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Active ageing: Securing the silver pound

The 2019 Moving Communities report highlighted that the silver pound could drive significant growth in public leisure. Operators are capitalising on this potential revenue stream, but uptake is slow. Utku Topraksevten investigates

Published in Health Club Management 2019 issue 10
Thirty-eight per cent of people over the age of 55 are inactive. This represents a huge opportunity for the industry
Thirty-eight per cent of people over the age of 55 are inactive. This represents a huge opportunity for the industry

Figures published in the Moving Communities: Active Leisure Trends 2019 report uncovered insights into how the industry is attracting, retaining and interacting with older members.

This third annual report from the ukactive Research Institute and the DataHub drills into trends driving public leisure in the UK, revealed that while the proportion of older members has increased slightly over the past two years (from 7 to 8 per cent of the population), there’s still a major opportunity to attract older customers to use facilities.

There’s been a gradual increase in the total 55-plus membership base in the last three years – 19 per cent in 2017, 21 per cent in 2018 and 23 per cent in 2019 – but when you consider that this cohort accounts for 37 per cent of the UK population, the figures remain low.

A snapshot in time
Using data collected by the DataHub from more than nine million members and 246 million individual visits across 534 leisure centres over the past three years, the Moving Communities report offers an unparalleled snapshot of the 2019 leisure and fitness landscape.

Last year’s report showed engagement levels among older people weren’t even close to meeting their potential – adults over 65 accounted for just 9 per cent of visits. Backing this up, the Reimagining Ageing report, released at last year’s ukactive National Summit, revealed 38 per cent of over-55s are inactive, rising to close to half (48 per cent) of over-75s and 71 per cent of over-85s. The report called for the sector to collaborate to reimagine what ageing looks like.

Government is clearly keen to invest. Earlier this year it announced a new initiative – The Healthy Ageing Investment Accelerator – to distribute £12m worth of grants to small and medium-sized enterprises that aid healthy ageing, including those involving physical activity. The project will support the UK government’s mission to ensure people can enjoy at least five extra healthy, independent years of life by 2035.

Understanding the opportunity
Despite this call to action, older adults – who hold 70 per cent of the nation’s wealth – remain unengaged in physical activity. By 2030, it’s estimated there will be 20 million UK residents over 60, yet Moving Communities revealed only 11 per cent of leisure centre members are 55-64. Just 3 per cent are over 75.

“We all know we’re living longer, but those extra years are increasingly blighted by illness and frailty – we need to reimagine ageing,” says Huw Edwards, CEO at ukactive. “The report demonstrates average age of members is increasing, from 39 in 2017 to 41 in 2019, suggesting the sector is starting to take advantage of the opportunity presented by an ageing population.

“More is being done to promote physical activity to older people than ever before, but we’re at the start of this drive; it’ll take years of targeted engagement to achieve meaningful results. These initiatives show a clear direction of travel, one that ukactive will be championing during the coming years as a core pillar of our work.”

Ed Hubbard, Principal consultant at DataHub/4global, suggests a better understanding of what older adults want would help operators engage them. “For too long, the sector has grouped ‘older’ as everyone over 55. But offering a 60-year-old the same programming as an 80-year-old is like treating a 20- and 40-year-old the same. If we’re to rebalance this segment, we need to use data and insight to engage participants in a targeted, personal way.

“Whether it’s understanding how to support adult-only swimming with personal training or identifying the best marketing channels for older adults, our Data Analytics and Insight service gives a clear idea of the market opportunity and specific programmes that improve older member acquisition and retention.”

The Invincibles
Wellington Health and Fitness Club in Berkshire currently excels in this field – the majority of members are over 50, with 894 aged 60-79 and 133 aged 80 to 99. Eleven are over 90.

Ian Davis, commercial manager of Wellington College Enterprises, which manages the club, says: “We have a long-running 50+ group called ‘The Invincibles’ – 483 members who meet three times a week to exercise and socialise. Everyone’s given free membership on their 90th birthday and we celebrate 80ths, too. Many members have lost partners and live far away from family, so the group provides a lifeline.”

Davis says finding appropriately trained staff is challenging. “There are consequences to having older members, purely because of their physical attributes. Some struggle with mobility, some dementia, others find negotiating kit hard. This creates a duty of care from a club to them, other members and staff. It’s a moral dilemma; we know how important the gym is to our older members, but no useful training or qualifications are available.”

Davies believes specific training to work with older adults would allow instructors to confidently produce tailored fitness interventions for ageing members.

“In the months since Reimagining Ageing, numerous training providers have already committed to supporting older people to train as exercise professionals,” says Edwards. “David Lloyd, for example, is employing at least one instructor aged 55 and over at every one of its 90-plus sites. At the same time, CIMSPA has accredited training that will support professionals to work with individuals with long-term conditions.”

