The fitness industry: it’s changed in recent years. While fitness has virtually always been the territory of bodybuilders, beefcakes, and more, today’s industry gap is more pronounced than ever before.
If you spend any time on Instagram, you’ll understand this thanks to the influx of so-called “fitness influencers.” These influencers, generally young hot men and women with sponsorships by high-end fitness lines and gyms, seem like they’re out to make the rest of us feel bad. But this is a “don’t hate the player, hate the game” situation.
The presence of influencers like these underlines the gap in the market, and how easy it is for people like you and me to fall through the cracks.
Fitness Industry Trends to Know About in 2019
One of the biggest trends impacting the fitness industry right now is social media. As it stands today, social media platforms can be some of the best avenues for fitness programs and, yes, influencers. Instagram, specifically, has become one of the most important tools for new fitness programs and their instructors, students, and more.
In many ways, Instagram has created greater demand for fitness industry services. After all, Instagram has created dozens of supportive communities designed to encourage, educate, and empower people looking to improve their health and fitness. If you use the platform, you know you can browse it to find everything from recipes to workouts and more.
The issue, by and large, is the audience these influencers and programs target: the young, hot, fit people we talked about earlier. When you consider the demographics of Instagram, this makes sense: 60% of Instagram users log in daily, which makes it the second most engaged-with platform on the web, after Facebook. The largest demographic of Instagram users are men between 18-24 years old, although 75% of all Instagram users are between the ages of 18-24.
When you consider the demographics of fitness as a whole, though, the issue becomes apparent. According to a recent Gallup poll, “53 percent of those 45 to 64 and 50 percent of those over 65 said they worked out for 30 minutes or more at least three times a week.”
What Instagram Looks Like for Normal People
Log into Instagram, and this is a sampling of what you’ll see under the hashtag #fitness:
As you can see, these images only reflect a specific type of body, fit person, and fitness program. After all, how many 50-year-olds do you know who are doing massive kettlebell swings? How many 50 + are doing CrossFit or box jumps? I know a few of them but there are not THAT many.
Even those of us who are just ordinary people would feel intimidated stepping into a workout with any of these people. So, what’s up? What’s going on with the fitness industry, and how can we reverse the trend?
The Root of the Problem: the Couch Potato Perception
If the fitness industry is catering mostly to young, hot people, there has to be a reason, right? In this case, it’s certainly not because Boomers and other older people have just ceased to exist or ceased to hold gym memberships. Instead, it’s a problem of perception, and it’s a problem of perception rooted in reality. Afterall, boomer’s net worths are over twelve times larger than their millennial counterparts. They have a lot more buying power.
Today, however, Baby Boomers aren’t exactly rushing to get active or fit. Remember that recent Gallup poll we mentioned? “53 percent of those 45 to 64 and 50 percent of those over 65 said they worked out for 30 minutes or more at least three times a week.”
As if that weren’t bad enough, the CDC estimates that 32% of older U.S. adults get no physical exercise whatsoever in their leisure time. Despite all the evidence that exercise is critically good for our bodies and minds, only about 20% of Americans meet the national recommended exercise guidelines each week: 150 minutes of vigorous to moderate exercise plus two weight workouts.
What if the gap in the industry isn’t as much about discrimination as it is a lack of demand? Perhaps it is about a lack of facilities and programs targeting other normal populations. What if gyms are developing programs for young, hot, fit people because young, hot, fit people are the ones who want them? What can we do to change it?
Who is Going to the Gym Today?
Caroline Khalil oversees SilverSneakers, which is one of the longest-running fitness programs for older adults, and which celebrated its 25th anniversary two years ago. According to Khalil, the numbers of active older adults used to be high.
Ten years ago, Khalil notes, about 60 percent of the 2 million or so SilverSneakers members were newcomers to exercise, while 40 percent were veterans. Now, she says, those percentages have reversed, and most members have already experienced exercisers when they join. Some of that shift is no doubt powered by the fact that membership is free for adults over 65 who are covered by Medicare Advantage, Medicare Supplement and other plans, with more health insurers getting into the game.
Wonder what’s inspiring people to go to the gym again? The answers are as diverse as the people hitting group fitness classes: a desire for health, increased strength, stamina, injury resistance, and more. If you’re disheartened by the lack of older people getting fit on Instagram, it’s worth tuning into the happenings in your local community. In fact, it’s likely your local gym is probably implementing some senior fitness classes right now. According to NextAvenue.org:
To cultivate this growing market — and fill their properties during off-peak daytime hours — gyms and community centers are beefing up their low-impact offerings.
SilverSneakers is rolling out peppy new “Boom!” classes in dance, strength and stretching at some of its 13,000 participating locations. The YMCAs in some regions now feature “gentle yoga,” where you can hold onto a chair to improve your balance. Other choices they offer are “gentle stretch” and “Pilates fusion.” Other gyms add ballet barre, Tai chi and strength classes where no one snickers if you go for the one-pound weights.
Clearly, the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) was onto something when its annual survey listed “programs for older adults” among the top 20 fitness trends for 2017.
Closing the Gap in the Market
Unlike previous generations, today’s older adults understand the benefits of getting and staying healthy. Even if many Boomers still aren’t hitting the gym, most of us know we should be, and many of us would if fitness programs reflected our needs, rather than the needs of CrossFit Brad Chad.
