Talk to many non-gym members and they’ll tell you they find the average gym, well, just a little bit boring.
Rows of people pounding on treadmills and cross trainers, plugged into their headphones or grunting in the weights area, just doesn’t do it for everyone.
There have been some amazing exceptions – clubs with DJs, studios with great lighting and sound and instructors who raise the game with amazing classes, but as an industry, we’ve generally ended up with a lot of customers who are used to a quiet, focused environment and minimal intervention by staff.
But there are clear signs the next five years will see a transformation, with serious investment going into the entertainment elements of both facilities and programming.
It’s all part of the drive to grow penetration – if we want to attract the tribe who want a vibe, then boring just won’t cut it.
The boutiques are mainly leading the way and this issue we take a look at 1Rebel’s new cycle amphitheatre (page 36), a bold investment in a whopping three-storey cycle studio with an instructor podium which is raised and lowered during classes.
The podium also delivers a range of special effects through screens and a ‘sensory shower’ system, while the installation is completed by a 3D sound system – one of only two in the world, the other being at Sydney Opera House.
Operators are looking at new ways to combine exercise and entertainment and in this issue, we talk to Matthew Allison (page 54), founder of Sony Music in China, who’s got backing from internet giant Alibaba to grow his Space Cycle brand in China.
His music connections are a strong influence on the business – he sees his team as ‘part DJ and part instructor’ and approaches group fitness as a form of live entertainment.
Allison uses tie-ups with celebrities from the worlds of sport and entertainment to deliver both in-club and special event entertainment experiences. He also works with brands such as Nike and Mercedes and social media influencers to widen the reach of the business.
As social media influencers become part of the mix, there’s even a trend now for developing them from within; we heard this month that SoulCycle/Equinox are launching an agency to turn their star instructors into wellness influencers.
The agency will work with instructors, supporting them with their profile, social media development and follower-growth and help them to secure lifestyle sponsorship deals.