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EDITOR’S LETTER


Subscriptions Denise Gildea +44 (0)1462 471930


Circulation Manager Michael Emmerson +44 (0)1462 471932


Editor


Kate Cracknell +44 (0)1462 471906


Editorial Director Liz Terry


+44 (0)1462 431385


Assistant Editor Katie Barnes


+44 (0)1462 471925


News Editor Tom Walker


+44 (0)1462 471934


Product Editor Kate Corney


+44 (0)1462 471927


Designers Andy Bundy


+44 (0)1462 471924


Ed Gallagher +44 (0)1905 20198 Sharon Hale


+44 (0)1462 431385


Website Team Dean Fox


+44 (0)1462 471900 Emma Harris


+44 (0)1462 471921 Tim Nash


+44 (0)1462 471917


Michael Paramore +44 (0)1462 471926


Publisher Jan Williams


+44 (0)1462 471909


Sales John Challinor +44 (0)1202 742968 Astrid Ros


+44 (0)1462 471911


Stephanie Rogers +44 (0)1462 471903 Julie Badrick


+44 (0)1462 471919


Financial Administrator Denise Gildea +44 (0)1462 471930


Credit Controller Rebekah Scott +44 (0)1462 733477


February 2013 © Cybertrek 2013


Engaging the public


Is the health and fitness industry currently doing all it needs to do to genuinely engage with today’s consumer? As physical activity options continue to proliferate, the challenge


of getting more than 12 per cent of the population engaged with gyms is becoming even tougher. As technology in particular helps people take control of their own workouts, the competitor pool for the traditional fitness facility is expanding to encompass independent, ‘out of gym’ exercise powered by the likes of iPhone apps and Nike Fuelbands. If you’re in any doubt about that, just take a look at the media. When the UK’s newspapers and


magazines rolled out their usual ‘new year’s resolution’ editorial last month – homing in, inevitably, on ways to get fit and shape up – where were the high street gyms? The coverage focused on diets, gadgets, home-based exercise, occasionally on fitness getaways abroad... Health clubs should have been at the very heart of this, but they weren’t. And it wasn’t just the tabloids: titles such as The Guardian and The Economist also weighed in with a spot of gym-bashing – heavyweight criticism that we ignore at our peril. Meanwhile Cosmopolitan’s new offering, Cosmo Body – a magazine dedicated entirely to shaping up, losing weight, looking and feeling good – barely mentions gyms at all. So is the fitness sector currently the B2C


The fi tness industry must recognise, and respond to, the growing remoteness of consumers – the fact that people no longer need the reassurance of dealing with businesses enclosed by four physical walls


industry it needs to be? Are gyms, and even equipment manufacturers, really thinking of themselves as consumer brands jostling for space in an increasingly diverse marketplace? If gyms want to survive, they must drive a


deeper level of engagement with consumers. That will in part come from a more proactive relationship with the media, not only reacting to negative coverage but also actively driving


respect for the fitness offering. But it’s not just about PR and communications. In today’s market, it’s about recognising, and responding to, the growing remoteness of consumers – the fact that people no longer need the reassurance of dealing with businesses enclosed by four physical walls. Gyms must give people a reason to engage: a sense of community driven by ‘clubs in clubs’ and group exercise sessions, for example, or a focus on expertise. As part of this, gyms must latch onto the new generation of fitness gadgets: selling them, educating members in their use, incorporating them into workouts. It’s about making sure the gym acts as the hub of people’s fitness existence rather than being sidelined – a place they go to get the expertise, guidance, inspiration and community they can’t get by themselves or online. It’s also about reaching deeper into the community. Talking to Glasgow Life for this month’s


interview (see p30), and hearing about the organisation’s extensive outreach schemes – from partnership with the NHS to ‘grey market’ classes and childhood obesity initiatives – I was genuinely inspired to recognise new ways in which the sector could evolve its offering to engage new users. As consumers become less dependent on bricks and mortar businesses, we need to work harder


to remain relevant. That means getting out into the local community; it means creating a role for ourselves alongside – rather than in competition with – new technology; it means a strong focus on creating a sense of club; and it means proactively championing our offering to the consumer media.


Kate Cracknell, editor – katecracknell@leisuremedia.com / twitter: @HealthClubKate To share your thoughts on this topic, visit www.healthclubmanagement.co.uk/blog


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