What is in this article?:
- State of the Fitness Industry: Whatâ€™s In Store for 2013
- Market Activity
- The Economy
- The Obesity Epidemic
With more mergers and acquisitions, sales and club growth expected, 2013 is looking to be an exciting year in the fitness club industry.
The Obesity Epidemic
Despite small signs of progress in this country's battle with the obesity epidemic, there remains a huge mountain to climb.
The signs of improvement relate to childhood obesity. A report from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation last fall noted signs of progress in childhood obesity in the cities and states of Philadelphia (4.7 percent decline), New York City (5.5 percent decline), Mississippi (13.3 percent decline) and California (1.1 percent decline).
Adult obesity rates have increased, however. The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation reported last fall that adult obesity rates could exceed 60 percent in 13 states by 2030.
If obesity rates continue on their current trajectories, 39 states could have rates above 50 percent, and all 50 states could have rates above 44 percent, according to the report.
The marriage of diet and exercise may never be as important as it is today. Several club companies already have a focus in this area, such as Anytime Fitness, Hastings, MN, with its AnytimeHealth.com website, and Life Time Fitness, Chanhassen, MN, with its LifeCafes, among other initiatives. After it made a deal with Curves International, Waco, TX, private equity firm North Castle Partners made a point to continue the company's Curves Complete 90-day weight-loss program. Jill Kenney, co-founder of Club One, and Brent Knudsen, managing director of Partnership Capital Growth, co-founded the U.S. version of iTrim, a Swedish-based weight-loss company, in 2011.
"As you look at the problems with obesity, and you look at the results, diet by itself hasn't been particularly effective, and exercise by itself hasn't been particularly effective," Curtis says, "but the two of them when done together are much, much more effective."
Technology could play a bigger role in the weight-loss sector this year. Bryan O'Rourke, consultant and CEO of Integerus, Covington, LA, says one of the leaders in this sector could be Retrofit, Skokie, IL, which is a weight-loss business model that incorporates video conferencing with wellness experts, daily readings from wireless devices, a wireless activity tracker and a Wi-Fi body composition scale. Retrofit says clients will lose 10 percent to 15 percent of their weight and keep it off through the end of its 12-month program.
"I think that's a great example of the kinds of new business models that are going to emerge in the months and years ahead to tackle the real problem of obesity," O'Rourke says. "I think it's going to be interesting to see how the health club market copes with that and what the implications are going to be. I think it's going to be good. The more kinds of different competition you have in the market makes everyone figure new things out."
The key for all club operators in 2013 is the same as it was for 2012, 2011 and in any year, regardless of growing competition, economic circumstances, financial pressures on members and the obesity epidemic. A strong work ethic and a willingness to adjust to industry trends, member wants and needs and the latest in technology will carry them through this year and beyond.
"In the slowdown recessionary period, the fitness industry performed extremely well and garnered a lot of attention," Mastrov says. "It created career paths for people. It created employment and a safe haven for those who wanted to come in and get their minds cleansed and their bodies in great condition. From the standpoint of health and wellness, we're still in a great place. We have an obese nation, and we haven't found a way to get people to move more and burn more and eat less. That's our mission at hand, and that's what we're all after."