• Running shorter classes - with customers increasingly pushed for time, shorter classes are an attractive option. It also means you can service double the number of members in an hour. Shorter classes don’t have to be high intensity. On average, beginner participants make up 30 per cent of group exercisers and shorter, lower intensity or beginner-only sessions will appeal to this market, not to mention the potentially huge market of currently inactive people.

parks. What space does your centre or club have that could drive additional revenue via group activities? In addition to space optimisation, consider the atmosphere created to encourage the experience that will encourage return visits. Mirrorless, darker spaces have proved more popular than the traditional bright space with mirrors. Going back to the gym floor, are all the spaces and kit being optimised? Are your PTs doing any work with small groups? Small group training is a massive revenue opportunity.

Tune up your timetable - there are a range of smart ways to maximise occupancy, reduce downtime, attract new members and spend less money on license fees. Ideas include:

• Do it yourself - frustrated by licence fees, an increasing number of operators are designing their own group exercise products and training their own instructors. The success of these programmes generally comes down to the quality of the product and the quality/skill of the instructors. Make your signature programming part of a career pathway for your workforce. Getting your instructors to deliver their own freestyle choreography is a great option if your budgets don’t stretch to licences or signature programmes. This forgotten art of choreography is a real skill and one we should strive to maintain and support.

• Go virtual - on-demand fitness is on the rise and presents a massive opportunity. Virtual classes are brilliant for off-peak slots where class numbers are low and are a useful back up in case of instructor illness. They can also play a role for beginners or those intimidated by the thought of being judged or corrected by an instructor. However, virtual fitness is just part of the solution. When a national panel of participants was asked if virtual fitness classes would meet their needs, 72 per cent responded negatively citing lack of rapport, no feedback and no social aspect as the main reasons (EMD UK National Survey 2018).

What can we learn from the boutique model?

According to IHRSA, memberships of boutique fitness studios has risen by approximately 70 per cent over the past few years, while traditional fitness clubs memberships have grown by just five per cent.

Several of the ‘big box’ gyms are adopting a more boutique approach. David Lloyd Leisure invested £15m in rolling out their Blaze programme across 49 clubs. This HIIT class combines cardiovascular training with strength and combat exercises and mirrors those found at the likes of 1Rebel and Barry’s Bootcamp. The boutique model can help future-proof your offering by meeting the needs of millennial consumers. Millennials and Generation Z participants now make up 80 per cent of the fitness market according to the Les Mills 2019 Global Fitness Consumers Survey.


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