The landscape of fitness facility industry has segmented into three leading categories:
- Budget Clubs
- High-end clubs
- Boutique clubs
With consumer preferences leaning towards these three extremely diverse offerings, most fitness clubs have had to adapt their business model to align with one of the three to stay in business.
However, one brand of facility has been able to retain its unique identity: leisure centers.
Leisure facilities (also known as recreational centers, multi-facility, etc.) hold a separate role in the fitness facility market: they provide a budget-friendly option for fitness and wellness-based activities that every age can enjoy. They also tend to be associated with their surrounding community.
Although leisure centers do not hold the same appeal as the “big three” fitness facilities, that does not exclude them from needing to keep up with the high expectations of 2020 fitness trends.
Ultimately, this distinct niche is really their advantage. Leisure centers can still improve their services to offer top-tier fitness utilities and options found at traditional gyms while also devoting the same effort and innovation to enhancing their community-based programs. 2020 trends for leisure centers indicate their services will expand and be more inclusive for every age.
The formula for success is simple: the more opportunities you provide at your leisure center, the stronger presence and reputation you will establish within your community. By improving and modernizing these programs and opportunities, you will build loyal clients who grow with your leisure center.
First, your youth program staples can benefit greatly from a 2020 makeover. The expected youth classes at leisure centers like swim lessons, dance classes, or sports games should be organized and taught with an exceptional level of instructors.
Leisure centers should prioritize strengthening the training and qualifications of their employees who teach these classes. Additionally, these programs should all have simple online methods for enrollment both in person and online.
Frankly, the success of these programs offered at leisure centers relies on exposure: if they are not publicized online with easy ways to enroll, they will not succeed.
Generally, hobbies and activities that are widely available to the youth have diversified greatly over the last decade. Leisure centers should expand their opportunities to provide these options, making their offers as inclusive as possible to children.
Collaborations with Community Organizations
A great way to bring in more youth programs and participants can be through connecting with local community organizations, like schools, local sports teams, or clubs like Boy/Girl Scouts. Since leisure centers have built-in facilities, they can offer their centers for meetings or events. This partnership easily ushers community members to your center as well as opens the prospect for prosperous relations in the future.
For many, attending youth summer camps is a childhood rite of passage. Leisure centers, famously like the YMCA, have the built in utilities and clientele to sponsor these camps for great additional or seasonal revenue. These camps can either be restricted to their own members or open to the public.
In order to enhance this option, leisure centers should explore sponsoring other styles of camps in addition to the traditional summer day-camp prototype. They can either partner with external specialty companies or create their own camp curriculum. Some popular camp themes include:
- Specific sports camps
- Aquatic camps
- Space camp
- Fine Arts camp
Youth camps can be especially helpful in building a leisure club’s reputation because they are a short term experience that can breed a long term relationship with a client.
Additionally, leisure centers can design camps, classes, or programs to age into more advanced opportunities as their club members age from youths to teenagers.
Youth and Government Clubs
Leisure clubs can take more creative leaps into creating programs suitable for teenagers, especially those that can enhance their personal development. For example, the YMCA has pioneered a national club in the United States, which exposes adolescent students to American politics and government by taking on mock roles as state officials and congressmen and women.
Academic and Personal Enrichment Programs
In addition to the baseline of academic subjects, teenagers are participating in much more diverse programs for academic and intellectual growth. This includes different areas of the arts, media and broadcasting, journalism, and computer science/tech.
These programs also can extend into the fields of mentoring and job preparation. Following inspiration from the YMCA, many other high profile leisure centers have designed mentoring programs that focus on connecting adolescent men and women with adults to discuss the pressures they feel in their everyday lives in a safe, inclusive space.
The “Man to Man” program available to teenage boys to discuss their lives and feelings with adult “buddies”, giving them the amazing opportunities to confide in a trusted mentor. Young women have the opportunity to attend similar mentor sessions as well as group forums to discuss key issues associated with adolescent women, like mental health, female empowerment, anxiety, etc.
Volunteering Opportunity Coordination
Local community service projects or service trips are extremely important to both the community and those who participate as volunteers. Leisure centers are perfectly situated to serve as coordinators between teenage participants and service opportunities. As an added bonus, your leisure center will earn strong PR for engaging in philanthropy at a local level, continuing to align your center’s brand with your community directly.
Adults and Families:
Whether it’s a movie night, a potluck dinner, or an arts and crafts event, leisure centers should not shy away from sponsoring events the entire family can enjoy. These events can strengthen bonds between families and the community as a whole by providing a care-free environment for bonding and meeting new people.
