Deliver the best programming for this increasing demographic.
Are you leaning into the rise of millennial moms? These women are part of a generation that’s expected, as of this year, to surpass baby boomers as the nation’s largest age demographic. The 83 million 17- to 36-year-old “millennial” men and women in the United States—combined with Generation Xers—account for 80% of the fitness dollars spent in clubs (Lexington Law 2019; Les Mills 2017). Already fitness consumers, millennial women are becoming mothers. Their estimated 75 million offspring will account for a majority of children born yearly until 2027 (Sturgeon 2019).
Now more than ever, dedicated pre- and postnatal offerings are a must-have for health clubs. And simply adding pre- or postnatal to the name of your current offerings is not enough. To capitalize on this booming market, you must dig deeper and explore what programs today’s new moms want and need.
What She Needs
Moms’ needs match those of all women: muscular strength and endurance; cardiovascular focus in a variety of zones; range of motion alongside flexibility, core stabilization and power; and more. However, the ratio of these to each other, along with exercise choices and priorities, will change as women move from prenatal to newly postnatal and beyond.
The typical millennial mom is not willing to “tone down” her workouts when she finds out she’s pregnant. Step away from the mindset that prenatal clients should stick to yoga or water fitness. Both have their place, but the millennial mom wants more options.
Include programming that focuses on
- keeping her core strong, to maintain its integrity through pregnancy and then ease her back into daily activity and exercise after she’s given birth;
- strengthening her posterior chain to offset a growing belly while she’s pregnant and the constant front loading required when she’s caring for a new baby; and
- mindfulness and restoration (meditation, yoga, gentle water fitness, etc.) to balance her life.
To provide the best offerings, your fitness professionals should have completed concentrated coursework in pre- and postnatal programming. In addition, a strong network of adjacent professionals, including physical therapists specializing in the pelvic floor and diastasis recti, will become a valuable resource for keeping your programming progressive and addressing the needs of millennial moms and moms-to-be.
What She Wants
The millennial mom was raised on fitness and is not interested in generic offerings. She values experiences and craves workouts that are quick, social and personalized. She is technologically savvy and on the go. A larger number of millennial women return to the workforce after having a baby. Here are a few things to keep in mind.
The millennial mom is looking for a brand that aligns with her values (Dua 2015). Smaller brands are winning. If your health club is a bigger one, your pre- and postnatal offerings will do better as a brand within a brand. Offer programs with special titles and descriptions that appear to be a series, so the millennial mom sees that she can progress and regress as her age and her stage of motherhood change. For example, consider creating an 8-week prenatal program that focuses on the topic of posture during pregnancy. This will educate her about how the body tends to compensate during normal shifts and changes and how to address those compensations.
Your classes or programs should be led by fitness pros who are passionate about moms and well-versed in their mental and physical needs. Millennial moms are not looking to be saved; they are looking to be empowered. The fitness professional who leads this tribe must be skilled at walking beside these women rather than standing in front of them.
Your offerings should be personalized. Prenatal needs are different from newly postnatal needs, and the needs of a mom a few years into motherhood are different still. Offering separate classes for each stage is a must.
New moms crave connection. They want to bond with the leader of the tribe (the instructor/trainer), other moms and those moms’ kiddos. Find ways to make connection part of your programming.
Millennial moms also want fitness to double as girlfriend time. Instead of tolerating socializing, work it into your programming as a benefit. The same goes for crowdsourcing. Peer-to-peer sharing among mom cohorts, both in person and online, will be enticing. Find ways to add sharing into your classes or as an online offshoot of your programming. For example, pose a wellness-related question during the cooldown and invite responses.
Millennial women ascribe to the idea that fitness is the new beauty standard (e.g., strong is the new skinny). They are willing to pay for quality and for connection to this ideal; they consider it lifestyle spending.
Millennials are, however, less likely to commit than previous generations. Historically, health clubs and fitness professionals have assumed that consistent attendance, long-term contracts or large training packages equaled commitment. The millennial mom is not interested in locking herself down to one choice for getting fit. Your pre- and postnatal offerings should be available à la carte, all-inclusive, short-term or long-term. It should be easy to start, stop or continue at any time.
The millennial mom also wants variety—in days, times, length and type of workout, instructor and more. Avoid having one person teach it all or making every class a melting pot of cardio, strength, core and flexibility. Consider shorter classes, more specifically focused on the areas of fitness she needs, and with attendance options.
The bottom line: Millennial mom wants customization and personalization. She is not interested in a class or workout that is merely watered down. She wants to be educated on what’s happening to her body before, during and after childbirth. And she wants help navigating the abundant information (and misinformation) available. You’ll need to accommodate not only her fitness level but also her changing body and changing mindset.
What You Can Do
First, don’t view pregnant and newly postnatal moms as a “special population.” Just as we have discovered with our aging population, these women may have special considerations and unique needs for programming, but putting the “special” label on a group tends to make us focus on short-term versus long-term solutions for fully integrating and servicing them.
Next, audit your programming and your personnel. Do you have any time slots, classes or fitness professionals who can easily be repurposed to begin your pre- and postnatal programming? You’ll need to find time, space, and passionate instructors and trainers to build out your offerings.
Once you start, focus on building trust and credibility with this group. Deliver valuable content—live and digitally. Invite moms and moms-to-be to join the conversation. Over time, you will make an offer that millennial moms are ready to accept. If you can check all the boxes for what they want and need, you’ll have them for life.
Take your time; you want to get this right. But don’t wait too long or you could miss the window of opportunity. According to the Institute for Family Studies, the peak year for the percent of children born to millennial moms was 2018 (Sturgeon 2019). Women will always have babies—and, most likely, what the millennials force us to create, the next generation will want us to adapt. Lay the framework now, and be ready to evolve in the months and years to come.