As featured in Hotel Executive, January Edition 2013
By Bryan Green, President, Advantage Fitness Products
The New Year is upon us and your guests are in a heightened state of personal health awareness. Coming off a holiday season filled with extra calories and typically a reduction in exercise, we are all receptive to messages and offerings that will help us regain a healthy focus. Each year the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) publishes its annual survey of fitness trends. Not all of them apply to the Hospitality space. However, maintaining awareness of the growing health and wellness concerns of your guests will help you continue to shape your fitness center over time. Not unlike other offerings or programs on property, the fitness amenity is one that must reviewed annual to insure that the environment you provide your guests is one that remains relevant to their needs and expectations.
The following are the top trends in fitness this year that apply to the Hospitality industry and how you can best keep pace with them:
Strength training remains vital in the overall workout equation. This area has traditionally been minimized in the hotel environment due to perceived concerns about safety and female demand. Well all that has been changing for some time now, and strength training achieved the no. 2 position overall for the second year in a row in the survey. Women today equally participate in strength training based exercise and it’s imperative that the fitness center provide solutions that accommodate their needs as well in this regard. This means lighter dumbbells, cable based units that provide easy adjustment for users of all heights and extremity length, and finally an increasingly open area to conduct such movement.
BODY WEIGHT TRAINING:
Old becomes new again. Body Weight training is resistance training exercise without the use of additional tools or equipment. Guests become their own gym! Today, exercise modalities such as Yoga and mat Pilates are some of the most know examples. However, with the emergence of Crossfit and suspension training systems such as TRX, guests today require less equipment, but more free space to move within. By eliminating antiquated and bulky multi-station or other inefficient units in your fitness center, you will likely find a couple extra square feet to promote an expanded open area for floor based exercise, stretching, and the like. Fitness floor covering systems can now be designed to more specifically and safely designate areas reserved for such “movement” space versus the rest of the equipment in an open room. Making accommodations to support this trend will increase guest satisfaction while reducing equipment expenditures and subsequent upkeep.
FITNESS FOR OLDER ADULTS:
As Baby Boomers age into retirement (and because they may have more discretionary money than their younger counterparts), smart hotels will capitalize on this exponentially growing market and wellness minded consumer by providing age-appropriate exercise options. Some keys to insuring your fitness center is “active adult” friendly include: ease of adjustments on equipment, cable based machines that promote exercise fluidity first before intensive muscle building, flexibility station for stretching and free movement, and finally a strong cardiovascular equipment offering. The truth is most trends that best accommodate an active adult population are consistent with many of today’s most progressive trends for exercisers of all ages.
Exercising the core muscles improves the overall stability of the trunk which enables us to not only meet the demands of activities in daily living, but also perform better in various sports. The buzz word “Core” has remained relevant for the last several years, and there appears to be no slowdown in sight. To insure that your fitness center provides tools to accommodate this essential group of exercises, you can simply add a barrage of limited cost accessories to enhance your environment. Items such as rubber medicine balls, foam rollers, and ample stretching mats provide numerous ways for guests to get their core workout! Cable based weight equipment will also provide support for the various twists and turns with resistance required to engage ones core.
Exercise related outdoor activities have been picking up steam over the last few years. Even in cold weather environments, fitness boot camps and small group classes are no longer relegated only to our military personnel! Outdoor (or simply just out of fitness room) exercise activities relevant to urban hotel or resort properties can include city walks, local mountain hiking, beach exercise, pool programing, and even taking the stairs in vertically opportune properties. Every location and property provides for a unique setting and opportunity to consider such an extension beyond the traditional offering of the fitness center itself. Naturally, such programs would need to be coordinated by hotel staff or preferably by third party businesses in the local community interested in offering such tailored programing for your guests. One way to incorporate these unique and complementary wellness services would be as an extension of your concierge team, much in the same way they make reservations for local attractions, activities, and dining today.
A large segment of the exercise population is today interested in tracking their results. Tallying the miles, steps, hours, and even the total calories burned over months of exercise have proven to be motivating statistics for many. Recently, several tools have been created to support such quantification including apps for most smart phones. Leading fitness equipment companies also have begun to integrate systems within many of their units that also make is easy for guests to register themselves before or during a workout and then store their exercise data they accumulate in the cloud. The proliferation of technology will continue to aid in data collection to support these efforts, and guests are also interested in posting their results on social networks such as Facebook as well. Some equipment will allow for locations based services to help the guest post their new record time on the bike, or where they are working out. These postings could be positive marketing for the property so long as they have nice things to say about the gym.
REACHING NEW MARKETS:
Now this is a big one for the fitness industry. With an estimated 80% of Americans without a regular fitness program or singular place to exercise; hotels, apartment complexes, corporations, and medical centers alike are stretching out to tap into this huge market. The largest barriers to entry for the majority of our population are access to convenient and inclusive spaces to exercise. The Hospitality industry can tap into this demand by promoting these offerings vs. minimizing them. The risk of not doing so is to defer to your competition to come up with a proactive plan, either another Hotel or perhaps a 3rd party local offering. Either way, you will find guest not spending time at yours consuming food and beverage or other profit centers that growth the more the guest is focused on you. Health and fitness professionals will be searching for new ways to deliver their services to most people who are still not engaged in their programs. Your guests may become such a target for others to market to in the absence of your offering of substance.
Excise guidance is key for the majority of the population whom themselves are neither athletes or particularly knowledgeable about building the structure of a complete exercise program for themselves. Wellness coaching runs the spectrum from personal training services to self-guided smartphone apps. In the hospitality environment, a variety of options exist today to help enhance the guest’s fitness experience. Leading equipment manufacturers are working fast to embed QR Codes (Quick Response) within the placards of their strength equipment and even on the screens of their cardiovascular units. A guest then can simply utilize their smart phone or other devise to scan these codes and receive exercise guidance specific to the use of the machine they wish to use. This is an exciting development for facilities that are typically unmanned or primarily amenity based such as the majority of hotels. These new self-guided units may serve as impetus enough to make some equipment upgrades and gain an immediate increase in guest satisfaction.
Trends are typically defined as a general development that takes some time and then stays for a period of sustainable relevance, whereas a fad comes and goes. The fitness trends for 2013 as described above are certainly here to stay for a while. You can feel confident that any degree of their implementation will help place your property on the right track as it relates to your offering in fitness.