Trends that were taking place before COVID have been accelerated as a result of the pandemic according to Blair McHaney, CEO of MXMetrics, in a recent discussion with Club Solutions Magazine.

Fitness technology such as Peleton, Apple, and online content have been relied upon heavily by consumers. During this time, gyms and fitness clubs were forced to close their doors and some gym-goers maintained wariness of exposure to COVID in public places. As a result, fitness tech companies are now major players in the industry, leaving many club and gym owners wondering what’s coming next.

While no one can know exactly what the future holds, it’s clear that club owners will need to embrace fitness tech and pay attention to the trends so we can ask the right questions as we adjust to the evolving needs of the industry.

Now is the time for Fitness Club Owners to be asking themselves some important questions

  • Which part of the marketplace is fitness tech impacting?
  • Is it bringing new people to the market? Or are we just cutting up existing pieces of the pie into more segments?
  • And the question we should always be asking ourselves as fitness leaders… How do we use this tech to help people create exercise habits? How do we help people develop better strategies to bring their fitness goals to fruition?

Online fitness communities, fitness tracking apps, and tech-driven home gym equipment isn’t going to replace brick and mortar gyms, just as restaurants haven’t gone anywhere with the invention of apps like Uber Eats and Favor. People want to get together. They want to be social in most settings. This last year is an indication of that.

That’s not to say you should fall asleep at the proverbial wheel. 

How can Gym Operators use Fitness Tech insights to their benefit?

There should be a healthy amount of anxiety about what’s happening in your gyms, the marketplace, and the broader world. Lead with curiosity and don’t suppose you know all the answers. Now is the time to dig into how analysts are looking into companies like Peleton and Hydro. See what they’re doing that is so successful, how they have implemented it and how to glean some of those insights and apply them to your own business model. 

That’s not to say that this will be easy and that there won’t be parts of gyms and fitness clubs that will likely go away. This is a serious hill we’re climbing. 

Re-branding: Using Member Experience data to finesse the Fitness Industry image

One of the major challenges facing brick and mortar fitness establishments now is image. The outside messaging has been that exercise and fitness are more important than ever… but health clubs aren’t. It was a weird reset for all of us. The biggest challenge will be rebranding our entire industry. We have to do better. Be better. Serve our communities better. 

If we LISTEN to our customers and focus on creating better experiences that will help them ultimately meet their fitness goals, our rebranding will be authentic and customer-centric. And that’s ultimately what’s going to win our customers.

As states reopen gyms and lax their laws around occupancy rates, 2021 is packed with opportunities for club owners.

2021 Bounce Back Trends: What to watch, where to make BIG gains 

Unsurprisingly, younger people are coming back to gyms in droves. However, people 60 to 75 years old aren’t coming back as much as other groups. This population has a lot of trepidation about gyms, but they need the benefits of exercise just as much or more than any age group. They also hold the majority of the nation’s wealth. This is a huge opportunity to figure out how to get them back in clubs.

It has to be more than a new marketing message. Everyone knows that exercise creates a healthier outlook, yet 80% of the population doesn’t do it on a regular basis. It’s more about creating the desire and what the emotion is that drives that desire. 

After featuring a commercial showing a man having difficulty getting a peanut butter sandwich down next to an empty glass of milk, the  “Got Milk” campaign saw a huge lift for their product. Perhaps posing fitness as an act of rebellion would be the best way to reach those with a sense of pride in their independence and rugged individualism would be an interesting start (“I’m so fit I don’t rely on healthcare like everyone else”). There will have to be tests to see what messaging works best of course. But that would be an interesting place to start. 

So we know that member experience is going to also be critical to a club’s Bounce Back. We should be taking it much more seriously than we ever have. 

A couple of MX tips clubs should consider as we move forward:

  • Know your market. How is this group different from the groups you previously marketed to?
  • Have marketing intelligence. Who are my happiest customers? Who are the highest spending customers? Who are my highest paying, happiest customers and what do they look like? How can I find them out in the world?
  • Communicate consistently with your members. What is it that makes them happy? What do they spend the most time doing at the club? Where is their money spent most?

Take control of your member experience. Understand the customers sentiment, how it’s changing, and how to react to that. Really grasping knowledge of what drives your customer and why it drives them will give you the ability to assess what changes you can make or action you can take to improve the member experience.

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