Why Tech Taking Center Stage for Your Club is Good for Business
Tech isn’t about your members staying home to work out in their basements and bedrooms. And it doesn’t mean the end of live classes or cardio equipment workouts either. But technology has become arguably the single most important factor in fitness today. Both for the kind of premium experiences members demand from their club and as an indicator of how every fitness business should be aligning efforts to focus on future growth.
Think about these analyst numbers if you doubt tech is now so central to fitness. The fitness wearables market is estimated to reach $132 Billion by 2032; there are an estimated 83 million users of fitness apps in the United States alone; and on-demand fitness for clubs and members is growing even faster at a staggering CAGR of more than 49%, reaching $79.87 billion by 2026.
Numbers like this spotlight a rapid club member adoption of tech tools, apps and services – but more importantly a very real business opportunity for clubs and fitness businesses that proactively embrace a modern, tech-forward model. For clubs that focus on on-site, in-club member engagement, adopting a more tech-enabled business approach may seem like a heavy lift and require investment, but as an industry we’re at a tipping point where doing so, is an essential step in future proofing club business.
Wherever your club sits on the tech spectrum, consider three critical strategies for integrating tech into the business growth plans for your club in 2023 and beyond.
Build a tech-enabled club environment as standard
Analysts price the digital fitness industry at $1 billion with an estimated penetration of somewhere between one and seven percent as well as a sharp adoption curve. As an industry it’s impossible to ignore that the train has well and truly left the station and it’s time for all clubs to get on board. But the smartest operators are building digital integrations not for today’s users and consumption pattern, but rather tomorrow when digital content, virtual fitness experiences and streamed versions of both are the industry standard and the daily expectation of every member.
Adopting a tech-enabled business model now means a focus on three things that will pay financial and member-satisfaction dividends going forward.
1. Embracing newer easy-install, multi-functional digital fitness hardware platforms will bring virtual fitness classes out of just dedicated studios, integrating it into your club’s open space environments to optimize adoption and daily use.
2. Integrating on-demand library access for in club and at home members with streaming functionality for live streamed events and classes will help efficiently engage members at every touch point and lock them into your club’s brand experience.
3. Building a tech-supported experience from initial front desk check in to app based scheduling and virtual one-on-one training sessions or consultations with fitness and health staff will make tech a seamless and efficient centerpiece of your business model on which future offerings can be built.
Create revenue streams with integrated digital fitness
To succeed clubs need to make money and build membership. Traditionally that has meant real estate expansion or more equipment overhead – neither of which are quick nor easily scalable.
If you factor an average estimated industry cost of $25 per square foot to fully equip a gym, with many operators suggesting an allocation of 10-12 square feet, and the average membership somewhere between 1,000 and 10,000 members, that’s $250,000 per 1,000 members. The point? Adding square footage for more members means intensive capital investment, but digital scalability can add revenue far more easily and with greater flexibility.
Members expect some form of digital offering as part of a premium membership experience today. Adding digital content access meets that need but also creates flexible opportunities to create membership pricing tiers. Some clubs offer virtual fitness classes and streaming content as part of a premium priced membership level – creating inducements for members to upgrade.
Others might pick up additional revenue from potential members who won’t commit to an in-club membership but are willing to pay for the convenience of a digital-only pass to club content on their phones and home flat screens. Add special pay-per-play streamed events or on-demand library content access fees and you have highly flexible, modular and scalable revenue generation.
Use tech to provide business and member data
Knowledge, as they say, is power. From automated class attendance monitoring and modeling software that tracks instructor popularity trends to help plan and scale classes appropriately, to the gradual but rapid integration of wearables into all club operations, tech can deliver powerful data. For both members and operators.
As fitness and health continue to converge in the coming years, that data will also become essential to every club’s daily management. Wearables that today provide heart rate, blood pressure, calorie burn and steps will soon function more like professional athlete tech: tracking stroke rate, ground contact and form. This will enable tech-savvy instructors and trainers to adjust their classes and programs accordingly for individual skill levels or identify member performance issues for additional, fee-based coaching and training. Members will enjoy more personalized experiences based on their fitness and health goals and clubs will continue to find more and more tech-enabled benefits to provide and monetize.