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2017 Fitness Business Trends Read on

A new year symbolizes a fresh start—and the perfect chance to refresh your operating strategy by taking advantage of the latest fitness business trends. Each year, there is a myriad of industry reports and predictions providing valuable data and recommendations to help you move your fitness business forward.

We performed an exhaustive analysis of current market data and summarized our observations into five major diverging trends that will continue to shape the industry in 2017. Read the highlights below and download our free 2017 Fitness Business Trends Report to share with the professionals in your organization. It contains further examples and details that will surely help you guide your decisions and planning.

Programming: high intensity or mindful movement?

There is a significant push to higher intensity (HIIT), shorter workouts, preparatory training for adventure/obstacle events, and competitive workouts. Bootcamp style classes are still thriving, and facilities with the high-intensity philosophy (e.g. Crossfit) continue to be very popular. 

The mind-body connection has been a solid contributor to fitness participation for years, as shown by the popularity of Yoga and Pilates. Mind-body classes are drawing new participants in other forms, as well as finding new homes in fusion-style classes incorporating intensity and mindful movement; for example, Strength & Stretch classes and Myofascial Release.

The realization that restorative workouts are not necessarily easy and can contribute to performing better, looking better and improved balance has increased the integration of these workouts. Instead of an “either / or” scenario, both are becoming “must – haves.”

Equipment: back-to-basics or elaborate & innovative?

Body weight training continues to rank in the top 5 of ACSM results reinforcing the ’less is more’ trend. Small, versatile assistive equipment like Medicine Balls, Suspension Trainers, battle ropes, and skipping all fall within the minimalist spectrum accentuating the popularity of this trend. Although it could be considered an extension of body weight conditioning, the creativity, and variety of Functional Training Zones expanding in the market is astounding.

The capital costs of opening a full-service fitness club can be very restrictive, so the shift from expensive traditional resistance equipment provides a much easier entry point for new facilities to enter the marketplace.

New lines of fitness equipment are evolving rapidly, taking full advantage of new technological innovations. The design of this new breed is meant to provide more personalization, more options, and more connectivity – for workouts, entertainment, and communication. All these factors are designed to enhance the user’s experience and engage the member, ultimately providing them with improved perceived value.

Technology: high tech or high touch?

One thing is clear: you must evolve with technology, or you will be left behind. The proliferation of technology in the fitness industry is influencing everything from equipment, wearable tech, Social Media marketing, to automated scheduling and billing, online registration and cloud-based member portals.

The possibilities are vast, and there is an inherent risk: adopting too fast can be overwhelming, and too slow can be business suicide. Understand what your business systems do well, and how they could be better. Determine if there is an appropriate technology that could make your life easier, make your facility easier to do business with, or provide a unique or enhanced experience for your members.

Business models: specialty or no-frills?

Over the past five years, more so than any other time in the history of the industry, there has been a significant shift from the traditional (annual) membership and service model.  Boutique clubs are specializing in their programming and consumers are paying premium rates for this experience rather than paying for access to a variety of fitness services under one roof. In fact, many consumers are choosing to pay for access to multiple boutique facilities so they can experience only those services they specifically want.

Various membership options are being made viable by “middleman” services (for example, ClassPass and Groupon) providing a discount, and flexibility to attend facilities without a long term commitment. Pairing this with a budget club membership gives many consumers everything they are seeking.

Pricing trends may be the most interesting component. Premium prices to attend niche experiences and no frills are the largest growing segments.  Some no-frills monthly fees are less than half of the cost of a 1-hour class/workout at a studio.

The no-frills club model has sent a clear message to traditional club models they should be open to change because the consumer likes the option of shorter term commitments.

Demographics: grandkids or grandparents?

Age demographics is an area where you may be able to start isolating what trends are appropriate for your facility. Knowing your target demographic is essential to being able to cater to your existing clientele or expand into a new target market.

Different generations are interested in various things (workout options, experiences, services) and catering to is partly the reason for the vast scope of what is trending. Loyalty is associated with Baby Boomers, while it may be redefined for the Millennials. This demographic has ever-evolving expectations and do not develop an attachment to a single product for very long.

For consumers of all ages and abilities, the underlying focus is long-term health and wellness.  Strategies and programs to promote fun, inclusion, development (physical literacy) and social engagement for life is the key to gain support from government, companies, and individuals.

Will any of these fitness business trends influence how you operate your fitness business in 2017? What new initiatives are you planning to introduce to your clients in the upcoming year? Leave us a message in the comments below.