Buff Babies

July 27, 2011: Buff Babies

Ok, maybe I’m exaggerating some when I say “babies,” but not by much. Bloomberg Businessweek recently reported that “child bodybuilding” is becoming “a real industry.”

That view is reinforced by market research company IBISWorld, which says gyms and health clubs have become a big hit with the younger crowd, or as Bloomberg Businessweek calls these new fitness buffs, “the Care Bears set.”

In fact, IBISWorld’s senior research analyst Taylor Hamilton told Bloomberg Businessweek that “youth memberships have become one of the fastest growth areas” in the fitness club industry. The numbers really are eye-opening. As reported by Bloomberg Businessweek: In the past five years, pre-adolescent and teen gym memberships have increased by nearly 3 percent annually-and among the even younger set (6- to 11-year-olds), membership rates have nearly doubled since 2005.

The magazine talked to one health club manager in southern California who boasts that the majority of his new clients are not only “underage,” but that some of those newbies are 2 ½ and 3 years old. Since most workout facilities require your customers to be 16 before they’re allowed to lift weights, those that welcome the youngsters really stand apart from the crowd.

If you already own a gym or health club, you might consider adding classes and equipment catering to kids. But you’ll also likely need extra insurance coverage. If you’re thinking about starting this type of business, the startup costs are not cheap. You’ll need a fairly large facility, workout machines, other equipment and sufficient staff (including trainers).

This is not about young girls trying to maintain reed-thin bodies. The article focused on the “growing circuit of national body-building events” aimed at young men, including the Iron Boy Powerlifting Championships.

The whole concept is currently being debated-is it really OK for kids to be pushed to achieve “physical perfection” at such an early age? While that battle rages on, savvy entrepreneurs have a chance to get in now on a burgeoning trend.