This page contains a Flash digital edition of a book.
As a general rule,


this market doesn’t like to be made to feel ‘older’


JACKIE HANLEY Senior health & physical activity development officer, OCL, UK


exercise and, from experience, I believe a standalone offering is unnecessary, offering no signifi cant benefi ts either for the audience or commercially. Older adults are our biggest user


O


group, especially during the day, and we run more than 110 classes via our ‘Easy Does It’ programme, plus a further 50 specialist classes aimed at people with health conditions, who also tend to fall into this age bracket. In my experience, this audience


varies dramatically, both physically and mentally, but older adults are consistently straight-talking, rejecting over-promotion or PR hype and spending time carefully selecting their activities. Our most successful promotions include clear, readable information with exact descriptions,


CL has a long track record of attracting older people into


OCL’s ’Easy Does It’ programme runs over 100 classes for the older adult market


focusing on the fact that sessions are fun and have health and lifestyle benefi ts. As a general rule, this market doesn’t


like to be made to feel ‘older’. Were we to launch a dedicated older adults gym brand, I believe it should be aimed at over-65s. With people living longer and age increasingly becoming just a number, 50 is too young to be termed an ‘older adult’, with the inference that you need specialist facilities. A bespoke/targeted facility would also need incredibly careful branding and PR, to ensure it didn’t alienate the market it’s targeting.


This could start with just one


DENNIS KEISER Founder, Keiser Institute on Aging, US


W


hile mainstream gym brands could be the answer for the older


market, they generally have too much going against them to be successful in this market. They already have a reputation for appealing to the younger crowd. Everything they know about the gym business and how to be successful centres around the younger market. Older adults are a totally different


breed. Staff must be more educated, which means they demand more money, which affects profi tability. I seriously doubt we’ll see a normal health/leisure gym brand lead the way to the older adult market. My bet would be on the newcomers, unfamiliar with the gym business, building a model around older adults without the prejudice of success with younger adults.


March 2014 © Cybertrek 2014


centre: based on how long it takes to make it profi table and establish the brand – and of course their desire and ability to expand – they can become the mainstream name. This is how Nifty after Fifty started in the US. But it has to be profi table, and therein lies the challenge: it costs a lot more money in staffi ng to cater to the needs of the older adult. Other challenges in dealing with


the over-50s include the diversity of functional ability. This varies little between the age of 20 and 50 years compared to ages 50 to 80, to say nothing about 80 to 100. We shouldn’t be talking in terms of age but rather functional ability. The normal health club/leisure centre environment should be able to cater for the more functional 50- to 70-year-old. The less functional will require a facility dedicated to their needs, which understands medications, chronic diseases and pain, depression and other things that come with age.


AMY TOMKINS Associate director, The Futures Company, UK


A


study run by The Futures Company in 2012 revealed


that nearly 50 per cent of 50- to 60-year-olds agree that their age group is not portrayed accurately in society. This increases to 65 per cent of over-70s, suggesting that it’s easy to get it wrong, particularly if gym operators single out this age group as ‘different’. Gym providers therefore need


to be careful not to alienate the senior audience: being singled out by a gym as ‘older’ – whether through targeted classes within a mainstream gym or through a standalone over-50s positioning – could deter rather than encourage. Brands in other sectors are


adopting a more inclusive approach, with retailers such as M&S regularly using older models in their campaigns, positioning them as ‘one of the girls’ and recognising the similarities between their hopes and dreams and those of a younger audience. Gyms should take note: many of the barriers preventing over-50s from signing up are similar to those facing younger generations. Gyms hoping to target the over- 50s should focus on communicating accessibility and inclusivity across age groups, highlighting that we all have similar fears when it comes to signing on the dotted line.


Read Health Club Management online at healthclubmanagement.co.uk/digital 45


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