POST YOUR JOB ONLINE
Free ezine/digital edition sign up
Jobs   News   Features   Video    Products   Magazine      Advertise  
US stats
What members say

New research from the US shows Millennials and Gen Z may be slow to return to gyms, while women are more hesitant than men. Club Intel’s Steve Tharrett reports


A destructive storm descended on the US fitness industry in March 2020, spawned by the COVID-19 virus. Within a month, 90 per cent of fitness facilities were closed in 46 States.

By 1 June – earlier in some parts of the US – operators were entering or preparing for phase one reopenings and after experiencing a period of hibernation, clubs and studios were emerging from their COVID-19 slumbers.

This reemergence is cause for celebration, but also trepidation. Operators are scrambling to identify the best practices for reopening, to meet reopening guidelines set out by their respective States and to reduce the anxieties and concerns of consumers.

This dawning of a new era reminds us of a speech Abraham Lincoln gave the US Congress in 1862 when the nation faced what many saw as an insurmountable challenge: “The dogmas of the quiet past are inadequate for the stormy present. The occasion is piled high with difficulty and we must rise to the occasion. As our case is new, we must think and act anew.”

This era, framed by COVID-19, is truly a new era – one piled high with challenges and one that requires new thinking, new planning, and new acting.

Three dimensional thinking
The challenge of reopening exists in three dimensions, but we’ve seen the industry – in most cases – brainstorming solutions in two dimensions. Yes, reopening requires adherence to government guidelines – the first dimension. Secondly it requires new thinking that addresses members’ anxieties around returning – the second dimension. What we believed was missing is the vital third dimension – understanding what the members really feel.

We were keen to establish the deal breakers they needed to see being addressed before they would return to the gym and to find out which of their past behaviours and experiences would subconsciously influence their decision to return.

In mid-May ClubIntel launched a study of 2,000 US health and fitness facility members in 20 major cities across all seven US census regions to identify pre-pandemic behaviours and then look at the impact of COVID-19 during and after the closures. The study, called What members say matters – what members say is needed if health and fitness facilities want them back, was sponsored by Life Fitness and Les Mills.

Our first goal was to explore members’ likelihood of returning to their facility, selecting another facility, or not returning and pursuing another path. Secondly, we wanted to see if previous behaviors and experiences, or current sentiments would be predictors of their returning or not returning.

Ultimately, we felt this member-driven insight would assist operators make more educated and informed decisions regarding their reopening strategy. We believe ‘The secret of changes is to focus all your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new,’ Socrates.

The way forward
Lao Tzu, the father of Taoism, said “New beginnings are disguised as painful endings.” As fitness operators emerge from closure it represents for many a painful ending and a new beginning.

While we can speculate on what’s needed if we are to arise from this painful experience and prevail, nothing can guide us better than the voices of members – absent them and any decision you make will be akin to applying a two-dimensional solution to a three-dimensional problem.

• To download a copy of the report, go to HCMmag.com/ClubIntell

Short stories from the data
The research brought forward a wealth of data and insights that operators can utilise to frame their reopening strategy. Here are some of the key findings:

1. Commitment matters

Member usage prior to covid-19 closure is a powerful predictor of return – 52 per cent of members who work out at least 12 times a month said they were ‘very likely’ to return compared to 37 per cent who attended eight to 12 times a month and 22 per cent who visit one or fewer times a month.

Interestingly, the level of usage doesn’t seem to have a material impact on the decision not to return, but it does have an impact on the desire to return: we found that members who use their club or gym fewer than eight times a month are half as likely to express strong sentiments about returning.

2. Rebuilding will be needed

Around 65 per cent of US members say they are very likely or fairly likely to return. We consider this a powerful testament to how challenging it will be for clubs and studios to see a return to 100 per cent of their pre-COVID membership numbers.

Following this, 19 per cent are undecided and 16 per cent say they’re unlikely or very unlikely to return.

So it’s reasonable to predict most operators can expect 65 per cent to 84 per cent of their members to return. A return to 100 per cent will likely require recruiting members away from other facilities, not an impossible task, since 21 per cent indicated they were fairly likely or very likely to switch allegiances to another facility when they reopen

3. It will be a staged process

The process of members returning will be a staged process. 34 per cent indicated they’d return in the first week, 34 per cent between one and four weeks and 25 per cent between one and three months. This means clubs and studios must expect a slow and steady climb.

