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Turning Senior Research Into Money for Your Club

The term due diligence always seems to appear whether you are researching a purchase of a home, car or business. Consumers are expected to have done enough research to ensure that they are making a wise buying decision. Those who don't do their research often end up finding out about another term, buyer beware.

Doing your due diligence buys peace of mind. So when it comes to your professional advancement or business expansion, are you taking the time to do your research, examining the finding and then making well-informed decisions? If you've done your due diligence in the fitness industry, you will know that every year for the past decade, we have learned more about the effect aging has on our bodies and minds. The increasing number of Baby Boomers have also created an abundance of business opportunities. Whether it's facility design, product creation, marketing strategy or programmatic changes, the older population is affecting every segment of the fitness industry.

So, what does the latest research show us about the needs and abilities of older people? What more have we learned about what motivates this group, and what turns them off? And, most importantly, what opportunities are created from this information?

Research released earlier this year from the National Marketing Institute's Boomer/Healthy Aging Database offers a closer look into the psyche of the Baby Boomer.

Eighty-two percent of Baby Boomers say they want to maintain a healthy lifestyle to have enough energy as they age. What can we in the fitness industry do with that information? Offer programs marketed as energy builders at your club. Then, tie in a promotion with manufacturers of energy drinks. By doing your due diligence, you can overcome the problem and provide a solution that differentiates you from your competitors.

Let's look at another research finding. Eighty-eight percent to 90 percent of Baby Boomers say they are dissatisfied with their fitness regime. Here's what you can do: find out from your members what they would like to see offered at your club. For example, 52 percent of Baby Boomers wish to become healthier to prevent disease, so offer disease prevention programming (heart health and strong bone programming are just two examples). The normal toning program you offer every summer for the beach just won't cut it here.

Fitness professionals can also tap into an American Association of Retired Persons study that shows that 64 percent of Baby Boomers feel younger than their real age, but only 19 percent say this is due to exercise. Research also shows that about 79 percent want to become healthier so they can remain active longer.

Researcher Dr. William Evans said the single greatest deficit in many older people is their inability to lift 10 pounds. Ponder this vital point for a minute. Now, ask yourself the question, does my equipment address this issue? Does it offer a low starting resistance or does it create a barrier, turning off your market before you can turn them on?

Research findings are only numbers. It's what you do with the research (aka your market intelligence) that can spell the difference between success and failure with any market. These few examples I've explained demonstrate the power of turning research into action. By becoming a student of the older adult market, you not only make your organization unique, but you also add to your bottom line. Just remember, always do your due diligence before making decisions.

Colin Milner is chief executive officer of the International Council on Active Aging. An award-winning writer, Milner has authored more than 100 articles on aging-related issues. He can be reached at

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