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Does the fitness industry need a health check?

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Here at The Monachie Project, there’s a distinct sniff of spring in the air. Honestly, it’s there, between the freezing rain and violent gusts of wind. What does spring mean? We spend our water cooler moments discussing holidays and the fitness plans that mean we’ll be ready to hit to beach in a few months’ time.

The fitness industry is worth over £1 billion in the UK – but its structure is changing. Although13% of us are registered gym members, our user experience research shows that we’re getting clued up to the fact that 24/7 MTV and wall to wall mirrors don’t always represent good value.

That’s especially true if you’re one of the 67% with a gym membership who never use it – or like one of the TMP team, just pop in for a pecan danish and caramel latte. Don’t worry Chris in Admin, your secret’s safe with us…

We want shrinking waistlines – not wallets.

As we start to question the value of traditional gyms, the market has been blown wide open with new opportunities, but the recession and years of austerity have meant that the fitness industry has to fight hard for our cash. Not quite walking tall yet George, although I’m sure a couple of Pilates classes would help with our posture.

I’m seeing low-cost gyms everywhere and their no-frills fitness services are proving to be popular with budget gym bunnies. Last year, pay-as-you-go fitness firm The Gym Group took 16th place in a Sunday Times table of fastest growing companies – seeing a 91% increase in profits over three years. That’s sales of over £22 million for an elastic service, at the end of a very long recession.

How did they do this? By listening to what consumers really want – and right now, we’re demanding value for money and no long term financial commitments.

It’s not just clubs that are having to adapt to the changing market. Not so long ago, a personal trainer was the hottest accessory around. When times were good, consumers were happy to pay up to £50 an hour for some one-on-one fitness, but in today’s economy, we’re looking for the same personalised service with a much smaller price tag. How do we get it?

The smart money’s on technology

21% of UK adults already use a wearable device or health-related app and 40% of us would be interested in a device that tracks heart rate, blood pressure and movement. These devices appeal because they promise to save us time and money – but don’t worry all you PTs out there, you won’t become extinct if you learn to listen to these new market forces.

One PT I’ve got to know saw where the industry was heading a long time ago – and because he ran with it (probably whilst wearing a 40kg backpack) business has never been better.

As well as face-to-face training sessions, this 21st century Action Man now offers a subscription service to training videos, personally designed programmes and a nutrition consultancy – all online. Consumers are happy to pay a fraction of the cost of a one-to-one session for his expert advice and he’s increased his reach from a couple of London post codes to an entire nation.

The key here, as always, is knowing exactly what it is that drives your market and inspires your customers to action. It’s what The Monachie Project specialises in – customer loyalty and the emotive forces behind their choices. If you’re ready to see the world from the eyes of your consumers, get in touch.

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