Strategies for Expanding Your Business

For Gym Operators

Strategies for Expanding Your Business

Your facility is experiencing positive cash flow, you’ve seen an uptake in membership, and you’re thinking, “How can I expand and grow?” Is now a good time? Leading indicators confirm a resilience in the fitness market and potential for sustained growth. According to the Global Wellness Institute, the wellness industry is a USD $3.7 trillion business. It grew 10.6-percent from 2013 to 2015 and is expected to grow 17-percent in the next five years.

If you’re an owner or operator contemplating the best opportunity for growth and net return on investment in expanding your business, you’ll want to evaluate new programming demands, the equipment mix, and integrating technology to reach more customers.

Here are four considerations when expanding your business:

1. Leverage a Growing Global Fitness Market

The fitness industry experienced the largest single year of growth (2016–2017) at 6% membership, topping 174 million consumers in 65 global markets. The total industry revenue is an estimated $87.2 billion.

During IHRSA 2018, the International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association announced a new global initiative to increase health club usage around the world. The goal of the initiative is to reach 230 million health club members worldwide by 2030.

Whether you have a box, studio, or club, you’ll want to leverage industry growth to expand your business. Differentiating your facility in a tightly competitive market is critical. In a recent report, ClubIntel suggests a pivot from fitness-centric thinking to a focus on well-being. The report summarizes, “Over the past decade, as competition has heated up, and consumers can avail themselves of a significantly larger array of opportunities to pursue their fitness fix, seeking out a value proposition that speaks to well-being could be just the differentiator a club needs.”

However you choose to leverage the market potential for your facility expansion, remember four key aspects to a planned growth strategy: attraction, retention, increased efficiency, and secondary revenue.

2. Incorporate New Programming

Fitness has moved beyond the workout: number of squats, pull-ups, or miles ran. For the exerciser, it has become the experience and the sharing of that experience. It’s the desire to train like an athlete—to gain motivation from specialty and immersive fitness experiences for better performance. Anticipating what exercisers want before they do and delivering on desired programming will promote attraction and retention.

HIIT classes, small group training and diversity of programming are all still strong trends. Functional training 2.0 is a greater focus on strength in motion for a healthy, active, injury-free lifestyle.

In the specialty fitness category, sports conditioning classes, such as boxing boutiques like UFC Gym®, Box Union™, and Rumble Boxing® provide exercisers with performance-based outcomes that make working out more engaging and fun. Ramping up engagement, immersive fitness gives exercisers both a mental and physical experience. The idea is to break the monotony, inspire effort, and help exercisers work at a higher level to obtain better performance results—all the while making them feel good.

Recovery-focused programming and services can play a role in a focused path toward well-being, fill a demand in new programming, and offer secondary revenue. Programming could include recovery classes or foam roller workshops, or even encompass mindful movement as part of a HIIT class. Restorative services such as hydro massage loungers and cryotherapy chambers offer an untapped opportunity to increase retention and revenue.

With any programming, make sure to always align with your brand and member experience. Regardless of programming choices, attraction and retention are key. You can:

  • Structure classes so the same members are more likely to work out at the same time.
  • Offer assessments by personal trainers to track continued improvement.
  • Provide training sessions for exercisers on equipment and consoles they might perceive as too sophisticated so they are less intimidated.

3. Evaluate Equipment Mix and Facility Design

As part of employing new programming to expand business, facility owners will also want to evaluate their mix of equipment and facility design. It’s always important to remember the basics: space planning, equipment type, and non-equipment areas.

Fitness facilities should reflect more than having the right equipment. Design, planning and layout should be thoughtful when incorporating smart product innovations, materials, colour palette, and upholstery selections. Having the right flow is essential. Space between the equipment is important, yet equally so is leaving plenty of areas for exercisers to recover, relax, and socialise.

Responding to the demand for high-intensity interval training, equipment manufacturers of total-body cardio machines are introducing new models and enhancing existing equipment. They are also integrating data-driven software into consoles to deliver a quality user experience with best-in-class solutions for operators.

Beyond the mix of equipment for strength, functional, and cardio training, facility owners might look at cinematic large screens, hydro massage loungers, cryotherapy chambers, and 3D body scanners. These types of equipment can meet programming demands, enhance non-equipment areas, and provide a source of secondary revenue.        

4. Take Advantage of Technology

Taking member engagement to the next level will mean taking advantage of emerging technologies. This is extremely important in a world where club owners not only deliver on fitness but also on experience.

In the editor’s letter of the Club Industry Technology’s Role in The Future of The Fitness Industry report, Pamela Kufahl writes, “Not only are people joining online, but they also are booking classes online, tracking their workouts with wearables, using fitness-branded mobile apps, participating in on-demand workouts from home and at clubs, doing virtual workouts, and “talking” to chatbots as the use of artificial intelligence expands.“

This highlights the ubiquitous nature of technology through multiple platforms, equipment, programs and services, and the countless ways it affects every aspect of an exerciser’s fitness experience.

Looking outside the fitness industry for disruptive technology can provide an opportunity to expand your business. New Beacon technology, used by large retailers, may offer the potential to enhance customer service and a personalised experience. Using Beacon technology, a trainer could receive a message that their next client just entered the club. For the exerciser, the technology would recognize an individual and send them their daily workout once they arrived.

In terms of networked fitness, touchscreen user interface consoles that are fully loaded with digital programs and mobile applications are an essential component of any club’s technology mix. Exercisers want facilities with machines that record, analyse, and track their performance and progress. Together, Precor Experience Series™ P82 consoles and networked fitness give exercisers an enhanced level of user experience through personalized cardio workouts from personal trainers, the ability to track goals, seamlessly share workout data, schedule fitness classes, and automatically receive incentives and rewards.

The Preva® Partner Store with eGym®, Clubcom®, and RunTV, offer inspiring, immersive exercise from extreme environments to challenging runs, rides, and climbs in some of the world’s most iconic and stunning locations. These are workouts can be shared with friends or co-workers across town or miles away through these networked fitness apps.

Future Growth

In the last several years, leading markets are posting strong performance, while emerging markets show potential for continued growth. Owners and facility operators can feel confident from economic and social indicators that the industry is poised to enter an era of growth. 

Specialty, virtual, and immersive fitness offerings will impact a club’s expansion on every aspect from facility design to lighting, equipment, and programming. New industry developments in aggregating health and fitness data will enable owners and operators to provide a higher quality, personalised user experience. These shifts and developments will improve training formats, operations, staffing, marketing, and pricing models to help facility owners and operators to expand their business.