Mastering the Seasons: How Independent Gyms Can Use Gym Membership Management Software To Combat Seasonal Member Fluctuation

Mastering the Seasons: How Independent Gyms Can Use Gym Membership Management Software To Combat Seasonal Member Fluctuation

Whether it is the dubious strive to get ‘beach-body ready’ that heralds the end of Spring and the beginning of Summer or the influx of membership at New Year as people try to mitigate the effects of Christmas and Winter, the fitness industry is very familiar with the highly seasonal nature of gym membership and fitness motivation. 

And while the seasons and how people react to them are nothing new, the tools we have to monitor these trends are growing ever-more sophisticated and accessible for independent gym owners. So today we will be looking at both seasonal trends within the fitness industry and how powerful tools such as gym membership management software and their data outputs can be used to grapple with and mitigate these influxes. 

Summer might always follow Spring, but if data can show independent gym and fitness club owners and management just ‘how’ and ‘why’ it affects their members they will be in a much better position for the next year. 

And ultimately that is what we are trying to address today. How to quantify a seasonal problem for the fitness industry and independent gyms into a yearly opportunity. 

The seasons and their respective trends may feel inevitable and insurmountable to some but it is their reliability that can be capitalised upon by prudent and forward-thinking independent gym and fitness club owners. 

So today our focus will be on how gym owners can take steps to ‘master’ the seasonal influx and make the most out of the ebbs and flows, as well as the seasonal surge. 

What will we cover in this article?

(you can also click to skip ahead!)

Learn the strategies for Tackling Gym Seasonality

What is Seasonality in the context of independent Gyms and why does it exist?

 

Methods and Techniques that independent gyms and fitness clubs can use to compensate and utilise Gym Member Seasonality

What independent gym and fitness club owners should be careful of regarding seasonality

Strategies For Tackling Gym Seasonality

The ‘seasonality’ of gyms can be a double-edged sword. Looked at through the wrong lens, it can be a yearly open-wound. We have heard endless stories of frustration as the influx of members from January and February drop off, followed by another as Summer shifts to Autumn.

But there are, of course, two sides to this. Many industries would kill for a period where there was a mass-influx of customers. And this is how independent gym and fitness club owners must conceptualise these ‘influx’ periods, not as a demoralising inconvenience, but an opportunity to be harnessed. 

We are not saying that it is possible to hold back the tides, of course. Attrition will always occur, but it is about mitigating that attrition and making the most out of the yearly influx of members. Our goal here is to use tried and tested methods and data to mitigate the worst of the attrition and retain as much of the seasonal influx as possible. 

Of course not every independent gym will have a significant seasonal influx for every season, and some independent gyms may have seasonal peaks that are based on factors unique to the area. A common example of this is that an independent gym will be based in an area with a significant student population, meaning that the period between September and May will see the population significantly expand and the demographics will change.

As such, while our examples will focus on the ‘general’ patterns governed by the changing of the calendar seasons, there are many bespoke examples of seasonal influxes and fluctuations that independent gym and fitness club owners can apply these methods towards. 

This guide provides 5 proven strategies to help weather the storm and improve gym retention and profitability.

What Is Seasonality in the context of independent gyms and why does it exist?

The seasonal influx of gym members around the end of winter/beginning of Spring and then Summertime is a cyclical phenomena that occurs due to how the seasons change the priorities of a portion of the population. 

The shift between ‘Winter’ and ‘Spring’, most visible in the public eye with the ‘New Year’s Resolution Rush’ normally focuses on mitigating and combating the weight-gain, fatigue and low-spirits of the winter months. 

With the rise of obesity statistics and consumerist Christmas trends, the New Year Resolution Rush has become an increasingly reliable phenomena for many independent gyms and fitness clubs.

However, these members generally have a fairly short average membership lifetime, with either low morale or easily achieved goals, these members often peel off as quickly as they arrived with many independent gyms finding that the majority are no longer attending by March or even February!

Meanwhile the Summer trend is a little broader and harder to pinpoint, given that it can not only take effect in preparation for Summer, but also that this ‘holiday’ period covers over three months, from around June to early September.

As such, the ‘Summer seasonality’ represents a significant portion of the year for independent gyms and fitness clubs. 

The rationale behind the Summer rush is unsurprising. It usually revolves around losing any excess weight gathered over the Winter and held during the Spring, as well as getting back into shape in time for a beach holiday. If there was any doubt as to the power of this pull, survey respondents have frequently said they are more likely to workout for a holiday than their own wedding! 

