With the New Year upon us, resolutions abound. Topping the list each year is often a health, fitness or weight-loss related goal. For many, meeting this goal means signing up at a gym come January, the busiest month for fitness clubs. Gym memberships have been consistently growing over the past decade, reaching an overall number of more than 40 million in 2010, according to a recent IBISWorld report. With gym attendance at an all-time high, fitness professionals and their facilities must keep up-to-date with the latest industry developments in order to attract clientele and grow their business.
For a lot of gyms and training studios, staying current means perpetually reinventing their offerings – from adding the latest craze in group fitness classes to state-of-the-art workout equipment – and staying “fresh” can equate to more business.
Gary Steffensen, co-owner (with wife Tina) of Peak Results Fitness in Flagstaff, says their facility stays up-to-date by being an affiliate of a top ranking U.S. gym in Santa Clarita, Calif. In addition, Steffensen uses a variety of the latest-trend exercise equipment such as Kettlebells and the TRX suspension system in combination with more traditional equipment such as dumbbells and barbells when training clients. For the more tech savvy gym patrons, Peak Results Fitness offers daily tweets, a Facebook page and an option to sign up for classes through their website.
“We offer a broad range of class times throughout the day, starting at 6:00 a.m., to accommodate our clients’ busy schedules,” said Steffensen. “The online scheduling tool helps clients monitor their own accounts to stay current with payments, schedules and class happenings.”
The use of social media and the web is one of many trends predicted to increase business for gyms and clubs nationwide in the coming year, according to Radan Sturm, fitness director at Complete Body, a fitness and wellness company based in New York. Other trends gaining in popularity:
• Added-value wellness services: Increased offerings of additional services at clubs, such as nutritional counseling and spa services.
• Small group workouts: A way to socialize, cut costs and stay motivated.
• Youth-based fitness: More youth-focused classes as a way to help prevent childhood obesity.
• Corporate Wellness: Companies offering discounts or incentives to employees who join health clubs with the idea of encouraging healthier lifestyles among workers.
• Buddy System: Peer encouragement at the gym that provides motivational support.
“Fitness training trends are cyclical; the new ‘hot’ trends of the moment will give way to newer, more fashionable styles of training,” said Sturm. “The core understanding of physiology and anatomy stays consistent, but new ways of improving fitness are discovered.”
CrossFit, an intense exercise program in which dynamic exercises like plyometric jumps are executed while using non-traditional weightlifting equipment such as kettlebells or sand-bags, blends a few of these trends, according to co-owner of CrossFit Flagstaff, Lisa Ray.
Ray started CrossFit Flagstaff with her husband Mike in their garage as a hobby before growing it into the high performance gym it is today. She says CrossFit not only adheres more to the idea of small group workouts but also lends itself to the “buddy system” support practice.
“I think one of the main things that makes CrossFit so popular and works so well, is the community aspect of it,” said Ray. “You’re not on the treadmill or in the weight room, in your own little world, you are in a community of people working together and those people cheer you on, support you, coach you, encourage you, and hang out with you after the work is done. People are motivated by that and they stick with it and work harder because of it.”
Sturm, it would seem, speaks for many in the multi-billion dollar fitness industry when he says one of the best ways to keep trainers and clubs up to speed in this ever-changing trade is “ongoing education.” It is important to hold meetings, Sturm says, that “cover a range of topics designed to keep staff up-to-date and informed on the latest trends in the industry.” FBN
Mike and Lisa Ray, CrossFit, Flagstaff Photo by Michael Bielecki