This article is brought ot you by Fit&Sund
As part of EuropeActive’s commitment to promote and safeguard an inclusive and welcoming environment for all across the fitness and physical activity ecosystem, and as part of EuropeActive’s Inclusion calendar, we are thrilled to celebrate International Day of Older Persons which takes place every year on October 1. This is further correlated with our European activities as it falls under our awareness-raising activities for our #HealthyLifestyle4All pledge.
Manager and partner of Fit&Sund Ringsted, Valdemar Maintz has kindly agreed share insight into the Danish chain’s philosophy and approach to older age groups.
In an ever-evolving world of fitness and health, it's paramount for gyms and clubs to be innovative, seeking new ways to attract a diverse clientele and remain competitive. One demographic that often remains overlooked is seniors. Integrating senior activities in our gyms isn't just an inclusion strategy—it's a business boon and a bridge to fostering community ties. Here's why and how Fit&Sund embarked on this journey and furthermore, why it might be interesting for you to do the same thing!
Since Fit&Sund was established in 2011, we've aspired to be our customers' "third space" – right after their homes and workplaces. We're committed to nurturing health, spanning the physical, mental, and notably, the social aspects.
Our emphasis on social well-being has provided a robust foundation to cater to our senior clientele. Our definitive strategy for seniors emerged when Fit&Sund participated in the PAHA project in 2016. Drawing insights from the project, we launched "Motion for livet" (Exercise For Life), a complimentary 5-week program tailored for seniors. Lead by a training specialist, ideally a physiotherapist, the programme offers two weekly sessions with two core objectives:
- To cultivate a welcoming environment where senior attendees can familiarise themselves with both the gym and their peers. This is enhanced by interspersing minor social gatherings, such as a casual breakfast or a coffee break, throughout the programme.
- To strengthen self-assurance among participants while dispelling myths associated with the fitness industry. It's noteworthy that for many attendees, this may be their first gym experience!
Since its beginning in 2016, our programme has welcomed over 12,000 participants. As a result, seniors now make up 25% of our total membership base.
Why Integrate Senior Activities?
- New Clientele & Revenue: The senior demographic, can provide a fresh influx of members. As the European commission estimates, there's a projected 10% increase in the senior population over the next 27 years. Tapping into this growth can lead to increased membership and a subsequent boost in revenue.
- Optimized Facility Use: Seniors generally have flexible schedules. This means that our gym's facilities can be used during off-peak hours—times when younger members might be at work. Thus, are we not only maintain a bustling gym atmosphere throughout the day but also maximize the utility of our facilities.
- Community Building: An inclusive gym that promotes intergenerational activities and strengthens community ties. Such gyms are perceived as socially responsible, improving their reputation and community goodwill.
- Distinctive Offerings: In a saturated market, differentiation is key. Offering specialized programs that cater to seniors can set our gyms apart, making it appealing to members across all age brackets.
Implementing Senior Activities – The Way Forward:
- Tailored Exercise Sessions: When crafting classes for seniors, it's vital to strike a balance between rehabilitation and genuine physical challenge. From strength training and CrossFit to yoga and biking, there's no limit to what seniors can do. The key is to ensure that classes are both fun and appropriately challenging, keeping engagement levels high.
- Foster Social Interactions: Beyond physical fitness, gyms can act as community hubs. Organise external events like museum visits, walk-and-talks, dinners, or day trips. Engaging in such activities enhances seniors' emotional connection with the gym and each other. Moreover, it's a good idea to involve senior members in planning these events. Establish a 'senior board' to give them a sense of ownership and responsibility, turning them into gym ambassadors.
- Highlight Health Benefits: Ensure seniors are well-informed about the myriad health benefits they stand to gain. From improved cardiovascular health, better sleep, enhanced mental clarity, to decreased feelings of isolation, make sure they recognize that their commitment to fitness will have holistic benefits.
In conclusion, integrating senior activities is not just a niche trend—it's a forward-looking strategy with tangible benefits. By doing so, your gym can play a pivotal role in enhancing seniors' quality of life, filling a void in their daily routines, and contributing positively to community health. In return, you get a thriving, bustling gym with a unique selling point and the satisfaction of creating an inclusive space that truly cares for all its members. So, take the leap and champion the cause of senior fitness in your community!