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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.

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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
Plans have been revealed to build the world's deepest pool in Cornwall, UK, which would ...
Latest News
People with depression should be prescribed exercise and then monitored for the first 12 weeks ...
Latest News
Frequent strenuous exercise increases the risk of developing motor neurone disease (MND) in people with ...
Latest News
The UK government has extended the ban on commercial evictions until 25 March 2022. Announcing ...
Latest News
Operating a further four weeks at reduced capacity will place serious pressure on English fitness ...
Latest News
People experiencing homelessness are being offered free access to leisure centres by Oxford City Council. ...
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IHRSA has appointed Elizabeth Clark as its new president and CEO. Clark joins the industry ...
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promotion
While much of the fitness industry has reopened its doors across the UK over the past weeks, many members are yet to return.
Opinion: Re-engaging your post-lockdown absent members
Featured supplier news
Featured supplier news: First digital ecosystem for fitness equipment is launched after £300,000 funding boost
Orbit4 is the first digital ecosystem that manages and facilitates the entire commercial fitness product cycle.
Featured supplier news
Featured supplier news: Cryotherapy specialists, L&R Kältetechnik, launch new artofcryo.com division
L&R Kältetechnik has launched a new division, named artofcryo.com, after 30 years’ experience with -110 °C electrical solutions.
Featured operators 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.
Featured operators 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.
Company profiles
Company profile: Premier Software Solutions Ltd
Premier Software was founded in 1994 and has proven experience developing business management solutions specifically ...
Company profiles
Company profile: énergie Fitness
énergie helps franchisees to build a gym business with a potential value of £0.5m to ...
Supplier Showcases
Supplier showcase - Precor: The power of networking
Catalogue Gallery
Click on a catalogue to view it online
Directory
Lockers/interior design
Safe Space Lockers Ltd: Lockers/interior design
Trade associations
International SPA Association - iSPA: Trade associations
Skincare
Comfort Zone - Davines S.p.A: Skincare
Exercise equipment
Pendex Fisio S.L.: Exercise equipment
Whole body cryotherapy
Art of Cryo: Whole body cryotherapy
Flooring
Total Vibration Solutions / TVS Sports Surfaces: Flooring
Independent service & maintenance
Servicesport UK Limited: Independent service & maintenance
Red Light Therapy
 Red Light Rising: Red Light Therapy
Fitness equipment
Precor: Fitness equipment
Salt therapy products
Himalayan Source: Salt therapy products
Property & Tenders
Pendine Sands, Carmarthenshire
Carmarthenshire County Council
Property & Tenders
Diary dates
01-04 Jul 2021
Expo Centre & Riviera di Rimini, Italy
Diary dates
18-19 Sep 2021
Locations worldwide,
Diary dates
21-24 Sep 2021
Messe Stuttgart, Germany
Diary dates
28-29 Sep 2021
ExCeL London, London, United Kingdom
Diary dates
04-07 Nov 2021
Exhibition Centre , Cologne, Germany
Diary dates
01-07 Dec 2022
tbc, Dunedin, New Zealand
Diary dates
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