4. Sex differences will matter

Women are more hesitant than men, with fewer women indicating they’re very likely to return (33 per cent women vs 42 per cent men). More women indicate they’re unlikely to return or haven’t reached that decision yet (50 per cent vs 43 per cent) and when it comes to how quickly they’ll return, 39 per cent of men say the first week compared to 29 per cent of women. If you’re in the US and your business is geared toward women, expect it to be a longer and more challenging process to rebuild your membership base.

5. Be alert to age differences

Baby Boomers are the generation most likely to return and return faster –74 per cent of Boomers and older say they’re very/fairly likely to return, compared to 59 per cent of Gen Z and 61 per cent of Millennials. While it’s encouraging that the older generations are enthusiastic about returning, these findings sounds an alarm bell when it comes to the hesitancy of Millennials and Gen Z, since they represent the largest generational segment of the industry.

6. Control the things you can

The decision to return is dependent on a variety of factors operators can’t control. We looked at 19 influences with respect to member’s decision to return.

Two were related to whether local governments are able to provide consumers with evidence that sufficient tests COVID-19 tests are available and being able to show consumers that the number of reported cases has declined over the previous two weeks.

Other influencers members reported as being extremely important are:

• Management keeping members out of the club who show symptoms
• Disinfecting equipment after each use
• Having immediate access to hand sanitising stations
• Enforcing limits on facility and group exercise capacity

Key takeaways
1. If your business previously required 5k members to be profitable, can you reinvent your value proposition to be successful with only 4k?

Reinvent: Think, plan and execute differently: this data points to a new era for the industry, characterised by lower membership numbers, progressive ramp-up periods, and more scrutinised business practices.
Factors such as age, gender and past behaviour are extremely important variables – if your business previously required 5k members to be profitable, can you reinvent your value proposition to be successful with only 4k To accomplish this, build a plan that allows you to be profitable under these new circumstances.

2. As Mark Twain said, ‘The best predictor of future behavior is past behaviour’

Dive into customer insight: Get to grips with your database to prevail and thrive. Understanding the past behaviour and experiences of members will improve your successful rate when it comes to getting them back. The research clearly shows that knowing usage levels, length of membership, gender and age is critical to understanding how your reopening strategies will be received.

3. Tell them straight and be accountable – even if it requires you to take a stand

Take a strong position: Authenticity and transparency are more important than ever – members are saying they want operators to tell them straight what’s happening with respect to the virus and their club and to hold staff and members accountable to reinforcing policies, even if it requires taking a stand. Members expect managers to stand strong behind their decisions, if they don’t, it will lessen their likelihood of returning, or of staying when they do return.

4. The provision of virtual fitness content is an important influence on members’ decision to return

Get virtual: Operators seeking relevance to Gen Z, Millennials and women need to commit to providing virtual fitness content. This emerged as generally being critical during lockdown, but our study shows virtual was used primarily by Gen Z, Millennials, and women. These groups also rated the provision of virtual fitness content as an important influence on their decision to return. The data also shows that nearly as many members are ‘very likely’ to continue using virtual fitness content as those who are ‘very likely to return’ to their former club.

Millennials and Gen Z represent the largest generational segment of the industry Credit: Jacob Lund/shutterstock
Focus on customer insight to really understand what is motivating your members Credit: Jacob Lund/shutterstock
FEATURED SUPPLIERS

The Retention People unveil 2020 Member Experience Awards winners
Member engagement software provider The Retention People (TRP) has unveiled the winners of its annual 2020 Member Experience Awards (MEA). [more...]

