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Talks & Takes: Medical Innovations, Relief Expectations, & More [VIDEO]

This edition of Talks and Takes with fitness industry experts Brent Darden, Bill McBride, Blair McHaney, and Sara Kooperman, in collaboration with IHRSA and REX Roundtables, broke down the most recent news around marketing trends, the bounceback of the industry, medical breakthroughs, and more.

  • February 11, 2022

This edition of Talks and Takes with fitness industry experts Brent Darden, Bill McBride, Sara Kooperman, and Blair McHaney, in collaboration with IHRSA and REX Roundtables, kicked off 2022 with topics covering the bounceback of the industry, marketing and medical trends, and more.

This episodes topics include:

Make sure you register for the February Talks & Takes taking place Thursday, February 24, 2022, at 2:00 p.m. EST.

Talks takes medical innovations relief expectations woman working out gym unsplash column

The Timing on the Bounceback of the Industry? It’s About Geographics.

Blair started off the show with a discussion on small business relief and sharing his belief that gyms weren’t part of the conversation until the Omicron variant spike, but seem to be included now. “We’re no longer the tail on this…now we’ve at least moved up in the conversation,” said Blair.

He went on to credit the GYMS Act for that visibility, but that relief has been handed to the small business committee and there won’t be an update on this until later in the month.

Blair also discussed the house bill to restore the ERTC—H.R. 6161—and shared a one-click campaign for viewers to contact their members of Congress.

In terms of the industry bouncing back when looking at clubs, Bill commented that the ABC Fitness portfolio sales are up over 7% in the last year. “The 2019 numbers are what we look at and where we compare to be out of this mess. Data is showing about a 108% increase, getting back up to 8% growth. To me, that's extremely encouraging,” said Bill.

Brent discussed the REX Roundtable members and shared that their clubs overall have seen membership dues recoveries at 81% but recovery is very geographically driven. ​​''If you’re in New York, Oregon, Washington, or California, then you've had some hardships that other parts of the country haven't had. If you're in some of the states that have had a more conservative approach to handling COVID, then you are further out and a lot of them are recovering,” said Brent.

He also noted that clubs and gyms in those areas that have increased dues and pricing may even be seeing revenues higher than 2019, even though their membership number may be down. “So it's really a mixed story that is really driven by geography and where you are in the country, and how long you've been able to be open,” concluded Brent.

The Latest Marketing Trends Broken Down

Sara kicked off the discussion with a video on the latest marketing trends and explained how to apply each one to your business. The trends include:

  • Short-form videos. A lot of marketing companies are planning to spend more money on short videos. “We gotta do those Tik Toks…keep it to 30 seconds or below,” said Sara.

  • Influencer marketing. Sara recommends using the people that have high profiles in your gym. “The fitness instructors, those personal trainers, those front desk staff, people that are visible, and get your best members to make little videos for you. It doesn't have to be a dedicated every other day of your life, but it's really a good idea,” she said.

  • Audio content. “People are getting a little Zoomed out. People love the podcast because they can do two things at once. They can be driving to a gym and listening to a podcast.” said Sara.

  • Social responsibility is key. “Purchasing decisions more now than ever have become political decisions. So anything you can do to highlight your facility and the good things you are doing for your community, I would definitely go for that,” Sara shared.

  • Inbound marketing. Companies should be looking at attracting, delighting, and engaging their customers. “Attract someone and make them want to do it. Make them feel like they belong. Use different images with people of all sizes and shapes. Find whatever is your sweet spot for your facility, and then draw people in. But you have got to have that link. You've got to make sure there's a way for them to engage and get involved with your facility.”

Talks takes medical innovations relief expectations recording in gym column

Bill added to the topic and said that just like micro-learning, there is micro-messaging and explained that it’s about breaking through that noise with relevancy. “How do you grab people's attention quickly and not lose it? You know, how do you hit the core things that are most important?” Bill asked. “There's so much noise coming to people right now that they tend to tune out a lot of stuff.”

He also added that as we digitize our sales process, that phone call when you can actually talk to somebody that you've connected with is dramatically different than a text. “Keep it personal and augment the marketing with the real human touch,” Bill said.

The Medical Futurist’s Top 5 Innovations for the Year Ahead

Bill covered the Medical Futurist’s top innovations for 2022 and how they relate to our industry. The top 5 medical innovations include:

  1. Vocal biomarkers. This revolves around detecting chronic conditions, diseases, and issues from people's vocal patterns.

  2. AI and diagnostics. AI Artificial Intelligence is becoming more and more used in diagnostics in the office of the physician. A new thing that is starting to happen is AI being used as a physician's assistant and that has some resonance with our industry. Bill asked, “How do we use artificial intelligence to better treat and train our clients and members?”

  3. Chatbots. Chatbots are big in the medical community. Right now, it lets them triage patients when there’s an overload of patients coming into the healthcare system. The opportunity for our industry with this technology is to drive chatbots to alleviate some of the staffing constraints that we have in our industry.

  4. At-home lab kits and testing. At-home testing kit environments are another opportunity for our members and our facilities. However, Bill noted that you do your research on testing kits and the types of vitamins you are recommending. Read Scientific Wellness for more on this.

  5. Digital health insurance. Not particularly applicable right now to our country or industry.

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Author avatar

Elizabeth Studebaker

Elizabeth Studebaker focuses on new business marketing and employee engagement and advocacy for the Active Wellness organization. She has over 10 years of fitness marketing expertise and has been a speaker for IHRSA and served on the Medical Fitness Association Marketing Committee. She works out of her home office in the Bay Area and stays active by taking Active GO virtual classes or chasing around her 1.5-year-old son.