Some Clients Are Coming Back to the Gym, But Which Ones?

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The concept of “meeting our clients where they’re at” has expanded tenfold in its meaning since 2020.  The most successful fitness leaders are now providing opportunities to move using a combination of at home, either virtual or in-person, outdoors, and in a gym or studio. 

What many of us have been wondering is if and when the majority of our former gym members and clients would be returning to the bricks and mortar facilities we loved. The answer so far: it depends. As frustrating as that can seem I’m happy to share insights on what we’re seeing in key markets. 

Canada: gyms were closed on average 8 months across the country, that’s plenty of time for our members to fall out of their fitness habits or find a new way to get their fix. It makes it quite challenging to bring them back, but some have found the secret sauce! 

From my conversations with club owners and operators across the country:

  • 40% to 80% of members have come back to the facility. That’s a huge margin and I’m seeing a strong correlation between continued communication and service (digital, outdoors, etc.) combined with a strategic win-back campaign and higher return of members. Those that kept a similar relationship with staff are also not struggling as much with the labour shortage.
  • Many facilities are seeing very strong sales of higher end offers like personal training. Those that are committing to their health are inclined more than ever to invest in coached programs in other to enhance the likelihood of staying consistent and achieving their goals.
  • Programs that focus on wellness are meeting the needs peripheral needs. Members are more inclined that ever to participate in classes or workshops related to mental health, sleep, breathing, meditation, stress and anxiety, and immune health. 
  • Corporate fitness and wellness programs are flying off the shelves. Facilities that have good relationships with local businesses are providing great opportunities to their fitness pros through onsite and virtual workshops and health programs. 

USA: the closures in most states were shorter than in Canada, but habits also changed relating to physical activity and desire to join a gym. 

The IHRSA Foundation, ABC Fitness Solutions, and ClubIntel created an exhaustive survey to create The Next Fitness Consumer Report, shared here by Club Solutions Magazine. 

A few key findings:

  • Active consumers are still very much continuing exercising at home thanks to the panoply of options of much greater quality than ever before
  • Women are less likely to return to bricks and mortar facilities, and are now using more at-home equipment
  • The likelihood of former members going back to the gym is greater once they feel the pandemic is truly over

Does this help you decide your next career move? What are you seeing in your community and facilities? 

Speaking of careers, join me Monday, November 15th at 1:30pm ET as I interview Sue Staresinic for a live recording of my podcast “In Bed with the Fitness Industry.”

Sue is an award-winning fitness instructor, educator and practicing physiotherapist with 24 years in the industry. She has presented in numerous NEWBODY masterclass videos and is featured on the virtual platform in 300 clubs across Canada. 

Register by clicking here.

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