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UNITING THE WORLD OF FITNESS
Health Club Management

Health Club Management

features

Editor's letter: Engaging the public

By Kate Cracknell | Published in Health Club Management 2013 issue 2

Is the health and fitness industry currently doing all it needs to do to genuinely engage with today’s consumer?

As physical activity options continue to proliferate, the challenge of getting more than 12 per cent of the population engaged with gyms is becoming even tougher. As technology in particular helps people take control of their own workouts, the competitor pool for the traditional fitness facility is expanding to encompass independent, ‘out of gym’ exercise powered by the likes of iPhone apps and Nike Fuelbands.

If you’re in any doubt about that, just take a look at the media. When the UK’s newspapers and magazines rolled out their usual ‘new year’s resolution’ editorial last month – homing in, inevitably, on ways to get fit and shape up – where were the high street gyms? The coverage focused on diets, gadgets, home-based exercise, occasionally on fitness getaways abroad... Health clubs should have been at the very heart of this, but they weren’t. And it wasn’t just the tabloids: titles such as The Guardian and The Economist also weighed in with a spot of gym-bashing – heavyweight criticism that we ignore at our peril. Meanwhile Cosmopolitan’s new offering, Cosmo Body – a magazine dedicated entirely to shaping up, losing weight, looking and feeling good – barely mentions gyms at all.

So is the fitness sector currently the B2C industry it needs to be? Are gyms, and even equipment manufacturers, really thinking of themselves as consumer brands jostling for space in an increasingly diverse marketplace?

If gyms want to survive, they must drive a deeper level of engagement with consumers. That will in part come from a more proactive relationship with the media, not only reacting to negative coverage but also actively driving respect for the fitness offering. But it’s not just about PR and communications. In today’s market, it’s about recognising, and responding to, the growing remoteness of consumers – the fact that people no longer need the reassurance of dealing with businesses enclosed by four physical walls. Gyms must give people a reason to engage: a sense of community driven by ‘clubs in clubs’ and group exercise sessions, for example, or a focus on expertise. As part of this, gyms must latch onto the new generation of fitness gadgets: selling them, educating members in their use, incorporating them into workouts. It’s about making sure the gym acts as the hub of people’s fitness existence rather than being sidelined – a place they go to get the expertise, guidance, inspiration and community they can’t get by themselves or online.

It’s also about reaching deeper into the community. Talking to Glasgow Life for this month’s interview (see Health Club Management 2013 issue 2 p30), and hearing about the organisation’s extensive outreach schemes – from partnership with the NHS to ‘grey market’ classes and childhood obesity initiatives – I was genuinely inspired to recognise new ways in which the sector could evolve its offering to engage new users.

As consumers become less dependent on bricks and mortar businesses, we need to work harder to remain relevant. That means getting out into the local community; it means creating a role for ourselves alongside – rather than in competition with – new technology; it means a strong focus on creating a sense of club; and it means proactively championing our offering to the consumer media.

https://www.leisureopportunities.co.uk/images/HCM2013_2editor.gif
Is the sector doing everything it needs to do to engage with today's consumer, asks Kate Cracknell
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features

Editor's letter: Engaging the public

By Kate Cracknell | Published in Health Club Management 2013 issue 2

Is the health and fitness industry currently doing all it needs to do to genuinely engage with today’s consumer?

As physical activity options continue to proliferate, the challenge of getting more than 12 per cent of the population engaged with gyms is becoming even tougher. As technology in particular helps people take control of their own workouts, the competitor pool for the traditional fitness facility is expanding to encompass independent, ‘out of gym’ exercise powered by the likes of iPhone apps and Nike Fuelbands.

If you’re in any doubt about that, just take a look at the media. When the UK’s newspapers and magazines rolled out their usual ‘new year’s resolution’ editorial last month – homing in, inevitably, on ways to get fit and shape up – where were the high street gyms? The coverage focused on diets, gadgets, home-based exercise, occasionally on fitness getaways abroad... Health clubs should have been at the very heart of this, but they weren’t. And it wasn’t just the tabloids: titles such as The Guardian and The Economist also weighed in with a spot of gym-bashing – heavyweight criticism that we ignore at our peril. Meanwhile Cosmopolitan’s new offering, Cosmo Body – a magazine dedicated entirely to shaping up, losing weight, looking and feeling good – barely mentions gyms at all.

So is the fitness sector currently the B2C industry it needs to be? Are gyms, and even equipment manufacturers, really thinking of themselves as consumer brands jostling for space in an increasingly diverse marketplace?