As such, this predictable and undeniable cycle presents a challenge for independent gyms to overcome and a great potential for opportunity.

Methods and Techniques that independent gyms and fitness clubs can use to compensate and utilise Gym Member Seasonality

Gym seasonality may seem challenging, but it doesn’t have to be a sisyphean struggle, to be repeated year on year for no gain! You can use several strategies to hedge against the ebbs and flows of customer behaviour and keep your gym business thriving all year round.

 

1. Create a unique culture and an atmosphere within the gym that members will want to stay a part of:

The unfortunate truth is that if a gym member decides that they do not wish to be a member of that gym anymore, the value proposition that was keeping them there has slipped.

As such, it is important that all independent gym and fitness club owners look into how they can create a unique and compelling fitness facility culture that new members will feel loath to leave. 

If a gym feels ordinary or even disposable, there will be little to stop these seasonal members from walking out the door. They will be confident that they can find something similar next Summer or New Year, and that their fitness will not suffer greatly for the absence of the membership.

It is this apathy that we are trying to combat by creating a culture of excellence in the run-up to the two usual influx periods. Get important repairs and training done in the quieter months such as December. For independent gym’s near academic institutions, sorting these issues out in August are ideal. 

Increasing members aren’t just turning towards independent gym’s for their fitness needs, they want a unique experience and a service that will enhance their life in meaningful ways. 

By offering a compelling working space that offers a tangible sense of community and an aura of excellence, an independent gym is taking a massive step towards not just being a ‘seasonal fad’ for some members. 

2. Discounts on Classes, Personal Trainers, Event Days:

On the other side of the coin, another way to get people to stick around is to incentivise them! If a member just comes to a gym every other day during January and February, interacts with very few people and the independent gym or fitness club essentially ‘leaves them alone’. It will be very, very easy for that person to disconnect with the gym and get rid of their membership come March. 

Apathy begets apathy. Otherwise known as, you get what you put in! 

Which is why we recommend that during these influx months that independent gyms and fitness clubs start laying it on thick with the classes and incentives. 

Whether it is discounts on membership packages, class bundle discounts, introductory offers on personal trainers or special event-invites. Each piece of engagement might help the influx members forge bonds, whether it is with staff or other members, that will make them that much more likely to retain their gym membership thereafter. 



3. Soft-focus on seasonality in marketing during the fluctuation period:

When we say ‘soft-focus’, we just mean to be subtle. Talk about issues that affect members during these influx periods without directly saying ‘Don’t give up!’. It is a hard balancing act, but one that will be noted. 

Not only should this focus be about attracting new members during the influx periods, it should be able to offer positive messaging to try and help retain those members that do signup. 

Create content that will resonate with the challenges that these members are facing at the time. If it is New Year, marketing should focus not only on the desire for self-improvement, but plans for the year or half year. In turn, if it is Summer, it is important to not only push the notion of self-improvement but about sustainable exercise all year around. 

4. Increase focus on Secondary Spending during the influx months:

Stocking key products in the run-up to an influx period could be the difference between retaining members and not. Not only do common secondary spend items at independent gyms constitute a vital support network for members, they also represent an opportunity to link quality products with an independent gym or fitness club.

If members start to incorporate these products into their daily routine, the connection with the independent gym becomes stronger. We find that many gyms just try and batten down the hatches and ride out this period with their usual stock levels. Not only do shortages not leave a good impression, they also deny potentially greater integration between gym and members.

5. Work out what works! Data, Feedback and Customer Retention for independent gyms during the fluctuation months:

Finally, and most importantly, it is about keeping track of what works, what doesn’t and how great an impact these measures are having on the seasonal retention rate of an independent gym or fitness club. 

As we mentioned in the introduction, this will require detailed and powerful membership details not always available with every suite of gym membership management software currently available on the market. 

But for those that do, the potential to understand and eventually master the process of seasonal gym member retention is significant. With the right gym membership management software, independent gyms will be able to keep track of which of their initiatives are working, even being able to break down the trends across the month or even the week the member joined.

When supported by surveys, this data can become truly transformative, allowing independent gyms to cross-reference the trend of member history with their opinions on retention. 

And given that the seasonal cycle will repeat itself, there won’t be long before they can put into practice their feedback for the next year. This can help create a cycle of positive momentum, powered by the seasons themselves, allowing independent gym’s to increase their members (and therefore profit) while minimising attrition.

