GET HCM
magazine
Sign up for the FREE digital edition of HCM magazine and also get the HCM ezine and breaking news email alerts.
Not right now, thanksclose this window
Precor UK
Precor UK
Precor UK
Follow Health Club Management on Twitter Like Health Club Management on Facebook Join the discussion with Health Club Management on LinkedIn Follow Health Club Management on Instagram
UNITING THE WORLD OF FITNESS
Health Club Management

Health Club Management

features

Worldwide trends

What are the opportunities for refinement and growth in the global fitness sector in 2015?

By Kristen Walsh, IHRSA | Published in Health Club Handbook 2015 issue 1
Can mid-market clubs integrate elements of successful microgyms?
Can mid-market clubs integrate elements of successful microgyms?
As many as 90 per cent of the clients of studios also attend classes or have a membership at another club

‘‘While the economy continues to present challenges for many countries, European health club operators still see opportunities, and many of the region’s leading players are planning for continued growth.” This was the conclusion of Jay Ablondi, IHRSA’s executive vice president of global products, at the end of an IHRSA European Congress panel session featuring the CEOs from three of Europe’s leading health club companies. So what did the panel believe lies in store for the sector in 2015?

Growth opportunities
Valerie Bönström, CEO of women-only franchise Mrs.Sporty, pointed to the likelihood of continued growth in the budget sector. “The competition is increasing on the low-cost side, with more companies opening smaller, low-cost clubs,” she said, noting that budget trailblazer McFit continues to thrive. “In a market that’s increasingly price sensitive, higher-end operators will have to provide a more powerful brand with a strong positioning.”

Meanwhile Olav Thorstad, CEO of Scandinavian chain Health & Fitness Nordic – which operates the SATS, Elixia and Fresh Fitness brands – noted the importance of instructors when it comes to capitalising on the profitability of the functional training trend. “We also need to look at outdoor opportunities, because people don’t necessarily want to go to the club,” he added. “This segment of the market is growing more rapidly than the traditional club market. We have a big opportunity here, but we have to do more to catch the potential members who are interested in exercising outside of the four walls of our clubs.”

For Irina Kutina, CEO of the Russian Fitness Group, the focus will be on driving social connection. “We will continue to work closely with our personal training team, because it’s a good indication of how well the clubs are doing in terms of engaging members,” she said. “We’ll also look at small group training, yoga, cycling and so on, because these activities bring people together.”

Small is beautiful
All three panellists identified the boutique model as an important trend. In addition to the women-only Mrs.Sporty clubs, Bönström already operates some small, co-ed functional fitness training studios under the LOVFIT brand, and noted the potential of these clubs to attract new segments of the population who might not be interested in joining a more traditional gym.

“There’s a market for it and we should be in it,” agreed Thorstad. “The margins and profits are bigger, and it will be positive for members” – this thanks to a highly results-focused, member-centric, interactive and experiential formula.

When speaking with European Congress attendees, Alison O’Kane Giannaras, IHRSA’s associate vice president of international development, consistently heard views on the growth of this boutique model. “Mid-market and higher-end clubs are looking at the boutique models and trying to incorporate the concept into their existing model,” she says.

“The general consensus at the Congress was that the mid-market club is not dead, and that the growth in budget and boutique clubs is only making traditional clubs refine their value proposition – that there’s space in the market for all.”

According to delegates, one key to refining the value proposition will be a greater emphasis on staffing and the importance of human resources among the traditional mid-market health clubs. “As budget clubs continue to grow in number – with brand new offerings, equipment and concepts – a key element most are still missing is staff. The mid-market clubs are therefore increasingly realising the power a great staff member can have in retaining members,” says O’Kane Giannaras.

These predictions of the continued growth of the boutique sector are consistent with the findings of The IHRSA Health Club Consumer Report, published in September 2014 and looking in-depth at the US market, but with an eye to global trends: one of the most significant of its 11 overarching insights relates to the rise of new business models, particularly boutique clubs and fitness studios – specialising in barre, indoor cycling and CrossFit training, for example – and a movement away from the traditional multi-purpose model the industry has embraced for the past 20 years.

According to the report, more than 20 per cent of all members of multi-purpose clubs now hold more than one membership, and as many as 90 per cent of the clients of studios also attend classes or have a membership at another club. This trend could bode well for the industry in the months and years ahead: club operators might consider partnering with select niche studios to offer reciprocal discounts or joint memberships, for example, or even to trade client/marketing lists.

A new vision
The report also documents the decline in traditional fitness equipment use over recent years. The most frequently used items – treadmills, resistance machines and free weights – remain strong, but the data shows overall usage has decreased: in 2013, consumers used traditional equipment less than at any time in the past four years. Indeed, in some cases, use fell by as much as 20 per cent.

