The fitness club industry has only been able to attract 12 percent of the U.S. market by offering the standard fitness fare.5 The remaining 88 percent has decided that sitting on their couches or exercising outside a club is a more appealing option. David Gould, vice president of Cardio Theater, Atlanta, Ga., maker of TV and music entertainment systems (www.cardio-theater.com), comments, “If we want our industry to grow, we need to find a way to attract the people we aren’t currently [attracting]. These people might not want to exercise at the most intense level, but they still might be very interested in living healthier, better lives. We need to develop the equipment and strategies that this average person will find comfortable.” Thankfully, fitness industry manufacturers are answering this call, and there are a number of entertainment-oriented options that can help your members get maximum enjoyment out of their gym time and make a real commitment to fitness.
Understand the psychology
“People move in and out of phases where they are more naturally motivated to exercise,” explains Sandy Minor, who teaches public health at Southern Connecticut State University. “Offering entertainment equipment is one strategy that can encourage exercisers to keep coming to the gym during phases when they are less motivated. Providing members with something fun or something that satisfies a personal need, aside from getting a healthy workout may encourage them to continue exercising through these more difficult times.”
A recent retention study supports this idea. The Embarcadero YMCA (www.embarcaderoymca.org) in San Francisco, Calif., recently conducted a 13-month retention study with 6,000 of its members. It discovered that members who used entertainment-based cardiovascular equipment rated 15 points above the club’s overall retention rates. Kathy Riggins, executive director of the Embarcadero YMCA, reports, “Offering Internet access and other forms of entertainment to our members are excellent ways to take their minds off the ‘pain’ of exercise and to help them focus on feeling better. People appreciate the extra value we are giving them and it provides them with incentive to keep up their good work.”
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