Community Leisure UK ezine
January 2022
What motivates members to return to the gym? A US study reveals the trends

21 Nov 2021

Location and cost are the top considerations for consumers when it comes to choosing a health club – while concerns about being around unvaccinated people is a top reason for not returning to gyms.

The findings come from the State of the Fitness Industry Report 2021 by Mindbody, which surveyed both consumers and wellness brands to understand how the fitness industry’s shifted during the pandemic – and where it’s headed in the months to come.

The survey shows that more than a third of health club members still choose their club either due to the location (37 per cent), or by cost (36 per cent) – a trend witnessed before the pandemic.

What has changed, however, is that the cleanliness of a studio or club is now a key consideration too, with exactly a third (33 per cent) of consumers listing it as a reason to choose a club.

When it comes to reasons for reluctance to return to a studio or club, more than one in four (29 per cent) said they weren't comfortable knowing that not all attendees are vaccinated, while another 24 per cent said they were not comfortable being near others.

The report also shows that the impact of virtual and digital fitness on club membership levels might be less than initially thought, with 17 per cent of consumers saying that they would not return to a physical gym due to having developed a new digital fitness regime during the pandemic.

The report also suggests that operators offering workout variety have a huge advantage.

A strong majority of survey respondents said they prefer a fitness studio or gym with a variety of workout types available — with men (69 per cent) citing it as slightly more influential than women (64 per cent).

The pandemic has seemingly also affected consumers' willingness to try something new – more than half of all respondents (52 per cent) said they’re more open to new workouts than they were before the pandemic.

According to the report, while fitness brands are reporting many of the same challenges they’ve always faced – including acquiring and retaining customers – optimising processes and technology has become more important than ever.

"When it comes to business challenges, bringing in new customers is at the top of the list," Mindbody said.

"Retention, for both customers and staff, remains as big a challenge as ever too, if not bigger.

"Beyond that, nearly half of fitness brands (45 per cent franchise and 42 per cent non-franchise organizations) reported a need to learn how to more effectively optimise the business.

"COVID forced us all apart, which has put a bigger spotlight on the power of software for business operations.

"The ability to collaborate and conduct business online isn’t just a matter of efficiency and convenience anymore – it’s now essential to survive and grow.

"More than a third of all fitness brands also reported struggling to get the capital they need to grow: 38 per cent currently take advantage of commercial business loans, and an additional 34 per cent say they plan to get one within the next 6 months."

When it comes to predicting future trends, the Mindbody report suggests that diversification will continue, as operators look to adopt an omnichannel approach, embracing both physical sites and the digital world.

"Consumers are seeking fitness and wellness like never before – it’s up to brands to maximise the opportunity," the report reads.

"Now’s the time to adopt technology, hire and retain top talent, and create standout experiences for customers."

To download and read the full report, click here.


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9 February 2021
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19 January 2022
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17 February 2022
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22 February 2022
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