Five Key Trends Identified In 2003 IDEA Fitness Programs and Equipment Survey
“These trends show that diversity in fitness programming continues and this is critical for both the retention of existing members and the recruitment of new customers. At the same time, the fact that many programs have had a consistent appeal over the years indicates that they are effectively meeting the fitness needs of consumers,” said Kathie Davis, executive director of IDEA Health & Fitness Association.
1) The Strong Stay Strong. The most popular fitness programs of the past few years are still at the top of the list. Personal training and strength training, stretching and fitness assessment all remain firmly positioned while rising stars such as yoga, core conditioning, stability ball exercises and Pilates are joining them. In terms of fitness equipment, treadmills, free weights, cycles and elliptical trainers are stalwarts being joined by portable pieces like resistance tubing, stability balls, yoga mats and weighted bars.
2) Member Retention Follows Strong Programs. Fitness businesses run by IDEA members keep an average 72% of members/clients for one year or longer. The diversity of programming and equipment offered is most likely a strong factor in this retention level. And targeting the “right” client also plays a role in this high rate of retention. For example, in corporate and hospital wellness centers, back pain prevention (51% offer) and weight management classes (83% offer) are what participants care about. In the YMCA/YWCA/JCC segment, programs for older persons (100% offer) or children (74% offer) predominate.
3) Programs and Equipment Go Hand-in-Hand. What has become clear, is the relationship between equipment and programming. Stability balls and steps are found in virtually every personal training gym as well as in entire categories of group fitness training. Treadmills are programmed for in-club promotions (i.e., run a marathon) in addition to slowly rolling for five minutes of a frail adult’s first exercise walking attempts. And almost every group fitness format, from boxing-based aerobics to sports conditioning, is built around equipment.
4) New Kids and Old Kids Play in the Neighborhood. It is easy to get the impression that the rising stars (i.e., stability ball-based classes, combination/hybrid classes and core conditioning classes) in equipment and programs are taking over the fitness world. These new programs are vital to providing the tools and diversity that will inspire people to fitness. But as these new options rise, the tried-and-true are still players (i.e., personal training, stretching and flexibility, strength training).
5) Exercise Reigns at Health Clubs. As evidenced by their names, health clubs have positioned themselves as sources for overall lifestyle change in addition to offering exercise programs. Providing a broad range of activities in a comfortable environment is one approach that health clubs utilize to attract and retain members. But to stay on the club schedule, a program or class needs participants. This survey shows that while lifestyle/health programs are important, they are not yet a primary request at fitness facilities (i.e., meditation, smoking cessation and stress management classes).
The participants in this survey report that 29% of their members/clients are between the ages of 35-44, 24% are between 45-54, 23% are between 18-34 and 18% are 55 or older. Their member/client retention rate after one year is 72%.
IDEA Fitness Programs and Equipment Survey is based on the results of
a questionnaire answered earlier this year by a selection of IDEA Business,
Program Director and Professional members. The types of facilities that
participated in the study include: multi-purpose health clubs (16%), fitness-only
health clubs (13%), personal training studios (13%), YMCAs/YWCAs/JCCs
(10%), college/university fitness centers (8%), corporate fitness centers
(8%), group exercise studios (5%), hospital fitness centers (5%), parks/recreation
departments (4%), no facility/satellite classes (4%), and other (11%).
The complete results appeared in the October 2003 issue of IDEA Fitness
IDEA is the world's leading membership organization of health and fitness professionals with more than 19,000 members in over 80 countries. Since 1982, IDEA has provided health and fitness professionals with pertinent information, educational opportunities, career development programs and industry leadership while helping them enhance the quality of life worldwide through safe, effective fitness and healthy lifestyle programs. For more information on IDEA events, publications, educational products, member services or other activities, visit the IDEA website at: www.IDEAfit.com.