Not only that, but with the right gym membership management software, these influxes can even be charted and tracked when it comes to potential earnings, members and capacity. This can be invaluable for future planning, allowing the seasonal tide to act as a powerful engine for profit generation and growth within an independent gym. 

The pitfalls, negatives and potential costs of gym member seasonality: What independent gym and fitness club owners should be careful of regarding seasonality

Now that we’ve covered the positives, we will spend the latter part of this article looking at some of the pitfalls that can open up for new independent gym and fitness club owners if gym membership seasonality isn’t appropriately accounted for using the techniques we have looked into above. 

While we have focused on the positives of maintaining momentum and either keeping stable or steadily increasing the flow of members. The opposite is also true. A significant number of members leaving, even as part of a seasonal cycle, can be damaging to morale and of course, damaging to profits. 


Operational Costs Instability

Without proper eyes on membership numbers, there is the potential for a vast amount of inefficiency and waste to occur on the front of operational costs.

Without suitably robust gym membership management software to understand the ebbs and flows of members, gyms risk taking on too many staff, marketing incorrectly and a host of other pitfalls that can arise from not having sufficient eyes on the details of their operation. 

This is where the importance of a reliable gym membership management software package shines through. Even if it takes a few cycles for the retention initiatives to work, the reassurance that knowing how the cycle will most likely play out every year is invaluable to any serious independent gym or fitness club owner!

Unreliable members, unreliable revenue:

Without the ability to chart, track and rely on a stable membership, the dips can become costly. It is a well-known fact in the fitness industry that a relatively small increase in retention can vastly increase profitability. 

As such, independent gym owners who ignore the issue of seasonal dropoff do so at their own peril.

Lost Potential

Independent gym and fitness club owners that don’t take the opportunity to learn from their seasonal cycles are, unfortunately, destined to repeat the worst aspects of them. Not only that, but without the appropriate data capture, the potential for improvement will be squandered year after year.

While this might be imperceptible, when gym owners do this they are essentially borrowing from tomorrow. The deficit will eventually become apparent, and then overwhelming. The value of data outputs powering the decision making of today can’t be overestimated, especially when both the fitness industry and independent gyms and fitness clubs rely so heavily on the seasonal cycle.

Conclusion

And thus ends our brief overview on how independent gyms and fitness clubs can harness the power of the seasonal tides, using the data and experience to create positive momentum that can endure all year around.

If you are an independent gym or fitness club manager or owner who feels that their gym isn’t making the most of their data or their yearly influxes, perhaps the problem lies in your gym membership management software and partnership?

Without quality and meaningful data outputs and the powerful BI technology necessary to interpret them, it can be an uphill battle.

But we here at Ashbourne have over twenty five years of experience in the fitness industry, helping thousands of partner gyms, fitness clubs and more take their operations and profits to the next level. 

And our expertise doesn’t end at data and membership management. Our teams have helped transform the business-as-usual operations of gyms across the country in every arena, whether it is marketing, web-presence, access controls or business development. 

Interested and want to know more? Then please don’t hesitate to contact our demonstration team here today! They are on stand-by, ready to learn about your gym and how Ashbourne Membership Management can help it be in a better position this time next year!

Member of a gym? Simply text "HELP" to 60777 and we'll help you.

Member of a gym? Simply text "HELP" to 60777 and we'll help you.

Member of a gym? Simply text "HELP" to 60777 and we'll help you.

Five Methods That Will Help Independent Gyms Compete With Chains When Offering Corporate Gym Memberships

Five Methods That Will Help Independent Gyms Compete With Chains When Offering Corporate Gym Memberships

It is a story we have heard from independent gym, fitness club and studio owners up and down the country.

“I’d like to offer corporate membership, but I don’t know where to set it up”.

Or

“I’d like to offer corporate membership, but I don’t know how to attract interest from businesses in the area”. 

They are frequent concerns, and the reasons are not unfounded. Up until recently, corporate gym membership schemes had seemed like the domain of only the ‘larger’ chains, with the infrastructure, prestige and reach necessary to not only make the deals, but maintain them.

While this may have been true in the past, it is an orthodoxy that has become outmoded and outdated for a variety of reasons, many of which we will explore in this article. 

We will be looking at why it is a fantastic time for independent gyms and fitness clubs to start seriously looking into corporate memberships schemes for their fitness facilities. 

We are living through a perfect combination of desire and means, supply and demand.

In the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdowns, the trend of safeguarding employee well-being and fitness has been compounded. Already a growing concern prior to 2020, it has now become one of the top priorities for corporate decision-makers and business owners alike. 

