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IHRSA EUROPE UPDATE


What’s hot, and why not? T


he latest IHRSA research highlights the trends within the European fitness market, as well as identifying


the reasons why people are still failing to participate. We round up the key findings:


Fitness trends The biggest fitness trends in Europe are functional training, outdoor group fitness, yoga and high intensity interval training (HIIT). Meanwhile, activities such as boot camps (both indoors and outdoors), mixed martial arts (MMA) and boxing continue to grow in popularity, while group fitness activities seem to be gravitating toward more fun, dance-based formats. “Group exercise in its various forms is


still strong, and the new trend of virtual classes is making inroads as well,” says Hans Muench, IHRSA’s director of Europe. While not a new trend, indoor cycling continues to be particularly popular, especially in Scandinavia.


Holistic approach In Portugal, clubs are adding nutrition to their basic service. “Most clubs are now integrating physical activities with nutrition counselling in order to reduce obesity and transform behaviours about feeding,” explains Armando Moreira, vice president of Portuguese trade association AGAP. Another accelerating trend addresses


the total member experience: not just the workout, but pre- and post-workout activities. “Expansive wellness and relaxation areas in various markets are worth taking note of,” says Muench.


Triathlon to the fore In Ireland, triathlon, outdoor small group training and cycling have all grown in popularity, according to Kilian Fisher, IHRSA Europe Council member. The surge in the popularity of triathlon-


related activities holds open-ended promise for not only Ireland, but also for Spain, where triathlons as well as standalone running and biking activities are popular. Club operators have the opportunity to provide programmes for swimming and fitness training for speed, endurance and agility to complement activities members enjoy outside of the club.


26 Triathlon and standalone cycling events have grown in popularity, especially in Ireland and Spain


Exercise and ageing Catherine Carty, IHRSA UNESCO representative, suggests that further opportunity exists within the older adult market. “With ageing populations comes increasing levels of disability,” she explains. “Catering more to people with disabilities represents a major growth opportunity.”


Challenging the model The latest wave of low-cost clubs and microgyms is enabling the health club market to accommodate a wider range of budgets, but it’s also shaking up the traditional structure of the fitness industry. Notes Moreira: “Market polarisation


is creating a lot of pressure in the mid- market. Low-cost operators are reporting good figures and expansion plans, out of line with traditional clubs, and some of the big operators and chains are now under a process of strategic redefinition and readjustment of their offerings.”


Growth: barriers & opportunities High obesity rates and low activity rates could be considered both a driver and a barrier for industry growth, with individuals who are categorised as either obese or overweight


Read Health Club Management online at healthclubmanagement.co.uk/digital


also tending to be less active. While health clubs cater to, and would certainly benefit, this population, this group currently seems unlikely to be drawn to their offering. For the foreseeable future, economic


instability, high tax rates and competition for a limited pool of members will continue to hinder the industry’s rate of growth. With banks reluctant to lend capital to the industry, existing facilities may also struggle with delayed expansion or upgrade plans. On the plus side, however, leading club


companies in Europe are experiencing growth, and several international brands – including Anytime Fitness and Vivafit – are pursuing expansion in Europe, suggesting that the European market holds promise for additional future growth.


FOR MORE INFORMATION


Tis information is drawn from Te European Health Club Report, which is available at www.ihrsa.org/ european-report in PDF or print format for IHRSA members (€199.95 / US$269) and non-members (€399.95/ US$539)


March 2014 © Cybertrek 2014


NEWS


What’s hot in terms of fitness activity, and what’s stopping people taking part? Kristen Walsh reports


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