Today’s members want a range of à la carte fitness experiences. It’s time for club owners to think beyond HIIT and functional training.
As we move into a new decade, club owners are bracing themselves for the next wave of fitness programming. If the recent past is any guide, the path ahead is unpredictable and volatile. Clubs have to be ready to embrace diversity in all forms.
That’s reflected in IHRSA research. According to new data in 2019 IHRSA Health Club Consumer Report, younger demographics such as Millennials, a sometimes fickle consumer group and the most important demographic for health clubs, are more likely to gravitate to HIIT, yoga, and cardio kickboxing classes than older members. They’re also less likely to stick around a single facility in the absence of a complete offering, choosing to follow their passion to multiple training outlets.
In other words, they aren’t being effectively converted to the coveted “Core Users” club owners want as regulars. Core Users utilize clubs from 100-149 times during a single year, and they’re crucial to industry success. Says IHRSA researchers: “Empirical data indicates that Core Users are the most likely to remain members, and possibly the most likely to spend on additional services….”
IHRSA’s report also points out that “Boutique fitness studio members (7%) were the least likely to be classified as Infrequent Users….” With boutiques offering a single type of workout, this tells you that once a member finds a specific experience they love, they’ll keep coming back.
This puts pressure on general multipurpose and fitness-only facilities to service those members who are passionate about specialty workouts, like yoga, boxing, or barre, while still enjoying the conveniences of a traditional club. Is there a way to service all of these members under one roof with limited space and budget for live instructors?
Improving Your Value Proposition
Being all things to all people is always impossible, but traditional clubs that find ways to serve the boutique specialty consumers are at a clear competitive advantage. According to a report on fitness trends by brand research firm Club Intel, “The types of facility offerings a club provides and the type of programming it offers appear to be the most significant differentiators in respect to a facility’s value proposition.”
Some industry visionaries have responded to this new thirst for boutique-style variety by launching new club concepts. Zenergy Health Club & Spa, a premium facility located in Sun Valley, ID, replaced their under-utilized racquetball courts and installed a thriving boutique-style club-within-a-club called Pivot. While the original focus on programming for the space was functional training, the club has expanded its offerings to create other popular modalities as tastes change and trends develop.
The idea is to combine the best of boutique fitness studios with the best of traditional health clubs. As more clubs strategize for growth for the next decade, this approach will gain more converts. It makes sense when you take into account the research discussed earlier.
Most clubs don’t have the ability to open multiple boutique spaces in their club. They have to make due with limited space and resources. So how can clubs meet this challenge?
A digital programming platform that can assist live coaches or deliver completely self-guided sessions for members is a start. To compete with authentic and siloed boutique studio experiences, clubs need to have a depth and variety of programming that can deliver more value to members. One way to help plan and structure such flexible offerings is to use technology to organize and automate an expansive variety in workout experiences.
Perhaps most importantly, you must first determine the allocation of space that’s sufficient and flexible in delivering the atmosphere necessary for these more authentic experiences. Then, naturally you must turn your attention to selecting the right equipment, flooring, lighting, and visual guidance specific to the requirements for these spaces, not generally similar to how you may have approached your existing or remaining traditional fitness floor.
Going from yoga to boxing to functional training to recovery requires more than a change in instructor. Clubs, especially those with only enough space for single boutique experience, must find creative and smart ways to accommodate this multiplicity in training modalities.
Specialists in Programming & Training Space Design
Aktiv Solutions provides such a turnkey solution to those clubs seeking a diverse programming experience, both in terms of instruction and space allocation. While Aktiv has made their mark in the industry by designing and installing specialized training spaces in all types of facilities, they’ve greatly expanded their services with advent of Aktiv TV. The Aktiv TV platform is a full-service content delivery system. Beyond an extensive library of high-quality, boutique-style workouts developed to satisfy and excite any club’s membership base, the Aktiv TV platform allows for the upload of original or tailored facility content.
Trevor Poling, director of national sales for Aktiv Solutions, explains that after years of designing and supporting the repurposing of training spaces for clubs, Aktiv developed a series of templates to help operators more easily deliver a range of specialty workouts within a single space.
“There’s a lot of pressure on commercial facilities to provide a variety of training experiences,” he says. “People have different goals at different times and they’re more educated about these other modalities. To deliver an à la carte service under one roof that can vary from session to session gives you a competitive edge.”
To respond to this demand, Aktiv created deep digital programming for the most popular workouts, such as functional training and HIIT, and has expanded the range to a myriad of more specialized classes, such as aerial yoga and recovery programs. Having worked with so many club types over the years on the ground level, Aktiv saw just how quickly trends and tastes change in the fitness world.
Using Aktiv TV’s guided workout system, a club’s fitness programmer has the ability to be nimble in switching formats quickly. Says Poling: “Not only does our workout guidance platform facilitate the end user experience, it helps facilitate the workflow for various types of fitness professionals. You can work within our singular platform and pre-build any workout type, length, and sequence needed to power alive coached class.”
Because Aktiv specializes in creating movement based training spaces, they can help clubs develop the flexibility in transforming workout environments to serve diverse audiences.
With Aktiv’s Gym Rax storage units and other innovations in space allocation, clubs can accommodate more equipment and other tools necessary to carry out a unique member experience.
Aktiv’s system is also a godsend to those clubs with more than one location, since it provides an experience that’s simple to replicate and scale in more than one location. This provides clubs with variety and consistency, something that today’s consumer values in their service providers.
We live in an era where consumers operate in an à la carte, choose-your-own-adventure commercial landscape. While clubs can’t be all things to all people, they can come close with Aktiv TV’s platform for guided workout experiences. And it will build a stronger brand identity with the industry’s most valuable demographics.
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