Each year, Club Solutions Magazine surveys its advisory board and readers on the trends they predict will be paramount in the industry for the year ahead. In light of COVID-19, many operator’s 2020 predictions have changed mid-year to account for changing market conditions and new business priorities.
As a result, there are now a new host of top trends clubs operators are predicting will be mainstays over the next few months and well into 2021. Those top trends include:
- Virtual fitness and “digital clubs”
- Increased emphasis on the member experience
- PR and communication as an industry
- Wellness, exercise is medicine and medical fitness
- Outdoor boot camps and fitness
- Recovery offerings and programming
- Rebounding strategies post-COVID
- Group programming post-COVID
- Cleaning and sanitizing best practices
- Financial strategies
- New personal training models
- Nutrition programming
- Corporate wellness
Although the hope is that most gyms will be reopened by the end of 2020, many operators predict COVID-19 will remain a main topic of focus as the impacts of the pandemic continue to be felt down the road.
“What will health club life look like in a post-COVID world?” said Shawn Stewart, the owner and CEO of CSS Fitness Holdings. “Specifically, who are the clubs and organizations that survived and came out of the closures OK? What characteristics, systems, etc. did they have in place before the shutdown that put them in the best position to get through it? Also, what are the short-term and long-term changes to our industry we need to be prepared for? Most change is evolutionary, but the pandemic has caused revolutionary change. What is that change for most clubs? What is the best sustainable model for a club moving forward?”
Many operators are stating virtual fitness is a bright spot resulting from the pandemic they expect to ramp up as the year continues.
“Everyone was talking about a virtual program for years and the pandemic forced people to rush in to finally do it,” said Stewart. “What have the results been? Which clubs will continue with it, including low-tech versions of simply Zooming or FaceTime-ing their classes?”
According to Chez Misko, the COO of Wisconsin Athletic Club, the pandemic is forcing operators to re-evaluate all areas of the business, including pricing structures and potential new revenue streams.
“We are launching virtual and online personal training options at all locations over the next few months,” said Misko. “We are moving to monthly personal training billing by end of year, and re-looking at all pricing. Is there an opportunity to increase the rate for many of the programs and services in our clubs?”
Another trend operators predict will continue to grow this year is recovery, such as massage, compression tools, meditation classes, cryotherapy, percussive therapy and stretching.
“Recovery in clubs and also stand-alone studios will become more and more popular moving forward,” predicts Stewart. “I don’t know if ‘recovery’ has been fully defined as a market, but I believe it will become multiple separate markets, similar to HVLP, medium and high-end clubs.”
Lastly, a final trend of note surrounds the fitness industry’s future, with many operators calling for increased advocacy at the local, state and national levels.
According to Jon Brady, the president of Midtown Athletic Clubs, it’s important for clubs to be thinking about PR and communication as an industry, including “who to, why and what messages are we sending?” he said.
Lynne Brick, the president of Planet Fitness Growth Partners, agreed, stating she’s keeping an eye on the industry’s post-COVID recovery, including how to overcome public fear and how clubs can get “a seat at political tables to educate decision makers that health clubs and the fitness industry are essential — not recreational — and a critical part of the health care delivery system,” she said.
As clubs continue to navigate the pandemic, these trends are sure to evolve and change. What are your predictions in regards to what clubs will be focused on throughout the rest of the year and into 2021? Leave your thoughts in the comments.