Increasing Fitness Participation

May 01, 2002

The goal of reaching 10 million health club members by 2010 was referred to by many speakers at the recent IHRSA International Convention & Trade Show in March. How to achieve that goal? Speakers referred to retention-oriented programs, well-trained staff and customer service.

“The need to connect to all customers cannot be underestimated,” stated Gary Heil, business consultant and author, in a general session. “In times of turmoil, people need to be connected.” Heil believes that caring is at the “front and center of customer loyalty.” Although the term customer management is used very widely today, Heil feels customers want relationships, not ‘management.’”

In the trade show, machines were largely rounded and streamlined, with upholstery that either shouted with a lot of color or was understated black and white. Additionally:

  • There is a trend toward machines allowing independent action.

  • Virtually every large company now has an indoor cycle, and small companies offered cycles to place underwater, provide horizontal movement, or fit kids.

  • Pilates training programs and equipment were a large presence.

  • Interactive Web site content and customer management systems were complemented by a growth in companies offering predesigned advertising campaigns.

While everyone hopes to provide the service and equipment that will lead to 10 million participants in 2010, perhaps the most startling statement was made by Dr. Ken Cooper: “By 2010 there will be more deaths from obesity than from cigarette smoking.” On a more optimistic note, he likewise stated, “People have a need. If you provide results they want, you’ll be successful.”

Reported by Pat Ryan, IDEA vice president of education

IDEA Fitness Manager, Volume 14, Issue 3

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