What does a socially distanced leisure centre and health club look like?
The world has had to get used to social distancing in 2020 and any business operating in the leisure and hospitality sectors has had to face this challenge more than most. [more...]
COMPANY PROFILES
EMD UK

EMD UK have a range of options for fitness brands, including support in starting up, regular busines [more...]
+ More profiles  
CATALOGUE GALLERY
 
+ More catalogues  

VIDEO GALLERY

Technogym - Mywellness App 5.0
Mywellness helps you assess customer needs, provide great workouts and programmes, guarantee a training spot on the gym floor, offer group training, track indoor and outdoor workouts - even with 3rd party apps. Find out more...
+ More videos  

DIRECTORY
+ More directory  
DIARY

 

02-04 Feb 2021

Beauty West Africa

Landmark Centre, Lagos, Nigeria
02-04 Feb 2021

Spatex 2021

Ericsson Exhibition Hall, Ricoh Arena, Coventry, United Kingdom
+ More diary  
 
ABOUT LEISURE MEDIA
LEISURE MEDIA MAGAZINES
LEISURE MEDIA HANDBOOKS
LEISURE MEDIA WEBSITES
LEISURE MEDIA PRODUCT SEARCH
 
HCM
LEISURE OPPORTUNITIES
HEALTH CLUB HANDBOOK
PRINT SUBSCRIPTIONS
FREE DIGITAL SUBSCRIPTIONS
ADVERTISE . CONTACT US

Leisure Media, Portmill House, Portmill Lane,
Hitchin, Hertfordshire SG5 1DJ Tel: +44 (0)1462 431385

©Cybertrek 2021
Jobs   News   Products   Magazine
US stats
What members say

New research from the US shows Millennials and Gen Z may be slow to return to gyms, while women are more hesitant than men. Club Intel’s Steve Tharrett reports


A destructive storm descended on the US fitness industry in March 2020, spawned by the COVID-19 virus. Within a month, 90 per cent of fitness facilities were closed in 46 States.

By 1 June – earlier in some parts of the US – operators were entering or preparing for phase one reopenings and after experiencing a period of hibernation, clubs and studios were emerging from their COVID-19 slumbers.

This reemergence is cause for celebration, but also trepidation. Operators are scrambling to identify the best practices for reopening, to meet reopening guidelines set out by their respective States and to reduce the anxieties and concerns of consumers.

This dawning of a new era reminds us of a speech Abraham Lincoln gave the US Congress in 1862 when the nation faced what many saw as an insurmountable challenge: “The dogmas of the quiet past are inadequate for the stormy present. The occasion is piled high with difficulty and we must rise to the occasion. As our case is new, we must think and act anew.”

This era, framed by COVID-19, is truly a new era – one piled high with challenges and one that requires new thinking, new planning, and new acting.

Three dimensional thinking
The challenge of reopening exists in three dimensions, but we’ve seen the industry – in most cases – brainstorming solutions in two dimensions. Yes, reopening requires adherence to government guidelines – the first dimension. Secondly it requires new thinking that addresses members’ anxieties around returning – the second dimension. What we believed was missing is the vital third dimension – understanding what the members really feel.

We were keen to establish the deal breakers they needed to see being addressed before they would return to the gym and to find out which of their past behaviours and experiences would subconsciously influence their decision to return.

In mid-May ClubIntel launched a study of 2,000 US health and fitness facility members in 20 major cities across all seven US census regions to identify pre-pandemic behaviours and then look at the impact of COVID-19 during and after the closures. The study, called What members say matters – what members say is needed if health and fitness facilities want them back, was sponsored by Life Fitness and Les Mills.

Our first goal was to explore members’ likelihood of returning to their facility, selecting another facility, or not returning and pursuing another path. Secondly, we wanted to see if previous behaviors and experiences, or current sentiments would be predictors of their returning or not returning.

Ultimately, we felt this member-driven insight would assist operators make more educated and informed decisions regarding their reopening strategy. We believe ‘The secret of changes is to focus all your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new,’ Socrates.

The way forward
Lao Tzu, the father of Taoism, said “New beginnings are disguised as painful endings.” As fitness operators emerge from closure it represents for many a painful ending and a new beginning.

While we can speculate on what’s needed if we are to arise from this painful experience and prevail, nothing can guide us better than the voices of members – absent them and any decision you make will be akin to applying a two-dimensional solution to a three-dimensional problem.

• To download a copy of the report, go to HCMmag.com/ClubIntell

Short stories from the data
The research brought forward a wealth of data and insights that operators can utilise to frame their reopening strategy. Here are some of the key findings:

1. Commitment matters

Member usage prior to covid-19 closure is a powerful predictor of return – 52 per cent of members who work out at least 12 times a month said they were ‘very likely’ to return compared to 37 per cent who attended eight to 12 times a month and 22 per cent who visit one or fewer times a month.

