More than 71 million U.S. consumers used a health club in 2018, according to IHRSA. With the growth of health and fitness club consumers exceeding 34 percent since 2008, the era of fitness has certainly arrived. Yet less than 20 percent of consumers are health club members. What if health clubs could become a bigger part of the solution for people’s health, thus lowering medical costs and further expanding the market for the health club industry? Working with health care providers can be a big contributor to further growth for the health club industry while doing a lot of good for the nation’s health.
Reducing health care costs while helping people avoid and manage chronic conditions more productively is a real and present opportunity when considering the numbers. According to the National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, six in 10 Americans have at least one chronic disease. These conditions include cardiovascular disease, depression and diabetes, among many others. Chronic illnesses negatively impact the lives of many Americans and their families every day. These conditions are also costing a lot of money; around $2 trillion of the now $3.6 trillion annual cost of health care in the United States can be attributed to chronic diseases. According to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, this will only get worse since costs are forecasted to reach an unsustainable $6 trillion by 2027.
In a recent episode of ABC Financial’s Fitness Industry Innovation podcast, Reshape MD CEO Jeff Skeen discussed his views regarding the integration of healthcare and fitness. (You can listen to the interview here.) According to Skeen, the fitness and medical industry have long existed in a state of friction, while ultimately serving consumers on the same front — health and wellness. Skeen and host Kelly Card, chief engagement officer at ABC, dive into the intricacies of how the medical and fitness industries can complement each other with increased medical connectivity. The need for this integration is upon us, according to many industry experts such as Skeen.
Sedentary lifestyles are fueling the epidemic levels of lifestyle-related illnesses. As many studies reflect, exercise is medicine. According to Helen Durkin, IHRSA’s executive vice president for public policy: “The industry plays a pivotal role in solving our nation’s current health and health care crises. America’s health clubs provide much-needed support, innovative equipment, and training, and safe, secure spaces that enable people to more easily stay physically active year-round and from year to year. And it’s precisely because regular exercise is critical to our country’s health and economic future that keeping the health club industry strong not only benefits IHRSA members but the health, happiness and prosperity of the entire country.”
Public awareness of the benefits of exercise as part of a healthy lifestyle that helps prevent chronic diseases is increasing. In addition, other factors are creating an emerging opportunity for the health club industry overall when it comes to the integration of health care and other services with fitness. Medical delivery models are changing, and consumers are increasingly becoming the “CEOs” of their own health and well-being. New technologies, boomer demographic trends and patients increasingly paying out-of-pocket for health care services are all trends combining to create new innovative business opportunities for health club businesses. More Americans are turning to lower-cost alternatives while seeking more convenient practical solutions to prevent or better manage the catastrophic impact of poor health. Physicians are responding by supporting digital tools while ditching traditional methods and medications and, instead, prescribing preventative lifestyle solutions, such as health club memberships.
These trends are just getting started and a wide-ranging set of new and innovative business models that integrate traditional health care with preventive lifestyle services—including nutrition, stress management and exercise—are emerging. As economic pressures continue to increase on the healthcare system investments in alternative preventive and proactive disease management services as a logical alternative will become more popular. This is why medically integrated healthy lifestyle services are going to become a bigger part of the fitness industry. Given that the current health club industry reaches less than 20 percent of the U.S. population, the opportunity to reach a much larger market by offering these solutions is very promising.
Helping our industry understand the challenges and opportunities surrounding the integration of the health care and health club industries is why ABC Financial is sponsoring the Healthcare & Fitness Integration Summit at the Club Industry Show Oct. 9-11, 2019, at the Hilton Chicago. Leaders from the fitness industry will be collaborating with physicians and others interested in working with health clubs, to learn about the issues affecting the industries and to discover how the industries can collaborate to make our country healthier.
By working together, health club industry leaders can integrate fitness services with the medical community and make an even greater positive impact on the health of the nation, while lowering health care costs and expanding the reach of the health club market.
About ABC Financial Services
ABC Financial (abcfinancial.com) is a premier provider of technology and related financial services for the health and fitness industry, renown for exceptional client service for clubs and their members. Its market-leading billing and collections solutions automate the revenue cycle that enable owners and operators to achieve better financial performance, all in a Software-as-a-Service and cloud-based platform. ABC’s comprehensive technology solutions include DataTrak advanced health club management and MYiCLUBonline extensible member engagement platforms that allow owners and operators to efficiently manage employees, members, resources and sales and to drive improved member engagement. Founded in 1981, ABC helps more than 7,500 health clubs across the United States, Canada, Mexico and Puerto Rico perform better and more profitably. ABC Financial is a Thoma Bravo portfolio company, a private equity firm based in San Francisco and Chicago (thomabravo.com).