Niche Facilities Abound. Part 1

by on May.24, 2012, under Fitness

You can’t please everyone. We’ve all heard this saying, but how many of us actually live by it? On a personal level, it’s hard for manynot to try to please everyone. But on a business level, pleasing everyone can often mean pleasing no one.

The fitness industry has evolved from one that has tried to please everyone to one that now is dividing itself into niches that please target markets. Our industry is a far cry from what it was when I first began working out at a gym in the late 70s. You remember; back then, fitness was, well, just fitness: cardio and weight machines in front of mirrors. It wasn’t long, however, until the multipurpose club came to be — complete with aerobics, aquatics, racquet sports and more. But even then, fitness was just fitness. All facilities appealed to that 1 or 2 percent of the population who were interested in being fit. Today, those facilities still exist, but typically, these facilities appeal to the 20- to 30-year-old crowd who are self-motivated to work out. There’s a lot bigger market out there than that 1 or 2 percent, and that’s where our niche facilities come into play.

It’s probably safe to say that niche marketing in the fitness industry began with women’s-only facilities. They struggled at first, but today, many of them have become quite successful, especially as some of these facilities narrow their niche even further. For instance, Casey Conrad’s franchise — Healthy Inspirations lifestyle and weight management centers — appeals to not only women, but women whose goal it is to lose weight through a combined effort of fitness and nutrition.But our industry has come a lot further than niche marketing to women. Today, some university fitness centers, which have heavy financial alumni backing and elaborate facilities, are opening their doors to local business executives as upscale alternatives to commercial facilities; hospitals are opening their own fitness facilities to cater to older clientele who seek preventivemedicine through fitness, as well as rehab patients who require supervised fitness instruction by medically qualified staff; and government fitness centers cater to military, firefighter and police personnel,andsome of these facilities make many commercial fitness facilities pale by comparison (p.22).

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