IDEA Health & Fitness Association has revealed the results of its annual IDEA Fitness Programs & Equipment Survey. The 13th annual survey revealed a variety of emerging as well as more familiar activities that are continuing to gain momentum. Key among findings is that fitness professionals are responding to the call for the kinds of community building and social activities that their members crave.
This year's data was gathered from 214 IDEA members who are health club business owners and/or exercise program directors. Respondents represent a wide range of fitness perspectives, including small to large health clubs, corporate and hospital fitness centers, personal training facilities, specialty studios and colleges as well as parks and recreation departments.
The survey delivers important insights into how to meet the demands of an increasingly diverse spectrum of people not just those coming to a gym, but a mixture of older adults, kids, pregnant women, people with post-rehabilitation needs, elite athletes and other special populations.
Rise in Group Training and Outdoor Boot Camps
There is a growing emphasis on group cohesion as evidenced by an increase in the number of people sharing personal training sessions (83%) as well as a rise in outdoor boot camps and more socially oriented activities, such as running and walking clubs all of which made the list of top 10 programs with the most growth potential.
According to Kathie Davis, co-founder and executive director of IDEA Health & Fitness Association, this year's fitness programs and equipment survey shows that facilities increasingly are providing their members with both exercise and social experiences.
"The key to reaching the sedentary individual and sustaining the active person may lie in a combination of training programs and social activities that keep people connected to their physical and mental health," she says. "The latest IDEA programs and equipment survey reinforces the community-building trend as well as the growing opportunities that go beyond the gym floor to embody a plethora of opportunities to inspire healthy, active lifestyles."
Regarding data on demographics and exercise programs, the 2008 survey revealed the following:
Survey respondents reveal that the populations of members at their facilities are heavily female (66%) compared to male.
Long-time favorites Pilates (offered by 68% of the respondents) and yoga (61%) continue their climb in popularity. Tai chi and mind-body fusion classes, however, are declining, with less than 25% of the facilities surveyed offering these programs. With that said, mind-body fusion still made the top 10 list of programs with growth potential as reported by 64% of those surveyed.
Personal training in small groups (of three to five people) made an impressive leap to 58%, up from 44% last year.
Creating a fun environment is a key focus for 43% of fitness mangers who responded to the survey, and two-thirds said they expect this area to grow, citing that social activity groups (walking or running clubs, group trips, organized group activities, etc.) strengthen client retention.
Personal training for youths (18 years old or younger) is offered by 63% of respondents; kids' fitness programs (classes or after-school camps) are offered by just 36%. Classes for seniors rose from 39% to 51%.
Martial arts-based aerobics and boxing-based/kickboxing classes continue the downslide they have been on since 2000.
While nutrition assessment and nutrition coaching are now offered by more than half of the survey respondents, fitness professionals are encouraged to build reciprocal relationships with registered dieticians and others while seeking to expand their own nutrition-based competency and remain within their scope of practice.
Regarding data on exercise equipment, the 2008 survey revealed the following:
Equipment topping the charts continues to be small and versatile; 94% of respondents said they offer resistance tubing or bands, while 87% favor barbells and/or dumbbells.
Creativity in exercise routines and an emphasis on functional, real-life training has led to increased use of equipment that can function in a variety of ways. For example, stability balls and weighted bars are offered by 88% and 70% of respondents, respectively.
Weighted bars are the only piece of weighted equipment to see a dramatic surge in usage since 2000.
Look for much attention on and speculation about the future of interactive computer training programs. While in the early stages of establishing validity as a popular training aid, 73% of respondents who already employ these programs believe usage will grow.
While elliptical trainers have been around for years, 61% of respondents said they believe this equipment area still has room for growth.
Pilates, boxing and water fitness equipment all made the list of the top 25 most frequently offered types of equipment, along with pneumatic machines, Gravity trainers, indoor cycles and stair climbers.
"This year's survey shows its takes more than just the latest equipment and programs to Inspire the World to Fitness," concludes Davis. "Aside from keeping their clients active, fitness professionals must be creative in giving their clients more opportunities to make physical activity something to look forward to and incorporate easily into their daily lives."
Click here for an overview of the survey.
IDEA Health & Fitness Association is the world's leading membership organization of fitness and wellness professionals with more than 23,000 members in over 80 countries. For more information on IDEA fitness and wellness conferences, publications, professional fitness education and products, member services and other activities, visit www.ideafit.com.