Mr. Green

Spas, Health & Fitness

Five of the Top Fitness Trends Influencing Consumer Demand

By Bryan Green, President & CEO, Advantage Fitness Products

The fitness industry is constantly evolving. As exercise physiologists, fitness and athletic trainers and wellness professionals push the envelope of untapped knowledge and new technologies, fitness trends emerge and change. Most importantly, as these changes occur, so do the expectations and demands of consumers.

This places a unique demand on fitness center operators to be aware and prepared to respond to these changing consumer demands. Fitness services can absolutely drive bottom line goals for hotels and resorts including revenue generation, but most certainly in guest experience, retention, and beyond. However, significant returns are only realized by management committed to keeping their facilities in line with these changing trends and consumer demands. Fitness is no longer a "throw in" to a hotel or resort's mix of services. With that in mind, let's take a look at some of the current trends that are pushing the industry and consumer demand into uncharted terrain.

A Historical Perspective

A look back at the past forty years only reinforces the ever-evolving nature of fitness and its impact on consumer demand. The '70s saw resistance training (weight lifting) transcend beefcakes and body-builders and become the norm for individuals of all fitness levels. This was the beginning of health and fitness finding its way into the fabric of mainstream society. In the '80s it was all about aerobics and the emergence of group training, fitness centers began featuring adjacent group training rooms to accommodate group fitness classes. With that, the fitness "boom" was official. The 90s brought Pilates, and a resurgence of yoga and other "alternative" fitness methods into the mainstream. Suddenly, fitness environments of all types including hotels and spas began offering their own variety and refinement of these modalities. Suddenly, fitness was about a lot more than simply looking good. It was about living longer and healthier. Most recently, "core" training and functional fitness have become the emphasis in a balanced exercise approach, and fitness center offerings have followed suit. So what's next?

Trend #1 - Smaller is Better

While the large facility model is alive and well among mainstream health club chains, the trend is now toward smaller, boutique facilities. There are a growing number of consumers looking to escape the mayhem and hassles associated with large health clubs to a more personal environment. An obvious benefit hotels and resorts can provide is the convenience for travelers to satisfy their fitness needs on property, instead of going elsewhere to visit local area health clubs. But surprisingly, more and more hotels and resorts are expanding their focus beyond guests, offering access to the local community as an alternative to the large health club experience, through a limited membership model. Furthermore, the growing lifestyle emphasis on health and wellness in combination with the need for convenience has enabled a market for smaller, more accessible facilities. The maturity of the industry itself has also spawned a multitude of models offering both luxury and full service offerings. This has certainly perpetuated a new fitness-minded consumer that seeks a more intimate, personalized experience. The big health club chains can't offer this, but hotels and resorts most certainly can. Fitness and spa managers at hotels and resorts should seek creative ways to position fitness centers and capture this "chic" vibe that boutique facilities possess. This can be achieved in marketing and promotional vehicles on property as well as communications vehicles aimed at guest acquisition.

Trend #2 - Going Green

Consistent with the buzz in much of today's consumer-driven industries, the emphasis in fitness on environmentally friendly products and services has emerged. This is seen prominently in the specific materials being used in a variety of products such as yoga mats, stability balls, and even the facility floor covering. Manufacturers such as Precor have begun to concentrate on bringing first-in-class treadmills to market requiring less power than commonly required in this category. In other products such as the company's elliptical trainers, climbers, and cycles no external power is required as the units are now 100% self-generating by the user's own effort and the equipment's ability to store energy. Frankly, these areas are only the tip of the iceberg and look for several emerging technologies and products coming to market over the next few years that can help your facility become environmentally compliant.** **