Interestingly, the level of usage doesn’t seem to have a material impact on the decision not to return, but it does have an impact on the desire to return: we found that members who use their club or gym fewer than eight times a month are half as likely to express strong sentiments about returning.

2. Rebuilding will be needed

Around 65 per cent of US members say they are very likely or fairly likely to return. We consider this a powerful testament to how challenging it will be for clubs and studios to see a return to 100 per cent of their pre-COVID membership numbers.

Following this, 19 per cent are undecided and 16 per cent say they’re unlikely or very unlikely to return.

So it’s reasonable to predict most operators can expect 65 per cent to 84 per cent of their members to return. A return to 100 per cent will likely require recruiting members away from other facilities, not an impossible task, since 21 per cent indicated they were fairly likely or very likely to switch allegiances to another facility when they reopen

3. It will be a staged process

The process of members returning will be a staged process. 34 per cent indicated they’d return in the first week, 34 per cent between one and four weeks and 25 per cent between one and three months. This means clubs and studios must expect a slow and steady climb.

4. Sex differences will matter

Women are more hesitant than men, with fewer women indicating they’re very likely to return (33 per cent women vs 42 per cent men). More women indicate they’re unlikely to return or haven’t reached that decision yet (50 per cent vs 43 per cent) and when it comes to how quickly they’ll return, 39 per cent of men say the first week compared to 29 per cent of women. If you’re in the US and your business is geared toward women, expect it to be a longer and more challenging process to rebuild your membership base.

5. Be alert to age differences

Baby Boomers are the generation most likely to return and return faster –74 per cent of Boomers and older say they’re very/fairly likely to return, compared to 59 per cent of Gen Z and 61 per cent of Millennials. While it’s encouraging that the older generations are enthusiastic about returning, these findings sounds an alarm bell when it comes to the hesitancy of Millennials and Gen Z, since they represent the largest generational segment of the industry.

6. Control the things you can

The decision to return is dependent on a variety of factors operators can’t control. We looked at 19 influences with respect to member’s decision to return.

Two were related to whether local governments are able to provide consumers with evidence that sufficient tests COVID-19 tests are available and being able to show consumers that the number of reported cases has declined over the previous two weeks.

Other influencers members reported as being extremely important are:

• Management keeping members out of the club who show symptoms
• Disinfecting equipment after each use
• Having immediate access to hand sanitising stations
• Enforcing limits on facility and group exercise capacity

Key takeaways
1. If your business previously required 5k members to be profitable, can you reinvent your value proposition to be successful with only 4k?

Reinvent: Think, plan and execute differently: this data points to a new era for the industry, characterised by lower membership numbers, progressive ramp-up periods, and more scrutinised business practices.
Factors such as age, gender and past behaviour are extremely important variables – if your business previously required 5k members to be profitable, can you reinvent your value proposition to be successful with only 4k To accomplish this, build a plan that allows you to be profitable under these new circumstances.

2. As Mark Twain said, ‘The best predictor of future behavior is past behaviour’

Dive into customer insight: Get to grips with your database to prevail and thrive. Understanding the past behaviour and experiences of members will improve your successful rate when it comes to getting them back. The research clearly shows that knowing usage levels, length of membership, gender and age is critical to understanding how your reopening strategies will be received.

3. Tell them straight and be accountable – even if it requires you to take a stand

Take a strong position: Authenticity and transparency are more important than ever – members are saying they want operators to tell them straight what’s happening with respect to the virus and their club and to hold staff and members accountable to reinforcing policies, even if it requires taking a stand. Members expect managers to stand strong behind their decisions, if they don’t, it will lessen their likelihood of returning, or of staying when they do return.

4. The provision of virtual fitness content is an important influence on members’ decision to return

Get virtual: Operators seeking relevance to Gen Z, Millennials and women need to commit to providing virtual fitness content. This emerged as generally being critical during lockdown, but our study shows virtual was used primarily by Gen Z, Millennials, and women. These groups also rated the provision of virtual fitness content as an important influence on their decision to return. The data also shows that nearly as many members are ‘very likely’ to continue using virtual fitness content as those who are ‘very likely to return’ to their former club.