Elaine Briggs, director of education, Training and Innovation at Future Fit Training, argues this doesn’t go far enough. “Training providers can only deliver qualifications set by awarding bodies that meet professional standards set by CIMSPA. These need revisiting; updating for the new, older generation,” she says. “Let’s be clear – over 55 isn’t ‘old’. Kylie is 50, Madonna is 61 – we don’t see them as old! We need to revisit the language we use, give the qualifications a shake-up and the age brackets a re-think.

“Younger people coming into our industry need to be educated so they don’t pigeonhole people just by age. You can get a very fit, active 65-year-old or an overweight, inactive 20-something; the training you’d advise each to do is so very different as is the communication style you’d use. Age is irrelevant; the things we qualified as ‘specialist’ a few years ago are now the norm for many exercisers and instructors need to be qualified across the board.”

Insight and analysis
The 2019 report highlights how exercise preferences change as age increases. Younger members favour the gym (57 per cent); group exercise is more popular with older members and swimming accounts for just 8 per cent of 16-24 year old’s visits, compared to 30 per cent of 65-74 year olds.

Sport preferences also change with age. Badminton is popular across all ages until 65, when health and wellbeing takes top spot, encompassing assessments and consultations with staff, GP referrals and rehab sessions.

“For us, working with people classed as older is about mindset,” says Jackie Hanley, health and wellbeing manager at Oldham Community Leisure. “We actively target over-55s and it all starts in the local community. I do presentations to groups we want to encourage into our centres. If I talk about exercise, or even physical activity, people switch off – their perception is they’re too old to exercise. I try to create a conversation around moving and socialising; nudging people towards small lifestyle changes.”

Hanley’s been working with older members for 12 years and says once they’re exercising, they’re hooked. “For older members, exercise rapidly becomes a mindset, then they keep coming back. Some of OCL’s chair-based class goers are in their 90s; they’ve been coming for years,” she says.

Being specific about what’s on offer then communicating this with potential participants is key, says Hubbard. “Our data shows us older members clearly favour late mornings – 49 per cent of over-65s visit between 9am and 12pm – and the 65-74 group wants Pilates, Yoga and Zumba. If operators delve into and use this insight to inform programming, marketing and staffing, the offer for older adults can be improved and communicated more effectively.”

Huw Edwards
"We’re living longer, but those extra years are blighted by illness and frailty. We need to reimagine ageing" - Huw Edwards ukActive
Ed Hubbard
"For too long, the sector has grouped ‘older’ as everyone over 55. But offering a 60-year-old the same programming as an 80-year-old is like treating a 20- and 40-year-old the same!" - Ed Hubbard, Datahub
Ian Davis
"There are consequences to having older members, purely because of their physical attributes. Some struggle with mobility, some dementia, others find negotiating kit hard" - Ian Davis, Wellington College Enterprises
SPLIT OF VISITS FOR CORE ACTIVITIES BY AGE
Elaine Briggs
"Age is irrelevant. You can get a very fit, active 65-year-old or an overweight, inactive 20-something" - Elaine Briggs, Future Fit Training
THE MOST POPULAR GROUP WORKOUTS FOR EACH AGE ARE:
THE MOST POPULAR SPORTS/ACTIVITIES FOR EACH AGE ARE:
Utku Toprakseven is director at the DataHub Sources:
Utku Toprakseven

• Moving Communities: Active Leisure Trends 2018 Report

• Moving Communities: Active Leisure Trends 2019 Report

• Reimagining Ageing 2018 Report

• ONS Mid-Year Estimates 2017

The majority of members at Wellington Health and Fitness Club are over 50 years old
The majority of members at Wellington Health and Fitness Club are over 50 years old
Oldham Community Leisure actively targets older members, putting the focus on socialising
Oldham Community Leisure actively targets older members, putting the focus on socialising
Older members favour late mornings and classes such as Zumba, Pilates and Yoga
Older members favour late mornings and classes such as Zumba, Pilates and Yoga
http://www.leisureopportunities.com/images/imagesX/732475_760909.jpg
Attracting older members into health clubs could drive significant growth for the industry, but uptake is slow. How can clubs secure the silver pound?
HUW EDWARDS ukActive, Ed Hubbard Datahub, Ian Davis , Wellinton College, Elaine Briggs, Future FIt Training, Utku Toprakseven ,active ageing
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features

Active ageing: Securing the silver pound

The 2019 Moving Communities report highlighted that the silver pound could drive significant growth in public leisure. Operators are capitalising on this potential revenue stream, but uptake is slow. Utku Topraksevten investigates

Published in Health Club Management 2019 issue 10
Thirty-eight per cent of people over the age of 55 are inactive. This represents a huge opportunity for the industry
Thirty-eight per cent of people over the age of 55 are inactive. This represents a huge opportunity for the industry

Figures published in the Moving Communities: Active Leisure Trends 2019 report uncovered insights into how the industry is attracting, retaining and interacting with older members.