Trend #3 - Emphasizing Hygiene

It's not the sexiest topic, but it's certainly not one that you can afford to ignore. Hygiene has become a major hot-button in the fitness industry and in the mind of the facility user. A variety of factors, including the significant number of MRSA (Commonly known as "staph") infections that have occurred within health clubs throughout the world have prompted a major increase in the emphasis on hygiene both within the industry and among consumers. Regardless of how ambitious or simplistic your bottom line goals are for your facility, it needs to be hygienically sound at all exceptions. The "fix" is an easy one with a myriad of products now available to achieve this. Unique and stylish wall-mounted and floor "handy wipe" dispensers, featuring disinfectants ensure machines are cleaned properly after each use. In the very least, you will have provided the user piece of mind and the ability to wipe down the contact areas of the machine prior to exercise. Floor treatments and materials are now designed to avoid unhealthy mildews and molds that are common in high activity, fitness center environments. Seeking consultation is highly advisable in equipment selection, floor coverings, and visibly demonstrating to guests your commitment to cleanliness will provide guests comfort and confidence in the use of your facility.

Trend #4 - "Digital" Fitness

One of the most intriguing bi-products of the digital revolution and the emergence of interactive technology has been in the realm of fitness. We've all seen the gaming industry turned upside down by products like the popular Wii, which allows users to actually become a part of the games they are playing by performing the exact physical motions and activities involved in these various sports and games. Through the use of hand-held digital devices, users are controlling the motions and outcomes of what they are seeing on the screen. The software developers responsible for this technology have found a unique home for it in fitness and exercise applications where the technology provides a totally unique and entertaining way to exercise. Companies like Xavix have chosen to focus nearly exclusively on its fitness offering in gaming. Full-blown aerobic workouts, housed within the experience of competitive boxing, martial arts or dance-based gaming activities that entertain users while they're getting into shape. This would appear to be another area where technology and product development are only beginning to have the impact we would expect to see spilling over into fitness environments everywhere.

Trend #5 - Accelerated Fitness

Another emerging area under the heading of "high-tech fitness" is Acceleration Training (aka, "vibration training"). This is an area that began a slow emergence five years ago, when the company, Power Plate first introduced vibration training products globally. But in the past 18 months Acceleration Training has seen a massive expansion with a significant number of new brands entering the market. A critical point of appeal with this innovative exercise method is time efficiency - Full-blown, full-body workouts in a fraction of the time as conventional exercise methods. Acceleration Training also goes far in shattering the "no pain, no gain" fitness clich'e, offering arguably the most non-invasive and low-impact fitness method available, while yielding a truly astounding array of fitness and wellness benefits. Best of all, these varying benefits, including muscle and bone strength, flexibility, detoxification and increased hormonal profile are achieved in literally a fraction of the time necessary with conventional exercise methods and without the rigors and wear and tear that higher-impact training methods demand. If it sounds too good to be true, it's not. There's a significant amount of research available on the subject, and the list of users includes the world's elite athletic and personal trainers, professional and college sports teams all over the world (nearly every NFL team is currently using vibration-based exercise products by Power Plate and other manufacturers), and more and more mainstream health clubs.

These are some of the top-line trends that are making waves throughout the fitness industry and in turn, changing the expectations of consumers. The ever-changing landscape of fitness and exercise can be seen as challenging, but professionals armed with a commitment to driving tangible bottom-line returns would be wise to embrace these changes as opportunities.

Bryan Green is a fitness expert and advisor to core & non-traditional businesses alike in industries including hospitality, multi-family housing, corporations, and Academic institutions. Mr. Green serves as President and CEO of Advantage Fitness Products (AFP), a leading provider of innovative fitness and wellness-based solutions for commercial facilities worldwide and specialized residential environments. AFP offers expertise across multiple facets of the health & fitness industry, including facility design, equipment supply, and ongoing support. The company is headquartered in Los Angeles, with additional offices in Miami, New York, San Francisco, Phoenix, & Las Vegas. Mr. Green also serves on the Editorial Board for Fitness On-Site Magazine, and advisory boards for leading industry equipment and content providers TechnoGym, Star Trac, & Netpulse. Mr. Green can be contacted at 310-559-9949 Ext: 110 or Extended Bio... retains the copyright to the articles published in the Hotel Business Review. Articles cannot be republished without prior written consent by

Receive our daily newsletter with the latest breaking news and hotel management best practices.
Hotel Business Review on Facebook
General Search:

