Why? For starters, seniors are currently underserved by the industry. Baby Boomers (those born between 1946 and 1964) are the least represented age group in clubs, according to IHRSA research.
This is a significant oversight in many ways. By 2025, the population of senior citizens will reach 65 million, according to the U.S. Census. That’s going to make Baby Boomers perhaps the most important consumer market. While Millennials still outnumber their older cohorts, Boomers surpass them in spending power. It’s estimated that Baby Boomers control 70% of disposable income in the U.S.
Many seniors face barriers to exercising in health clubs, including concerns about injury, deconditioned state, pre-existing chronic health conditions, feelings of intimidation, lack of transportation, and financial challenges due to a fixed income. Clubs should have a strategy to serve this aging population with in-house programming and community outreach to senior centers.
This is easier said than done. Just how do you get older Americans to enter your club’s doors for the first time?
Creating a Safe Space—and Incentives—for Seniors
To appeal to seniors, you need to make them feel comfortable by offering them programs specifically tailored to their abilities and needs. That means having trainers and workout programs that take their limitations and fears in mind.
A successful active aging program should include:
- Variations in workout intensity to accommodate beginners and low-fitness individuals;
- Low-impact, weight-bearing movements;
- Routines emphasizing stability, mobility, and balance;
- Exercises that don’t strain the lower back or joints and tendons;
- A social atmosphere that’s welcoming to older exercisers.
You should also include education in your program. Presenting scientific evidence of the link between exercise and longevity will help keep seniors motivated. It will also reinforce that their decision to sign up for your club was a wise one.
For instance, AARP cites research that regular physical activity may extend life span and quality of life, stating: “Another recent study found that men and women in their 70s who exercise regularly have the heart, lung and muscle fitness of healthy people 30 years younger.” That’s a powerful message, especially after our experiences with a global health crisis.
Seeing an opportunity to engage the underserved population in healthy movement, Matrix Fitness recruited their wellness researcher and group training team to study exercise and progressions known to be safe and effective for seniors. In doing so, the turnkey program called MX4 Active was formed to offer fitness facilities a confidence-inspiring program that welcomes two member groups to partake: older adults and individuals with a low fitness level.