Feature Article - November 2013
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Fit With the Trends

Updating Fitness Offerings to Meet Everyone's Needs

By Dawn Klingensmith

Goal Setting

Fitness centers and consumers alike have begun to embrace customization. "People have a specific goal or interest in mind when they join a club, and their experience is tailored accordingly," Tharrett said. The goal (weight loss, toning) or interest (a specific sport) becomes the focus of their training.

Some group programs center on a shared goal. Thompson knows of a program that plans a "wild trip" each year for which participants need to develop strength and stamina. Fitness Quest 10 offers a six-week bikini program leading up to summer, so women can comb the beach with confidence. Anytime Fitness Goshen recently graduated its first Biggest Winner Challenge class, achieving a total weight loss of 640 pounds for the group.

Anytime Fitness is the fastest-growing fitness franchise, according to the International Health, Racquet and Sportsclub Association. Franchises and chains with similar value propositions—convenience, no frills, low monthly dues—are undoubtedly trending, but market saturation and high turnover could diminish their staying power. Compact budget gyms (Tharrett calls them "boxes") probably won't last, he said, citing a number of challenges, including insufficient staffing.

While it's true there are times when Anytime Fitness Goshen is unstaffed or minimally staffed, "Building relationships and engaging with our members is key. The better we get to know our members, the more we are able to help," said franchise owner Joel Koeneman. "We're always striving to go above and beyond to build community in a variety of ways both inside our four walls and out in the local community. We have lots of strategies, including free group fitness classes, special events, sponsoring teams and nonprofits, giving back to our local community, and member-only appreciation events, all of which help foster the community aspect."

Besides its Biggest Winner Challenge, Anytime Fitness Goshen has an active Facebook page, with more than 1,200 likers, to encourage social interaction and support outside the gym. Koeneman uses this forum to share member success stories, issue quickie exercise challenges (kind of like a nicer version of "Drop and give me 20!") and congratulate individual members on their accomplishments, such as completing a 10K run for the first time.

Companywide, Anytime Fitness extends its reach with anytimehealth.com, focusing on meal planning, tracking workouts and sharing members' successes with others. And if Anytime Fitness were to end up not making it, there will be at least a thousand people who will have permanent visual reminders—this is the number of folks to date who have accepted Anytime Fitness' offer to foot the bill for getting a tattoo of its purple running man logo. According to a Fortune magazine article chronicling Anytime Fitness' success, the tattoos help foster a sense of community and allegiance.

Because they are open 24/7 and cannot offer group classes around the clock, Anytime Fitness locations have kiosks with fitness videos, which members can select and use in a mini studio. "Virtual group exercising" or "fitness on demand" is available at a number of other clubs, as well.