That’s not to say equipment has lost its importance: there’s still a greater share of members using equipment than there are participating in group exercise. However, operators whose business model is dependent on equipment may want to consider taking inventory of equipment use, and look at reintroducing members to how specific equipment can help them achieve their health and fitness goals. 

“This might be a symptom of the rise in boutiques or microgyms, which offer specialised training with activity-specific equipment,” suggests the report. It no doubt also has to do with the growing popularity of extreme exercise offerings that use unorthodox workout tools such as truck tyres and obstacle courses.

As Rick Caro, president of US-based consultancy Management Vision, concludes: “Clubs have an opportunity to ask themselves: ‘What do we want to be known for? What are our points of differentiation?’ They need to discover their strengths, capitalise on them, and make their strengths even stronger.”

FIND OUT MORE

Kristen Walsh is IHRSA’s associate publisher and can be contacted via email at [email protected]
Please visit www.ihrsa.org/research-reports to access 

The IHRSA Health Club Consumer Report, The IHRSA European Health Club Report, The IHRSA Global Report, and many other IHRSA publications.

Sign up here to get HCM's weekly ezine and every issue of HCM magazine free on digital.
Bönström has launched LOVFIT – co-ed functional fitness studios
Bönström has launched LOVFIT – co-ed functional fitness studios
20 per cent of full-service club members also use specialist studios
20 per cent of full-service club members also use specialist studios
The outdoor market is growing more rapidly than traditional gyms
The outdoor market is growing more rapidly than traditional gyms
Extreme exercise may be a factor in the falling use of traditional kit / photo: www.shutterstock.com/ glynnis jones
Extreme exercise may be a factor in the falling use of traditional kit / photo: www.shutterstock.com/ glynnis jones
Extreme exercise may be a factor in the falling use of traditional kit / photo: www.shutterstock.com/ glynnis jones
Extreme exercise may be a factor in the falling use of traditional kit / photo: www.shutterstock.com/ glynnis jones
https://www.leisureopportunities.co.uk/images/29161_22157.jpg
Insight into the trends and opportunities for growth of the sector over the coming months
KRISTEN WALSH, ASSOCIATE PUBLISHER, IHRSA ,IHRSA, Kristen Walsh, global trends, microgym, boutique, functional training, outdoor, extreme exercise
HCM magazine
We’re looking for people who live their brands and who really want to grow
HCM magazine
A US study investigating consumer attitudes to gyms, health clubs and studios reveals a new focus on wellness, as well as opportunities for operators to grow their businesses
HCM magazine
Climate change, like COVID-19, presents challenges that won’t go away and demands both our immediate attention and collective efforts. Kath Hudson reports
HCM Magazine
HCM People
Our business model is based on IHRSA guidelines, our sales and marketing teams are degree educated. All of this has stood us in good stead
HCM Magazine
HCM People
There’s still no ‘stress resilience’ profession. We believe fitness professionals can fill that gap
HCM Magazine
New opening
Armah Sports has revealed the first B_fit health club – a smart club concept that’s gearing up for the Metaverse with AI, VR, Amazon Alexa and the Internet of Things, as Tom Walker reports
HCM Magazine
HCM People
It makes services and tech more accessible and affordable for wellness professionals
HCM Magazine
Sponsored
Life Fitness is introducing a new range of Hammer Strength anaerobic equipment to complement its legendary strength training range
HCM Magazine
Promotion
A new app called Trakk, from Pulse Fitness, promises triple benefits to operators, says Chris Johnson
HCM Magazine
Sponsored
Technogym’s Biocircuit offers a range of time-controlled and time-free circuits using the Biostrength line, with its Biodrive AI technology, delivering customised workouts
HCM Magazine
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 ...
Latest News
People suffering from mild depression should be offered exercise, mindfulness, therapy or meditation before medication, ...
Latest News
Total Fitness plans to launch a new-style health club model, with plans already in the ...
Latest News
Fitness operator Crunch Fitness says it's continued its recovery from lockdowns, with membership levels across ...
Latest News
The City of Madrid could become one of the healthiest in the world if plans ...
Opinion
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: Pulse Fitness appointed as preferred fitness supplier to Telford & Wrekin Leisure
After winning a competitive tender process in 2019, Pulse Fitness was appointed by Telford & Wrekin Leisure as its preferred fitness supplier over the next five years.
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: 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 operator news
Featured operator news: Everyone Active successfully reopens exercise referral scheme thanks to EXi partnership
Local authority leisure provider Everyone Active has reopened its essential exercise referral scheme, by joining forces with EXi, the NHS-approved exercise prescription app and data portal.
Company profiles
Company profile: Everyone Active
Everyone Active operates leisure centres in partnership with local councils across the UK. Today, Everyone ...
Company profiles
Company profile: Freemotion Fitness
With science and innovation at its core, Freemotion questions how we work out and then ...
Catalogue Gallery
Click on a catalogue to view it online
Directory
Wearable technology solutions
MyZone: Wearable technology solutions
trade associations
International SPA Association - iSPA: trade associations
Spa software
SpaBooker: Spa software
Salt therapy products
Himalayan Source: Salt therapy products
Whole body cryotherapy
Art of Cryo: Whole body cryotherapy
Lockers/interior design
Fitlockers: Lockers/interior design
Architects/designers
Zynk Design Consultants: Architects/designers
Red Light Therapy
 Red Light Rising: Red Light Therapy
Flooring
Total Vibration Solutions / TVS Sports Surfaces: Flooring
Exercise equipment
Matrix Fitness: Exercise equipment
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

