As you look across the landscape of commercial fitness industry suppliers, there are several companies that have stood the test of time and weathered the challenges that come with each decade. Within each of those companies are customer focused sales icons that have demonstrated their ability to be customer advocates, business consultants and consistently live their passion for the fitness industry. These icons are not sought after for the orders they fulfil, but rather the insights, support and customer solutions they provide.
Within our own company, we see the optimism and enthusiasm that our veteran Key Account leaders have for the future. These individuals, each with over 30 years of tenure, are some of the most recognizable faces in fitness, known for being insightful customer advocates with integrity. Like many others, this team continued to log millions of travel miles over the past 2 years to be in front of customers and to truly understand the market conditions and opportunities leading into 2022 and beyond.
Q: Why are you so optimistic about the future of fitness in 2022 and beyond?
Andy Richters: History continues to show how resilient the industry is and as each year passes more consumers understand the absolute benefits of health & fitness to their overall lifestyle. We are seeing this surge in the development of both new and existing facilities. We have a clear message, exercise and eat smarter, and we will stay healthy both physically and mentally. We must drive this message in our marketing and leverage this opportunity to attract new clients.
Kevin Einck: We are seeing growth and development keeping pace and beyond what existed pre-COVID. Great operators are thriving, growing and meeting the needs of their communities by backfilling operations that did not survive or adapt to the new client mindset. Our partners are excited about the future.
Mike Hibner: The global message is clear that a healthy immune system and lower body fat, both improved through fitness and a healthy lifestyle, is one of the best ways to deal with the current health crisis. This will have a major influence on our industry, and it will rebound us to higher levels than pre-pandemic.
Q: What do you believe is the biggest opportunity for club operators today?
AR: Operators are capitalizing on change; change in fitness trends and change in consumer expectations. Facility re-invention and new concept development are the competitive advantage moving forward. In speaking with my clients, one of the membership populations we lost, and are slow to return, is the aging exercise group. Let’s create environments that encourage their return.
KE: Facility design has radically changed in the past 5 years based on trends and consumer demand. There have been massive shifts in requirements for product categories and user flow that must be addressed in current facilities and are being integrated into new facility development. Failure to adapt will leave operators with user frustration and poor member retention. This is one of the largest adjustments we’ve seen in the actual landscape of how the fitness area is laid out and with it brings new opportunity and excitement
MH: Fitness and performance trends are driving new larger dedicated areas in facilities that include multiple turf spaces, expanded half rack and platform lifting areas, as well as focused areas featuring recovery and mobility. Facility operators must meet their clients wherever they are on their individual fitness journey which may have been influenced by consumer fitness trends and modalities over the past two years. We have a larger audience to pull from because of the growth and interest in fitness over the past two years
Q: As an industry veteran what is the biggest insight you have had in the last 24 months?
AR: Social engagement and community building isn’t just happening in the group studios today; it has become part of every area of the club. We see it in the rise of small group functional training and use of connected technology in fitness. While a hybrid model of fitness has emerged, we must never lose sight of what outstanding people and powerful programming can do in our brick-and-mortar locations.
KE: As pointed out by several industry leading facility operators, there is a new awareness of the role that healthy lifestyle and fitness play in total wellness related to navigating issues like COVID. We have a larger captive audience opportunity than ever before in the history of fitness.
MH: As an industry, we must get better about being a part of the national consciousness when it comes to maintaining a healthy society. Exercise, healthy eating, and the mental, emotional, and social benefits of movement were not driven hard enough by our industry as a potential solution, or part of the solution, to lessen the effects of COVID.
Facility design, personality and programming are a direct reflection of the clients you want to attract and retain as long-term members. The “story” of what you have to offer is more important than ever before.
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