Canadians know the power of exercise. Now, how do we leverage this?
As we celebrate canfitpro’s 2024 Trends Report, Fitness Industry Council of Canada (FIC), the not-for-profit association of the Canadian fitness industry, has been busy preparing for the influx of new members, and is excited by the trends identified by canfitpro, Canada’s leading association of fitness professionals. Gabriel Hardy, Executive Director of FIC, says that the Canadian trends follow what we are seeing from our partners in the US and globally. “Group fitness is back, recovery is in, and active aging isn’t just seniors wanting to get fit! We are moving our bodies in new ways, and we have a deep understanding that we want to focus on our health span, on fighting chronic illness, on improving brain health – and physical activity is the number one thing we can do,” says Hardy.
FIC reflects on three of canfitpro’s trends, and how the fitness industry can adapt to meet the needs.
1. Active Aging
Active aging isn’t just seniors – boomers and Generation X are all focused on aging well, living and moving in their body in healthy ways to prevent chronic illness, improve mental health, and brain health. “We learned from our FIC webinars this year that boomers were the first demographic to return to the gym post COVID,” says Hardy. “They take their health and wellness seriously and are motivated by community. Boomers are also very interested in recovery and wellness as add-ons to their gym experience.”
What to do: Offer active-aging classes and have fun with creating experiences that revolve around the fitness class. You can create a ‘FOREVER FIT’ class, followed by a coffee hour for the older population. They are craving social experiences, and adding them to your programming will create loyalty,” says Hardy. Also, invest in having your best personal trainers become educated in serving older adult populations. “Boomers are the cohort that will spend on personal training,” says Hardy. “In one study, 80% of personal training revenue came from Gen X and Boomers. The Boomers will be loyal if you create meaningful experiences for them in your gym.”
2. Functional Fitness
This is a great opportunity for the new members coming into the gym, says Hardy. Think about creating ‘New Member’ packages that you could upsell, that involve functional fitness sessions or classes. As busy as your gym is going to be, functional fitness has moved from the group fitness studio to the main floor. “We know from our Generation Z webinar that the younger generation is coming into our facilities and wanting to replicate workouts they have seen on Tik Tok or Instagram,” says Hardy. In fact, the hashtag #functionalfitness has more than 4 million posts on Instagram alone! “Generation Z is one of the biggest demographics in the gym – and they will be one of your greatest brand promoters. Consider creating content on your own social media channels that they can use in their workouts. And functional is also mobility, movement and flow patterns – create classes that have functional movement at the core,” says Hardy.
What to do: Though floor space is a premium in the gym, think about creating training zones on your floor that provide members with the ability to add functional movement patterns easily – it can be simple as mats, foam rollers and, don’t knock the power of a Gen Z photo op! “Many clubs are adding lighting, plants, and decor where younger members can take selfies and post them on their socials – add a QR code with your own social handles for them to easily tag you,” suggests Hardy. “This is free marketing, and it is member engagement!
3. Exercise for Mental Health, Mindfulness and Stress Reduction
Fitness has changed, and our industry has changed too. In the last four years, we have seen the biggest shift in how our members use exercise for mental health. As a new report, Nurturing Minds for a Secure Future shows that more than 1.6 million Canadian teens and youth are struggling with mental health; fitness professionals are ready to step up and show the power of exercise for mental health, for anxiety, for depression and for stress. “One of the biggest studies we pointed to in 2023 came from the British Medical Journal, on the effectiveness of physical activity on our mental health,” says Hardy. “The conclusive evidence that physical activity is ‘highly beneficial for improving symptoms of depression, anxiety and distress’ show us that the work we do in our facilities is essential for ALL Canadians,” says Hardy.
What to do: Remember that exercise isn’t simply getting stronger physically: if you don’t offer mindfulness or meditation classes, partner with local studios that do. Create blog posts providing tips on ways to use exercise to reduce stress. Most importantly, create a supportive community, where your members feel like your gym is their second home.
With 2024 on the horizon, the Fitness Industry Council of Canada is preparing to support its members and will continue to lobby the government on behalf of physical activity tax credits. “We have submitted a budget proposal, continuing our efforts to revise line 33099 of the income tax form. We continue to make the case for gym memberships – that Canadians should be able to include their membership as a medical expense. We have clear evidence that physical activity reduces the cost of chronic health conditions and improves mental health. FIC is also lobbying separately for physical activity tax credits for seniors,” says Hardy. “Our mission is to support the Canadian fitness industry to become the strongest it has ever been in 2024. Let’s do this!”
Fitness Industry Council of Canada (FIC) is the not-for profit trade association that represents the voice of fitness facility operators across Canada. Representing more than 6,000 facilities with more than six-million members nationwide, FIC pursues a legislative agenda in the hope of bettering the fitness industry for both consumers and operators. FIC aims to work with both industry and government to improve the health and physical activity levels of Canadians.