According to IHRSA, industry participation is the highest in its history at 21.8%. Additionally, 66.5 million Americans ages 6 years and older belonged to a health club or studio in 2021, and the latest data shows a 3.8% growth over the last two years despite COVID-19’s challenges.
However, member growth and usage aren’t the only changes happening in the industry. Consumer workouts and preferences are also evolving. Over the last three years, more and more clubs have noticed a decline in use of cardio equipment and an increase in members utilizing strength and free weight areas.
One facility noticing this trend is Merritt Clubs.
“It should be noted our members are still using cardio, but they just favor the use of strength training more with functional training exercises, free weights, kettlebells, lifts, etc.,” said Mark Miller, the COO of Merritt Clubs.
However, the rise of strength training is just one changing trend. The demand for recovery options, outdoor fitness and more has members asking for additional offerings. Therefore, it’s crucial to remain flexible as a facility. In order to keep a pulse on this, Miller said they are constantly monitoring trends and talking with members, other industry groups and operators, as well as using member feedback systems.
“We have started to embed several of these pillars into our offerings and onboarding of members,” said Miller. “We think it’s crucial to maintain the basic pillars and then include these new ones. It’s important to truly understand what each area entails in order to properly provide the correct offering. For example, recovery includes nutrition and sleep just as much as massage, mental health and recovery modalities such as vibration therapy, infrared therapy, etc.”
In order to offer more modalities and programs, Miller said they constantly adjust and adapt their fitness floor layouts. The main reason behind this is to enhance the members’ experience, create less friction points and limit waiting to workout.
“We also do so to create or force member connections and socialization,” said Miller. “As an operator, think about community and how to build it within your facility. You also need to factor in usage and what members want today — open space to play and workout, turf, outdoor fitness, etc.”
Lastly, to remain flexible as a facility Miller said it’s important to look at how your members consume fitness and what they want because it will vary club by club. Do you offer 30-minute group fitness classes or more on-demand Les Mills classes? How can you adapt your small group training classes to meet the new consumers?
“Look at omnichannel offerings, nutrition and wellness as well as how we as an industry can continue to meet our purpose and serve our members by adding more value,” said Miller.
In 2023 it’s likely new programs and trends will emerge. Following Miller’s advice can help you remain agile and flexible to cater to new member needs.