What models can propel operators into the future?
Does everything come down to pricing, or does the programme matter after all? What ties members to a club? How to reach new target groups? And what role do new technologies play in all that?
Boosting the retention rate is still THE major challenge vexing the industry. Whether its investing in studio equipment or testing new business models – the fitness sector offers lots of possibilities, ideas and products these days for studio operators looking to enhance their positioning in the marketplace. Moreover, this wealth of options shows that low-budget clubs aren’t always the right answer. Depending on the competitive environment, the aim should instead be to win over people with tailored offerings, optimised support and fun ways to exercise.
Competition and opportunities for growth were at the centre. In today’s environment studio operators must content with a multifaceted range of competitors: personal training detached from gyms, open-air choices including running meetups and group fitness programmes taking place at new locations, to name just a few. Some membership models are becoming more flexible, and novel types of clubs are springing up; boutique clubs, for example, are attracting more and more members.
Ray Algar , the managing director of Oxygen Consulting, a UK-based consultancy for market players in the global fitness and health sector, says:
“Over the past ten years I have observed the rise of low-cost gym brands with their laser focus on providing just the essential facilities and attracting members who are happy to serve themselves in exchange for very low monthly membership fees which can be as low as €8 per month. More recently we are seeing the emergence in some countries of boutique fitness brands such as SoulCycle that build a deep expertise in a single programme or activity, attract a tribe of loyal customers and as a result command €30 for one 45-minute class. At the same time, many new fitness providers are emerging from outdoor fitness providers to online digital services that are compelling alternatives to joining a fitness club. This is creating a challenging environment for multi-purpose clubs who now need to redefine their brand story.”