Millennials and Gen Z represent the largest generational segment of the industry Credit: Jacob Lund/shutterstock
Focus on customer insight to really understand what is motivating your members Credit: Jacob Lund/shutterstock
LATEST NEWS
Parliamentary Petition calls for gyms to reopen first after lockdown
HCM editor, Liz Terry, has launched a Parliamentary Petition calling for gyms to be in the first wave of reopenings after the lockdown and for the government to fund a 'Work Out to Help Out' scheme.
689 weak policies by successive governments blamed for failure to tackle UK's obesity crisis.
The failure to tackle the UK's obesity crisis is down to successive governments being guilty of weak policy design, lack of effectiveness and botched implementation.
Les Mills launches new hybrid digital solution – Les Mills Content
Les Mills has launched a new digital content solution to support health and fitness operators in engaging their members outside the four walls of their clubs and studios.
Gymbox moves into the hotel market with citizenM deal
Gymbox has entered the hospitality space with the signing of a deal to deliver in-room exercise sessions to guests staying at citizenM hotels around the world.
Nuffield Health launches free emotional wellbeing classes online
Research finds resistance training benefits older women as much as older men
Resistance training is just as beneficial for men and women over the age of 50, a new study has found.
Nationwide survey will benchmark the mental health of the physical activity workforce
A national survey has launched to chart the mental health of the fitness and physical activity workforce.
Google's Fitbit acquisition demanded compromise over the use of personal health data
Google has finally completed a US$2.1bn deal to acquire Fitbit, marking the tech giant's long-awaited entry to the wellness tech market.
Personal trainers on alert as police in England say restrictions on travelling to exercise should be written in law
One of England's highest ranking police officers has called on government ministers to clearly define the maximum distance people are allowed to travel to undertake their daily exercise, in a move that could impact the way personal trainers are operating under England's lockdown restrictions.
New online fitness membership PRO+ by Virtuagym helps gyms generate revenue during lockdown
Virtuagym, a leading provider of fitness technology for gyms and trainers, has announced the launch of PRO+, a new solution that enables operators to generate revenue while being closed and upon reopening, by offering members a turnkey digital membership experience through their club mobile app.
Fitness First launches free workout hub called FitX Player
Fitness First has launched a new free digital fitness hub, offering users a wide range of virtual classes and training sessions.
Gym Group brings in Wais Shaifta and Rio Ferdinand as non-execs and eyes expansion
The Gym Group has brought in Wais Shaifta and Rio Ferdinand as non-executive directors, signalling a broadening of its remit, new horizons and an intention to continue to refine and expand its member offering.
+ More news   
 
FEATURED SUPPLIERS

The Retention People unveil 2020 Member Experience Awards winners
Member engagement software provider The Retention People (TRP) has unveiled the winners of its annual 2020 Member Experience Awards (MEA). [more...]

What does a socially distanced leisure centre and health club look like?
The world has had to get used to social distancing in 2020 and any business operating in the leisure and hospitality sectors has had to face this challenge more than most. [more...]
COMPANY PROFILES
EMD UK

EMD UK have a range of options for fitness brands, including support in starting up, regular busines [more...]
+ More profiles  
CATALOGUE GALLERY
+ More catalogues  

VIDEO GALLERY

Technogym - Mywellness App 5.0
Mywellness helps you assess customer needs, provide great workouts and programmes, guarantee a training spot on the gym floor, offer group training, track indoor and outdoor workouts - even with 3rd party apps. Find out more...
+ More videos  

DIRECTORY
+ More directory  
DIARY

 

02-04 Feb 2021

Beauty West Africa

Landmark Centre, Lagos, Nigeria
02-04 Feb 2021

Spatex 2021

Ericsson Exhibition Hall, Ricoh Arena, Coventry, United Kingdom
+ More diary  
 


ADVERTISE . CONTACT US

Leisure Media, Portmill House, Portmill Lane,
Hitchin, Hertfordshire SG5 1DJ Tel: +44 (0)1462 431385

©Cybertrek 2021

ABOUT LEISURE MEDIA
LEISURE MEDIA MAGAZINES
LEISURE MEDIA HANDBOOKS
LEISURE MEDIA WEBSITES
LEISURE MEDIA PRODUCT SEARCH
PRINT SUBSCRIPTIONS
FREE DIGITAL SUBSCRIPTIONS