As many of us head down to the industry conference at IHRSA next week, many will be exploring the following topics.
Where do you stand as an operator on these topics?
1. The evolution of fitness
As consumers, we have never had as many choices as we do right now on exercise or activity options. There are gyms fees for all budgets and areas of specialization (athletic performance, boot camps, PT studios, yoga studios etc.). Universities, schools, hotels, condos, office buildings, municipalities, and sports teams are just some of the groups who have increased the quality of their fitness offering. When combined with the online workout options, there is lots from which to choose. With this in mind, it becomes critical to have part of your offering that will stand out to your target market. Something that will make your fitness area inviting, a destination. Without this destination thinking, organizations are challenged to get the participation levels where they need to be to be sustainable or get the return on investment.
2. Maximizing Space utilization
From a small room in a hotel, condo, studio or school to a major 20 000 + square foot space, utilization of space is now a big area of discussion.
In the past, filling a room full of equipment was the norm. Today, freeing up space and giving your patrons room to move has become a priority. The interested and motivated exerciser is now looking for open space, for functional movements, mobility and their favorite floor work. Without it, fitness space can feel crowded and uncomfortable and less inviting.
3. Specialized programming
With the existing infrastructure, meaning equipment and space, programming implementation is a big topic to keep that experience fresh, motivating and different for your patron. Exercisers are looking for guidance, motivation and in some cases a group experience. A program that runs for a specific period of time, led with a specific protocol makes it simple for the exerciser to follow. Having a targeted program now only creates that destination, but also a revenue stream if that is your primary objective.
4. Technology vs non technology
Many will have you believe that your cardio equipment MUST rival the smart phone experience. In some situations it is appropriate. It other environments not so much. Our team deals with universities for example, where we see the 2 extremes. Some want no technology, some full technology. The budget differences are significant, so is the support infrastructure required for proper implementation. The cost of getting this wrong, or misguided advice is not only financially challenging but also can make it a struggle for a significant time.
5. Targeting a specific audience
This area is tied to items 3 and 4 above. How to build niche programs within your offering, that cater to specific target markets is a great way to improve your location as a destination. Targeting youth athletes, or those over 50 for example can make your offering more appealing. If you don’t do this, your competition might.
6. Keeping up with Joneses
This saying refers to keeping up with the groups that are providing something in your community of interest. A good example of this is providing programs and opportunities like others can – we see some gyms adding a crossfit area for example to cater to those folks. We also discuss having equipment and amenities that are designed to provide the same or better than the group across the road. How much should you focus on keeping up with the Joneses and how much on your own thing?