18 July 2022

...and for the pony's next trick...

The 2022 Mindbody Wellness Index: Fitness Report has been published, and it contains a number of interesting findings to which small group training gym owners need to be paying attention.

Whilst there is a general acknowledgement amongst the enlightened that the pandemic has 'caused a glitch in the matrix', this is now being backed up by empirical evidence through a series of published reports & studies.  The Mindbody Fitness Report is the latest to reveal a number of cold, hard facts.

Let's start by looking at the top reasons that people exercised pre-pandemic:

Control Weight
Feel good
Healthy Live

Now, compare it to the top reasons that people exercise today, post-pandemic:

Reduce stress
Feel better mentally
Look better physically

The two top reasons both fit in the "mental well-being" category.  What's more, the study found that 19% of people feel too intimidated to go to a gym/fitness studio in 2022.  That is a 7% rise on 2021, for which the result was 12%.

Get with the program

For most small group training gyms, attracting new members post-lockdown was as easy as shooting fish in a barrel. With as many as 30% fewer facilities for members to choose from, even the worst facilities were able to get new members.

However, the purge is coming. The expectations that members have of their facilities are returning to pre-pandemic levels. Many members who signed-up for 12-month commitments immediately post-lockdown will be seeking to move to pastures new. As new facilities continue to open at-a-pace, but in no doubt that not everyone will survive.

As I write this blog, I see that the primary thrust of most gym adverts is still centred around weight-loss and the cliché "bikini body". We're pretty much trotting out the same old narrative we have for 20-30 years. Is it any wonder that the dinosaurs became extinct?!

SGPT gym owners are perfectly placed to deliver what a good percentage of the public want - far more so than the big box gyms. That said, the big box gyms are no fools. They know where the industry is heading and every week it seems the industry press is awash of another big brand name outlining their small group proposition.

Community with Variety

Small group training gyms are able to build a community and support network far easier than any other type of fitness facility. It is at the very heart of what we do (or should be doing!) Inherently, we have what people want!

In the Mindbody study, 69% of men and 64% of women surveyed said that it was important to them that their facility had a variety of workouts and sessions available.  Some facilities are even offering pop-up writing classes; painting classes; or meditation to offer a broader array of "general wellbeing" activities to their clients.

It is important to review every aspect of your delivery. "Results week" was all fine & lovely in 2018, but is that where we're still at? Of course, the fundamentals will not change but our delivery must.

As I have outlined before, and supported by some of the finest providers in our space, the crux of operating a successful small group training facility is about what you do with your members outside of their sessions - as opposed to the short period of time they spend with you.  For many of us, that is still to sink in.

We are an industry where our trade is passed down generation-to-generation. But a seismic change event is on the way - a perfect storm of a post-pandemic era, combined with almost impossible economic conditions.

Now is the time for SGPT gyms to step up and meet the evolved needs of the population.

Pony needs to learn a new trick!

Written by Chris Windram.


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