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FITNESS, HEALTH, WELLNESS

features

Editor's letter : Embracing your 'tribes'

The needs of every tribe should be recognised by the operator. A raft of ‘clubs within clubs’ based on shared interests would be very compelling

By Kate Cracknell | Published in Health Club Management 2013 issue 7

Health club operators have a huge opportunity to engage in a very fundamental way with their members, by being far more aware of their true needs and motivations and connecting with them on a deeper level.

Although there’s a logic to grouping members according to their most obvious interests and traits, in reality there are many different reasons why people join a gym or take part in a particular activity. Being aware of these differences, and letting this awareness inform the way you deal with members at every turn, can create a powerful bond that will drive loyalty and engagement. Conversely, ignoring these needs can create feelings of deep discomfort for a member, and can even act as a trigger to leave your club.

A club’s membership isn’t only segmented by socioeconomic, gender or age groupings, or even by special population: disabled users, pre-natal and so on. Beneath any label we might apply, there are many more motivations at work: it’s possible to understand these far better by thinking of members as being split into myriad little ‘tribes’.

The ‘women’ label is a great example. The WSFF effectively identifies women as a special population group when it comes to fitness: the gender gap is growing, it says, with only one in five women doing enough exercise to stay healthy. However, ‘women’ is far too broad a category to use as the basis for any targeted offerings. Some will prefer women-only clubs; others would rather go for a walk. Then there are the regular gym-goers, getting great results from body weight training and free weights. For this tribe, says Arron Williams of Life Fitness: “Strong is the new skinny – women are driving the market.”

In a similar vein, labelling a fit, healthy, youthful woman in her early 50s an ‘evergreen’, and asking if she’d like to join the other over-50s ladies for tea one afternoon, will prove uncomfortable and demotivating for her – yet I was told a story only last week in which precisely this had happened.

We need to do more to understand the different tribes within our broader groupings; two initiatives launched in May aim to do this for ‘women’. A £1.8m Sport England-funded pilot scheme will test what works in changing women’s sporting habits, including programming for distinct sub-groups – older women, mums on the school run, etc. Meanwhile WSFF will research how different types of women participate in sport and activity – and why – and develop tools to help get more women, more active.

But care must be taken not to alienate other tribes in the process: in April, GLL was accused of gender discrimination by journalist Peter Lloyd, for ringfencing women-only hours at his local mixed-sex gym.

I don’t want to be drawn into that debate, but I do believe that the needs of every tribe – whether three or 300-strong – should be recognised and, wherever possible, met by the operator. Provided they can be delivered without alienating other members, a raft of ‘clubs within clubs’ based on shared interests and motivations, rather than arbitrary labels, would make for a very compelling offering.

Sign up here to get HCM's weekly ezine and every issue of HCM magazine free on digital.
David Patchell-Evans
David Patchell-Evans
GoodLife Fitness, Canada’s largest health club chain, currently has over 300 clubs across the country
GoodLife Fitness, Canada’s largest health club chain, currently has over 300 clubs across the country
Patchell-Evans says that the GoodLife vision is to enable all Canadians to experience a fit and healthy life
Patchell-Evans says that the GoodLife vision is to enable all Canadians to experience a fit and healthy life
GoodLife Fitness has been on the list of Canada’s 50 Best Managed Companies for the past decade
GoodLife Fitness has been on the list of Canada’s 50 Best Managed Companies for the past decade
Increasing penetration: GoodLife has plans to open around 100 clubs across Canada in the next two to three years
Increasing penetration: GoodLife has plans to open around 100 clubs across Canada in the next two to three years
https://www.leisureopportunities.co.uk/images/HCM2013_7editor.gif
Health and fitness operators must recognise and embrace the diverse 'tribes' that exist among their member base, says Kate Cracknell
Kate Cracknell,12 per cent, penetration, lapsed members
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features

Editor's letter : Embracing your 'tribes'

The needs of every tribe should be recognised by the operator. A raft of ‘clubs within clubs’ based on shared interests would be very compelling

By Kate Cracknell | Published in Health Club Management 2013 issue 7

Health club operators have a huge opportunity to engage in a very fundamental way with their members, by being far more aware of their true needs and motivations and connecting with them on a deeper level.

Although there’s a logic to grouping members according to their most obvious interests and traits, in reality there are many different reasons why people join a gym or take part in a particular activity. Being aware of these differences, and letting this awareness inform the way you deal with members at every turn, can create a powerful bond that will drive loyalty and engagement. Conversely, ignoring these needs can create feelings of deep discomfort for a member, and can even act as a trigger to leave your club.

A club’s membership isn’t only segmented by socioeconomic, gender or age groupings, or even by special population: disabled users, pre-natal and so on. Beneath any label we might apply, there are many more motivations at work: it’s possible to understand these far better by thinking of members as being split into myriad little ‘tribes’.

