As 2021 wraps up, gym owners and operators are looking ahead to next year — specifically at what trends and programs will be popular with members.
In the latest Thought Leaders panel Aaron Moore, the director of operations at VIDA Fitness; Michele Melkerson-Granryrd, the senior advisor of personal training and wellness of Castle Hill Fitness; Matthew Wright, a partner at The Fort Athletic Club; Justin Drummond, the chief operating officer of PFGP; and Cher Harris, the general manager of The Houstonian Club sat down to discuss their predictions for the biggest trends of 2022.
Throughout the discussion there were three common trends that were brought up.
It’s no secret the country is facing a Great Resignation and all industries are struggling to fill open job positions. Unfortunately, it looks like this problem will continue into 2022. However, there are things you can do to make yourself an attractive employer.
For Castle Hill Fitness, Melkerson-Granryrd said they are prioritizing staff training to not only attract employees, but to also enhance their member experience.
“It’s a struggle especially with the professional staff, trainers and teachers getting them back in the club since they sort of figured out how to do that independently on their own,” said Melkerson-Granryrd. “We’ve always relied on our internship programs and our relationships with the community colleges. We’ve sort of got a pipeline in place already that we are working with. But something we are really focused on this next year is team training with our instructors and trainers to really enhance our community aspect.”
Another tactic to being an attractive employer is offering great benefits.
Wright and his team at The Fort Athletic Club sat down and reviewed employee benefits at big companies like Google. He then compared them to the benefits employees receive in the fitness industries. He saw great discrepancies.
“Benefits has been one of the greatest challenges,” said Wright. “That’s what’s made the recruitment so difficult, not being able to supply things like the 401K, health benefits, or just life benefits. We now have a financial planning program and a college advisor who helps us with our new people. Have we really changed how much we’re paying people? No, not really. But we’ve actually increased a lot of the employee benefits for us.”
Another trend that’s staying power has been debated on is virtual fitness. Despite a recent TIME article that stated more people are returning to gyms and Peloton’s stock falling, the majority of the panelist agreed virtual fitness isn’t going away.
“I think virtual is here to stay,” said Drummond. “I think it’s something a lot of businesses were working on prior to the pandemic, but the pandemic kind of put a rush on everything for everyone to get active in that space. And for us, we have been for the past few years trying to develop our app for Planet Fitness. And with that, a lot has gone into the virtual fitness content in that library that’s on there as well. Because what we want to do is make sure that people don’t have a reason not to be a part of what we have going on, be Planet Fitness, whether it’s the brick-and-mortar side of it, or even the virtual piece. If you’re not ready to come back, whatever the reason is, [virtual fitness] is another option for you to have there.”
The third common trend mentioned was outdoor fitness.
Before the pandemic, Moore said they couldn’t get people to go outside if it was dark or under 70 degrees. However, when COVID hit, they offered spin classes, put up tents for shelter and took equipment outdoor on their sundeck.
Once their pool closed in September, the VIDA team went to take down the equipment and members pushed back saying they’d rather workout outside even in the colder months.
“When the pool closes for the season during the winter, for as long as this trend seems to last, we’re going to have the tents up and the equipment outside, which is great because people can lift outdoors and do some cardio,” said Moore. “It also frees up more space within the club. So, if we had a 30,000 square foot club, before the pandemic, now we’ve got a 40,000 square foot club because people are willing to do all these activities outdoors. We’re extremely bullish on outdoor activities, and we don’t even have that good of outdoor spaces. I mean, we’re a downtown urban environment, we’re doing these things on rooftops.”
Harris agreed outdoor fitness is still huge — especially in regions that don’t experience low temperatures.
“When we reopen, we wanted to not give our members any excuses to not come to the facility,” said Harris. “We sit on 27 acres; members can come and work out outside. That was obviously a financial thing for us too because we were still charging our membership, but we didn’t want them to have any objection not to exercise. We continue to have equipment outdoors and members continue to use it.”
Overall, these were just three common trends mentioned in the panel’s discussion that will play a major role in 2022. What do you think will be the top trends next year? Let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can watch the full conversation, here: