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Changing With the Times

This year marks Club Industry's 20th anniversary of serving fitness facility management [we'll have more on that in a special issue later this year]. Over those 20 years the magazine has worked hard to educate, lead and reflect the industry as well as possible. To do so, we have gone through staff changes (in 20 years, who hasn't?), shifts in editorial focus and numerous redesigns.

It takes all of this hard work and change to keep up with an industry as dynamic and fluid as fitness. Over the years, workouts have changed, member demographics have changed, club offerings have changed (how many gyms still exist?) and the way clubs do business has changed — mostly for the good.

That's why it is odd that I recently read an article by the Associated Press concerning the too-slow shift in health club advertising from hard-bodies to more “real” looking people. The article mentioned the recently launched campaign by Bally Total Fitness that is attempting to be more inclusive of average Americans.

Although not the first to portray this more average image of people going to health clubs, I have to applaud Bally — and all the other chains and clubs out there that are doing their best to attract members of all degrees of fitness.

For too many years I've heard potential members say they “need to get in shape” before going to the gym. Sounds a lot like cleaning before the maid comes — image means something to most people and everything to many.

It seems that inside the industry this attention to the deconditioned market and working toward making non-traditional members feel welcome has been bandied about for quite some time. Maybe now the message is beginning to spread to that 70 percent to 80 percent of the population that doesn't fit the traditional image of “fit,” and it is about time.

While it is important, I believe, to continue showing traditionally fit people alongside those who (like many of us) may be in need of improved conditioning as important motivation for potential members (people still rate looking good as the main factor for exercising and living a healthy lifestyle), the inclusion of those less fit “models” may just open the door to a huge untapped membership pool that is key to the continued growth of the industry.

Just like it has over the last 20 years, the fitness industry continues to mature and grow in a positive direction and Club Industry magazine, along with the Club Industry Conference & Exhibition group, will continue to do their part to support the industry in that growth.

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