One of the many lessons learned during that trying time was that a healthy, productive and engaged workforce was more than able to justify their price tag. This compounded a trend that had already been established across many studies, espousing the virtues of fitness on employee productivity and reduced absences. 

In addition, it helped feed into the growing narrative that a job in the 21st doesn’t just exist to pay a wage but to ‘enhance a lifestyle’. It isn’t a statement that everyone will agree with, but it is a sentiment that has gained significant purchase across the workforce, especially as Millennials and Generation Z become the predominant and rising demographic of gym members across many independent gyms and fitness clubs. 

What Is Corporate Gym Membership?

So what do we mean when we talk about corporate gym membership in the context of independent gyms and fitness clubs?

Well, it is important to specify we don’t just mean a discount for belonging to a certain organisation, though that is a type of corporate agreement that we have covered on this blog before.

No, we are talking specifically about a fully paid gym membership that is either subsidised or fully paid for by the employer of the member in question. Usually this will either be taken out of their salary (called salary sacrifice) or will be provided as a benefit.

It has proven an increasingly popular employee benefit in recent years, even in the wake of the 2017 reforms that saw the definition of a benefit and the associated tax breaks reduced and clamped down on.

The reasons are simple enough: gym members, especially for a local or independent gym, provide a good counterpoint to the usual corporate office engagement. Inactive, office based (or increasingly working-from-home based in the wake of Covid), the gym membership is a way to encourage a physically idle workforce into a form of exercise. 

These memberships are usually born from either the business or the gym approaching the other party to arrange a series of discounts, offers and material regarding the corporate gym membership scheme, to the mutual benefit of both. 

It is a win that makes the employees feel valued and increases their standard of life quality at a comparatively meagre price point compared to other employee benefits. From the perspective of the C-suite, it is a chance to give back to the employees in a constructive and mutually beneficial way. It is also a very topical and progressive solution to several modern ills, increasing everything from productivity to lifespan.

It also doesn’t hurt that it looks very good in a yearly employee satisfaction and wellbeing policy report, by the by. 

Methods for Independent Gyms and Fitness Clubs to help launch and sustain corporate membership schemes with businesses in the area

1. Plan the approach, understand the business in the area

Before any business is approached, it is important that any independent gym or fitness club looking to construct a corporate gym membership scheme understands what they are offering, who they are offering it to and how they are going to offer it.

We will go further into the creation of a corporate scheme later in significant detail, so for now we will focus on the latter two. Planning the approach and understanding the area.

Both are equally important for any independent gym serious about approaching businesses with corporate gym member offers. Unfortunately it isn’t as simple as just walking up to an office or sending an e-mail to the first e-mail address that can be found on a website. 

It is important to understand not only who to contact at every company that is approached, but also what information they will want to know in the introduction and what questions they might ask.

While the person or department in charge of employee benefits (and therefore the funds necessary to fund a corporate gym membership) will vary from company to company. It is therefore vital to understand who will be responsible, interested and engaged when it comes to striking new corporate membership agreements.

No matter how good the value of a corporate gym membership scheme is, if it lands in the wrong inbox the chances of hearing back become very slim. 

2. Understand the product, use that understanding to craft and engaging offer.

Too often when we talk through this process with  independent gym and fitness club owners, they have given no thought to the product they are offering beyond the concept of ‘gym membership’. 

In the world of justifying corporate budgets, that isn’t enough. That isn’t the language that they speak. It is important to craft a concise but engaging pitch for why this corporate gym membership is not only going to bring tangible benefit to the company, but how those benefits can be presented. 

It is a case of ‘doing their job for them’. If the person responsible already knows exactly how to advocate for a corporate gym membership scheme, they are that much more likely to successfully pitch and convince the necessary people within their business structure. 

As with any initiative in a workplace, it lives and dies not only on the strength of the idea, but the willingness of those championing it. 

Independent gyms hoping to secure such enthusiasm should not scrimp on details, an e-mail with a series of numbers might give all the information that is technically required but it will not set anyone off on a campaign.

Focus on benefits that will really matter to the office or corporate structure, and then also the members that the independent gym will be trying to attract and keep. This can be simple things such as equipment, very specific things to the area such as distance from the office, or associated benefits like PT sessions and other perks.

It is important that any independent gym attempting to implement and convince businesses to adopt a corporate gym membership benefit scheme understands that it isn’t a matter of convincing a single individual, but rather understanding the audience at every stage of the process. Giving the right individuals the tools to make the right pitches at the right time. 