Additionally, leisure centers can elevate these family-oriented options to small excursions or weekend getaways for healthy activities. With the popularity of wellness tourism, leisure centers can coordinate short camping trips, biking retreats, etc. based on their location and access to local activities.
Compared to previous decades, people are not only living longer, but remaining lively and active in their twilight years. This was famously termed as the Revolution Gray: the movement pushing the elderly to prioritize staying healthy, active, and engaged with their health.
With countless studies validating the importance of staying active physically and mentally in fighting common diseases associated with old age, older generations have made sweeping lifestyle changes keeping them younger longer. Accordingly, Fitness and wellness classes for the elderly have soared in popularity. Leisure centers can service this interest by establishing schedules of classes strictly for the elderly, like water aerobics, yoga, pilates, etc.
Education at All Ages
By aligning your leisure center with education services intended to better the people and lives of your local members, you will be viewed as a local stronghold of community building.
Rather than offering before and after school programs or simple daycare services, many leisure centers have established credentialed preschools and staffed early childcare specialists.
While leisure centers are expected to offer childcare services as well as before/after school programs, they should also consider offering credentialed preschool services. Licensing and requirements for operating a preschool are relatively easy and affordable to obtain. Additionally, early child care certifications for teachers are similarly easy to obtain after training.
Not only does operating a credentialed preschool expose your leisure center to your community directly, but it further instills the family-centric values that help them succeed. This doubles in effect by providing parents with the benefit of preschool while they use club facilities.
Extracurricular/Life Skills Classes
For kids, teens, and even adults, leisure centers can host career-oriented or self improvement classes. Popular options include STEM/computer science classes, foreign language courses, health/nutrition education, and basic technical courses.
This is also not limited to embracing partnerships for formal certifications. Many leisure centers should look to sponsoring official certification programs, like First/Aid and CPR, Lifeguarding, driver’s school, early child care, etc.
The rise in children and adults alike pursuing independent schooling options is undeniable. In fact, in the US specifically, home school students have grown annually by an estimated 5%, reaching upwards of 2.5 million K-12 students last year. Much higher numbers factor in for children and teenagers who have taken at least one independent or online class apart from their school in their lives.
Leisure centers can use their facilities to fulfill a range of needs desired by independent education options. They can apply to be a qualified testing center as well as offer these courses within their facilities. They also can consider hiring tutors to instruct classes with online curriculums.
Vocational Courses and Night School
Many adults are also seeking educational opportunities for both personal and career advancement. Leisure centers can accommodate these needs by providing night school and high school proficiency exams (GED, etc). They also can offer vocational courses commonly found at trade schools, like labor-intensive industries (construction, electrician, city maintenance), nursing, or sanitation services.
Many leisure facilities have always relied on offering their members (or even non-members) the option to book their facilities for private events. Considering the high additional revenue and minimal stress to the leisure center, they need to optimize their facility booking procedures to keep pace with the times.
First, if necessary, leisure centers should renovate their facilities to ensure that they are up to modern standards. Leisure facilities tend to earn poor reputations as being a step down in terms of service and utilities than other gyms, which they can easily shatter with simple improvements.
Then, leisure centers should devise business strategies around ways to grow their facility booking services. First, they should leverage an online booking platform to make reservations as simple as possible for the clients to make. They can also encourage these services by designing customized party packages that include essential products at a friendly rate.
Online booking options and basic digital marketing strategies can be instrumental in putting leisure facilities on the map as a common option for private facility bookings. The simpler it is to book, the stronger the ROI will be for leisure centers. Once they have earned a strong reputation for private use of facilities, their popularity will continue to surge.
Fitness Experience of Traditional Gym
At the end of the day, a leisure center offers the same functionalities as any gym or fitness facilities. With 2020’s emphasis on pushing facilities to raise the bar in terms of customer service and diverse fitness options, leisure centers should push themselves to do the same. Additionally, leisure centers’ emphasis on building community is now expected at every tier of fitness club.
Leisure centers can easily raise their level of sophistication and service to match what users would find at traditional gyms. They should invest in experienced personal trainers and fitness instructors to lead group classes. They also should prioritize allocating budgets to incorporating modern fitness experiences within their facilities and class options.
2020 trends for leisure centers indicate melding the improvements of typical fitness facilities with continually raising the bar for community-growth and development with your programs and services. In this way, leisure centers have the unique opportunity to rebrand themselves as both pillars of their communities with comparable options of a traditional gym.