Fitness Industry Leaders Tackle the ‘Big’ Questions

It can be difficult to step back from daily operations to think about long-term strategy. Here are some questions that should be on your radar.

Most owners and operators focus, by necessity, on the day-to-day business of running their clubs. It’s hard to find time to think about, or reflect upon, what the future might hold. All too often, they’re working in their business—rather than on their business.

To give you a sense of what’s out there—of promising possibilities you may not have heard about or yet explored—CBI spoke with a select group of club professionals and industry experts, and asked them what you should be thinking about. Our sources, all first-time presenters at IHRSA’s 35th Annual International Convention & Trade Show, in Orlando, FL, offer some brand-new ideas and fresh takes on old ones.

Growth Opportunities

David Long is the cofounder and CEO of Orangetheory Fitness, a fitness franchise based in Fort Lauderdale, FL, and he clearly knows something about rapid growth in competitive times. Since it was founded six years ago, Orangetheory has shot to more than 300 units in some 32 states, and achieved a three-year growth rate of 1,147%. At IHRSA 2016, Long spoke on “Building Multi-Million Dollar Fitness Businesses”—which seems appropriate. In 2014, Orangetheory booked $10.4 million in revenues.

“In general terms, I can see several trends that offer great opportunities for growth,” Long said. “There’s a rapidly growing demand for special group fitness, such as yoga, Pilates, group cycling, and, of course, Orangetheory. Heart-rate training and wearables are also continuing to emerge at a quick clip. There’s now a significant demographic population that wants objective data on their fitness regimen, and gravitates toward results-based programming. Having said that, there’s still a huge marketplace for traditional fitness offerings, but consumers continue to demand a higher service level and ease-of-use with technology—something that every operator needs to be aware of.

“Because consumers, in general, are focusing more, and spending more, on health and wellness, the industry continues to grow. It’s a great time for our industry.”

David Long, CEO

Orangetheory Fitness

Increased Competition

Tara Sampson is the director of marketing at VIDA Fitness & Aura Spa, in Washington, D.C. At IHRSA 2016, she spoke on “Stop Competing and Capitalize: Maximize Revenues by Leveraging the Growth of Studios.” Sampson sees great promise in the Millennial generation, and, while many club operators regard the rapid proliferation of studios with concern, she suggests that they also pose fresh opportunities.

“We should keep our eye on the Millennials, and dial into their buying behavior,” she said. “They’re waiting longer to get married and have children, which leaves them with more buying power than any preceding generation. When you couple that with the fact that they’re also very health-conscious—well, we should be paying real attention to them. They’re willing to pay more to be part of a community with specialized service, and they’re the driving force behind the rapid growth of studios.”

Studios are “the most relevant and fastest-growing trend in our industry, and,” Sampson cautioned, “they’re not going away.” She recommends that operators spotlight the wide variety of specialized services they already offer, and begin thinking of studios as an extra option for their members.