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Roundtable Recap: Active Lifestyles & The Changing Marketplace


On July 15, REX Roundtables and Club Solutions Magazine presented the 15th installment of a weekly virtual roundtable series aimed at helping clubs navigate through the COVID-19 crisis, sponsored by TEC SERVICES.

Panelists included Jonathan Komp, a senior research analyst, active lifestyles: apparel, footwear and fitness, at Baird; Bill McBride, the co-founder, president and CEO of Active Wellness; and Blair McHaney, the CEO of MXM and owner of WORX health clubs. The discussion was led and moderated by Brent Darden, the founder of Brent Darden Consulting and chair of REX Roundtables.

Following is a summary of top takeaways from the discussion, centered on understanding an evolving marketplace:


  • Consumer spending increased during the first or second week of May, which is indicative of consumers being more interested than ever in getting fit.
  • Outdoor training is popular right now because it’s the only thing clubs are allowed to do right now, while members might be driven by the lack of cost to exercise outside and their perception of being safer when they’re outdoors more often.
  • The transmission of live virtual classes has proven to be more engaging than previously expected — it’s been a viable source of member engagement for clubs.
  • Digital purchasing and access is becoming seamless for apparel and footwear brands, and it’s a big opportunity for the fitness industry.
  • The question with digital programming is whether you buy or build your own content. There’s power in having more personalized experiences with local content, but there’s also power in having the quality of national commercial programming.
  • Clubs have to be in the virtual space, regardless of how they choose to put forth their content. They have to also figure out where they fit in the “active lifestyle market,” not the “club market.”
  • According to data, foot traffic in the gym is starting to level off. The member sentiment went from being optimistic to cautious and guided.
  • An important comparison to bring up is of your unique visitors that are delivering a percentage of your foot traffic. That’s a good way to get insight on how many members you’re actually serving. 
  • It’d be better to have more members visit fewer times to hit a good traffic number than to have fewer members visit more times to hit a good traffic number. The mass of the membership need to be the ones who come less frequently.
  • Look for data — don’t just wait for it to come to you. Find companies that are being successful in this time, and do research into what they’re developing and how they’re making it happen.
  • Nike doesn’t just make shoes — they create a lifestyle of being active. Health clubs need to change from just having equipment in four walls — they need to create solutions that help members achieve lifestyles that make them healthier and happier.
  • Operators don’t always focus enough on putting the customer at the center of the experience — buying the best equipment without an engaging environment, for example. There’s too much advocacy and not enough inquiry about putting the customer at the center of everything they do.
  • The ability to forecast the next few weeks — and business steps — is lower than ever before, so it’s important to be flexible. Club owners have to change their mindsets so they don’t become irrelevant.

To access the on-demand version of this webinar, click here

UPCOMING: Don’t miss the 16th installment of our virtual roundtable series, “Successful Strategies for Shaping Your Future: When COVID Strikes Your Club” on July 22 at 2 p.m. EST. Limited seats are available. Click here to reserve your spot.

Bobby Dyer

Bobby is the former assistant editor of Club Solutions Magazine.

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