3. How can independent gyms build a meaningful relationship with their corporate partners?

Our third point is an often overlooked part of the process.

As with many aspects of business, a corporate gym membership benefit scheme is a partnership. A partnership that will require regular, scheduled contact to sustain itself and endure.

In our experience, the corporate gym membership benefit schemes that endure are the ones that forge meaningful, useful relationships on each side of the deal early on.

All it requires is a point of contact on each side that is enthused, engaged and knowledgeable about the process. 

As we covered in the previous section, the success of the partnership will determine the ability to enthuse people, which makes the setup of this process all the more important. If it is set up haphazardly and in haste, or without proper care and attention given to the working relationship between independent gym and company, the success of the scheme will most likely suffer. 

4. How can an Independent gym show their competence and sophistication while striking a corporate gym membership benefit scheme deal?

It is a question we hear a lot. How can we put our best foot forward? How can we show that we are as professional and competent as the chain gyms?

There is some good news and some bad news when it comes to the answer to these questions.

 The ‘bad’ news is that there is no way around it, independent gyms do have to be as competent, sophisticated and professional as chain gyms to stand out in the eyes of potential corporate clients looking for gym benefit membership schemes.

The good news? It has never been more attainable or affordable for an independent gym to go toe to toe with the chain gyms when it comes to offering corporate gym membership schemes. 

And that is due to the rise of the next generation of gym membership management software. 

While not every gym membership management software company on the market offers the service, it has become an increasingly desirable selling point to have gym membership management software that allows independent gyms to set up corporate membership schemes as quickly and efficiently as ‘the chains’. 

This has led to a new and exciting phenomena of independent gyms ‘punching above their weight’ in the corporate gym membership benefit scheme arena.

No longer held back by infrastructure and procedures not fit for large-scale transactions, with the right gym membership management partner, independent gyms have an incredibly valuable tool at their disposal for attracting and retaining corporate clients looking to start employee benefit schemes. 

 And in addition to gym membership management software helping to grease the wheels of commerce when it comes to setting up corporate membership benefit schemes, they can also allow independent gyms unparalleled data to help build the case as to why they are the right independent fitness facility to partner with and service their employee base. 

 The importance of gym membership management software for independent gyms when attracting corporate clients cannot be overstated.

It is important to remember that the first thing that the correspondence on the business-side will see, whether it is a HR representative or a member of a workers council, won’t be the facility itself but the pitch and the digital infrastructure. 

If this seems archaic, unintuitive or hard to pitch to the rest of the company, the chances of that corporate gym membership scheme seeing fruition just drastically decreased. 

5. Maintaining the relationship between independent gym and corporate client.

And finally, perhaps an obvious entry but nonetheless very important. Do not let the relationship that has been fostered between independent gym and corporate clients wither and die. 

While a good portion of this relationship will run on automatic once it has been successfully set up, there is a significant vested interest for the independent gym to stay in contact. Whether it is staff visiting the office, dedicated event days or merely a coupon/voucher/leaflet drop, there is always something to be done.

Once the idea is struck and the corporate membership scheme is in place, the independent gym knows a set location where a portion of the membership is likely to be. They would be remiss not to utilise this space for engagement and research. 

It is not enough to seal the deal between corporate client and independent gym, it must be maintained and understood. Work with the client to understand what has gone right and what has gone wrong. Incorporate this process into the next corporate offering. 

If done correctly, this will create a positive feedback loop that will help drive and maximise profits across the gym, but also provide valuable feedback across a variety of different operational areas.

Important selling points and attributes for any successful Independent Gyms corporate membership scheme and pitch

Just before we reach our conclusion, we are going to use this section to make a checklist of important selling points that will attract the corporate client liaison or representative when an independent gym makes a corporate membership benefit pitch.

1. Cost/Budget

One of the most important pieces of information that any HR department or corporate liaison will want to know regarding the corporate membership scheme of an independent gym. We do not recommend hiding the price behind a glamorous pitch. If they are not in the market for paying the prices a gym desires, no amount of prose will change that. 

3. Research

If the information is readily available, an independent gym can make large strides towards securing corporate clients and corporate gym membership schemes by researching the companies they are approaching.

Whether it is the aforementioned demographics and the company ethos or more basic criteria such as office locations, any information that can be included in the pitch will help signify to the representatives that the independent gym has taken it seriously. 

