Top Three Industry Trends
Alan Leach, the CEO of West Wood Clubs in Ireland, shares three industry trends he is seeing.
I see three big trends in health clubs that are impossible to ignore:
1. The educated fitness consumer. I started in health club membership sales 35 years ago. Back then we mostly sold to people who knew very little about how to “get in shape.” Most potential members had never heard of resistance training or cardio training and didn’t know the difference between a dumbbell and a barbell. This lack of knowledge, at times, allowed sales people to peddle all sorts of magic cures to get a sale.
In the last couple of years things have changed dramatically. Today’s potential member can know more about fitness, losing weight and getting in-shape than the person selling the membership.
Access to good fitness knowledge is just a click away. People can find out in seconds how to tone muscle, increase fitness or build muscle. They can find perfectly good workout advice on Google, YouTube, Wikipedia, Instagram, Facebook and a host of other instant online sources.
This is the era of the “pre-educated” prospect.
2. Fitness consumers are entering our clubs younger than ever before. Another very significant trend we’ve seen is the dramatic increase in young people joining our clubs. The arrival of new fitness consumers is in their late teens and early 20s. This is being driven by social media. Young people are following influencers on YouTube, Instagram and Facebook who workout regularly. This has led to young people feeling that working out in gyms is normal and even an essential part of everyday life.
3. The demand for good-old strength training. Ten years ago, you would never see weightlifting platforms on our gym floors. These power-lifting platforms were considered too “serious” for our deconditioned market. Today our clubs can have up to eight professional lifting platforms. And on any evening, we have queues waiting to use them. Half the people using them are women — many in their 50s and older. Again, I believe this is driven by easy access to online information about what really works. Members see on social media what people are doing to get in shape, and in most cases they are lifting weights.