Earlier this year not-for-profit health body ukactive held a two-day conference in Manchester to shed light on some of the burning issues facing the physical activity sector.
Flame, which took place on 27th and 28th June, brought together 800 leaders in physical activity, including key stakeholders, senior influencers and decision-makers, to explore innovation, increasing global competition, new technology and rapidly changing consumer demands, all of which are turning the fitness market on its head.
The event combined absorbing keynotes with thought-provoking workshops to provide business owners in the sector with the opportunity to better understand the emerging trends in UK fitness and highlighted new strategies to allow business owners to lead the way in the face of intensifying market competition.
From global disruption, leadership and innovation to lessons on effective social media strategies, here ukactive Communications Executive Luke Holland, takes a look through the five biggest lessons learned from the event…..
Adopt a global mindset
Taking to the stage to open the conference, Ukactive CEO Steven Ward urged all attendees from major gym chains to small boutique fitness operators to “adopt a global mindset”.
In highlighting disruptors from around the globe that are changing the way consumers interact with fitness, he focused on Peloton –– “a company established only five years ago that is shaking up the fitness world by bringing spinning classes into homes and is valued at over $1bn.”
In conclusion, he argued that to thrive within today’s fitness market business owners must adapt to worldwide trends and global competition, as well as staying ahead of local rivals.
Social media can be simple
With 80% of Facebook users using the platform to connect with brands, the conference explored how even the smallest boutique fitness studios can benefit from building an online presence, particularly when brand loyalty is so important.
However, Social Media expert Andrew Davis argued that business owners must answer three questions to garner success online –– “What content can I create? How can I get that content to the relative people? What can I get them to do?” Answer all of these and social media can be simple, he explained.
Listen to your customers
Thought Expansion Network Founder and change advocate Jonathan MacDonald implored attendees to stay out in front when it comes to innovation.
“We are in an exponential growth reality,” he stated. “The concept of being a gym member has changed,” and boutique fitness has been at the forefront at these changes, he added.
And when it comes to staying ahead of the curve in the face of this growth?
MacDonald argued that “you can learn so much providing you give people permission to share”. That means fostering a dialogue with customers – and being willing to embrace radical solutions from there. It might sound simple, but it’s remarkably effective.
Tech can bridge the gap to new markets
Leading tech expert Andy Miah told the audience that “technology, when used correctly, can be used to excellent effect at getting inactive people moving that little bit more.”
Once you do that, it’s much easier to get them fully active – take the gamification of apps like Zombie Run, which adds an extra layer of interest to long distance running, for those who usually find it boring.
It doesn’t take a leap of the imagination to see how boutique fitness studios could benefit from similar initiatives. In fact, by incorporating technology and creative thinking, it could help studios reach out to the traditionally inactive – a large and untapped market segment – with huge results.
Innovate or die
Former Transformation Director for the Met Police Maxine De Brunner wrapped up the conference with a keynote speech taking attendees through the absolute necessity of continuous transformation.
Most boutique fitness operators are aware they need to continuously evolve to capture and retain loyal clients, but how do operators ensure that their innovations match customer’s expectations while still holding on to the core of their business?
Maxine De Brunner argued that change in business has to be bought into it by those on the ground, explaining that “transformational change is impossible unless the workforce is behind it.”
She concluded that business owners should, therefore, look to encourage innovation and adjustment from the people working in their establishments – from the top right down to the bottom.