2. Broad Appeal

Corporate offices are not mono-cultures. There will be a variety of different people and demographics in any office and these people will have different forms of fitness that attract them.

Demonstrating a strong variety and depth of exercise is key for an independent gym to distinguish itself. While it may be a given for large chains, an independent gym must show that it will have enough of everything to appeal to the denizens of the office.

If the corporate client goes to their flock with a substandard offering, the chances of the corporate scheme getting off the floor for the independent gym becomes increasingly slim.

4. Membership Sign-up Process

It might not sound like the most intuitive final item to include in a list of how independent gyms can make a good first impression, but all the more reason it is top of the list.

Having talked extensively to people on the corporate side of the equation, one of the key concerns when being approached by an independent gym is ensuring that the sign-up process is sleek, professional and low-effort. 

Businesses are often caught between two conflicting desires. They want to provide high quality benefits to their employees, but these initiatives cannot be too time-intensive for man-hour strapped departments. 

As such, we believe the single most important thing an independent gym can do to put their good foot forward is to demonstrate how effortless and efficient the sign-up process can be.

If this is a cause for concern, then as we said above, an independent gym should look no further than approaching a new gym membership management software partner. With the help of the right gym membership management partner, the process can be made easy and effective. 

Conclusion

And speaking of gym membership management software! If you have been reading this and don’t believe that the independent gym or fitness club that you manage could provide a slick and effortless sign-up process for your corporate partners then look no further.

Because here at Ashbourne, we don’t just write guides for independent gym owners, we actively utilise our twenty five years of experience in the fitness industry to help our partners maximise profits and results. 

With our lightweight and powerful gym membership management software, we have helped hundreds of partners in levelling-up their operation. Whether it is working towards streamlining the sign-up process, harnessing data, access control integration or website and app development, we are confident we have the solution for an independent gym willing to put in the time and effort. 

Interested in seeing what Ashbourne could do for your independent gym or fitness club? Then contact our demonstrations team today here and start working with them to understand where Ashbourne can assist with and elevate the day-to-day operation of any fitness facility! 

Get your club in shape.

Want to discover how? Let us show you.

Simply select your preferred timeslot and we’ll be in touch to have a chat about your health club,
the goals you want to achieve, and how our system can help you.

Get your club in shape.

Want to discover how? Let us show you.

Simply select your preferred timeslot and we’ll be in touch to have a chat about your health club, the goals you want to achieve, and how our system can help you.

Get your club in shape.

Want to discover how? Let us show you.

Simply select your preferred timeslot and we’ll be in touch to have a chat about your health club, the goals you want to achieve, and how our system can help you.

Member of a gym? Simply text "HELP" to 60777 and we'll help you.

Member of a gym? Simply text "HELP" to 60777 and we'll help you.

Member of a gym? Simply text "HELP" to 60777 and we'll help you.

Focus on the over 50s: The Pivot to Senior Fitness

Focus on the over 50s: The Pivot to Senior Fitness

Here on the Ashbourne blog, it is no secret that we like to focus on demographic change.

And why wouldn’t we? After all, the fitness industry is an industry of contradiction when it comes to age, demographics and generation difference.

It is an industry at once highly susceptible to demographic change yet also oddly inured to it.

After all, the first buildings we would recognise as Gyms (known as Zurkhaneh for those interested) are older than even the first libraries. (The 7th century BC vs the 9th century BC for those still interested!)

So it is safe to say that this working out business has some longevity to it! (As does reading, so it would thankfully seem!)

So what do we mean when we talk about the relationship of the fitness industry to demographic change, especially from the perspective of independent gym and fitness club owners? 

Well, it is that the fitness industry (until very recently) was overwhelmingly populated and targeted towards younger people. This presents several challenges, not least of which is that each new generation represents a new and relatively unknown entity. Will they largely follow the same pattern as their predecessors, as Gen Z seems to be following and building upon the millennial trend in their fitness habits? Or will they represent a radical departure such as Generation X when contrasted with the ‘baby boomers’. 

It is a pertinent and important question to the fitness industry, but one that can only really be intuited as the generation is unfolding. This stands in stark contrast to an industry that, say, only targets the over-65s. 

While the over-65s, much like the under-40s, is a constantly shifting demographic with new people entering their ranks and others passing away, it is still always ebbing and flowing as a cultural entity. 


So we spend a lot of time focusing on what trends will matter to the millennials, Generation Z and beyond. But our focus today is the exact opposite. We will be once again exploring the known entities. The generations that have shaped the fitness industry and broader economy for the last thirty years plus.

