Bringing Baby Boomers and Best Agers Back to the Gym
We are currently experiencing a shift towards health-oriented training, especially for the generation of best agers and baby boomers. With over a third of the population (and rising) they already represent an important part of the target group for virtually every fitness or health facility. Therefore it’s crucial to have the right offer to cater towards their needs.
About 10 Min.
Preferences have changed
Workout preferences are changing dramatically. Before the COVID-19 pandemic hit, many people worked out for style over substance: that is, they wanted to look great, perhaps have more energy, and feel confident in their clothes. Now, however, a much higher percentage of gym-goers are exercising for health, not aesthetics. As you prepare your gym to deal with the changes your customers are facing, you need to consider their current needs and provide them with the tools they need to get back in the gym. This is especially true for the older demographic. With this part of the population ever-growing, make sure you can cater to their needs.
The Science of Aging & Importance of Strength Training
The importance of physical activity and for the entire population, but especially for the older demographic becomes clear when looking at charts of the declining functional capacity over the course of time. While increasing in the early phases of life, the functional capacity is commonly believed to start declining at age 25. “Lean muscle mass generally contributes up to about 50% of total bodyweight in young adults, but decreases with age to be about 25% of total bodyweight by age 75–80 years.” (Kalyani et al. 2014). The scary aspect of this development is that with the loss of muscle a loss of mobility and therefore individual independence comes along. Counteracting this process with actively building muscle can therefore be essential for maintaining one's independence.
What are Best Agers Looking For?
Around 48% of those in the 50-60 age bracket are choosing health-based programs during this time--and they aren't the only ones. Compare this to 25% of those under the age of 20 or between 21 and 30 who are looking for health-related workout advantages. That number increases along with age: nearly 31% of gym-goers between 31 and 40, 39% of those between 41 and 50, and 61% of those between 61 and 70 go to the gym for health-related reasons. Between 71 and 80, 75% of gym-goers are looking for a health-related workout, and more than 89% of those over the age of 81 want to see those health-related results. Combine this with the demographic shift towards the older demographic becoming ever more important and it’s clear where you should shift your offering towards.
A surprisingly small number of people, on the other hand, go to the gym looking for performance-based workouts. While an average of 68% of 21-30-year-old gym members and around 49% of those in the 51-60 age range are looking for aesthetic-related workouts--that is, they want to look their best--only about 2% of 51-60-year-old gym-goers are looking for workouts that will help enhance their overall performance.
For your gym, that means that you must adapt the programs you offer in order to provide the most value for customers, whether they're visiting the gym in person or checking out your app.
Best Agers Represent a Significant Percentage of Your Demographics
Best Agers, Baby Boomers, or those in the 50+ age range, represent a significant percentage of both the population and your target demographic. Best Agers represent an increasing percentage of the population in the United States, with 35% of the population. In the EU, Best Agers above 50+ make up around 39% of the population. This means this age group should be as important to you as the younger demographic between 20-49, which constitutes 40% in the US (with the remaining 25% below the age of 20).
For your gym, this means that targeting Best Agers and Baby Boomers is critical.
What Can You Do to Bring Healthseekers to Your Gym?
If you're hoping to target Healthseekers and Best Agers, it's important to understand “The Science of Aging”, their needs and adapt your training options accordingly.
1. Offer programs and routines that focus on improving health.
Discuss the ways that strength-building exercises can help improve overall health and help improve the resilience of your immune system. Consider free or machine guided yoga or other mindfulness exercises to help decrease stress and improve awareness. As healthseekers head into the gym, they're looking for specific options that will help them get healthier--and you want your gym to deliver.
2. Provide nutrition advice, on top of the exercise.
Consider hosting a socially-distanced session on meal prepping or using your app to help provide a more comprehensive nutrition guide for customers who are interested in improving their health and wellness during this time. For many people, nutrition is the vitally necessary key to improving their ability to lose weight and stay healthy. Obese individuals have learned that they're at a higher level of risk for complications from COVID-19, which has offered the incentive many people need to get off those extra pounds. As you partner with your members to help them achieve their goals, make sure you're offering nutrition solutions that will help them achieve those goals.
3. Combine in-person options with virtual ones.
Some people aren't comfortable visiting the gym in person yet. Others are willing to make limited visits when they know those visits will be safe, but may not be fully comfortable going back to their former routines. Still, other Healthseekers are looking for ways to take their exercise on the road, especially as the country opens up and they go back to traveling for work and leisure. A robust digital branded member app can support you in expanding your reach into your members’ homes.
Combine in-person options with virtual ones to help encourage interest and help people keep their memberships up in spite of the health crisis. You might, for example:
Offer online recordings or attendance of some of your most popular classes. Do you offer a dance fitness class? A spinning class? A yoga class geared toward Best Agers? Consider offering online recordings or attendance for those classes. Many people will pay to "attend" an online class and feel like they're part of something.
Offer fitness routines specifically geared toward a hybrid model. What can Health Seekers or those interested in increasing immunity do during this time to stay healthy, whether they can visit the gym in person or not? One of our training programs, for example, focuses directly on improving overall immune health. With increasing percentages of your gym-going population focused on increasing health and immunity, you may find that more people are interested in this program.
4. Offer custom training sessions or customized workouts to help Healthseekers meet their goals.
When people first choose to get in better shape, they may have little idea of how to proceed. For example, some people do not realize that lifting weights can help them burn more calories than cardio alone. Others may not be sure how to adapt their diets to incorporate the exercise they're doing. Smart and personalized workouts like on EGYM Smart Strength machines are amateur-friendly and ensure that each session is effective.
Provide custom training sessions that will help prepare your customers to meet their goals--or, for those who can't afford to or don't want to work with a trainer directly, smart equipment can support those with effective alternatives.
5. Provide a deal or incentive geared specifically toward Healthseekers.
Many people are interested in getting back to working out, but they're reluctant or worried about taking that first step. Provide an incentive that will help them get over that hurdle. Consider the types of deals you have previously offered for the New Year, when people are more likely to make resolutions and change their lifestyles. You might:
- Offer free one-on-one training sessions for new members
- Provide free meal planning advice as part of a custom package
- Give new members a temporary discount, or more flexible membership options to lower the barrier for starting to work out
Consider what incentives you can provide that will help set your gym apart during this time, encouraging people to come to your door instead of to the competition.
Are you looking for a solution that will help bring Healthseekers to your gym or Best Agers to consider you for their needs? Contact us today to learn more about how our apps and equipment can help you reach your goals.