By Jay Croft, Special AFS Contributor
Savvy studio owners might know that the Baby Boomer fitness market represents a massive opportunity for their businesses. You should also know that studios represent the best opportunity for millions of mature adults who want to get or stay fit.
It’s an ideal marriage, with millions of dollars in revenue waiting for fitness studios that a) are ready and b) make sure people over 50 know it.
Unprecedented Opportunity for Longtime Growth
First, let’s review some numbers to illustrate why you need to focus on active agers. Here are a few vital stats:
1. More than 80 million Americans are older than 55. (The Baby Boom Generation includes people born from 1946-1964.) This is the largest age group in history and has driven global marketing for decades.
2. They account for 75 percent of the spending of disposable income in this country. Boomers tend to be educated, stable, and prosperous. They’re better clients and will stick around longer than younger people.
3. They want your help, and their reasons are far more compelling, interesting and challenging to trainers than the typical motivation of people in their 20s (six-pack abs, a firm butt, and other vanity matrices). They want to remain independent and live life on their own terms for as long as possible, and they know that being fit is essential if they're going to:
- Enjoy their grandchildren
- Travel in retirement
- Continue tennis, golf, gardening and more
- Avoid obesity, hypertension, dementia, depression, and social isolation
- Live better and live longer
National Senior Games? You Bet
More than 15,000 athletes over 50 gathered in Albuquerque in June 2019 for the National Senior Games. They competed in track and field events, plus sports like tennis, basketball, softball, table tennis, pickleball and more.
These are passionate and committed athletes who spend endless hours and dollars on their exercise programs and sports. Someone in their hometowns is making substantial money off that motivation by helping them reach their goals.
The event was timed with the annual Functional Aging Summit when hundreds of fitness professionals met for speeches, workshops, and networking to help them serve the Baby Boomer market better. The summit was sponsored by the Functional Aging Institute, which also had a presence at AFS' SUCCEED! Convention & Expo earlier in the year.
It’s not quite a cottage industry yet. And this market is by no means a niche. Studio owners and trainers shared powerful stories of clients well over 50 – some even over 100.
You need to be pursuing this market if you want long-term growth for your fitness studio.
Do the math: That’s decades of ongoing revenue for fitness professionals who want to work with this clientele. Here are just a few examples of competitors at the senior games.
- Bill Gillis, 71, of San Francisco was diagnosed with Stage 3 abdominal cancer in 2015. Now he lifts weights several times a week, and he was running short-distance races in Albuquerque. “He’s a role model for so many younger people,” said his wife, Isabelle, 77. Isabelle stays fit with daily walks after a near-death experience a few years ago when her heart stopped beating. Now, pacemaker in place, she’s determined to stay healthy and active with her husband for their four grandchildren.
- Bill Hoffman, 72, of Washington Crossing, Pennsylvania, is a retired high school physical education teacher. So was his father. And his grandfather. And now Bill’s son has followed in his forefathers’ footsteps, as well. Longevity also runs in the family, and Bill intends to make the most of it. “They told me I’m going to live to be 100, so I’ve got to stay in shape,” he said, smiling after a badminton match.
- Rowena Murray, 59, of San Diego has always been physically fit and has no intention of stopping now. "You've got to take care of yourself. You only have one body,” she said. Rowena was running races in Albuquerque and was supported by her husband, three adult children, and extended family. The social aspects are critical, and she loves inspiring other people.
Why You’re Perfect for Them
You need to be pursuing this market if you want long-term growth for your fitness studio. The great news is this: You’re perfect for them. Why? Well, consider what Boomers and others over 50 do NOT want in a fitness center. They don’t want to be ignored by employees who fail to see their value. They don’t want to be trampled by herds of 20-something hardbodies. They don’t want to be put through workouts that don’t account for their goals or necessary modifications.
In short, they don’t want the big-box experience.
Here's what they want. They want a nurturing supportive environment – which does not mean they want to be babied. They want management, trainers and other employees who have the expertise – or at least awareness – about how to work older bodies, physical fitness, and achieving individual goals. They want to build relationships. They want ongoing communications with a fitness center, not to be ignored once they sign up.
In short, they want the fitness studio experience.
Are you ready for them? If you’re not, get ready. And when you are – or if you are already – make sure they know. Distinguish yourself from competitors with content marketing, community outreach, and social media posts that show you as someone who wants their business.
They already know who doesn’t.
Jay Croft is a veteran journalist and content creator who leads Prime Fit Content for studios, gyms and trainers trying to engage people over 50.