Fitness after 50: Why your gym should start catering to older adults

Recent years have seen a boom in the number of older adults who are joining gyms and health clubs. This is likely due to a fitness zeitgeist, better access to gyms, and studies which show that many mental and physical deteriorations can be helped with regular exercise.

This means that over 50s now make up a significant portion of gym attendees. Despite this, many gyms haven’t cottoned on.

Here’s why your gym really needs to start catering to older adults.

Tapping into the most loyal customer

Most gyms tend to target younger customers, such as millennials and, increasingly, Gen Z. As a demographic, they take an active interest in their health and body image, so it makes sense for them to be a strong target market.

However, the downside of having a young demographic as the target market is that they are not usually totally settled yet. They tend to move to a new house regularly, have less money to spend on premium memberships, and be more fickle in terms of brand loyalty. All of this means that they are rarely at your gym for the long run, and don’t form a very secure membership base.

Conversely, reports say that members over the age of 50 are more likely to keep up a gym membership than any other age group. This is because they mostly are settled in one place (and unlikely to move house repeatedly), have more expendable income, and have more time to spend looking after their health.

Also, since the health impacts of exercise are acute for over 50s, their drive to go to the gym and get fitter and healthier extends beyond purely aesthetic reasons.

If gyms open their offerings to a wider age demographic, it’s possible that the over 50s will prove a steadier, more secure membership base which brings business stability.

A bigger prospective pool of clients

Granted, millennials will still most likely be your biggest pool of potential clients. However, on an international level, that’s not always the case. In the USA, India, Pakistan, South Africa, and lots of Europe, for example, their silver generation makes up a higher percentage of the overall population. In Germany alone, 50% of the population are aged 50+.

If the trend continues, we could see our millennial gym enthusiasts almost eclipsed by older ones.

It’s a wise move, then, to begin marketing to older adults now, so that if our population becomes more grey heavy, you are in an excellent position to truly capitalise on the largest demographic.

Encouraging health at any age

It’s becoming more and more clear that exercising frequently in later years can do wonders for your health. There are reams of purported health benefits, including:

  • Improved quality of life
  • Reduced risk of falls
  • Reduced risk of degenerative diseases
  • Weight loss, which can benefit joints
  • Reduced risk of later injury
  • Potentially reduced chronic pain
  • General improvements in health, including blood pressure
  • Alleviates stress, depression or anxiety
  • Social interaction

Since gyms are concerned with health and fitness, it will only improve your brand to encourage these habits amongst your older members too.

Older people can thrive at the gym

Those over 50 can more than keep up with the rigours of a gym session, provided that appropriate safety measures are in place. One of the emerging trends in fitness for the age group is strength training. Although this was once seen as only suitable for the younger generation, recent research has shown the importance of strength training when you hit your fifties and beyond.

A study conducted with German nursing home residents aged 77 to 97 showed almost 180% improvement in muscle strength after eight weeks of weightlifting.

Strength training can have many great benefits for older adults, including:

  • Joint support
  • Better stability
  • Reduced injury rate
  • Improved bone density, which reduces the risk of osteoporosis
  • Reduced risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes
  • Fat burning and weight loss, which can help with joint problems
  • Reduced muscle loss
  • Improved posture
  • Reduced back pain.
  • Improvement in sleep quality

Therefore, your gym should be able to offer weights classes (alongside cardio) to older members.

It seems like the world is slowly shifting towards an older demographic, since people are living longer and healthier lives. Isn’t it time that gyms followed suit?

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More appointments, less hassle: how spas can amp up their customer retention rates

In the spa business, the smallest numbers can make the biggest difference.

For example, research on customer retention rates almost unanimously suggests that trying to acquire a new customer is up to 25 times more expensive than rebooking an existing client. So, the type of client that you target makes a huge difference to your bottom line.

If that doesn’t convince you to step up your client retention efforts, research done by Frederick Reichheld of Bain & Company (inventor of the net promoter score) shows that upping client retention rates by 5% increases profits by 25% to 95%.

Pretty valuable, then.

So, how can you improve your customer retention rates? Here are a few suggestions:

Notice risky customers in advance

The simplest way to improve your customer retention rates is to stop customers from drifting away in the first place.

Most customers who are thinking of leaving your spa give signals that hint at their intentions.

Good examples of these include a drop-in visit or treatment frequency, a history of customer service enquiries, and lack of engagement with your email marketing or online materials.

By noticing these signals, you should be able to take action before the customer churns.

For example, if you pulled a list of every customer who hasn’t had any treatment in the last six months, you would have a list of customers who are at risk of leaving your business and taking their money to your competitors.

You can send a personalised follow-up email to these customers with offers, discounts, or incentives to use your product or service again, or simply send a survey to try to understand why they haven’t visited in a while. Using this information can help you understand why your customers might want to leave and hopefully allow you to reel them back in.

Make the whole spa experience easy on your client

You know better than most that your clients are busy and stressed. Make a note of individual clients’ habits and preferences, such as frequent treatments – or even how they like their coffee! It only takes a small, thoughtful detail to make their experience incredible. And how your clients feel has a direct effect on your salon client retention rates.

Furthermore, many customers simply forget to revisit or find it too inconvenient to rebook an appointment. This is particularly true of spas who don’t offer online booking services.

An easy way around this problem is to simply offer to pre-book appointments whilst your client is still on your premises. Not only does this cut down the effort for the client, but it allows you to easily leverage existing customer appointments to give you higher retention.

On top of this, taking the time to pre-book a customer’s appointment can make them feel valued and taken care of, enhancing the customer experience and brand loyalty.

Offer rewards!

Although offers and rewards programs are popular with new clients, offering a specific existing customer loyalty program can boost your retention rates.

Showing your appreciation for your clients by e-mailing or texting an added value offer to thank them for their loyalty ‘just because’ can make your clients feel special. Plus, if you’re offering them something, it’s very difficult to resist coming back!

Perfect for filling gaps in the early part of the week or seasonal quiet times, you can suggest offers for particular treatments. This is particularly effective if you tailor your offers to specific customers, for example, offering a massage discount to someone who’s had six massages in the past year.

Adding a minimum spend limit, a time limit on the offer, or simply having a loyalty card that demands a certain number of stamps before a customer gets a reward will keep your margins healthy whilst offering your customers a great incentive to come back.

Get feedback

The best way for business owners to work out what’s working and what isn’t is to get feedback directly from your customers.

This shouldn’t just come from clients which look as if they’re about to churn, but from your entire database. Engaging with customers on social media, email, and in person to ask for their feedback will give you a lot of data to work with.

Make sure you follow up

Make sure that your clients don’t feel like you’ve forgotten about them as soon as they leave your spa. Send a follow-up email or text to thank them for their visit and to invite them to come back.

Treating your clients like individuals will make them feel more inclined to enjoy your spa’s services again.

20
online membership conversions
% increased
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Thank You. We will contact you as soon as possible.