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Health Club Management

Health Club Management

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UNITING THE WORLD OF FITNESS
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Health Club Management

Health Club Management

features

Universal appeal

Research shows the middle classes dominate health club membership. How can we broaden the appeal to all socioeconomic groups – and how hard are we trying?

By Kath Hudson | Published in Health Club Management 2014 issue 3

Research from Dr Paul Bedford indicates that the membership profile across the private and public sectors is increasingly similar (see HCM Sept 13, p64). A large proportion of members are from the middle classes and eight MOSAIC profiles are significantly under-represented, with gyms struggling to lure the highest and lowest income groups.

So why is this? Certainly there’s more parity of offering between the sectors nowadays: the public sector has upped its game, offering high quality facilities at reasonable prices, while the private sector has struggled with ageing estates in tough economic times. Meanwhile, the growing budget club sector, closer to traditional public sector offerings in terms of pricing, would logically appeal to those on lower salaries – but as with the budget airlines, in practice it appeals equally to gym-savvy, value-driven professionals.

Another factor to bear in mind is the high volume of casual users in the public sector – a group that can’t currently be tracked, as operators can’t provide data for them. It’s possible that public sector participation is broader than the research reveals, but it still suggests lower income groups only participate as and when they can afford to, rather than committing to a new lifestyle.

Bedford explains: “The retention-focused research looked at who’s paying and how well we retain them. While we might be able to access wider populations by providing discounted/subsidised activities, we seem unable to find ways of selling memberships to these populations.”

If the industry is to tap into NHS funding and play a part in relieving the obesity epidemic, engaging with a broader demographic is vital. Even acknowledging the direct debit-based sample of the research, the question still needs to be asked: are we engaging with a sufficiently broad audience? If not, what are the barriers preventing lower socioeconomic groups from joining clubs?

John Treharne,

CEO,

The Gym Group

John Treharne
John Treharne

“I’m surprised at this research, because I think health club membership has become less middle class.

In the 80s and much of the 90s, a health club membership was expensive and therefore a middle class badge: health clubs were associated with the nouveau riche. In my view, that has changed dramatically over the last five years. In the UK, Europe and the US, there has been a cultural change which has made health club membership less middle class.

As the recession has taken hold, there’s been a shift towards value for money in all areas of life and among all socioeconomic groups, whether that’s travel, flights or even daily necessities: 18.6 per cent of the AB socioeconomic group now shop at Aldi and perceptions are changing. Indeed, Aldi has as many products rated ‘high’ by its customers as Waitrose and Marks & Spencer.

That shift towards value is evident in health clubs too: our research shows our members are evenly spread across the socioeconomic groups – ABs as well as people on benefits – and the majority are new to health club membership.

We believe our business model creates an inclusive environment: once you’re on a treadmill, it makes no difference what the person next to you earns.”

Karen Creavin,

Head of community sport & healthy lifestyles,

Birmingham City Council

“We’re very proud of the fact that, in Birmingham, we have almost 40 per cent of the population registered and using our facilities – that’s more people than voted in the last general election.

We’ve achieved this by identifying barriers and then removing them. Cost has proved to be one of the biggest barriers to attracting the lower socioeconomic groups, so since 2009 we’ve been offering Birmingham residents free access to our leisure centres at set hours during the day. Clubs in the most deprived areas offer the most free access.

Following the success of this Be Active programme, we also launched Active Parks in spring 2013. This offers free activities, such as Zumba, park fit and buggy fit, in parks. These sessions draw a lot of families: women tell us they don’t want childcare – they want activities they can do with their children.

These services are funded by the NHS and independent evaluation has shown that for every £1 spent, £21.30 is returned to the system. Our research shows we’re reaching all the groups, but are over-represented by those living in the poorest postcodes. People feel comfortable in the club when they’re among those who look and dress like themselves.”

Julian Berriman,

Research and development manager,

Premier Training

Julian Berriman
Julian Berriman

“I would agree that health clubs are not attracting the groups at the lower end of the socioeconomic scale. However, since April 2013 – when local authorities were charged with public health provision – there’s more funding available to target this population than ever before, and more onus on local authorities to find preventative measures to combat the rising tide of chronic illness in our communities.

To attract those most in need, provision needs to be more accessible and appealing: currently there’s a lack of community emphasis. Clubs need to start interacting with the communities they sit within and taking activities to where people already go.

To this end, Premier Training has designed a certificate: Promoting Community Health and Wellbeing. The certificate focuses on how to support behaviour change and long-term adherence to healthier living, and how to empower individuals to set their own goals. It covers four main areas of health: becoming more physically active, smoking cessation, healthy eating and alcohol awareness. Negative engagement in these behaviours is placing a huge financial burden on the wider economy and must be addressed at all levels of our society – but perhaps most urgently among the least well-off.”