And the generation that has stayed more interested in fitness into their midlife and elder years more than any generation before it.

A continued trend for 2024

As 2024 continues to assert itself, it is becoming clear that the trend of ‘older adult’ fitness is moving from strength to strength. As we were at pains to try and reinforce above, this is a big deal within the fitness industry, and specifically to independent gym and fitness club owners (the type of institution an ‘older adult’ is most likely to use!)

The reason for this continued focus and boom is fairly simple. We are more health-conscious than ever before and this is one of the first generations to grow old under the auspice of ‘living longer and living better’. The fatalism and inertia of the previous generations has started to dissipate slowly and the cycle of increased demand leading to increased supply has started to take effect.

This expands what had previously been a fairly niche market for independent gyms and fitness clubs. Normally it was accepted that after a certain age, gyms would lose their grasp on a generation as they retreated towards cruise holiday and television. 

But no longer, in 2023 it was reported that the term  “fitness programs for older adults” was one of the top twenty trending terms in the fitness industry according to a survey of more than four thousand health and fitness professionals by the American College of Sports Medicine.

In fact, it ranked 4th overall. This new high is perhaps partially due to the covid-19 pandemic which saw the rise and proliferation of many government and private campaigns to improve the public health, specifically of those most likely to be grievously affected by Covid-19.

It is entirely possible that this trend is also being stimulated by the increasing number of baby boomers leaving the workforce and retiring, prompting the search for new ways to stay fit and active. 

And with this rise comes many other trends for independent gym and fitness clubs to explore. We have already written about the rise of ‘functional fitness’ and how it has been powered by the shift in priority amongst both young and old. This is another trend that has continued to strengthen into 2024, no doubt receiving a push from the increasing number of ‘older adults’ that wish to live a better quality of life for longer. 

In addition to ‘functional fitness’ for older adults, another trend being pushed is the rise of wearable technologies, which also seem to be experiencing a renaissance. 

Independent gyms and fitness clubs would be remiss to ignore this development within the fitness industry, especially if they are within the multitude of towns that are experiencing a rise in the average age of the population.

Events And Classes Aimed at 'Older Adults'

With the rise of the ‘older adult’ market, there is also an increase in events aimed at this demographic. This is an example of the ‘positive momentum’ we often talk about on the blog. The more events held, the more normalised ‘Older adult’ oriented classes and memberships will become and the greater this part of the market expands for the fitness industry. 

A prominent example of this in 2023 was the launch of the Pure Gym fitness championships that were dedicated to the over-50s. 

It was an initiative that allowed anyone over 50 to enter free of charge into the Pure Gym Over 50s Fitness Championships, whether they were a member or not. 

While we are not a fan of praising the budget-chains, we do think that as market leaders, they are useful to monitor and study. Pure Gym evidently put stock in the evidence of an emerging trend for ‘older adult’ workouts and independent gyms and fitness clubs would do well to note that. 

The events were further broken up by the age-bandings used across different championships, with 50 to 59 years old being the first, 60 to 69 years old being the second , 70 to 79 years old as the third and the finally 80+ as the fourth and last.

 While we would not recommend that every independent gym or fitness club owner copies the event format, we believe there is merit in the format. Pure Gym evidently wanted to attract new members within the 50+ bracket to their gyms, offering lifetime and year-long memberships as rewards and prizes. 

This is not a bad idea for an independent gym or fitness club that has a significant 50+ population within the area. Often we find that potential 50+ members cite that one of the main reasons for not attending a gym is not knowing whether it is ‘aimed at them’. An event such as this, especially one that offers membership as a prize is a huge beacon saying ‘this is aimed at you’.

The other good news is that the events are easy to run merely by utilising the equipment available within an independent gym or fitness club. Treadmills, Exercise Bikes, Elliptical Trainers, Rowing Machines. These all represent great, over 50+ friendly workouts that often are banked up or in a row within a gym floor environment. 

Social Messaging

Just as importantly, this focus on over 50s has an important social message as well. Pure Gym led with the tags that focused on the fact that no-one is too old to give up staying healthy. This is important, not only on a societal level, with healthcare costs for our ageing population representing a major current and future challenge, but also on an individual level. 

This is what the fitness industry thrives on, making sure people live better and are better for longer. This is not a message that should be gated off behind any parameter, let alone age.

The fact it also represents a promising and expansive new revenue stream is, of course, also very useful in this challenging economy. 

