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Missing the Male Demographic

Enter most fitness facilities and you’ll likely see a healthy mix of males and females sweating toward fitness goals. Upon closer
examination, though, you might notice that the majority of exercisers working with personal trainers are female. According to data from the 2009 IDEA Fitness Programs & Equipment Trends survey, this observation is spot-on. Personal trainers responding to the
survey noted that 72% of their clientele is female. So where are the men, and why aren’t they hiring trainers? “Males are both genetically and psychologically aligned with self-determination, autonomy,
self-reliance, independence (to a fault) and going it alone,” suggests
Jim Gavin, PhD, professor of applied human sciences at Concordia University in Montreal. “Women, in contrast, are constitutionally and psychologically oriented toward mutuality, cooperation, group, community, interdependence and working with—rather than against—others. It isn’t a sign of weakness for women to ask for
help. Hiring a personal trainer can be an ‘ego hit’ for men, since
they are supposed to know how to train.”

But tapping into the male community
is not impossible, adds Gavin; fitness professionals may just have to be more savvy in attracting their business. “Men may be more likely to hire trainers for performance-enhancement agendas, such as triathlon or marathon preparation.”

Gavin also suggests fitness facilities might appeal to the competitive nature in men by
hosting methods for challenging fitness-level benchmarks. Such tactics might encourage men
to seek “technical input for
the next round of competition,” he adds.

Finally, partner training might be
a more successful service to attract men, as
opposed to one-on-one training. “One guy standing around with
a trainer makes for awkward moments, while a scenario where two friends hire a trainer allows for greater ease both in conversing
during the session and in being witnessed by others at the club.”
A boyfriend-girlfriend team could make for a good dynamic as well.
“A guy can feel quite heroic in working with a trainer who is, of course, there to help his girlfriend; he is the ‘assistant trainer.’”

“Due to current economics and male psychology, it’s probably best to position this service as a group or buddy training program,” states Gavin. “One-on-one training will likely remain a hard sell
in the male market for the next few decades, at least.”

Do you have successful methods for attracting men to your
services? Send your story to [email protected]

Ryan Halvorson

Ryan Halvorson is an award-winning writer and editor. He is a long-time author and presenter for IDEA Health & Fitness Association, fitness industry consultant and former director of group training for Bird Rock Fit. He is also a Master Trainer for TriggerPoint.

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