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Exercise and health: an opportunity for the fitness centre

The link between physical exercise and health is absolutely clear for the operators in the sector and no one is surprised when they read that the main health problems of the present era are represented by pathologies linked to sedentary aptitude and incorrect nutrition. Cardiovascular diseases, respiratory disorders, diabetes and the broader metabolic syndrome all share the same risk factors: alcohol abuse, smoking, being overweight and inactivity.

The invitation to improve the lifestyle is always greater on the part of institutions and just as the eating habits of Europeans have changed it is expected that the same happens in terms of movement and physical activity. Despite these premises, the results in this area are difficult to achieve and the owners of fitness and wellness centres are far from having to manage large flows of sedentary people convinced to start a training program because they have understood the importance or because they are recommended or addressed by third parties.

Strategies to promote movement and exercise

Not wanting to hide behind the "it would be necessary" or "the doctors should", let's try to list what the steps and strategies should be to seize the opportunity of the necessary re-start of the population, by those in the movement who make their profession.

Create a suitable service

Over 40% of Italians are totally and chronically sedentary. Subjects who do not have movement in their habits and probably the last time they did gymnastics was at school during a few hours of physical education. Probably it is to these subjects that the owner of the fitness centre must think when questioning about its offer of services as well as when assessing and measuring how many are the activities aimed at different targets.
Creating a service suitable for the sedentary population means thinking of a proposal without barriers and that are easily accessible by those who have not had the opportunity to cultivate their conditional skills and those coordinating it had probably buried them under the sofa. Intensity, frequency, complexity and teaching of the motor gesture, whatever it may be, must take into account the starting point of the subject, which in some cases is very far from the usual proposals of individual or group training programs that characterize the totality of the offer of many fitness centres.

Communicating effectively

After structuring the service suitable for the sedentary public, it will be equally fundamental to devise the correct communication capable of attracting the attention of the target, allowing its identification and possibly the so-called "call to action". Always through the eyes of the subject mentioned above you can analyze the images, slogans, terminology that is usually used to promote facilities and services of the fitness world to realize that it is extremely difficult to capture their attention and give rise to the desire to be part of this world.

Media communication must also be adapted to look for the channels that are most used by the target audience. It means that if the centre plans outreach actions (promotion outdoors through stations with dedicated staff) inside the sports shop to reach snow lovers through the proposal of a course of pre-skiing, they will have to think about getting to the inactive by providing presence at the cinema, for example, or in other contexts where it will be easier to reach those who are not sportsmen.

Carefully welcome

Obviously the work does not end with the two previous steps, on the contrary, it becomes fundamental to pay particular attention to the moment of introduction of the non-practicing subject inside the centre avoiding to make the mistake of treating them like any other "new member". Those who have never attended a fitness club and come from a period of long inactivity, need an extremely gradual progression of the proposal in terms of both duration and frequency of training, all supported by an extremely simple teaching that goes through examples, practical demonstration and the use of terms and similarities that are understandable.

The feeling that they will have to feel at the end of the first training sessions should be of greater vitality, rather than exhaustion, and then the technical team will be responsible for structuring programs with a proper balance of cardiovascular training phases and development of strength and flexibility. But knowing if what was proposed has reached the goal of positive memory, it is necessary to ask for feedback from our precious newcomers, helping them to rationalize the sensations they perceive.

The proposal of training characterized by a few minutes of parking on different stations or even at the circuit with moderate intensity will help to make the experience varied and never boring and, consequently, will be repeated with greater simplicity. What must be avoided is that physical exercise is associated with something difficult, tiring, demanding and all the adjectives that risk bringing the user back to being sedentary on the sofa.

Stimulating word of mouth

Whatever the area, the start of a new path creates a stressful situation that can be contained if you are not alone. The possibility that the training program becomes a healthy habit in the daily life of the precious sedentary patients, seems to be supported by being part of a group. Therefore, we should prefer moments of sharing the first training sessions with other new members of the centre but also and especially with other friends or acquaintances that the sedentary will get involved through tools such as free passes, combining the goal of loyalty to the acquisition of new members.

Activate new possible channels

Finally, to try to speed up the process, it is possible to activate new channels of communication to reach the public of those who do not practice physical exercise. Particular reference is made to the whole area linked to the world of health, and therefore certainly to family doctors who will be informed and possibly involved with moments of knowledge of the services that the club is able to offer for the treatment of prevention or treatment of diseases related to sedentariness. Unfortunately, the fitness sector has not yet managed to escape from the false belief that it is only suitable for achieving aesthetic goals and it is the task of operators to make culture and information thanks to the demonstration of successful cases.

Thanks to the web, it is possible to disseminate quickly and at particularly low cost how much physical exercise can be effective for health. Through the writing of articles, case histories, interviews and posts it is possible to prepare valuable content that can be made available to the medical world using the channels of the blog, newsletter and social profiles in general. In addition to this category, there are other realities that can be involved as they operate in the context of personal care, the goal is to seek the right people, demonstrate how the centre is able to propose and facilitate the dissemination through tools and initiatives that can bring clear benefits to all actors involved.

The evolution of our sector has made an important leap forward when it went from body building to fitness but the real goal is to reach the huge pool of people who will increasingly seek wellness and well-being and health through movement.

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