This third annual report from the ukactive Research Institute and the DataHub drills into trends driving public leisure in the UK, revealed that while the proportion of older members has increased slightly over the past two years (from 7 to 8 per cent of the population), there’s still a major opportunity to attract older customers to use facilities.

There’s been a gradual increase in the total 55-plus membership base in the last three years – 19 per cent in 2017, 21 per cent in 2018 and 23 per cent in 2019 – but when you consider that this cohort accounts for 37 per cent of the UK population, the figures remain low.

A snapshot in time
Using data collected by the DataHub from more than nine million members and 246 million individual visits across 534 leisure centres over the past three years, the Moving Communities report offers an unparalleled snapshot of the 2019 leisure and fitness landscape.

Last year’s report showed engagement levels among older people weren’t even close to meeting their potential – adults over 65 accounted for just 9 per cent of visits. Backing this up, the Reimagining Ageing report, released at last year’s ukactive National Summit, revealed 38 per cent of over-55s are inactive, rising to close to half (48 per cent) of over-75s and 71 per cent of over-85s. The report called for the sector to collaborate to reimagine what ageing looks like.

Government is clearly keen to invest. Earlier this year it announced a new initiative – The Healthy Ageing Investment Accelerator – to distribute £12m worth of grants to small and medium-sized enterprises that aid healthy ageing, including those involving physical activity. The project will support the UK government’s mission to ensure people can enjoy at least five extra healthy, independent years of life by 2035.

Understanding the opportunity
Despite this call to action, older adults – who hold 70 per cent of the nation’s wealth – remain unengaged in physical activity. By 2030, it’s estimated there will be 20 million UK residents over 60, yet Moving Communities revealed only 11 per cent of leisure centre members are 55-64. Just 3 per cent are over 75.

“We all know we’re living longer, but those extra years are increasingly blighted by illness and frailty – we need to reimagine ageing,” says Huw Edwards, CEO at ukactive. “The report demonstrates average age of members is increasing, from 39 in 2017 to 41 in 2019, suggesting the sector is starting to take advantage of the opportunity presented by an ageing population.

“More is being done to promote physical activity to older people than ever before, but we’re at the start of this drive; it’ll take years of targeted engagement to achieve meaningful results. These initiatives show a clear direction of travel, one that ukactive will be championing during the coming years as a core pillar of our work.”

Ed Hubbard, Principal consultant at DataHub/4global, suggests a better understanding of what older adults want would help operators engage them. “For too long, the sector has grouped ‘older’ as everyone over 55. But offering a 60-year-old the same programming as an 80-year-old is like treating a 20- and 40-year-old the same. If we’re to rebalance this segment, we need to use data and insight to engage participants in a targeted, personal way.

“Whether it’s understanding how to support adult-only swimming with personal training or identifying the best marketing channels for older adults, our Data Analytics and Insight service gives a clear idea of the market opportunity and specific programmes that improve older member acquisition and retention.”

The Invincibles
Wellington Health and Fitness Club in Berkshire currently excels in this field – the majority of members are over 50, with 894 aged 60-79 and 133 aged 80 to 99. Eleven are over 90.

Ian Davis, commercial manager of Wellington College Enterprises, which manages the club, says: “We have a long-running 50+ group called ‘The Invincibles’ – 483 members who meet three times a week to exercise and socialise. Everyone’s given free membership on their 90th birthday and we celebrate 80ths, too. Many members have lost partners and live far away from family, so the group provides a lifeline.”

Davis says finding appropriately trained staff is challenging. “There are consequences to having older members, purely because of their physical attributes. Some struggle with mobility, some dementia, others find negotiating kit hard. This creates a duty of care from a club to them, other members and staff. It’s a moral dilemma; we know how important the gym is to our older members, but no useful training or qualifications are available.”

Davies believes specific training to work with older adults would allow instructors to confidently produce tailored fitness interventions for ageing members.

“In the months since Reimagining Ageing, numerous training providers have already committed to supporting older people to train as exercise professionals,” says Edwards. “David Lloyd, for example, is employing at least one instructor aged 55 and over at every one of its 90-plus sites. At the same time, CIMSPA has accredited training that will support professionals to work with individuals with long-term conditions.”

