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How the Fitness Industry is Changing (And How Your Business Can Keep Up)

Just like all over the world, Australia’s fitness industry has boomed over the past few decades. Whether it’s because of the high population of Australians looking to lose weight, or the influence of overseas trends, gyms and fitness clubs are on the rise across the country, and the Australian fitness industry is expected to generate over $101 million in revenue this year.

Gyms are popping up like mushrooms to respond to Australia’s new fitness craze. Because of this, the market is becoming oversaturated.

While gyms abound in Australia, the average client’s needs have changed drastically over the past few decades. Gone are the days of bodybuilding, marathon running and hours on the treadmill. People who sign up to a fitness club want something different, something fresh, and something that challenges them in new and exciting ways. Technology has exploded onto the scene, changing the face of the fitness industry forever, and what people expect from it. The client base is expanding to include new demographics.

So what can you do to make your gym stand out, and meet the changing needs of Australia’s fitness clientele?

We’ll talk you through the major changes to Australia’s fitness industry, and how you can keep up with the latest trends.

Training techniques are changing

There was a time when going to the gym meant a run on the treadmill or a quick few sets with the weight machines. But these days, variety is the watchword for gym-goers, who want to incorporate a range of training techniques into their fitness routines. Make sure your clients can personalise their workouts by offering a variety of exercise stations, so a visitor to your fitness club can do cardio one day, resistance training the next, and strength training the next, and plan their weekly exercise routines however they choose.

Functional Fitness has taken the world by storm, and is predicted to be Australia’s largest growing trend this year. Functional exercises are geared towards helping you perform everyday movements with ease, and millions of people are enjoying the benefits of functional training. If you aren’t offering functional training in your classes, you really should think about it.

The same goes for High Intensity Interval Training, or HIIT, which was Australia’s number one fitness trend in 2013 and is still at the top of many people’s lists. HIIT involves short bursts of high intensity exercise followed by active rest, and is a must-have for all fitness clubs.

And if you haven’t got many personal trainers, consider hiring a few more. Behind functional training and HIIT, personal trainers are the fitness trend most predicted to grow, as more and more people seek expert advice, support and personalised guidance while they train. Team training is also becoming increasingly popular, as it allows people motivation and support from their pears, so consider adding some team or paired workouts to your class schedule.

Baby Boomers are booming

According to the ABS in 2016, 18-34-year-olds are Australia’s top fitness demographic. But, there is another, steadily growing market fitness business owners shouldn’t ignore—baby boomers. The people who loved leg warmers and Jane Fonda videos in the 1980s are now retiring and looking for all-new ways to improve their health and enjoy exercise. Concepts such as ‘active ageing’ are becoming popular, ideal body weights for age and age-appropriate fitness programs are filtering into the mainstream.

Yes, you should keep catering to the large client base of young people, but it’s important not to ignore this expanding sector of the market. Functional training is popular among older Australians too, as it helps them perform everyday tasks that may get difficult as they age. Offering age-specific classes, which include gentler movements, will appeal to people worried about injuries, and incorporating lots of stretches will counteract the shortening of tendons that happens as people grow older.

Don’t forget to offer senior discounts to encourage people to join!

Technology is taking over

When the smartphone appeared on the scene, the fitness industry was catapulted into the digital age, and it’s never going back. It’s easier than ever—and more IMPORTANT than ever—to connect with clients over multiple platforms, and allow them to take their own health in hand by tracking their progress.

Fitness apps are the best way to reach your clients, and keep them informed on their own health AND on any special deals and announcements your fitness club may have. Clients can be reminded of class bookings and appointment dates, membership renewals and discount offers with the flash of a phone notification, and feel more closely connected with the beating heart of your gym. Fitness apps can also allow clients to track their exercise and nutritional goals, receive regular health and nutrition tips, and watch tutorial videos and informational webinars. Smartphone apps allow today’s client to carry all their health information in their pockets—and approximately 50% of gym users have at least one on their phone—so creating one for your fitness business fulfils what is fast becoming a need for many people.

Clients don’t just love to carry around information on their phones—they love tracking their steps and calories burned wherever they are and whatever they’re doing. Because of this, wearable fitness trackers such as the Fitbit have become the gym junkie’s must-have accessory. Keep your clients’ fitness purchases in the family by creating your own wearable tracker, exclusive to your business or chain—F45’s Lionheart, for example, connects to the TV screens at any F45 studio, and includes a unique fitness scoring system as well as a heart rate monitor and calorie counter.

If a customised fitness tracker is beyond your budget starting out, consider fitting your gym’s equipment with simpler tracking technology. Cardio equipment such as treadmills and stationary bikes are great places to include a heart rate monitor, so customers can check the intensity of their workout as they go.

Social Media: the Way Forward for Fitness Marketing

If you’re not on Facebook yet, you should be. Gone are the days when TV ads, posters on community noticeboards, letterbox drops and door-to-door visits could increase your memberships. These days, if people want to know something, they check their social media feed. If your business isn’t on at least a couple of forms of social media, you’re missing out, and here are some reasons why.

Fitness has become HUGE on social media. Ideal bodies are flaunted in photos shared directly to our newsfeeds, tagged as “#fitspo” and setting an example people want to follow. News breaks regularly about why we should or shouldn’t be eating a certain type of food, why a new exercise is better than tried and true methods, what we can do to be fitter, healthier and with a better body. People post their fitness journeys online, comparing their mirror selfies from months ago with their most recent photo to see how much more toned they’ve become. People wonder about joining gyms, and share their experiences at different studios online. It makes sense that fitness businesses have joined fitness’s foray onto social media, offering the health tips potential clients so desperately want, and showing how their gym provides a unique offering that will help people reach their fitness goals. Fitness being splashed all over social media has created a need—inspired people wanting to improve their own health—and by advertising on social media you are offering to fulfil that need.

If you want to influence people, social media is the quickest and often easiest way to do it these days. Once you’ve built up a client base, you can advertise events, offer promotions and encourage people to join at the click of a mouse. Posting photos and clips of successful classes, events and new merchandise gives future clients an idea of the services your business offers even before they research you—what you post on social media helps customers form an impression of you that may ultimately influence whether they choose to sign up with your studio. People don’t have to walk into a gym and try it out to make a judgement on it—they’ll look you up on social media and let what they see speak for itself.

Team training is increasingly popular, and group pages on Facebook build a sense of community between members, allowing them to connect with other gym-goers, give feedback and foster a sense of shared goals and accountability among themselves, while reading or watching handy fitness tips as you post them. Having a group social media page means your members will feel you are taking care of them, increasing their knowledge and helping build their fitness relationships— not just when they visit your gym, but at all times.

The fitness industry may be looking different these days, but these recent changes needn’t scare you. In fact, if you use them to your advantage, your fitness business may come out stronger than ever. Incorporate some new training techniques here and there, think of how to attract new demographics and ride the tidal wave that is new technology and social media. Your business will emerge as a savvy, forward-thinking fitness establishment that will have those customers flocking in!