Kevin Yates,

Head of leisure,

Leisure Connection

Kevin Yates
Kevin Yates

“I have the utmost respect for this research, but I do have to question whether it paints a full picture. As a public access provider, it’s our job to target hard to reach groups including children, older people, disabled people and those on low incomes, whose participation often won’t be reflected in our membership numbers. For example, at one of our leisure centres we have 3,000 direct debit members, but a total of 11,000 users on the database and 750,000 visits a year.

I believe Leisure Connection is becoming increasingly innovative at targeting and reaching key socioeconomic groups. For example, the wellness activity bus in North Kesteven in the East Midlands – which takes activities to people in deprived areas – has 5,600 users and is just one example of how our teams are taking activities outside the four walls of our centres, to engage with hard to reach groups within their own environments. Often this is delivered free of charge, or at a discounted rate, to ensure participation.

The launch of health and wellbeing boards have made local authorities increasingly proactive in engaging the lower socioeconomic groups, but it’s important that, as providers, we can demonstrate outcomes in order to avoid cuts.”

http://www.leisureopportunities.com/images/HCM2014_3talking.gif
How can we broaden the appeal of health clubs to all socioeconomic groups? Are we trying hard enough?
People
HCM people

Ben Lucas

Founder, Flow Athletic, Sydney
We advise our Flow Athletes to complete classes at a ratio of one yoga class to one strength class to one cardio class. This combination has very positive effects
People
HCM people

Aaron Smith

Founder, KX Pilates
‘KX’ stands for ‘the Kaizen Experience’, which means ‘change for the better’ in Japanese. It’s a philosophy that focuses on continuous improvement. We’re always seeking to improve, not only as a company but as individuals
People
HCM people

Jo Smallwood

general manager, Oldham Leisure Centre
We saw the opportunity to initiate new partnerships with the Oldham Foodbank to help local residents during the COVID-19 crisis. We can’t serve our community in the way we would usually do, so we’ve moved resources to help where people need us most
Features
feature
What should staff do if they come across people coughing or not obeying the rules? What if their job has changed? For example, do first aiders know the COVID-19 changes to CPR rules?
Features
Opinion
The over-70s were treated as one homogenous group during the lockdown and advised to shield. Colin Milner, founder and CEO of the International Council on Active Aging says this is leading to an increase in ageism that the industry must fight to overcome
Features
Statistics
More than 65,000 people responded to a survey designed to gauge what members want and expect from the sector after lockdown, as Leisure-net’s Dave Monkhouse reports
Features
Talking Point
The fitness industry has shown incredible flexibility during lockdown, pivoting to digital to keep people active. But as lockdowns end, we ask what impact the pandemic will have on facility provision
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Staff welfare
As staff and members prepare to return to the gym, Dr Dane Vishnubala gives advice to operators on gearing up to offer them mental health support
Features
Reopening
David Lloyd Leisure has launched a raft of outdoor classes, including an enhanced role for its Battlebox concept, as Liz Terry reports
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Featured supplier news
Featured supplier: EGYM presents Corona Gym Solution, for the successful re-opening of fitness studios
Finally, the time has come: fitness and health facilities around the globe are gradually resuming operations.
Video Gallery
Technogym mywellness app
Technogym
Improve your training experience. All your data in a single app. Read more
More videos:
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Company profile: Myzone Group Ltd
At Myzone we reward Effort to solve the pervasive problem of ‘diminishing motivation within exercisers’ ...
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Founded in 1983, Technogym is a world-leading international supplier of technology and design-driven products and ...
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Click on a catalogue to view it online
Directory
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Crown Sports Lockers: Lockers/interior design
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SpaBooker: Spa software
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Management software
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Total Vibration Solutions / TVS Sports Surfaces: Flooring
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Barnsgrove Health and Wellness Club
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Derby City Council
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Diary dates
06-07 Jul 2020
Eastwood Hall, Nottingham, United Kingdom
Diary dates
28-31 Aug 2020
Expo Centre & Riviera di Rimini, Italy
Diary dates
21-24 Sep 2020
Loews Coronado Bay Resort, Coronado, United States
Diary dates
01-02 Oct 2020
Whittlebury Hall, Whittlebury, United Kingdom
Diary dates
11-12 Oct 2020
ExCeL London, London, United Kingdom
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17-23 Oct 2020
Pinggu, Beijing, China
Diary dates
27-30 Oct 2020
Messe Stuttgart, Germany
Diary dates
30-31 Oct 2020
NEC, Birmingham, United Kingdom
Diary dates
27-28 Nov 2020
Athena, Leicester, United Kingdom
Diary dates
23-26 Feb 2021
IFEMA, Madrid, Spain
Diary dates

features

Universal appeal

Research shows the middle classes dominate health club membership. How can we broaden the appeal to all socioeconomic groups – and how hard are we trying?

