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Tips for Leveraging the Consumer Fitness Boom

Consumer Fitness

There is a universal challenge that is facing every club operator today. With an indisputable uprising in consumer health attention, what must we do (as commercial fitness operators) to remain relevant and better exploit this new market opportunity?

While in attendance at the world’s leading industry tradeshows, in conversation with global fitness influencers, and in service to thousands of club owners and CEOs, I have found there is still a widespread lack of awareness around the critical advancements in consumer fitness.

One cannot turn on the news today without witnessing our current obsession with wearable fitness technology. Today, one out of five people in North America own a wearable fitness device. But what I find most interesting is how diverse the spectrum of user demographics is. From the young to old and fitness illiterate to fitness elite, there are a variety of motivating factors for its purchase — which seems to blend gender, age, ethnicity and some income gaps.

In addition to wearable fitness technology, digital forms of training extend the consumer’s fitness experience beyond the traditional brick and mortar health club. A 2013 Nielsen survey discovered that an unprecedented 52 percent of active gym members were also using a DVD and/or online workout program to supplement their membership.

How are these trends valuable for us?

Many products with their origins in the consumer market can enhance the member experience. Often, these products provide a novelty or excitement factor that wasn’t available or even possible before. Using an example from the aforementioned statistic, virtual cycling races allow participants to compete with people in-studio, on the fitness floor, and/or at home — providing real-time results all along the way.

And as is the case with the results provided by virtual cycling races, the majority of these digital solutions offer even greater transparency and, if properly leveraged, allow training professionals benchmarks with clearer accountability. When training professionals shift from the proverbial “motivator” to a true consultant, they in turn provide more precise client outcomes and better incentivize short- and long-term client behavior.

Action Items for Garnering a Competitive Edge

› Commit to devising a plan. How can we change our mindset to be discerning innovators and maybe — at the same time — avoid some of the noise? Best-in-class operators will be careful not to be misled by an artificial sense of personal touch when evaluating lead generation opportunities through unconventional products and services. A brand’s sense of “personal touch” or perceived “premium” status is the oldest resistance to new ways of thinking.

› Go beyond your four walls. Gone are the days of sheltering or barricading products and services. The rest of the world is gravitating toward “try before you buy.” Prevailing brands will seek opportunities to integrate with both unconventional products and services to harness new market opportunity.

Garrett Marshall is the vice president of Minnesota-based virtual group fitness solution Fitness On Demand. For more information visit fitnessondemand247.com.

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