiences that align with their preferences. 

“It is an example of where value is not equated with the price, but with the experience, particularly the intangible aspect such as being part of a tribe, engaged in a highly specialized and guided experience, and much more,” Tharrett says. “These affordable luxury expenditures speak to the consumers hankering for novelty, adventure, personalization, and a conscious ability to align with their lifestyle and life stage.” 

Continue reading "How Health Clubs Can Appeal to Big Fitness Spenders."

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IHRSA Chairperson Discusses Industry Trends in Podcast Interview

There are significant opportunities for the health club industry to impact the obesity epidemic and reduce healthcare costs, Molly Kemmer, regional director of EXOS MediFit and Chairperson of IHRSA’s Board of Directors, said in the latest The Fitness Business Podcast.

“Our industry is at a peak of maturation right now—we have seen insurmountable changes just since I’ve been part of the industry in the past 20-plus years in terms of conquering this global inactivity and global obesity epidemic,” Kemmer said. “We have not yet moved the needle in terms of our impact there and what we can do globally to affect that, so that’s first and foremost on my mind in terms of the role [as IHRSA Chairperson] and what it involves—it’s really about impact in that regard for global health.”

The 42-minute podcast, which featured Kemmer as its #WomenInFitness leader, covered a range of topics, including changes with women in leadership roles, reducing healthcare costs, and a preview of IHRSA 2016 in Orlando.

“There’s just really no way to describe…the magic that happens when people meet each other in person,” Kemmer said of the IHRSA International Convention & Trade Show. “‘Success by association’ is what IHRSA’s been founded on for 35 years, going into our 35th year for the convention, and really the chance to meet others in the industry, to make relationships, to do that networking…and to see the trends—to see what’s happening, what’s new, what’s current, and then what’s future for the industry, to get a finger on that pulse. It’s an opportunity not to be missed.”

Listen to the full Molly Kemmer interview on The Fitness Business Podcast here.


Report on Those Who Exercise and Are Sedentary

I know you have heard this before, but this version of This Week in the Fitness Industry may be the most diverse yet in its three years in its current format. To wit:

  • What are the demographics of fitness trackers vs. smart watches
  • Physically active may not trump inactivity
  • Technogym at Clinton Health Matters Initiative
  • Fitness trends and items through the decades

Read on to see more in This Week in the Fitness Industry.

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Where Is the Industry Going?

In a presentation on franchising delivered at the ChinaFit / IHRSA China Management Forum, John Kersh, vice president of International Development for Anytime Fitness, shared five trends that are impacting the industry:

  • Wearable technology: Anytime Fitness had been working on developing a system to help members track their exercise outside of the club as well as inside. With the rapid proliferation of wearable technology devices, the company decided not to pursue their own system because there was no longer a need.
  • Virtual classes: Clubs can provide virtual classes during downtimes when only a few members are in the club and there are no classes with a live instructor (e.g., group exercise, personal training).
  • Personal attention: The importance of this is only increasing. Virtual classes will not replace this.
  • Employer medical insurance: Companies more and more recognize that healthy employees contribute to the company’s profitability. Kersh cited IHRSA’s Economic Benefits of Exercise publication as a useful resource for clubs working with the corporate market.
  • Nutrition: Around the globe, more people are relying on fast food for too much of their diet. Clubs can play a role in helping to educate members and the public about the importance of eating right.

This Week in the Fitness Industry: 5-23-14

Children are not exercising enough, according to a recent report.

Seeing most people in the U.S. will be enjoying an extra day to read This Week in the Fitness Industry, thanks for Memorial Day, we decided to pack a little more in this week's edition:

  • 'Hot' and 'not' trends
  • Social media tips for personal trainers
  • Pro fitness league coming
  • Youth exercise get failing grades

Read it all in This Week in the Fitness Industry.


This Week in the Fitness Industry - 5/2/14

Today, This Week in the Fitness Industry touches on a variety of subjects.

  • Fitness trends through the decades
  • Children not exercising enough
  • Obese and healthy?

Read on to learn more on each.