It is little surprise that Stephen Tharrett's recent presentation on current and future fitness trends has already become one of Club Industry's most-ever-viewed Master Class webinars.
In case you missed it, here's the good news: Tharrett's Feb. 27 presentation, "In the Year 2020 – You May Find," is now freely available for on-demand viewing. Just click here for access.
Tharrett is co-founder of insights firm ClubIntel and was formerly president of IHRSA's board of directors and an executive at Dallas-based ClubCorp.
During his hourlong presentation, Tharrett covered 10 trends to watch for in 2020 and beyond based on data from ClubIntel's 2019 “International Fitness Industry Trend Report—What's All the Rage?” survey. Below, we highlight three of Tharrett's most important trends.
Social connectivity should drive your programming.
Eight of 2019's top 10 global programming trends were group-oriented activities, Tharrett said. This includes HIIT, cycling and yoga.
"Whether it's HIIT, barre, Pilates or yoga ... your programming has to have two things to it," Tharrett said in his presentation. "It has to engage people, not just physically, but emotionally, and provide an organic means to connect them. I think, over the next decade, that's where programming is going. That social connection is going beyond the brick and mortar. It's going to go into the virtual universe."
Work with, not against, the industry's digital middlemen.
So-called middleman companies such as ClassPass currently work with more than 50,000 fitness facilities worldwide, Tharrett said. Such services have become mainstream among millennial and Generation Z consumers, and fitness businesses will only be hindered if they resist adoption.
Tharrett noted that adoption rates are significantly lower in the United States (3 percent) than in most other developed regions.
"While studios have embraced [digital middlemen], clubs haven't," Tharrett said. "We haven't figured out how to work with them to where it's financially viable for both parties. ... You don't want to fight them. You want to work with them. You want to find a way to make digital middlemen a partner with you. You don't have to open up all your hours, all your classes, all your times, but you have to find a way."
Budget club models must evolve to remain relevant and competitive.
Budget clubs currently represent 7.5 percent, or 3,000, of the total number of American clubs that are currently in operation, Tharrett said. However, an oversaturation of budget options (memberships valued at $25 or less per month) have led to numerous problems for club operators, such as a decline in profits.
Budget club operators must evolve by considering several differentiating factors. These include utilizing less square footage and adding tiered membership options that offer premium amenities at higher rates.
"What I’m seeing happen is some of your budget operators are not sure if they should be budget or mid-market [clubs],” he said. “Because once you’re at $30 [per month], you’re competing now with LA Fitness, 24 Hour Fitness, etc. We see that morphing due to the squeeze of saturation.”
For more insights, view Tharrett's full presentation here.
For more on 2020 trends, download Club Industry’s latest report, “Fitness Trends: Spotlight on 2020.”