The ‘women’ label is a great example. The WSFF effectively identifies women as a special population group when it comes to fitness: the gender gap is growing, it says, with only one in five women doing enough exercise to stay healthy. However, ‘women’ is far too broad a category to use as the basis for any targeted offerings. Some will prefer women-only clubs; others would rather go for a walk. Then there are the regular gym-goers, getting great results from body weight training and free weights. For this tribe, says Arron Williams of Life Fitness: “Strong is the new skinny – women are driving the market.”

In a similar vein, labelling a fit, healthy, youthful woman in her early 50s an ‘evergreen’, and asking if she’d like to join the other over-50s ladies for tea one afternoon, will prove uncomfortable and demotivating for her – yet I was told a story only last week in which precisely this had happened.

We need to do more to understand the different tribes within our broader groupings; two initiatives launched in May aim to do this for ‘women’. A £1.8m Sport England-funded pilot scheme will test what works in changing women’s sporting habits, including programming for distinct sub-groups – older women, mums on the school run, etc. Meanwhile WSFF will research how different types of women participate in sport and activity – and why – and develop tools to help get more women, more active.

But care must be taken not to alienate other tribes in the process: in April, GLL was accused of gender discrimination by journalist Peter Lloyd, for ringfencing women-only hours at his local mixed-sex gym.

I don’t want to be drawn into that debate, but I do believe that the needs of every tribe – whether three or 300-strong – should be recognised and, wherever possible, met by the operator. Provided they can be delivered without alienating other members, a raft of ‘clubs within clubs’ based on shared interests and motivations, rather than arbitrary labels, would make for a very compelling offering.

Sign up here to get HCM's weekly ezine and every issue of HCM magazine free on digital.
David Patchell-Evans
David Patchell-Evans
GoodLife Fitness, Canada’s largest health club chain, currently has over 300 clubs across the country
GoodLife Fitness, Canada’s largest health club chain, currently has over 300 clubs across the country
Patchell-Evans says that the GoodLife vision is to enable all Canadians to experience a fit and healthy life
Patchell-Evans says that the GoodLife vision is to enable all Canadians to experience a fit and healthy life
GoodLife Fitness has been on the list of Canada’s 50 Best Managed Companies for the past decade
GoodLife Fitness has been on the list of Canada’s 50 Best Managed Companies for the past decade
Increasing penetration: GoodLife has plans to open around 100 clubs across Canada in the next two to three years
Increasing penetration: GoodLife has plans to open around 100 clubs across Canada in the next two to three years
https://www.leisureopportunities.co.uk/images/HCM2013_7editor.gif
Health and fitness operators must recognise and embrace the diverse 'tribes' that exist among their member base, says Kate Cracknell
Kate Cracknell,12 per cent, penetration, lapsed members
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With the launch of its 49th John Reed, RSG Group is looking for more opportunities ...
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PureGym saw revenues rise by 15 per cent in 2023, with the company announcing plans ...
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Following three disrupted lockdown years, the European fitness market bounced back in 2023, according to ...
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Charitable trust, Mytime Active, has removed all single-use plastic overshoes from its swimming pools and ...
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Community Leisure UK is helping the drive to Net Zero with the launch of a ...
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Operator Circadian Trust has launched a five-year growth drive designed to support health and wellbeing ...
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Featured supplier news: Study Active acquires Premier Global name and select branding assets
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Company profile: Safe Space Lockers
We provide a full turn-key solution for clients from design and consultation, through to bespoke ...
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Company profile: ukactive
ukactive is the UK’s leading not-for-profit membership body for the physical activity sector, bringing together ...
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Catalogue Gallery
Click on a catalogue to view it online
Featured press releases
Balanced Body press release: New Balanced Body Education® For Fitness Instructors endorsed by Active IQ
Balanced Body ®, global leaders in Pilates equipment and education, have received Active IQ endorsement for its newly launched professional education programme specifically designed to upskill fitness instructors with a Group Reformer Pilates certification in direct response to global market demand.
Featured press releases
Greenwich Leisure Limited press release: Better’s One NK leisure centre wellbeing event a wondrous success!
Last week saw the launch of a new ‘Health Hub’ at Better’s One NK leisure centre in North Hykeham.
Directory
Snowroom
TechnoAlpin SpA: Snowroom
Spa software
SpaBooker: Spa software
Cryotherapy
Art of Cryo: Cryotherapy
Lockers
Fitlockers: Lockers
salt therapy products
Saltability: salt therapy products
Flooring
Total Vibration Solutions / TVS Sports Surfaces: Flooring
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Loughton, IG10
Knight Frank
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Belvoir Castle
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Diary dates
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China Import & Export Fair Complex, Guangzhou, China
Diary dates
23-24 May 2024
Large Hall of the Chamber of Commerce (Erbprinzenpalais), Wiesbaden, Germany
Diary dates
30 May - 02 Jun 2024
Rimini Exhibition Center, Rimini, Italy
Diary dates
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Worldwide, Various,
Diary dates
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ExCeL London, London, United Kingdom
Diary dates
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In person, St Andrews, United Kingdom
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