By Kath Hudson | Published in Health Club Management 2014 issue 3

Research from Dr Paul Bedford indicates that the membership profile across the private and public sectors is increasingly similar (see HCM Sept 13, p64). A large proportion of members are from the middle classes and eight MOSAIC profiles are significantly under-represented, with gyms struggling to lure the highest and lowest income groups.

So why is this? Certainly there’s more parity of offering between the sectors nowadays: the public sector has upped its game, offering high quality facilities at reasonable prices, while the private sector has struggled with ageing estates in tough economic times. Meanwhile, the growing budget club sector, closer to traditional public sector offerings in terms of pricing, would logically appeal to those on lower salaries – but as with the budget airlines, in practice it appeals equally to gym-savvy, value-driven professionals.

Another factor to bear in mind is the high volume of casual users in the public sector – a group that can’t currently be tracked, as operators can’t provide data for them. It’s possible that public sector participation is broader than the research reveals, but it still suggests lower income groups only participate as and when they can afford to, rather than committing to a new lifestyle.

Bedford explains: “The retention-focused research looked at who’s paying and how well we retain them. While we might be able to access wider populations by providing discounted/subsidised activities, we seem unable to find ways of selling memberships to these populations.”

If the industry is to tap into NHS funding and play a part in relieving the obesity epidemic, engaging with a broader demographic is vital. Even acknowledging the direct debit-based sample of the research, the question still needs to be asked: are we engaging with a sufficiently broad audience? If not, what are the barriers preventing lower socioeconomic groups from joining clubs?

John Treharne,

CEO,

The Gym Group

John Treharne
John Treharne

“I’m surprised at this research, because I think health club membership has become less middle class.

In the 80s and much of the 90s, a health club membership was expensive and therefore a middle class badge: health clubs were associated with the nouveau riche. In my view, that has changed dramatically over the last five years. In the UK, Europe and the US, there has been a cultural change which has made health club membership less middle class.

As the recession has taken hold, there’s been a shift towards value for money in all areas of life and among all socioeconomic groups, whether that’s travel, flights or even daily necessities: 18.6 per cent of the AB socioeconomic group now shop at Aldi and perceptions are changing. Indeed, Aldi has as many products rated ‘high’ by its customers as Waitrose and Marks & Spencer.

That shift towards value is evident in health clubs too: our research shows our members are evenly spread across the socioeconomic groups – ABs as well as people on benefits – and the majority are new to health club membership.

We believe our business model creates an inclusive environment: once you’re on a treadmill, it makes no difference what the person next to you earns.”

Karen Creavin,

Head of community sport & healthy lifestyles,

Birmingham City Council

“We’re very proud of the fact that, in Birmingham, we have almost 40 per cent of the population registered and using our facilities – that’s more people than voted in the last general election.

We’ve achieved this by identifying barriers and then removing them. Cost has proved to be one of the biggest barriers to attracting the lower socioeconomic groups, so since 2009 we’ve been offering Birmingham residents free access to our leisure centres at set hours during the day. Clubs in the most deprived areas offer the most free access.

Following the success of this Be Active programme, we also launched Active Parks in spring 2013. This offers free activities, such as Zumba, park fit and buggy fit, in parks. These sessions draw a lot of families: women tell us they don’t want childcare – they want activities they can do with their children.

These services are funded by the NHS and independent evaluation has shown that for every £1 spent, £21.30 is returned to the system. Our research shows we’re reaching all the groups, but are over-represented by those living in the poorest postcodes. People feel comfortable in the club when they’re among those who look and dress like themselves.”

Julian Berriman,

Research and development manager,

Premier Training

Julian Berriman
Julian Berriman

“I would agree that health clubs are not attracting the groups at the lower end of the socioeconomic scale. However, since April 2013 – when local authorities were charged with public health provision – there’s more funding available to target this population than ever before, and more onus on local authorities to find preventative measures to combat the rising tide of chronic illness in our communities.

To attract those most in need, provision needs to be more accessible and appealing: currently there’s a lack of community emphasis. Clubs need to start interacting with the communities they sit within and taking activities to where people already go.

To this end, Premier Training has designed a certificate: Promoting Community Health and Wellbeing. The certificate focuses on how to support behaviour change and long-term adherence to healthier living, and how to empower individuals to set their own goals. It covers four main areas of health: becoming more physically active, smoking cessation, healthy eating and alcohol awareness. Negative engagement in these behaviours is placing a huge financial burden on the wider economy and must be addressed at all levels of our society – but perhaps most urgently among the least well-off.”

