The International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association (IHRSA) released the 2018 IHRSA Health Club Consumer Report, and Workout Anytime Chief Operating Officer Mark de Gorter said research results bode well for the franchising fitness sector.
“There were a couple of key areas that came out that are interesting in general as well as how they pertain to our business,” de Gorter said. “At Workout Anytime, we’re definitely seeing continued growth in the industry, and particularly in our segment. Memberships are at an all-time high, with 71 million people age six and above are working out at a club, according to the report.”
The great news that IHRSA reported that de Gorter found heartening was the increasing number of Americans who are working out.
“I think the recent growth is due to a few key factors,” de Gorter said. “One reason is that more generations now have an awareness of fitness than in previous decades. While it had been said that Baby Boomers drove the fitness boom of the 80’s, they continue to maintain active and fit lifestyles as they age, and are now followed by the successive generations, Gen X and Millennials. So you have a broader scope of age demographics embracing fitness than ever before.”
He also pointed to the changing healthcare system in the United States.
“It’s no secret our health care system is under extreme cost challenges, and how you as an individual will have to take greater responsibility for your own health,” he said. “People are realizing that by staying in shape and staying fit and healthy, your healthcare costs will go down. Major insurance companies are measuring and rewarding their members for being engaged in physical activity, so you as an individual have a greater economic incentive to stay active.”
The impact of the industry growth has also fueled growth for fitness franchises.
“What’s happening for fitness franchises is that they’re growing much faster than franchises in other industries,” de Gorter said. “So for us, we see the opportunities on both sides--people are coming into the industry from both a membership side and a franchisee side.”
Another report finding that was not lost on de Gorter was how millennials tend to use multiple facilities for their exercise needs.
“The research revealed that a full 25% of members are members of more than one club. We think a lot of that behavior is being driven by millennials, who, by nature, are much more experimental,” he said. “They don’t want to be locked into one fitness option. They’ll do Pilates one day, spinning one day and work out with free weights another day, and that’s really worked to the benefit of the value segment of our industry, because members can now afford a full-facility club like ours on top of the other options they take part in; it’s a share-of-wallet situation that presents a strong opportunity for the value players in the industry.”
Workout Anytime’s franchise model will help it stay competitive in the booming world of fitness, de Gorter said.
“We work well relative to other franchise concepts because our model has a lot less moving parts,” he said. “We don’t have inventory. We don’t have cash. We don’t have a large labor component. We don’t have a lot of the inherent challenges other concepts like food service have.”
Workout Anytime has already seen great success over just the past three years.
“We’ve tripled the number of clubs and more than tripled our network revenue,” he said. “Our average members per club have increased. So we’re moving in the right direction. I’ve been in this industry over 30 years and I can’t think of a better time to be here than now. We have a broader demographic that are now well-aware of fitness benefits. Fitness has now become a recognized and accepted component in people’s lives and at Workout Anytime we believe we fill that need very, very well."