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Oct292010

Get Ready for 2011!

The 2010 IHRSA Health Club Consumer Report has the stats you’ll need to succeed 

Are you ready? Are you prepared?

A new year is just a few months away, and your business plan—and your game plan—for 2011 need to be as thoroughly researched, well informed, intelligent, prescient, proactive, and solid as possible.

You know how challenging 2010 has been, and you’ve noticed that the effects of the recession still linger, so preparing for the next 12 months is, perhaps, more important than it’s been in a decade.

What goal should you set for new memberships? Should you adjust your pricing? Should you launch new programs or purchase new equipment?

There are dozens of critical questions, and, to formulate the best answers, you’re going to rely on your past experience, recent stats, your staff’s expertise…and, if you’re wise, on the new 2010 IHRSA Health Club Consumer Report—the most authoritative and complete guide to recent club-consumer behavior.

Based on data for the full year of 2009, supplemented by 40,141 online interviews conducted in January and February of this year, the Report documents the impact of the economic downturn on membership sales, fees, attrition/retention, profit centers, and personal training. It also offers some perspective on the year to come and concrete recommendations—“applications”—about how to make it a more profitable one.

“One of the things we discovered is that, while consumers now expect to pay a bit less for their membership, they tend to use it more—in short, they want more bang for their buck,” notes Melissa Rodriguez, IHRSA’s research manager. “The average monthly dues price they indicated they were willing to pay fell from $42.55 in 2008 to $41.47 in ’09, but the average annual attendance reached an all-time high of 102.4 visits.”

Among the Report’s other highlights: nationally, despite the recession, club membership was unscathed, remaining flat at 16.1% of the population (45.3 million people) over the age of six; the “typical” member is equally likely to be male or female, and is 25-44 years of age; and weights/resistance machines and treadmills remain the most popular types of equipment.

“If the economic recovery stalls, we can probably expect to see similar consumer behavior going forward—heavy attendance, but price sensitivity with respect to dues,” suggests Rodriguez. “The onus is on the club operator to cherish their ‘core’ members; recognize the incredible financial benefit of increasing retention; and develop innovative and relevant programming to persuade consumers to invest their finite dollars in nondues products and services.”

The Report helps facilitate these objectives by providing fresh, detailed data on consumer behavior on a national, regional, state-by-state, gender, and personal-demographic basis.

“This information is indispensable in order to develop a business model and fitness programs that resonate with a club’s target market,” points out Rodriguez. “And the profit-center applications described will provide operators with ‘food for thought’ to stimulate the development of creative new programming.”

Jay Ablondi, IHRSA’s executive vice president of global products, concurs: “Clubs should use the Report as a comprehensive guide to understanding and engaging their members,” he stresses. “The analysis and applications it provides will help them to win new customers, reduce attrition, and increase member spending, maximizing the club’s profitability.”

“The 2010 IHRSA Health Club Consumer Report should be a reference book on the desk of every club operator, personal trainer, consultant, and anyone else involved in the industry,” insists Joe Moore, the association’s president and CEO. “It contains a wealth of information that can help your business. If you haven’t read it—you should!”

The 2010 IHRSA Health Club Consumer Report is available to IHRSA members at a cost of $149.95, and to nonmembers for $249.95. To order, log on to www.ihrsa.org/store.

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