When premium fitness operator Equinox struck a deal with Industrious – operator of funky co-working spaces – to put furnished workspaces alongside its health clubs, we broke the news on HCMmag.com and the story was our most-read of the week.
As the boundaries between work, leisure, and fitness continue to blur, people are increasingly using their health club or gym as a third space – think of how many laptops you see these days in the juice bar or café – and there’s an opportunity to build on this and develop new facilities and revenue streams.
The race is on to grab this new opportunity to extend our reach and become a more important part of people’s lives, by installing co-working spaces within health clubs and gyms.
The growth of the gig economy is one of the major factors driving this trend. As more people undertake freelance or contract work and centralised offices shrink in scale, people are looking for somewhere to work which is comfortable and familiar and has the right set-up for remote working.
They want to lead frictionless, seamless lives, where they can achieve flow and remain in environments which are conducive to their mental and physical wellbeing.
We expect to see a new generation of clubs being built which have a range of facilities to enable co-working, such as quiet rooms, hot desks, juice bars, huddle pods, libraries, meeting spaces, podcasting and vlogging facilities, as well as secure wifi and secretarial and concierge services.
If we don’t grab this opportunity, then we can expect new competition to head our way in the opposite direction, as the serviced office sector starts to add fitness to its offering.
Co-working space operator We Work, which has just rebranded as the We Company, is launching co-living spaces, gyms, and schools as part of its product lifecycle development.
And with 425 co-working spaces already developed in more than 100 cities and an aggressive development pipeline, it has a strong base on which to build a global fitness offering around its ‘Rise by We’ fitness and wellbeing brand and offering.
There will be a huge first-mover advantage for fitness businesses which tap into this trend and do it well and soon.
According to property experts JLL, only one per cent of office space is currently classed as co-working or flexible, but this is expected to increase to 30 per cent over the next five years and there’s every opportunity for some of this capacity to be provided by the health and fitness industry.
We have a huge flying start –co-working office spaces have to make a significant investment in things like booking and membership systems, direct debit setups, staff hiring and training and facility provision, while we already have all this in place. We also have an existing membership we can upsell.
Demand for these services is already coming from our members and if we respond, we’ll find ourselves becoming more embedded in their lives and being more useful and more effective and with a new income stream, to the advantage of all.