If you are a consumer interested in starting an exercise program, where do you go? Today there are a lot of choices. In addition to health clubs large and small, people can choose among personal training gyms, specialty studios, college campuses, corporations and even park systems. This broad diversity of location is reflected in the (9th annual) 2004 IDEA Fitness Programs & Equipment Survey. The survey data also show an increased emphasis on trends in small towns and suburbs, plus a strong representation of IDEA businesses in the Midwest. Customers benefit from this broadened reach of abundant program and equipment options.
Regardless of location, the IDEA members who completed the survey continue the trend of an excellent 71% retention of their clients/members for 1 year or longer. And respondents spend a lot of time helping newcomers. Almost all (87%) offer programs to attract the inactive or new exerciser.
This year, for the first time within the survey, IDEA members had the opportunity to report on how they see the trends emerging. Exercise can be summed up in these key words:
Does that cover just about everything? Well, IDEA members are into every type of activity that retains their clients.
When you think “growing,” also think “stable.” Many activities that are growing in some venues are staying stable in other locales.
The programs and equipment that are seen to be growing in participation and use can vary considerably depending on the business offerings. For example, 10% of all respondents (who may or may not offer the program) feel that outdoor boot camp classes are growing. But 51% of those who do offer boot camps say they are growing. If you have the right audience, instructor and format, then these classes are going very well. Look at “The Trend Depends” chart on page 111 for other examples.
Another first this year was adding discs, balance boards, BOSU® and foam rollers to the equipment list. As you can see, these small yet versatile pieces of equipment are already popular. With equipment, it seems that more is better. Although new equipment is added, traditional pieces continue to be used.
IDEA business and program director members who gave us permission to use their e-mail addresses were sent three e-mail invitations to link to a Web-based survey in April 2004. The 281 respondents represent the Northeast (21%), Northcentral (51%), South (19%) and West (32%) in the United States and Canada, with 38% in small cities or towns, 32% in suburbs and 26% in large cities.
There’s more trend information coming your way. You’ll find data in upcoming issues of IDEA Fitness Journal, plus detailed results of the entire survey in the October issue of IDEA Fitness Manager. In September IDEA Trainer Success, look for a comprehensive report on personal training.