Five of the Top Fitness Trends Influencing Consumer Demand
By Bryan Green Founder & CEO, Advantage Fitness Products | January 06, 2010
The fitness industry is constantly evolving. As exercise physiologists, fitness and athletic trainers and wellness professionals push the envelope of untapped knowledge and new technologies, fitness trends emerge and change. Most importantly, as these changes occur, so do the expectations and demands of consumers.
This places a unique demand on fitness center operators to be aware and prepared to respond to these changing consumer demands. Fitness services can absolutely drive bottom line goals for hotels and resorts including revenue generation, but most certainly in guest experience, retention, and beyond. However, significant returns are only realized by management committed to keeping their facilities in line with these changing trends and consumer demands. Fitness is no longer a "throw in" to a hotel or resort's mix of services. With that in mind, let's take a look at some of the current trends that are pushing the industry and consumer demand into uncharted terrain.
A Historical Perspective
A look back at the past forty years only reinforces the ever-evolving nature of fitness and its impact on consumer demand. The '70s saw resistance training (weight lifting) transcend beefcakes and body-builders and become the norm for individuals of all fitness levels. This was the beginning of health and fitness finding its way into the fabric of mainstream society. In the '80s it was all about aerobics and the emergence of group training, fitness centers began featuring adjacent group training rooms to accommodate group fitness classes. With that, the fitness "boom" was official. The 90s brought Pilates, and a resurgence of yoga and other "alternative" fitness methods into the mainstream. Suddenly, fitness environments of all types including hotels and spas began offering their own variety and refinement of these modalities. Suddenly, fitness was about a lot more than simply looking good. It was about living longer and healthier. Most recently, "core" training and functional fitness have become the emphasis in a balanced exercise approach, and fitness center offerings have followed suit. So what's next?
Trend #1 - Smaller is Better
While the large facility model is alive and well among mainstream health club chains, the trend is now toward smaller, boutique facilities. There are a growing number of consumers looking to escape the mayhem and hassles associated with large health clubs to a more personal environment. An obvious benefit hotels and resorts can provide is the convenience for travelers to satisfy their fitness needs on property, instead of going elsewhere to visit local area health clubs. But surprisingly, more and more hotels and resorts are expanding their focus beyond guests, offering access to the local community as an alternative to the large health club experience, through a limited membership model. Furthermore, the growing lifestyle emphasis on health and wellness in combination with the need for convenience has enabled a market for smaller, more accessible facilities. The maturity of the industry itself has also spawned a multitude of models offering both luxury and full service offerings. This has certainly perpetuated a new fitness-minded consumer that seeks a more intimate, personalized experience. The big health club chains can't offer this, but hotels and resorts most certainly can. Fitness and spa managers at hotels and resorts should seek creative ways to position fitness centers and capture this "chic" vibe that boutique facilities possess. This can be achieved in marketing and promotional vehicles on property as well as communications vehicles aimed at guest acquisition.