OCTOBER: Revenue Management: Optimizing Income Streams Across All Avenues

Klaus Kohlmayr

Technology is having a huge impact on how revenue managers generate and optimize revenues at hotels. At the same time, it’s clearer than ever that the “human touch” is indispensable: Without capable front desk, sales and revenue professionals at the helm, the possibility for generating meaningful ancillary revenue is limited. Equally, with an increasingly demanding and diverse generation of travelers coming to market, it’s critical to be able to match the right kinds of accommodations with the right guests. This article examines the intersection of technology and human interaction in ancillary revenue generation at hotels today – with an eye not only toward enhancing revenues, but building guest experience and satisfaction as well. It pays special attention to the role of upselling, as a central piece to this puzzle. READ MORE

Bill Linehan

Disrupters and brand loyalty are the jargon de jour among retail based industries. Even loyalty is making its metamorphosis into the more descriptive recognition. The jargon is evolving in an attempt to keep pace with its ever-changing environment as brands struggle to gain and retain the fleeting attention of consumers bombarded with messaging. Retail sales is more than the sum of its product. It is a masterful and complex interlinking of imagery and awareness that lead the consumer to purchase and advocate within their social circle. You are what you buy. The hotel industry is a retail based industry and savvy marketers are using retail based modeling to grow consumer’s share of wallet and brand loyalty. READ MORE

Jon  Higbie

Hotels are no strangers to Revenue Management (RM). They were among the first industries to embrace Revenue Management, albeit by focusing exclusively on yield management. Retailers took notice and decided they, too, should employ Revenue Management, but weren’t certain how to do it since they didn’t have perishable inventory like hotel rooms. Instead, retailers zeroed in on price elasticity, giving birth to price optimization. However this time it was hotels that took notice. By the early 2000s, they were swiftly adopting price optimization of room rates and again transforming their industry. While this strategy has paid handsome rewards, it’s time again for hotels to emulate retailers – and even consumer goods companies – if they want to conquer the next frontier of Revenue Management. READ MORE

Stefan Wolf

The act of providing accommodation to travelers has been around for a very long time. But whilst actively selling and marketing hotels and resorts have been going on for some time already, revenue management in that context started only recently. In addition to being a relatively new function in the industry, the scope of revenue management has changed and increased at an incredible speed. In the past, revenue management focused on optimizing RevPAR using the right time, with the right price, right product, for the right customer and with the right channel approach, in isolation of other functions. This is no longer sufficient today. READ MORE

Coming Up In The November Online Hotel Business Review

Feature Focus
Hotel Architecture and Design: Unique, Timeless and Memorable Design
With hotel refurbishments typically taking place every eight to ten years for the soft elements, and every fifteen to twenty years for public spaces and bathrooms, owners and investors rely on architects and designers to get things right. Their solutions must satisfy a targeted demographic, be aesthetically timeless and durable, and fulfill the market’s desire for unique and memorable design. From re-thinking guestroom configurations to constructing dramatic public spaces, an effort is being made to recast hotels as the highlight of any business trip or vacation. In that regard, many architects have chosen to make a striking first impression, with an emphasis on the hotel lobby. These areas are being designed as multi-use spaces to accommodate casual or formal talks, individual or group work, and zones for social activity. Creative space segmentation is required, along with furniture that provides comfort and functionality. More extravagant entrance features also include indoor waterfalls, large chandeliers and multi-media stations. The bathroom is also an area of interest for designers in recognition of guest desires to experience luxury beyond their everyday lives. Spa-like features such as en-suite bedrooms, waterfall showers, over-sized bathtubs, his & hers sinks, giant towels, plush robes, and deluxe beauty items provide the promise of indulgent luxury. Additionally, hotel restaurants can no longer afford to be mere providers of three meals a day and a buffet. Signature restaurants are being designed to offer a genuine "wow" factor to both guests and external patrons alike. Along with sustainability concerns and an increased emphasis on local sourcing, these are some of the subjects in the fields of hotel architecture and design that will be explored in the June issue of the Hotel Business Review.