20 Sep 2018 Health Club Management Handbook
 

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Health Club Management Handbook - 2018 predictions

Industry insights

2018 predictions


What’s in store for the fitness and physical activity sector in 2018? We ask our panel of experts

Prepare to work out in an entirely new way

Abraham Lincoln said, “The best way to predict the future is to create it.” With that in mind, ClubIntel would like to share its creative predictions for the fitness industry in 2018.

Virtual fitness: streaming and on-demand will emerge as an important tool for driving member engagement. In 2016, approximately one in five fitness operators offered some form of virtual fitness (group exercise and/or fitness instruction)*. With new cloud-based platforms such as FitCloud Connect, FORTE and Trainer+, the club experience is no longer just about what happens inside the four walls of a facility, but how it’s connected with the portable virtual world.

Boutique fitness studios/micro-gyms will continue to be a growth story in 2018. In fact, boutique fitness studios, independents and whales (PE-backed franchisees and corporate shops) will continue to be the workout spaces of choice, as Millennials, urbanites and consumer tribes dictate what is hot and what is not when it comes to fitness.

Budget club wars will create a new breed of discount experience. Over the past few years budget clubs have expanded at nearly light speed, now representing the largest segment of the traditional club industry in the United States and Europe. But there’s one problem – the field is becoming saturated, differentiation is disappearing, and soon we’ll see a creative operator offering a US$5 monthly experience to differentiate their business.

Virtual reality (VR) will make its presence known. The question is, will it get traction? Virtual reality has emerged as a significant experience immersion tool for many industries, and is predicted to grow exponentially from 2018. The world of VR will introduce itself to the fitness industry this year through players like Blackbox and Icaros. Prepare to work out in an entirely new way.

*The 2016 International Fitness Industry Trend Report published by ClubIntel

 



VR will introduce itself to the fitness sector through players like Blackbox and Icaros
 


PHOTO: shutterstock.com
Millennials, urbanites and consumer tribes dictate what is hot and what is not when it comes to fitness
 
 


Stephen Tharrett & Mark Williamson co-founders, ClubIntel, USA
 



 

Jeni Fisher apps business development manager, Google Play
 

Revenue from subscriptions on Google Play has increased tenfold in three years. The health and fitness apps space is also booming, with new products designed to empower consumers to take charge of their health and live a more active lifestyle.

Digital health and fitness startups, such as the tailored workout and nutrition app 8fit, are garnering millions of dollars in funding. The year ahead will see continued investment in innovative companies that successfully enable smartphones as tools for healthier living. The unprecedented data generated by connected devices opens up even more opportunities for personalised health and fitness solutions. Apps will move further away from manually inputting daily activity and key data points, reducing the friction inherent in many digital health apps.

Machine learning algorithms will continue to intelligently guide daily behaviour (from medication adherence to personal health coaching) towards longer-term health predictions. Ultimately, long-term revenue growth lies in our ability to fully realise the potential of apps to successfully drive long-term behaviour change, and so 2018 and beyond will see more developers experimenting and applying the science of behaviour change to their products.


"Long-term revenue growth lies in our ability to fully realise the potential of apps"

 



Health and fitness apps are booming - app 8fit personalises health and fitness solutions



 

Griff Shortt head of operations, énergie group
 

Approximately ten years ago budget fitness or the low cost phenomena hit the UK leisure industry. A few watched initially but a few others actually joined in. Then, over the next couple of years, the momentum started. It disrupted not just the industry but, in fact, the fitness marketplace as a whole, with its extremely low price points and its delivery of high volume monthly sales targets.

Big box fitness moved at pace; the marketing woke up those who thought gyms were costly – and clubs started to ram in 6,000 members or more paying £19.99 or less. It took out, what we remember as, mid-market fitness clubs as customers could now pay a lot less.

Ten years on… the low cost market in the UK accounts for more than 35 per cent of the total private membership, circa 2,300,000 members and well over 500 clubs. You could argue that budget fitness and paying £20 or less a month is quite simply the norm and that price point marketing is far less impactful.

So, what will 2018 bring to the health and fitness market? A need to increase yield and drive up prices with intelligent pricing through optional membership schemes and ‘bolt on’ opportunities. We can’t continue to just sell ‘cheap’ memberships. We’ll see budget operators and the big box gyms moving to offer a lot more than just access… they’ll need to.

We’ll see added value membership products; more on offer, more within the membership. Things like more defined fitness programming, HIIT, multi-site access, boutique-style spaces within clubs and rehydration packages. Various member-privileges will also potentially be presented via online price presenters to increase yield. We’ll offer more to the member and maybe, just maybe, we’ll see the re-emergence of ‘good old’ customer service and mid-market pricing.


"We’ll see added value products – more on offer, more within the membership"

 



More defined fitness programming and HIIT, like Les Mills GRIT, will take off in 2018



 

Steve Marshall UK sales manager, Wattbike
 

With Wattbike being at the forefront of cycling training, our 2018 predictions had to be specifically about this fitness area.

From talking with our customers and our key accounts, we believe there’ll be a greater shift toward smaller, more boutique-style zones within a larger gym.

This prediction may sound obvious, but the use of technology will also continue to increase. Previously, gym-goers would tell their friends they’d just done an hour ‘session’ in the gym. But through instantaneous data collection and sharing with services like Strava or MyZone, training will become more bespoke and tailored to satisfy the need to work to numbers. Also, with wearable tech and apps, data collection will be covered both inside and outside the gym to provide a total, data-based and driven fitness plan.

Something else we’ve seen from other countries around the world that we think will come to the fore in 2018 is the use of fitness and gym networks to provide healthcare assessments. For example, if people have personal health insurance in South Africa, they can see a reduction in their premiums by simply proving that they exercise. The more they exercise, the more rewards they garner. Again, with today’s ability to collate data output from training, this is easy to record.

In short, the emphasis will really be on the data-driven individual this year for all aspects of training and fitness.


"The emphasis will be on the data-driven individual"

 



2018 will see a greater shift towards smaller boutique-style zones within a larger gym



 

Nick Coutts CEO, Fitness Hut
 

My hope and expectation for the fitness industry during the current year is that we continue to see growth across all segments.

There’s no doubt that while boutiques will continue to open at a pace, the low cost market is going to continue to expand even more quickly. Although not all low cost club joiners are completely new to exercise, and are switching from existing clubs, up to 50 per cent of new joiners are, so low cost club openings would appear to be key drivers of penetration growth during 2018.

I expect that technology advances will continue to provide exciting adjustments in both “on-line gyms”, workout apps and wearables. Although I’m personally a bit of a “dinosaur” and not that interested in measuring my workouts or performance via technology, one aspect that I think is really fantastic is the way in which wearables help to support outdoor training, workouts and runs, particularly for people who are new to exercise. I therefore expect that brilliant fitness concepts like parkrun will grow strongly during 2018.

The multi-billion dollar gaming market is also likely to start having a much more significant impact on fitness during 2018, with virtual reality and augmented reality integrating to make gym workouts and home workouts much more attractive, enticing and fun for people who need to be distracted and motivated along those lines while exercising.


"Brilliant concepts like parkrun will grow strongly in 2018"

 



Wearables help to support outdoor training, workouts and runs

Originally published in Health Club Handbook 2018 issue 1

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