The fitness industry is going through a natural progression. In the old days, we stocked our spaces with gym equipment and technology, and we rented club usage to those willing to part with their money. Results were an afterthought.
Over time, operators have been differentiating themselves in one of two ways. They either invest in distinctive machines and best-in-class services and charge a premium membership fee (i.e., high value/high price) or keep their Opex, Capex and investments in technology as low as possible, enabling them to compete on price (i.e., high volume/low price).
Most of us are benefitting from the renewed economic interest in our sector, but if you peel back the onion and look at the data, industry growth is heavily driven by boutiques and small studios. This growth is occurring because consumers are no longer satisfied with simple service. If your younger consumers do not connect to the experience you provide, they take their dollars down the street where the alternative is engaging, the experience is user-friendly, and the instructors and fellow members know their name.
If you attended IHRSA or BOLD this year then you know it’s a data-backed assertion. We are now in an experience economy and quickly moving to a transformation economy – an economy where our profits will directly correlate with the perceived betterment our members feel we provide. The health tech players who will shape our industry are the innovators that play a transformative role in our members’ well-being.
We can “future proof” our clubs by preparing for this move to a transformation economy by looking for technology that transcends table stakes (e.g., rudimentary activity tracking) and elevates our members experience along their transformational journeys.
- Mike Rucker, PhD, Active Wellness VP of Technology