Author: Tony Chemer

Why should you address the active aging market in your personal training programming?  The Fitness industry is facing a demographic shift with a large active aging population interested in active aging fitness. In 2020, the number of people aged 60 or older will pass one billion for the first time, that’s one in every seven people.

Historically the fitness industry has pursued clients under 40 seeking higher intensity exercise experiences and large group training, offering the younger demographic low-cost gyms and large group high-intensity boutique fitness studios. While focusing so much on the younger demographic, the fitness industry has paid little attention to the active aging population of older adults. That being said, as populations age across the world’s industrialized countries, an emerging economy is contributing to the demand from people who wish to live a longer healthier life.

Soon, we will see entirely new industry segments emerge to meet this demand related to the active aging population. The health and fitness industry can participate in this growing economy if it conforms its products and services to the changing market.

The Health Club Industry Active Aging Report, researched and written by Ray Algar of Oxygen Consulting, shares opportunities created by an aging population, that dismisses negative stereotypes about older adults and brings light to how a variety of health and fitness organizations are already taking advantage of this changing demographic.

Regarding personal training programming, according to Ray’s report, country populations are aging at a faster rate. Changes that previously took one hundred years are now being shortened to twenty years; so this is no longer a slow phenomenon. Health and fitness organizations should be considering their strategic response now. Defining when we reach ‘old age’ is changing, and there are misconceptions about what this stage of our lives should look like. If the aging process was considered a brand, then it needs to be repositioned as something more aspirational rather than the notion of a declining journey and an inevitable life of frailty. Instead of defining ‘old age’ as some arbitrary age such as 65, is to use years of life remaining. This would then mean that old age is experienced when someone’s life expectancy falls below ten years. These days there is a larger proportion of a longer life being enjoyed in good health and that number is growing. Older people in the future will share many characteristics exhibited by younger people today because of this shift. The stereotypes we have used for aging are outdated and have to be challenged.

In order to make the most of this growing active aging market we must address fitness needs in our personal training programming, the fitness industry must challenge outdated stereotypes of aging, from our functional expectations at particular ages to our language used. Instead of expecting adults to enter an inevitable decline into an inactive lifestyle as we age, we need to expect that we will live a long, active, and a more fulfilled life. Studies from the United States show that most older people are able to complete activities of daily living, such as dressing, eating, walking, and bathing. The number of people aged 85-89 who were classified as disabled fell from 22% to 12% from 1984 to 2004. Even more so, people over 95, the rate declined from 52% to 31%. This goes to say, older people can maintain their independence and long-term fitness, and the fitness industry has a huge role in making that a possibility with active aging fitness.

There are parts of the fitness industry that are specifically designed to support people who are at the more athletic end of the functional spectrum, and providing services to already active exercisers seems to have fueled most of the industry growth over the past decade. Now it is time for the industry to incorporate more specific personal training programming for the quickly growing population of active aging fitness adults, it only makes sense as older adults are looking to live longer and healthier lives.

Not only are they seeking ways to do so but they also have the means to do it. The over 40 population spends more money than other generations and has more disposable income. According to recent research by Nielsen indicated Boomers spend almost $230 billion each year for consumer-packaged-goods alone. According to AARP, “Despite Boomer market dominance across all of the various CPG categories, just 5-10% of total advertising dollars are spent on these consumers.” While many businesses are spending their marketing efforts targeting Millennials, they’re missing out on a huge opportunity to assimilate with a target market that’s got money to spend.

Alloy is committed to serving the motivated, active aging fitness motivated, 50 + market, not just younger fitness fanatics. With the launch of our Alloy Franchise, we are excited to broaden our reach and help more people than ever before live fuller, happier and healthier lives!

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