Keeping Up with the Times


Time has become the most valuable commodity to all of us. In the business world, there never seems to be enough hours in the day to get everything done. In our personal lives, new conveniences, such as drive-through dry cleaners, drive-through coffee shops and cell phones that give us e-mail and text messages, help all of us get more done in less time. Our members are just as time-sensitive.

Lack of time, not price, continues to be the most frequently cited reason individuals and members give for not exercising on a regular basis. When they see value and convenience, people are more willing to pay whatever the price is as long as they do not have to spend a lot of time doing it. Everyone is still looking for that “magic pill,” regardless of cost, that gives them all the results of exercise without requiring any more time.

More families are joining the larger, multi-purpose clubs so they can spend quality time together while getting healthy. Family participation in outdoor fitness activities has increased. More families are looking for diverse and creative ways to be active together — outdoor adventure activities and recreational sports including soccer, softball and touch football.

These family activities demonstrate that exercise is considered a leisure activity, and people want to have fun. Gone are the days when getting in shape meant simply running, puffing through an aerobics class, doing squats or lifting weights. Fitness facility owners and managers understand that many of their new clients are dissatisfied veterans of numerous health club campaigns and other clubs. With that in mind, club owners are doing more than offering the latest machinery and plants in the locker room. Now one of their goals is to create an experience for the member. Clubs that create a positive, rewarding experience for the member will not only increase member satisfaction but, more importantly, will also increase member loyalty and referrals.

However, members want that experience fast. Members want to quickly get in and out of their fitness facility (this is shown in the surge in small clubs, express circuits, abbreviated routines and shorter-duration group programming). We have seen many of the most successful trends (Pilates, circuit training, etc.) center around activities that take less than one hour and get good results. Clubs are keeping members engaged with a back-to-the-basics approach that includes time-efficient workouts and core strengthening.

We should embrace this time-starved trend as yet another opportunity to ease our parking problems and, similar to successful restaurants who provide excellent service to get patrons in and out in a timely fashion, process more happy members through our clubs in less time.

Club owners and trainers are also offering more flexible sessions to better fit members' busy schedules. For example, small-group personal training is increasing in popularity. This approach offers participants more social interaction, which can have a positive effect on exercise adherence.

Wellness coaching and nutritional counseling are becoming more popular, too. These services offer a more holistic approach to health and wellness. Wellness coaching helps individuals make healthy, positive choices in all aspects of every day life. Nutritional counseling is on the rise as many Americans continue to look for ways to manage weight and maximize performance.

For an industry where membership dues and fees make up almost 80 percent of the revenue, staying on top of the latest fitness trends is key. And that increasingly means offering exercises that not only provide fast results, but also are increasingly tailored to clients' interests.

Ed Tock is a partner in Sales Makers, a marketing and sales training consulting firm. Tock also has a M.S. in exercise physiology and in education from Queens College in New York City. He can be reached at [email protected].

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