Elaine Briggs, director of education, Training and Innovation at Future Fit Training, argues this doesn’t go far enough. “Training providers can only deliver qualifications set by awarding bodies that meet professional standards set by CIMSPA. These need revisiting; updating for the new, older generation,” she says. “Let’s be clear – over 55 isn’t ‘old’. Kylie is 50, Madonna is 61 – we don’t see them as old! We need to revisit the language we use, give the qualifications a shake-up and the age brackets a re-think.

“Younger people coming into our industry need to be educated so they don’t pigeonhole people just by age. You can get a very fit, active 65-year-old or an overweight, inactive 20-something; the training you’d advise each to do is so very different as is the communication style you’d use. Age is irrelevant; the things we qualified as ‘specialist’ a few years ago are now the norm for many exercisers and instructors need to be qualified across the board.”

Insight and analysis
The 2019 report highlights how exercise preferences change as age increases. Younger members favour the gym (57 per cent); group exercise is more popular with older members and swimming accounts for just 8 per cent of 16-24 year old’s visits, compared to 30 per cent of 65-74 year olds.

Sport preferences also change with age. Badminton is popular across all ages until 65, when health and wellbeing takes top spot, encompassing assessments and consultations with staff, GP referrals and rehab sessions.

“For us, working with people classed as older is about mindset,” says Jackie Hanley, health and wellbeing manager at Oldham Community Leisure. “We actively target over-55s and it all starts in the local community. I do presentations to groups we want to encourage into our centres. If I talk about exercise, or even physical activity, people switch off – their perception is they’re too old to exercise. I try to create a conversation around moving and socialising; nudging people towards small lifestyle changes.”

Hanley’s been working with older members for 12 years and says once they’re exercising, they’re hooked. “For older members, exercise rapidly becomes a mindset, then they keep coming back. Some of OCL’s chair-based class goers are in their 90s; they’ve been coming for years,” she says.

Being specific about what’s on offer then communicating this with potential participants is key, says Hubbard. “Our data shows us older members clearly favour late mornings – 49 per cent of over-65s visit between 9am and 12pm – and the 65-74 group wants Pilates, Yoga and Zumba. If operators delve into and use this insight to inform programming, marketing and staffing, the offer for older adults can be improved and communicated more effectively.”

Huw Edwards
"We’re living longer, but those extra years are blighted by illness and frailty. We need to reimagine ageing" - Huw Edwards ukActive
Ed Hubbard
"For too long, the sector has grouped ‘older’ as everyone over 55. But offering a 60-year-old the same programming as an 80-year-old is like treating a 20- and 40-year-old the same!" - Ed Hubbard, Datahub
Ian Davis
"There are consequences to having older members, purely because of their physical attributes. Some struggle with mobility, some dementia, others find negotiating kit hard" - Ian Davis, Wellington College Enterprises
SPLIT OF VISITS FOR CORE ACTIVITIES BY AGE
Elaine Briggs
"Age is irrelevant. You can get a very fit, active 65-year-old or an overweight, inactive 20-something" - Elaine Briggs, Future Fit Training
THE MOST POPULAR GROUP WORKOUTS FOR EACH AGE ARE:
THE MOST POPULAR SPORTS/ACTIVITIES FOR EACH AGE ARE:
Utku Toprakseven is director at the DataHub Sources:
Utku Toprakseven

• Moving Communities: Active Leisure Trends 2018 Report

• Moving Communities: Active Leisure Trends 2019 Report

• Reimagining Ageing 2018 Report

• ONS Mid-Year Estimates 2017

The majority of members at Wellington Health and Fitness Club are over 50 years old
The majority of members at Wellington Health and Fitness Club are over 50 years old
Oldham Community Leisure actively targets older members, putting the focus on socialising
Oldham Community Leisure actively targets older members, putting the focus on socialising
Older members favour late mornings and classes such as Zumba, Pilates and Yoga
Older members favour late mornings and classes such as Zumba, Pilates and Yoga
http://www.leisureopportunities.com/images/imagesX/732475_760909.jpg
Attracting older members into health clubs could drive significant growth for the industry, but uptake is slow. How can clubs secure the silver pound?
HUW EDWARDS ukActive, Ed Hubbard Datahub, Ian Davis , Wellinton College, Elaine Briggs, Future FIt Training, Utku Toprakseven ,active ageing
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promotion
Gyms need to look at ways to deploy technology that helps them engage with customers on a human level. This can be done by encouraging customers to leave as much real-time feedback as possible
Opinion: Customer Feedback: the Good, the Bad and the ‘Could be Improved’ Why health clubs need to take action in 2020 to retain their New Year customers
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First established in Sheffield in January 2016 TRIB3 is a bootcamp boutique studio designed to ...
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We build upon our six-decade legacy in weightlifting, fuelled by our unwavering commitment to innovation, ...
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Click on a catalogue to view it online
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Diary dates
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Diary dates
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Diary dates
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Diary dates
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