We’ve partnered with not-for-profit body ukactive to bring you regular insights into the trends driving innovation and opportunity within the UK fitness industry and the potential impact on the global market.
Covering a range of topics, from underserved markets to spreading boutique fitness beyond the London bubble, in the latest edition of the series Steven Ward, Executive Director of ukactive examines how boutique fitness operators can benefit from the boom in family fitness.
Traditional family-time is dying. Collective mealtimes have given way to solitary pre-prepared dinners, while many families don’t even huddle around the television anymore, such is the presence of various sized screens in each room of the house. Paired with the uncomfortable truth that child obesity is rising at a rapid rate, in response a growing number of families have begun fighting back by seeking out healthy, active ways of spending time together.
You only have to look at the huge rise in active leisure options such as trampoline parks, spearheaded in the UK by companies like Oxygen Freejumping, to see a change is afoot. The brand, which raised £10m in investment last year, aims to open 30 parks within the next two years. Prama meanwhile, has launched its interactive blend of family fitness into New York, Germany, Dubai and London.
Increasingly gaining traction, to the point global fitness operators like Virgin Active have begun to offer kids gym memberships, as well as innovating their offering to provide opportunities for families to get active together, as a team, the market for family fitness is ripe for boutique options.
So how can boutique fitness operators capitalise on this growing trend?
Build family-specific classes
Millennials are traditionally credited with fuelling the boom of boutique fitness, but as they age and build families they may struggle to squeeze in fitness around the school run or doctors visits.
Help them out by offering class times that better match families schedules – Saturday and Sunday mornings are favourites. Yoga & Spin in Birmingham offers Saturday morning ‘Family Disco Spin’ classes – cycling along to 80s classics and Disney songs in the same class. This can help you attract busy millennials but also drive demand on the weekends, traditionally slower for boutique studios.
Don’t stop innovating
It can be hard to construct a class that is fun for both children and parents, but innovation has the potential to bridge that gap. Fitness tech concepts like Prama, which provides interactive fitness experiences using lighting and shapes, are already being embraced by some boutique studios.
For children, the experience feels like they are inside a favourite computer game, yet it’s designed to be a cross-generational workout – for kids, parents and even grandparents. When these concepts can add value to your studio, make sure you embrace them. It could attract a whole new set of customers.
Change your mindset
Operators offering classes in yoga, tai chi and Pilates are already well-suited to accommodate families – children are often far more flexible than their parents. Indeed, classes with low barriers to entry, such as these, are perfect for children.
Shala Yoga in South London runs frequent family yoga sessions that are open to all levels, in addition to separate child and parent yoga sessions. For operators offering similar concepts, all that’s needed is a change in mindset and marketing – to attract a family audience.
As a boutique operator, think about your under-utilised capacity and consider how it can be leveraged in new ways to match the unmet needs that exist in the family market. It’s a no-brainer and an easy way of expanding your audience.
Stay ahead of the game
Children’s fitness doesn’t need to be confined to starting at toddler age.
Pre-natal fitness is on the rise, with scientific research increasingly showing the benefits of appropriate exercise in expectant mothers. London-based boutique fitness studio Frame already offers an array of prenatal classes, specifically tailored to keep mothers fit in a safe environment. It also runs post-natal classes – which incorporate the babies into the workout. Given the rise in demand among pregnant mothers to keep fit during term – personalised classes could win you over a raft of new customers.
Embrace the parent-child dynamic
Children and parents rarely like the same thing – and that’s understandable. The one thing they do have in common, however, is each other. Building a class off of that dynamic – perhaps a pump class where mothers use their child as the weight – is certain to make a fun class for parents and children alike.
Triyoga’s Mummy + Me Postnatal Yoga Class claims to bring fun and pleasure to both parent and baby within a safe environment.
Mould Your pricing strategy
Some of the larger fitness operators already offer reduced-price kids memberships, but there is no reason why the boutique fitness market shouldn’t follow suit. Offering discounts for families visiting classes together could offer an incentive for parents to visit more frequently – particularly on weekends.
Associating your brand with treasured family time will also do no harm in establishing consumer loyalty.