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From fitness explorers to wellness lovers, Club Intel report identifies key gym-going personas

A report – Optimising personalisation using fitness personas – has been released by Club Intel
Results are from two years research and 1,500 consumer surveys
Four personas have been identified to help health club operators understand members and increase engagement
Personas are a marketing tool which allows for a deeper understanding of target audiences
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A new report – Optimising personalisation using fitness personas – which defines four key gym-goer types has been released by insight firm Club Intel.

The findings are the culmination of two years of consumer research involving 1,500 consumer surveys – in collaboration with research firm Dynata – and commentary taken from industry experts during IHRSA’s 2022 trade show.

Also commenting are Club Intel's Mark Williamson, Kelly Thorne, VP of Movati and Cristine Keo and Lee Robinson from ABC Fitness Solutions.

consumer personas help you design your products to meet the needs of members and clients," said Club Intel founder, Mark Williamson, "they're fictitious characters used to represent a real target audience and are used to summarise and communicate research about a specific audience in a succinct and digestible way.”

The four personas identified by the report are:

1. The “routine lifer” (34 per cent)

Age is over 66 (35 per cent), 38 per cent are retirees and they stick to a regimen day in and day out.

“I’m self-motivated and don’t need all the fuss,” this persona is characterised as commenting.

These members crave the community aspect of fitness. Around 63 per cent spend more than US$25 a month on fitness, but more prefer solo workouts than going to the gym – only 33 per cent are big box members.

“The routine lifers are the persona that the industry is likely making business decisions about,” said Lee Robinson of report sponsor, ABC Fitness. “If we’re making business decisions based on their persona, we're not looking at the bigger market, such as ‘wellness lovers’ and ‘fitness explorers’. How do we get them motivated to come in?” he added.

2. The “wellness lover” (30 per cent)

Age is 25-39 years old (36 per cent), 61 per cent work full-time and they balance fitness, nutrition and mental wellbeing.

“I’m in pursuit of wellness – physical, spiritual, mental and emotional,” the persona is quoted as saying.

Just over half of these consumers spend more than US$25 each month, if not more, and more than half do over twelve workouts during that period – 49 per cent are members of a large fitness centre.

“Wellness lovers are more holistic in their approach,” said Williamson. Clubs focusing on ‘wellness lovers’, need to think about how to combine group exercise, recovery classes, yoga, nutrition and meal tracking.”

3. The “fitness explorer” (19 per cent)

Age is 25-39 (41 per cent), 61 per cent work full-time and they continuously seek out new fitness programmes, products and services.

“I’m a bit promiscuous with my pursuit of finding an inspiring workout,” this persona is characterised as saying.

Around 69 per cent spend more than US$25 on fitness each month and 51 per cent are members of a big box gym.

“It is going to be key to look at new programming to bring forward for this group,” commented Thorne. “It will be important to hook them into our key services such as personal training, small group training and group exercise to keep them engaged.”

4. The “casual consumer” (17 per cent)

Age is 25-39 (53 per cent) and 52 per cent work full-time. Only 16 per cent are members of a gym chain and only 27 per cent spend US$25 or more on fitness each month.

“My fitness is motivated by an upcoming vacation or event,” this persona would say, such as an upcoming holiday or a wedding.

“When the casual consumer comes through the door, they are terribly insecure,” said Williamson. “They need someone to hold their hand through the process. They need introductions and orientations.”

Williamson believes a deep understanding of a target audience is the cornerstone of high-quality products and services. “Consumer personas help both club operations and marketing teams find the answer to one of their most important questions, “Who are we designing for?” he said. “By understanding the expectations, concerns, and motivations of target consumers, it’s possible to design an engaging fitness experience that will satisfy clients’ needs.”

In terms of the return to fitness, findings also uncovered that 71 per cent of consumers are now active, compared with 66 per cent in 2021 and that there's a growing interest in improving mental health and achieving stress relief through a fitness regime when compared with last year.

To access the report, click here.

The research was sponsored by gym management software company ABC Fitness.

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A new report – Optimising personalisation using fitness personas – which defines four key gym-goer types has been released by insight firm Club Intel.
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