features

Worldwide trends

What are the opportunities for refinement and growth in the global fitness sector in 2015?

By Kristen Walsh, IHRSA | Published in Health Club Handbook 2015 issue 1
Can mid-market clubs integrate elements of successful microgyms?
Can mid-market clubs integrate elements of successful microgyms?
As many as 90 per cent of the clients of studios also attend classes or have a membership at another club

‘‘While the economy continues to present challenges for many countries, European health club operators still see opportunities, and many of the region’s leading players are planning for continued growth.” This was the conclusion of Jay Ablondi, IHRSA’s executive vice president of global products, at the end of an IHRSA European Congress panel session featuring the CEOs from three of Europe’s leading health club companies. So what did the panel believe lies in store for the sector in 2015?

Growth opportunities
Valerie Bönström, CEO of women-only franchise Mrs.Sporty, pointed to the likelihood of continued growth in the budget sector. “The competition is increasing on the low-cost side, with more companies opening smaller, low-cost clubs,” she said, noting that budget trailblazer McFit continues to thrive. “In a market that’s increasingly price sensitive, higher-end operators will have to provide a more powerful brand with a strong positioning.”

Meanwhile Olav Thorstad, CEO of Scandinavian chain Health & Fitness Nordic – which operates the SATS, Elixia and Fresh Fitness brands – noted the importance of instructors when it comes to capitalising on the profitability of the functional training trend. “We also need to look at outdoor opportunities, because people don’t necessarily want to go to the club,” he added. “This segment of the market is growing more rapidly than the traditional club market. We have a big opportunity here, but we have to do more to catch the potential members who are interested in exercising outside of the four walls of our clubs.”

For Irina Kutina, CEO of the Russian Fitness Group, the focus will be on driving social connection. “We will continue to work closely with our personal training team, because it’s a good indication of how well the clubs are doing in terms of engaging members,” she said. “We’ll also look at small group training, yoga, cycling and so on, because these activities bring people together.”

Small is beautiful
All three panellists identified the boutique model as an important trend. In addition to the women-only Mrs.Sporty clubs, Bönström already operates some small, co-ed functional fitness training studios under the LOVFIT brand, and noted the potential of these clubs to attract new segments of the population who might not be interested in joining a more traditional gym.

“There’s a market for it and we should be in it,” agreed Thorstad. “The margins and profits are bigger, and it will be positive for members” – this thanks to a highly results-focused, member-centric, interactive and experiential formula.

When speaking with European Congress attendees, Alison O’Kane Giannaras, IHRSA’s associate vice president of international development, consistently heard views on the growth of this boutique model. “Mid-market and higher-end clubs are looking at the boutique models and trying to incorporate the concept into their existing model,” she says.

“The general consensus at the Congress was that the mid-market club is not dead, and that the growth in budget and boutique clubs is only making traditional clubs refine their value proposition – that there’s space in the market for all.”

According to delegates, one key to refining the value proposition will be a greater emphasis on staffing and the importance of human resources among the traditional mid-market health clubs. “As budget clubs continue to grow in number – with brand new offerings, equipment and concepts – a key element most are still missing is staff. The mid-market clubs are therefore increasingly realising the power a great staff member can have in retaining members,” says O’Kane Giannaras.

These predictions of the continued growth of the boutique sector are consistent with the findings of The IHRSA Health Club Consumer Report, published in September 2014 and looking in-depth at the US market, but with an eye to global trends: one of the most significant of its 11 overarching insights relates to the rise of new business models, particularly boutique clubs and fitness studios – specialising in barre, indoor cycling and CrossFit training, for example – and a movement away from the traditional multi-purpose model the industry has embraced for the past 20 years.

According to the report, more than 20 per cent of all members of multi-purpose clubs now hold more than one membership, and as many as 90 per cent of the clients of studios also attend classes or have a membership at another club. This trend could bode well for the industry in the months and years ahead: club operators might consider partnering with select niche studios to offer reciprocal discounts or joint memberships, for example, or even to trade client/marketing lists.

