Why Quality Group Fitness Programming Is So Important To Facilities In 2013

Well its 2013, and the rush for health club memberships is on (see Regulars Bemoan Influx Of New Members) as people embrace their new years resolutions to keep fit and be healthy. With annual membership attrition rates exceeding 40% for most fitness facility operators, however, the question I have is, "what do you do when the membership rush is over?".

With any business, keeping a close eye on industry trends is a good idea to be competitive in the long term. IHRSA's recent 2012 Health Club Consumer Report provides some interesting information on key trends. I suggest you get your hands on a copy.

Most notable in the report are the fitness classes and group fitness trends . Did you know the most affluent health club members are those that participate in group fitness classes ? From 2009 - 2011, growth in fitness programs set to music soared over 15% and mind body and yoga classes grew 17%. There are a number of other interesting trends, including the growth of small group training formats.

With the market increasingly going through a "consumer hour glass" or "bifurcation" trend, if you are not either a low cost or key club competitor, offering very compelling group programming that addresses overall trends is very important to your success as a health club or as any fitness facility.

If you'd like to learn more about how you can enhance your group program offerings at your facility please let me know. We'd be happy to help. Keep an eye out for my upcoming report on Group Trends as well to learn more.

What do you think about these group fitness trends and the 2012 IHRSA Report ? Let me know your thoughts and happy new year !

About the author:

Bryan O’Rourke is a health club industry expert, technologist, financier, shareholder and executive in several fitness companies. He works for Fitmarc, which delivers Les Mills programs to over 700 facilities in the US. He advises successful global brands, serves as a member of the GGFA Think Tank and serves as CEO of the Fitness Industry Technology Council. To learn more contact Bryan here today .


The "New" Bricks & Mortar Fitness Model Must Include Engaging Programming

This morning I woke early, to get my workout in at Stone Creek Health Club and Spa. Before leaving I took a peak at my twitter feed and Rasmus Ingersolv, CEO of Fresh Fitness in Norway, asked me to check out an article. Ironically the NYT article by Catherine Saint Louis "Full Service Gyms Feel a Bit Flabby" quoted friend Michael Scott Scudder. Here is an excerpt with some of what Michael said:

For all their ads promising to stir motivation, gyms have failed to do so. “Up until the last six years, it’s been relatively easy to sell memberships, and to replace people going out the back door with people coming through the front door,” said Michael Scott Scudder, a consultant who advises health clubs and conducts up to 15 industry surveys annually. “Not so anymore. We’ve come to a point that we can’t sell enough membership in the industry to cover the attrition rate.”

I share a close and warm relationship with Michael and am always glad to see him share his views on the fitness industry. While some have called him a "doom and gloomer", I think there is truth in many of his observations and he has a devout following. You see the dirty little secret is that many gyms are in the business of selling memberships hoping members don't show up and forget they're on EFT.

Ask most club owners why they do not want to contact members who are not coming to the facility and you'll get an answer like this : "I don't want them to realize they are paying for something they don't use. They'll cancel." That reflects some of the prominent and backward thinking in the fitness business and its killing the industry as a whole. Its also opening the door for some savvy operators to jump in a compete in new ways. As the article points out:

Historically, “People who take personal training and do group fitness classes are more likely to stick with a gym,” said Tony Santomauro, a fitness consultant with 35 years of industry experience. But too often health clubs don’t understand they “should be a support system for people,” said Mr. Scudder, the health club adviser. “It’s merely four walls to come in, work out and leave.” Only a fifth of gym members take part in group fitness on average industrywide, said Ms. Conrad, adding that these days instead of packing in more cardio machines, “good quality health clubs are returning to emphasizing group exercise.”

Engaging more members (I like to call them customers) using social and effective programming, like group fitness really works. Its one of the reasons my company fitmarc represents the Les Mills brand (we service over 600 facilities customers with Les Mills). You can't service members more efficiently or engage them as effectively with quality (let me emphasize that again QUALITY) group programming.

What do you think ? Do you agree with the experts that group fitness is a key component to success ? Do you think that quality group programming can be an effective means of engaging customer members and what do you think about Les Mills programming ? Contact me, Bryan O'Rourke, and share your views and if I can help you deliver better group programming for your wellness or fitness facility just let me know.