Untitled Document
23 Jan 2018 Health Club Management Handbook
 

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Health Club Management Handbook - 2014 predictions

Industry insights

2014 predictions


What does the year ahead hold in store for the health and fitness sector?

Stress and poor mental health will be the main causes of absenteeism Photo: Shutterstock.com/ michaeljung
Networked systems are increasingly facilitating health data tracking



Arron Williams EMEA special projects Life Fitness

 

Arron Williams
 

The outdoor workout will continue to thrive in its many forms, from Tough Mudder to Warrior Dash, Spartan Race to Zombie Run, street circuits to bootcamps to tai chi in the park. More people will make their local playground, park, forest or beach their own gym.

Women will continue to lead a heavy metal revolution on the gym floor, defying any notions that they don’t like training with free weights. Strong is becoming sexy, and increasingly women will value being strong and healthy rather than fitting into that size 6 dress.

More people will wake up to the horror of ‘sitting disease’ and realise just how sedentary they really are, even if they’re getting their regular daily dose of exercise. Light intensity physical activity will start to exert a much bigger influence on how the everyday workplace and built environment is designed for movement and wellbeing.

2014 will see the rise of the warehouse gym – friendly, no-frills gyms or ‘boxes’ loaded with a positive mental attitude and packed full of conditioning tools and functional training rigs to improve users’ athletic and personal performance. The ability of these gyms to clearly differentiate themselves by offering a wide range of conditioning and training experiences that you simply can’t find in the traditional club will lie at the heart of their success.

The Quantified Self movement will continue apace, with wearable technology and fitness apps coming on-stream that offer new opportunities to enhance and enjoy life and the exercise experience more fully, both in and out of the gym.




Matthew Goodman Business journalist The Sunday Times, UK

 

Matthew Goodman
 

The past 12 months have seen higher volumes of merger and acquisition activity in the fitness sector than in recent years. The two main low-cost operators gained new investors, while at the other end of the price spectrum, DLL was sold in one of the bigger buyouts of the year.

This surge in activity bodes well for further deals in 2014: City dealmakers and private equity (PE) investors are certainly making more positive noises about the sector. The upturn in the economy should make consumer-facing companies of all kinds more attractive investment propositions, and the rationale for further fitness sector consolidation has not faded.

Where might the deals happen? That’s harder to say. Virgin Active is in expansion mode and could look to acquire, particularly overseas. It’s understood to have taken a close look at DLL and has previously been eyeing up opportunities in North America, although that remains a tough market for an outsider to crack.

Elsewhere, it may be too soon for Fitness First to think about picking off any of its rivals. The turnaround under Andrew Cosslett is making good progress, but organic growth is likely to remain the priority. More plausible are further investments by PE investors in some smaller chains – particularly those with niche offerings. Last year, cycling microgym Boom Cycle raised funds; I would expect similar deals to boost other operators this year.


“Last year, cycling microgym Boom Cycle raised funds; I would expect similar deals to boost other operators”



Hans Muench Director of Europe IHRSA

 

Hans Muench
 

The wearable technology trend will accelerate, and interactions with clients will become more meaningful as a result, with clubs and PTs able to get more involved in goal-setting and monitoring/motivating members.

Functional training will continue to rise, with operators exploiting this trend not only in the gym, but also by launching additional services outside their four walls.

SEPA will come into effect, causing panic for those who are not prepared – and a bonanza for software companies. Looking further forward, European Standards based on the German DIN system will also begin to make their impact felt.

UK brands will contemplate expansion into Europe: easyGym and Virgin Active have made statements to this effect and DLL, also under new ownership, may also consider further developments in what it calls ‘European gateway cities’.

The issue of fair competition, posed by for-profit operators in regard to the trust model, may be addressed by a cash-strapped government concerned about the negative tax effects of this practice.

Stress and poor mental health will become the number one cause of absenteeism in the coming years, replacing lower back pain and other ailments. Operators who define their product in terms other than price will find a profitable niche here, offering services such as stress management courses.


“SEPA will cause panic for those who are not prepared – and a bonanza for software companies”



Steve Groves VP & chief information officer GoodLife Fitness, Canada

 

Steve Groves
 

With manufacturers increasingly developing networked, cloud-based systems, and with it prioritising the inclusion of health data tracking features in their equipment – capturing users’ workouts, progress and results – the opportunity exists to engage in knowledge sharing, either sharing member data across all equipment brands or developing a universal system.

We will also see a shift of focus from fitness apps to fitness tracking devices. Two great examples are the new Apple iPhone 5s and Jawbone UP. It’s apparent that fitness tracking is a priority for Apple, which installed a second motion co-processor specifically for activity tracking and partnered with Nike to launch the iPhone 5s along with the new Nike+ Move app. Meanwhile Jawbone’s UP wristband and app tracks how users sleep, move and eat – then helps them use that information to make healthy lifestyle changes. The app displays the user’s data, adding things like meals and mood, and delivers insights and provides real-time progress reports.


“The opportunity exists to share member data – across all equipment brands or via a universal system”



Rob Gregory Fitness industry consultant, UK

 

Rob Gregory
 

Fitness markets will continue to be in a state of flux. New formats will bring both opportunity and pain, and low-cost operators will develop at pace, but the market will become more competitive. Fewer than half of the mid-market operators will be successful in their attempts to differentiate their offering. International markets will become more attractive to the largest branded operators in order to maintain growth.

Digital technologies will become increasingly important across all aspects of the business, including apps, content, analytics and automation. The businesses that adopt these tools and are truly orientated around their members will further distance themselves from the pack this year.

Some things won’t change: retention will continue to be the industry’s Achilles heel. Linked with this, past and existing members will still want new experiences and flexibility in their workouts. The popularity of themed outdoor fitness/fun events will be important, and game-changing concepts like MoveGB – designed around the user, not a venue – will gain traction.


“Digital technologies will become increasingly important across all aspects of the business”


Originally published in Health Club Handbook 2014 issue 1

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