If gyms want to survive, they must drive a deeper level of engagement with consumers. That will in part come from a more proactive relationship with the media, not only reacting to negative coverage but also actively driving respect for the fitness offering. But it’s not just about PR and communications. In today’s market, it’s about recognising, and responding to, the growing remoteness of consumers – the fact that people no longer need the reassurance of dealing with businesses enclosed by four physical walls. Gyms must give people a reason to engage: a sense of community driven by ‘clubs in clubs’ and group exercise sessions, for example, or a focus on expertise. As part of this, gyms must latch onto the new generation of fitness gadgets: selling them, educating members in their use, incorporating them into workouts. It’s about making sure the gym acts as the hub of people’s fitness existence rather than being sidelined – a place they go to get the expertise, guidance, inspiration and community they can’t get by themselves or online.

It’s also about reaching deeper into the community. Talking to Glasgow Life for this month’s interview (see Health Club Management 2013 issue 2 p30), and hearing about the organisation’s extensive outreach schemes – from partnership with the NHS to ‘grey market’ classes and childhood obesity initiatives – I was genuinely inspired to recognise new ways in which the sector could evolve its offering to engage new users.

As consumers become less dependent on bricks and mortar businesses, we need to work harder to remain relevant. That means getting out into the local community; it means creating a role for ourselves alongside – rather than in competition with – new technology; it means a strong focus on creating a sense of club; and it means proactively championing our offering to the consumer media.

https://www.leisureopportunities.co.uk/images/HCM2013_2editor.gif
Is the sector doing everything it needs to do to engage with today's consumer, asks Kate Cracknell
Latest News
Boxx has launched a new generation punch bag and smart punch trackers that work with ...
Latest News
The Global Wellness Institute (GWI) and BBC Storyworks have struck up a partnership to create ...
Latest News
The global wellness economy will grow by 9.9 per cent annually and reach US$7trn by ...
Latest News
Inclusive Fitness Boston, a health club created specifically for those with disabilities and their families, ...
Latest News
The Women in Fitness Association (WIFA), is partnering with Sport Alliance to undertake a survey ...
Latest News
Location and cost are the top considerations for consumers when it comes to choosing a ...
Latest News
Increases in COVID-19 cases across Europe are forcing governments to introduce restrictions, which is having ...
Latest News
Exercise has been found to increase levels of endocannabinoids – cannabis-like substances produced by the ...
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promotion
FitnessOnDemand’s divisional vice president Uday Anumalachetty discusses what live fitness really means for clubs and their members today
Opinion: Why we need to reimagine what live fitness really means
Featured supplier news
Featured supplier news: Feet on the ground, fitness in the clouds
Life Fitness has launched a new mobile app named Life Fitness Connect to provide the ultimate workout experience.
Featured supplier news
Featured supplier news: Greenvale Leisure Centre reveals brand new gym equipped with Core Health & Fitness products
Greenvale Leisure Centre in Northern Ireland last month revealed its brand new 800sq m gym completely transformed with Core Health & Fitness products.
Featured operator news
Featured operator news: Being active helps Parkwood Leisure customers save the NHS £16m
Parkwood Leisure, one of the UK’s leading public leisure facilities operators, helped prevent more than 7,000 cases of stroke, dementia, depression and type 2 diabetes in 2019, saving the NHS £16 million, a new social value report has shown.
Featured operator news
Featured operator news: Everyone Active generates £342m in social value
Award-winning leisure operator Everyone Active generated £342million in social value at its sites across the country in 2019/20.
Video Gallery
Total Vibration Solutions / Floors 4 Gyms / TVS Sports Surfaces
Physical Company Ltd
Mindbody, Inc
Company profiles
Company profile: EGYM UK Ltd
EGYM empowers gym operators to deliver a workout experience that supports their members' lifelong fitness ...
Company profiles
Company profile: EMD UK
EMD UK is the national governing body for group exercise. Funded by Sport England, EMD ...
Catalogue Gallery
Click on a catalogue to view it online
Directory
Salt therapy products
Saltability: Salt therapy products
Architects/designers
Zynk Design Consultants: Architects/designers
Exercise equipment
Power Plate: Exercise equipment
trade associations
International SPA Association - iSPA: trade associations
Fitness equipment
Precor: Fitness equipment
Spa software
SpaBooker: Spa software
Red Light Therapy
 Red Light Rising: Red Light Therapy
Management software
Premier Software Solutions: Management software
Wearable technology solutions
MyZone: Wearable technology solutions
Skincare
Comfort Zone - Davines S.p.A: Skincare
Property & Tenders
Welwyn Garden City
Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council
Property & Tenders
Newport, Shropshire
Lilleshall Sports Academy
Property & Tenders
Diary dates
01-03 Feb 2022
Coventry Building Society Arena, Coventry, United Kingdom
Diary dates
07-10 Apr 2022
Exhibition Centre , Cologne, Germany
Diary dates
15-16 Jun 2022
ExCeL London, London, United Kingdom
Diary dates
01-07 Dec 2022
tbc, Dunedin, New Zealand
Diary dates
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