A new vision
The report also documents the decline in traditional fitness equipment use over recent years. The most frequently used items – treadmills, resistance machines and free weights – remain strong, but the data shows overall usage has decreased: in 2013, consumers used traditional equipment less than at any time in the past four years. Indeed, in some cases, use fell by as much as 20 per cent.

That’s not to say equipment has lost its importance: there’s still a greater share of members using equipment than there are participating in group exercise. However, operators whose business model is dependent on equipment may want to consider taking inventory of equipment use, and look at reintroducing members to how specific equipment can help them achieve their health and fitness goals. 

“This might be a symptom of the rise in boutiques or microgyms, which offer specialised training with activity-specific equipment,” suggests the report. It no doubt also has to do with the growing popularity of extreme exercise offerings that use unorthodox workout tools such as truck tyres and obstacle courses.

As Rick Caro, president of US-based consultancy Management Vision, concludes: “Clubs have an opportunity to ask themselves: ‘What do we want to be known for? What are our points of differentiation?’ They need to discover their strengths, capitalise on them, and make their strengths even stronger.”

FIND OUT MORE

Kristen Walsh is IHRSA’s associate publisher and can be contacted via email at [email protected]
Please visit www.ihrsa.org/research-reports to access 

The IHRSA Health Club Consumer Report, The IHRSA European Health Club Report, The IHRSA Global Report, and many other IHRSA publications.

Sign up here to get HCM's weekly ezine and every issue of HCM magazine free on digital.
Bönström has launched LOVFIT – co-ed functional fitness studios
Bönström has launched LOVFIT – co-ed functional fitness studios
20 per cent of full-service club members also use specialist studios
20 per cent of full-service club members also use specialist studios
The outdoor market is growing more rapidly than traditional gyms
The outdoor market is growing more rapidly than traditional gyms
Extreme exercise may be a factor in the falling use of traditional kit / photo: www.shutterstock.com/ glynnis jones
Extreme exercise may be a factor in the falling use of traditional kit / photo: www.shutterstock.com/ glynnis jones
Extreme exercise may be a factor in the falling use of traditional kit / photo: www.shutterstock.com/ glynnis jones
Extreme exercise may be a factor in the falling use of traditional kit / photo: www.shutterstock.com/ glynnis jones
https://www.leisureopportunities.co.uk/images/29161_22157.jpg
Insight into the trends and opportunities for growth of the sector over the coming months
KRISTEN WALSH, ASSOCIATE PUBLISHER, IHRSA ,IHRSA, Kristen Walsh, global trends, microgym, boutique, functional training, outdoor, extreme exercise
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 ...
Latest News
People suffering from mild depression should be offered exercise, mindfulness, therapy or meditation before medication, ...
Latest News
Total Fitness plans to launch a new-style health club model, with plans already in the ...
Latest News
Fitness operator Crunch Fitness says it's continued its recovery from lockdowns, with membership levels across ...
Latest News
The City of Madrid could become one of the healthiest in the world if plans ...
Latest News
Luxury health club operator, Third Space, has opened the doors to its latest club in ...
Latest News
A total of 22.7 million Brits – more than a third of the total population ...
Latest News
Nuffield Health has reopened the historic Barbican health club in London, as part of ambitious ...
Opinion
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: Pulse Fitness appointed as preferred fitness supplier to Telford & Wrekin Leisure
After winning a competitive tender process in 2019, Pulse Fitness was appointed by Telford & Wrekin Leisure as its preferred fitness supplier over the next five years.
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: 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 operator news
Featured operator news: Everyone Active successfully reopens exercise referral scheme thanks to EXi partnership
Local authority leisure provider Everyone Active has reopened its essential exercise referral scheme, by joining forces with EXi, the NHS-approved exercise prescription app and data portal.
Company profiles
Company profile: Everyone Active
Everyone Active operates leisure centres in partnership with local councils across the UK. Today, Everyone ...
Company profiles
Company profile: Freemotion Fitness
With science and innovation at its core, Freemotion questions how we work out and then ...
Catalogue Gallery
Click on a catalogue to view it online
Directory
Wearable technology solutions
MyZone: Wearable technology solutions
trade associations
International SPA Association - iSPA: trade associations
Spa software
SpaBooker: Spa software
Salt therapy products
Himalayan Source: Salt therapy products
Whole body cryotherapy
Art of Cryo: Whole body cryotherapy
Lockers/interior design
Fitlockers: Lockers/interior design
Architects/designers
Zynk Design Consultants: Architects/designers
Red Light Therapy
 Red Light Rising: Red Light Therapy
Flooring
Total Vibration Solutions / TVS Sports Surfaces: Flooring
Exercise equipment
Matrix Fitness: Exercise equipment
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
Search news, features & products:
Find a supplier:
Precor UK
Precor UK
Partner sites