Luckily, operators of fitness facilities are gradually starting to change their tunes, joining forces with local retirement communities, active living centers, and more. As a result, many gyms have programs now designed to cater to a non-millennial market. The evidence of this is everywhere – larger, more private dressing rooms complete with dressing stalls, less neon lighting throughout the gym, wider benches, and more class options, designed to cater not only to the young, hot folks but also to older people.
This is critical, not only because of demand but also because of future projections. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, there were more than 40 million adults ages 65 and older living in the U.S. in 2010. By 2050, this figure will double to about 87 million people. While the fitness industry has historically overlooked boomers, they represent a critical and powerfully important market segment. Gyms and fitness brands that decide not to cater to them are only doing themselves a disservice. In fact, there is a huge opportunity to serve the 50+ age groups that are looking for options.
According to AthleticBusiness.com:
With the increasing buying power of this market, several different campaigns are targeting older adults, including “You Can! Steps to Healthier Aging,” a new program begun in September and sponsored by the U.S. Administration on Aging (AoA) that seeks partners to promote health-conscious aging. Similarly, AARP (the lobbying organization for people 50 and older) has teamed with ICAA to educate each other’s members about aging and fitness, and in June, the Jewish Community Center Association announced its new partnership with ICAA to provide exercise education, information, resources, and tools to older JCC members.
The AoA also sponsors National Senior Health and Fitness Day, America’s largest health promotion aimed at the mature market. Held every May (May 25 next year), the event involves local organizations – including health clubs, YMCAs and JCCs – hosting a variety of wellness activities based on the interests of older adults in their areas. Last year’s fitness festivities included walks, low-impact exercises, health screenings, and health information workshops.
As Boomers continue to age, companies that create programs for them will stand out in their communities. This is a critical adaptation for gyms and consumers, alike.
Catering to Boomers With Alloy
Don’t let your gym be one of the many that don’t cater to older adults. Instead, partner with Alloy and enjoy the following benefits for your gym program:
- START-UP GUIDANCE, INITIAL TRAINING, ONGOING SUPPORT, AND REFRESHER TRAINING. We will never stop giving you the tools you need to thrive within your Alloy fitness training franchise – from guidance on setting up your gym location to business management training before you open your doors, to on-site visits and remote support when you need it.
- EQUIPMENT, TECHNOLOGY, AND OPERATIONAL TOOLS AND OPERATIONS MANUAL. You’ll have access to pre-approved suppliers and vendors, and you’ll leverage useful technologies such as accounting software platforms, a unique CRM system including KPI measurement tools and other reporting functions via our exclusive Alloy dashboard. PLUS, you’ll have access to our confidential and detailed operations manual that will help you run your business from day one.
- SALES AND MARKETING PROGRAMS AND MATERIALS. You’ll have access to a range of materials and tools that will assist in the promotion of your local fitness business, including membership retention initiatives, templates for ads, website presence, and more.
We take the same amount of pride in training a new franchise owner as we do one of our club members. Leveraging the Alloy business concept allows you to offer customized fitness solutions, all while utilizing what you learn from the Alloy management team to build a dynamic business. It’s an excellent approach for anyone looking to create real change and is a smart and sustainable approach.
Our support program gives you the tools you need to make a real impact on your clients and your future.
Let’s Close the Gap, Together
The workout industry is changing, and it needs to start catering to normal, less fit adults more than it has in recent years. While it’s discouraging to look at Instagram and believe that everything revolves around fitness influencers and people who are impossibly young and sexy, that’s not the entire picture of the fitness industry today.
Some local gyms and fitness centers are working on expanding their program offerings and making them more appealing to normal people. Becoming an Alloy Franchisee a great way to close the gap by offering fitness solutions that cater to your whole audience, rather than just a segment of it.
Changing the fitness industry requires you to have a system, and it’s tough to develop that on your own. Young, hot, fit people aren’t the only ones that are working out, and they’re not the only ones who want to be healthy. There’s a vast market to be built upon here, and wise entrepreneurs looking to break into the fitness industry will do well to take advantage of that truth.
If you are someone looking to make a difference and overhaul the fitness industry to make it more friendly for people like us, you’re not alone. Together, we can create a shift in the industry. And with the help of Alloy, we can elicit an industry-wide change. Ready to get onboard or learn more? Contact us today.
Suzanne is a dedicated fitness industry leader and innovator who loves to get stuff done. “It’s better to give than to receive” is a mantra Suzanne thrives by and says she shines brightest when she is serving others.
Suzanne entered the fitness industry when she joined Rick Mayo at team Alloy in 2011, prior to their partnership, she had been a microbiologist. Another very important role that Suzanne has taken on through the years when called to serve has been that of a respite Foster Parent.
Suzanne’s current focus is optimizing the systems for the new Alloy Personal Training Franchise Solution Model. Currently, Suzanne is also overseeing renovations at the original flagship location, ni Georgia AKA “The Mother Ship”.
When is not running the day to day operations of Alloy Personal Training Center she enjoys spending time with her 4 adult children, their spouses, her five adorable grandkids and 9-year-old golden retriever, Charly entertaining, cooking, or simply hanging out and enjoying a glass of wine.
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