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Fitness trend predictions (and what this means for your retention)
January 30, 2020 •

As 2020 gets under way, it’s time to look forward to the year ahead and what it holds for the fitness industry. Let’s take a look at some fitness trends predicted to dominate 2020 and what this means for your retention strategy.

Fitness trends (and fads) in 2020

A global study of fitness trends carried out by the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) looked at how the world of exercise will look in 2020. They point out that there is a difference between a trend and a fad. A fitness fad is a momentary exercise fashion that is taken up enthusiastically, but only for a brief period. By contrast, a fitness trend is a general change in the way people engage with exercise.

It’s important to understand the difference between a fitness trend and a fad. This is because gym retention is a long term process that you need to invest in… sudden fads that come and go are likely to make for rocky retention metrics as fads come and go rapidly. Whereas if you understand the trends that are emerging in the world of exercise you can make informed decisions about what people want from their gym experience and steer your facility in the direction of positive retention and growth.

The top five fitness trends for 2020 detailed by the ACSM are wearable technology, HIIT, group training, free weight training, and personal training.

Whilst the list contains some old favourites like exercising for weight loss and yoga, it’s also worth noting the rise in interest in exercise for older adults. This is interesting when you consider that the age group most inclined to attend traditional gyms is the 35-54 range. A trend towards older people participating in exercise opens up new possibilities for member acquisition and presents its own challenges in terms of maintaining retention amongst older members. 

Now let’s take a look at 3 crucial trends that we think are important when it comes to improving member retention.

Fitness trend focus #1: wearable tech

It’s interesting that the top trend according to the ACSM study of thousands of fitness professionals is for wearable tech. In the US, wearables were the biggest growth factor in the fitness industry in 2019, accounting for a market volume of $14,528 out of a total volume of $16,837. That means wearables accounted for 86% of all fitness market value in the US in 2019.

When people go to the gym they have certain expectations of what it will be like. If those expectations are not met, they are likely to be disillusioned and become a retention risk. Forward thinking gyms are the ones that are embracing the trend for wearable tech that we will likely see grow in 2020. 

Wearables help members track their exercise metrics, making it easier for them to reach the results they want whilst getting constant reinforcement from seeing those metrics move ever closer towards their goals. This can be great when combined with personal trainers because  wearables are a great ‘hook’ to keep people motivated and can help them see the value of their exercise program. All this is likely to keep them coming back for more.

Fitness trend focus #2: flexible memberships

As the rigid world of the 9-5 slowly starts to melt away there has been an increased focus on flexibility in the working day. This has translated into a trend for flexible gym memberships as gym-goers seek to fit their exercise around a much more fluid world of work.

One way we can measure the trend for flexible membership is through the growth of ClassPass, an app that helps users access fitness classes for any studio on its extensive network of facilities. So far, Classpass has facilitated over 60 million fitness reservations, and has partnered with over 12,000 studios.

Increased flexibility such as that offered by Classpass can be a big challenge when it comes to improving gym member retention. It means you have to work harder to keep your members happy, or they’ll bounce. Fortunately, it’s becoming much easier to improve retention with automated retention software like KeepMe that helps focus on members who are likely to leave without appropriate care and attention. 

Fitness trend focus # 3: group training

 Group training is listed at the top 3 exercise trend for 2020 according to the ACSM.

This is really good news for all gym owners who understand the importance of improving member retention. Research shows that people who work out as part of a group and who have lots of human contact are much more likely to stay with your gym longterm. 

Gyms need to make sure their group fitness offerings are up to scratch, and offer enough variety to have broad appeal with their membership. It’s a good idea to stay in touch with your members and run surveys to find out what members like about your group exercise offerings… and what they don’t.

If you want to see how AI retention software can get your retention levels trending in a positive direction, book a free tour of KeepMe today.

With retention software like Keepme you can automate member communication so that you can target people who do group exercise so that a member enrolled in Zumba classes isn’t being asked about their experience with the water aerobics class and so on.

Getting a grip on your member metrics is very important. For example, some people are quite content to work out on their own, and can be left to get on with things by themselves. But for others working out alone they may be demoralised and likely to quit. Using our automated retention software you can find out if a member is a retention risk or not, and direct your communications and member outreach accordingly. You can use this approach to encourage people to take up group exercise who would most benefit from working out with other people.