Breaking a Sweat

Date posted: December 14, 2012

By Rieva Lesonsky

If you’re in the health and fitness business, you might already be (actually you should be) targeting Millennials (Gen Y) to come to your facilities. Some interesting data reported in MediaPost’s Engage: GenY newsletter shows although 88 percent of Millennials “engage in some form of exercise, they are not as physical as they think” they are. In fact, a study from Life University shows their health habits are essentially the same as those of their parents.

One of the problems is Gen Y thinks exercise “lacks excitement and sociability.” Engage: GenY suggests health club owners “mix it up,” citing a popup gym in New York City (KiwiSweat) that offers classes held at various city buildings and landmarks.

When Millennials engage in physical activity, it’s more likely to be a specific activity like running than a general “going to the gym.” But gym owners shouldn’t give up. The recession, reports Mintel, a leading market research company, caused many consumers to drop their gym memberships, and even though the recovery is well underway, many Millennials haven’t signed back up. One reason they’re staying away is price. A Mintel survey shows most Millennials (72 percent) think gym memberships are too expensive.

To counter this, Engage: GenY recommends gym owners offer “flexibility” in their programs and pricing, including letting potential members “sample new activities” and creating a flexible fee structure. You might want to create your own series of podcasts (to compete with the 18,000 fitness apps offered on iTunes), or even create podcast memberships.

You also need to provide reasons for Gen Y (or any generation of Americans, for that matter) to show up. Mintel’s study on “Exercise Trends,” issued in October, reports that 80 percent of consumers who belong to a gym don’t use the facilities. Engage: GenY suggest you can change this by “adding excitement, flexibility, personalization and rewards” to your offerings.

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