Events such as these allow for an independent gym or fitness club’s social media channel to be full of positive. To enact a ‘celebration’ of vitality into midlife and older age.

It can also be an important exercise in community building and bonding. Older people will often be the most embedded within a community, and also the least likely to move away from an area compared to the highly mobile younger generations. 

And unlike the Pure Gym championship, which focused on a higher level of performance, there is nothing to say that the event can’t be gentle or even humorous. It is a good opportunity for independent gym and fitness club management to get creative, have some fun and meet sections of the community they do not normally have the pleasure of interacting with. 

Family Focused

One consideration for independent gyms and fitness clubs looking to host events that will bring in the over 50+ while not alienating or excluding the younger generations is to host more ‘family-centric’ events. This has been a popular type of event among our partners, as it is both very easy to market and organise. 

It can also help effortlessly blend fitness programs for older adults focused on the ageing population alongside more general functional fitness training that can be utilised by anyone, irrespective of age.

We have found that these events can be very popular if marketed correctly and in advance. Families are often looking for cost effective and health activities that they can engage with together, including the grandparents. If these events can be fed out on more elderly facing social medis such as Facebook and via the local council or community network, attendance could sky-rocket!

Why Is Senior Fitness Important To Independent Gyms and Fitness Clubs?

We have covered and will continue to cover the faltering life-expectancy rate within the UK, especially among the disadvantaged before on the blog.

But one thing we have not covered so much is an unexpected side-effect of the increase in life-expectancy. It is a point best surmised in a study by the Vitality Research Institute that has found that increasingly men and women are spending a larger proportion of their life in ‘poor health’. 

Unsurprisingly, this ‘poor health’ tends to occur most prevalently at the end of life. This trend has prompted a distinction between life expectancy and ‘healthspan’. One has increased apace and caused a significant decline in the other.

This presents problems both socially and economically for our society and it is something that fitness facilities such as independent gyms and fitness clubs are in a prime position to help with. 

As we mentioned earlier, there is a growing demand among consumers to live not only for a long time, but to live well for that time. It represents not only a wasted opportunity economically but also societally if independent gyms let the chance to contribute to this struggle pass them by. 

We firmly believe that independent gyms that place functional fitness and healthspan increasing exercise as one of their core focuses will reap major benefits as this trend continues to compound.

Because while this is an emerging trend, it shows no sign of abating and this desire will most likely only compound as the 2020s give way to the 2030s and beyond. 

When there is a rare instance of consumer aspirations merging with both the prevailing health advice and the societal good, it would be reckless for independent gym and fitness club owners NOT to heed the call. 

The fitness industry as a whole must present ambitious strategies to deal with this crisis and there is no reason that this can’t begin at the local and independent gym level. 

The fitness industry and sector must realise and act upon the fact that we are one of the only sectors well positioned to assist in combating this crisis. 

And as the ageing populations of the West continue to grow, this will be an issue that takes on greater and greater societal importance. 

It is about leveraging the existing expertise and experience found within the fitness industry to make a genuine difference to people’s lives. Shaping their life in both a qualitative and quantitative way.  

Fitness facilities, and especially independent gyms and fitness clubs represent a valuable, accessible and often local nexus for everyday people to access the equipment and expertise that could alter their life in the years to come. 

It is about creating a culture that is accessible and potentially empowering to an ageing population that is eager for solutions to the quality of life and healthspan issues.

Are you an independent gym or fitness club owner looking to host events and classes similar to the ones we have mentioned today?

If you are an independent gym or fitness club owner or manager who is looking to reach new demographics, hold large events or organise an effective fitness class structure then look no further. You may have just found the partnership that will help take your fitness facility to the next level!

Here at Ashbourne, we have worked for 25 years of experience in the fitness industry, working with thousands of gyms in order to ensure that they were operating at peak efficiency.

Whether it is with our lightweight and powerful direct debit handling gym membership management software, our incisive BI dashboards or our state of the art access control installation plans, we have helped countless gym owners secure the future of their business.

Interested to see how Ashbourne can help your independent gym thrive? Book a demonstration with our sales team today here to find out more! 

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Want to discover how? Let us show you.

Simply select your preferred timeslot and we’ll be in touch to have a chat about your health club, the goals you want to achieve, and how our system can help you.

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Want to discover how? Let us show you.

Simply select your preferred timeslot and we’ll be in touch to have a chat about your health club, the goals you want to achieve, and how our system can help you.

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Member of a gym? Simply text "HELP" to 60777 and we'll help you.

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