Club Insider

The Fate and Fortune of the Health and Fitness Industry

Part III

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Stephen TharrettStephen Tharrett

The health and fitness facility industry is an evolving entity, both domestically and internationally. While it is more of an accepted part of the American culture and lifestyle than it was 40 years ago, or even a decade ago, the industry remains somewhat susceptible to the whims of evolving global demographics, trendy popular culture and macroeconomic conditions. The fate and fortune, or destiny if you like, of the health and fitness facility industry, is now being influenced by these evolving cultural, demographic and economic forces. How the industry perceives and interprets these influences and correspondingly responds to them will determine our industry's destiny over the next few decades. The more attuned club operators are to these powerful forces of capitalistic evolution, the greater the chance as a collective community, and as individual operators, our ability to craft a fate of prosperity.

Mark WilliamsonMark Williamson

This white paper is the final installment in our trilogy series that delved into what we believed were seven of the most powerful forces impacting our industry in 2015, but also positioned to influence its destiny for decades to come. This final installment explores the impact of globalization and technology on the future of the health and fitness facility industry.

Globalization: The World Is Now One

The 21st century is an era of cultural fusion, one in which physical boundaries alone no longer allow individuals to be protective of their independent cultures. Technology has shrunk the world and, in many cases, erased many of the cultural and physical borders and protections of the past decades. At the present time, countries and cultures have fused together in a mesh of economic and popular culture. As indicated by the title of Thomas L. Friedman's landmark book, The World is Flat, the globe has become significantly more fused, and as a result, most business and cultural phenomena can literally impact the entire world within minutes, and often, seconds. A great example of this "snowball" like impact of a globally fused and interconnected business and cultural environment was the economic recession that raised its ugly head in 2008. What began in the U.S. and eventually touched the entire world, to this day is still wreaking havoc in many parts of the globe. This fusion of cultures means that the communities served by health and fitness clubs are no longer represented by a singular audience, but instead, consist of multiple audiences, each with its own set of unique preferences and traditions.

According to the IHRSA 2014 Global Report, less than 40% of all health and fitness club members reside in the U.S. While the U.S. still has the largest number of clubs and members, its domination of the industry is slowly losing out to a global encroachment of outstanding club operators, a global market that is more aware of the value of fitness, and cultures that pursue it differently. The potential business implications for a global health and fitness industry may include:

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