Kevin Yates,

Head of leisure,

Leisure Connection

Kevin Yates
Kevin Yates

“I have the utmost respect for this research, but I do have to question whether it paints a full picture. As a public access provider, it’s our job to target hard to reach groups including children, older people, disabled people and those on low incomes, whose participation often won’t be reflected in our membership numbers. For example, at one of our leisure centres we have 3,000 direct debit members, but a total of 11,000 users on the database and 750,000 visits a year.

I believe Leisure Connection is becoming increasingly innovative at targeting and reaching key socioeconomic groups. For example, the wellness activity bus in North Kesteven in the East Midlands – which takes activities to people in deprived areas – has 5,600 users and is just one example of how our teams are taking activities outside the four walls of our centres, to engage with hard to reach groups within their own environments. Often this is delivered free of charge, or at a discounted rate, to ensure participation.

The launch of health and wellbeing boards have made local authorities increasingly proactive in engaging the lower socioeconomic groups, but it’s important that, as providers, we can demonstrate outcomes in order to avoid cuts.”

http://www.leisureopportunities.com/images/HCM2014_3talking.gif
How can we broaden the appeal of health clubs to all socioeconomic groups? Are we trying hard enough?
Latest News
Technogym has announced the launch of live and on-demand classes. The new content will be ...
Latest News
A number of gym operators are concerned that local lockdowns could come into effect in ...
Latest News
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has announced that gyms may be able to reopen in a ...
Latest News
UK consumer confidence has improved significantly since the beginning of the lockdown, with a fifth ...
Latest News
The PGA Tour has recently bought 1,000 Whoop bands for its golfers, after PGA Tour ...
Latest News
ukactive has announced that Active Uprising and the National Summit are going digital as part ...
Latest News
Industry body ukactive has today (1 July) hosted a delegation of government and public health ...
Latest News
Health and fitness company Ingesport – which operates the GO fit chain of gyms in ...
Latest News
Mountainside Fitness in Arizona has filed a lawsuit against state's governor, Doug Ducey, after he ...
Latest News
Physical activity levels in England have continued to fall from those recorded at the initial ...
Latest News
Franchise operator Club Pilates has shown that there is growing confidence in the US fitness ...
Featured supplier news
Featured supplier: Incorpore and MoveGB ink groundbreaking partnership to transform corporate wellness offering
Incorpore and MoveGB have entered into a landmark partnership, combining the UK’s largest provider of corporate gym memberships with the nation’s biggest network of classes.
Featured supplier news
Featured supplier: EGYM presents Corona Gym Solution, for the successful re-opening of fitness studios
Finally, the time has come: fitness and health facilities around the globe are gradually resuming operations.
Video Gallery
Technogym mywellness app
Technogym
Improve your training experience. All your data in a single app. Read more
More videos:
Company profiles
Company profile: Myzone Group Ltd
At Myzone we reward Effort to solve the pervasive problem of ‘diminishing motivation within exercisers’ ...
Company profiles
Company profile: Technogym
Founded in 1983, Technogym is a world-leading international supplier of technology and design-driven products and ...
Catalogue Gallery
Click on a catalogue to view it online
Directory
Lockers/interior design
Crown Sports Lockers: Lockers/interior design
Spa software
SpaBooker: Spa software
Design consultants
Zynk Design Consultants: Design consultants
Management software
Fisikal: Management software
Whole body cryotherapy
Zimmer MedizinSysteme GmbH / icelab: Whole body cryotherapy
Wearable technology solutions
MyZone: Wearable technology solutions
Flooring
Total Vibration Solutions / TVS Sports Surfaces: Flooring
Fitness software
Go Do.Fitness: Fitness software
Locking solutions
Monster Padlocks: Locking solutions
Skincare
Sothys: Skincare
Property & Tenders
Greywell, Hampshire
Barnsgrove Health and Wellness Club
Property & Tenders
Derby City Council
Property & Tenders
Diary dates
06-07 Jul 2020
Eastwood Hall, Nottingham, United Kingdom
Diary dates
28-31 Aug 2020
Expo Centre & Riviera di Rimini, Italy
Diary dates
21-24 Sep 2020
Loews Coronado Bay Resort, Coronado, United States
Diary dates
01-02 Oct 2020
Whittlebury Hall, Whittlebury, United Kingdom
Diary dates
11-12 Oct 2020
ExCeL London, London, United Kingdom
Diary dates
17-23 Oct 2020
Pinggu, Beijing, China
Diary dates
27-30 Oct 2020
Messe Stuttgart, Germany
Diary dates
30-31 Oct 2020
NEC, Birmingham, United Kingdom
Diary dates
27-28 Nov 2020
Athena, Leicester, United Kingdom
Diary dates
23-26 Feb 2021
IFEMA, Madrid, Spain
Diary dates
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