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Armed & Ready: Fitness Trends Affecting Your Business in 2010

As featured in Hotel Executive
By Bryan Green, President, Advantage Fitness Products

The New Year is alive and kicking, and I wanted to provide an overview of the key trends that are going to influence the business of fitness in 2010. While it may seem like the “same old story,” the challenges we face due to our current economy will continue to a have a significant impact on all of us. Furthermore, the lifestyles of active-minded Americans continue to be action-packed, making time a luxury that most of us can not afford to waste. These two themes will play prominent roles, influencing the business of fitness and the choices that hospitality-based fitness center owners and managers make throughout the year.

Consumers will be looking to manage their fitness regimens, both at home and on the road, with time and money in mind. Tighter budgets and hectic schedules will undoubtedly force cost-effective and time-efficient workout alternatives to the forefront. A trend toward non-traditional or “alternative” fitness programming will continue. And in terms of demographics, we will see a growing emphasis among aging adults who are consciously increasing activity and exercise, in order to maintain and extend an active healthy lifestyle.

So with that, let’s take a deeper dive into the specific fitness trends the hospitality industry needs to be reckoning with in 2010:

Workouts with Cost in Mind
The impact of the economy continues to affect the choices of fitness enthusiasts and health clubs alike. This is being realized within the mainstream health and fitness industry. Health clubs and independent gyms are already altering programming and business models, often times creating fee-based a-la-carte program options to better serve the needs of the cost-conscious member. In hospitality, hotels and resorts need to remain relevant and recognize that travelers believe that the price they pay for their room INCLUDES a great fitness amenity. In larger hotel- or resort-based spas that charge supplemental fees, the exercise experience needs to be worth the price of admission. If you’re charging for fitness, you’d better deliver. Coming up short in this area will quickly put you at risk of upsetting your valued guests and creating substantial customer satisfaction and churn issues.

Time-Efficient Workouts for the Time-Pressured American
Most of us in the industry are strapped for time. We are working in the business of fitness and ironically finding it difficult to carve out time for workouts of our own. If this is the case for us, it’s certainly the case for our customers. To address this dilemma, the fitness industry continues to create shorter, yet higher-intensity workouts that are more appealing to those with busy schedules. These time-efficient alternatives provide significant fitness rewards within a minimal investment of time. Functional training methods have emerged from this need for time-efficient alternatives, because functional training exercises engage multiple muscle groups simultaneously, allowing individuals to accomplish a broader set of fitness goals with fewer exercises. Travelers are no exception. For this reason, hotel and resort fitness managers should consider introducing or increasing the availability of functional fitness products and machines. Another important measure is in making sure guests have enough of the right equipment to efficiently accomplish their goals without having to wait for equipment to be available during peak periods. Circuit training and depth in cardiovascular equipment are the keys here.

Exergaming
Exergames will continue to climb in popularity. Gaming-based fitness alternatives like Wii Fit, and virtual-reality technologies have forced the fitness industry to make training entertaining. These innovations and, most importantly, an expectation amongst consumers for these more entertaining alternatives, are here to stay. Companies such as Trixter have created innovative ways for guests to have lots of fun while they get their workout in between meetings or pool time. Particularly for premium hotels and resorts, where luxury and innovation is a staple of the brand experience, these entertainment-focused fitness alternatives need to be considered before you fall behind the times.

Active Seniors- An Important Focus
Growing numbers of boomers recognize the multitude of benefits that come along with regular exercise participation. This reality is only increasing the segment of fitness-minded guests and creating an even-greater demand for fitness services that cater to them. Therefore, it’s important to not only be aware of the increased demand from this demographic, but most importantly to insure relevancy within the specific equipment offering. Companies such as Scifit and Star Trac have produced active-adult-friendly equipment with lower step heights and features particularly friendly to the aging population.

Functional Training Workouts: Functional training is designed to enhance our capabilities and efficiency in performing the movements and actions that dominate or day-to-day lives. It represents a fundamental shift away from fitness for purely aesthetic improvements, and toward improving our ability to perform effectively in our daily physical lives. As I mentioned previously, most functional training mechanisms not only target specific muscle groups, but also engage our core and the stabilizing muscles that provide critical support to the major muscle groups. So we effectively achieve more benefits from each specific functional training exercise, than that which conventional muscle-group-specific exercise methods offer. There are different types of functional training modalities, including user-defined, cable-based equipment and sports-specific workouts such as boxing and mixed-martial arts which are growing quickly in popularity. However, balance is key here. The good news is that less is often more, in terms of the variety of benefits that functional training equipment offers. But you’ll need to consider space when considering functional training equipment. With functional fitness methods typically requiring and greater degree of lateral movement, you’ll need to account for this necessary space beyond the footprint of the equipment itself.

New Technology = New Tools
Technology is continuing to infiltrate the fitness world. Major manufacturers are creating integrated systems that allow your guests the ability to store their workout information while on the road and upload it to their computers when back at home. Staying connected in life and with one’s fitness regimen is certainly the trend, and offering your guests such an experience will leave an impression and keep them coming back for more. We are seeing a rapidly increasing amount of online and virtual training programs that provide customized training regimens through mobile phones and other hand-held entertainment devices. These downloadable programs are providing your guests access to customized guidance whether at home or while they’re traveling regardless of the specific fitness environment.

These are the trends in 2010 that fitness professionals need to be considering and reacting to in an effort to remain current, relevant and successful with today’s active-minded consumers. I highly recommend a conscious effort to incorporate some level of attention to each of these trends within your hotel- or resort-based fitness amenities. Like anything else in business, or in life, the early birds enjoy the fruits, while the late birds get the scraps left behind.