You have to differentiate in order to survive this tough market, industry experts say. But even so, most club owners will want to at least consider a number of trends in order to show they’re up to date with what’s hot in the industry. The International Health, Racquet and Sportsclub Association (IHRSA) released its annual industry trends report last month. Here is a quick summary of its predictions of what will be big in clubs in 2011:
Programming tailored to certain age groups. Silver Sneakers programs have been around for years, but with the aging Baby Boomers now the fastest-growing segment of the population, savvy club owners will offer training and group exercise sessions that are geared toward their needs. Likewise, we’ll see a surge in youth programming. IHRSA says children aged 6-17 are the second-fastest growing demographic of health club members, in part due to growing awareness of the obesity epidemic in children.
Taking the club outside the club. Many of today’s health club members combine their indoor workouts with sports activities outside the club. As a result, we’ll see more clubs offering programming that helps integrate both aspects, from triathlon training programs to organized rock climbing expeditions.
New (and new-again) equipment. Cutting-edge equipment, such as vibration plates and cardio machines that use human power to produce energy to operate fans, TVs and even pump electricity back into the grid will become more common sights in clubs. But expect to see those pieces side-by-side with old-school kettlebells, which are making a big comeback.
Wellness programming. There will be a boom in partnerships with local health care providers and workplace wellness facilities, as well as personal training tailored to specific medical populations and nutrition coaching for our ever-growing (no pun intended) overweight population.
Semi-personal training. Planet Fitness gyms aside, more than 90 percent of clubs offer personal training of some kind. What’s new is the shift from one-on-one training towards small-group training, which increases the socialization and fun aspects—and helps members cut costs.