Freedom first when it comes to fitness
Fewer people are choosing to sign up for pricey and binding fitness club memberships
The fitness industry is undoubtedly experiencing a revolution.
If the closure of major international fitness clubs in recent years is any indication, the relevance of costly commitment-reliant fitness businesses is fast diminishing.
Most tellingly, a Singapore-owned business, the True Group fitness and wellness chain, has announced the closure of its regional centres.
With close to 50,000 members here uncertain about the future of their paid memberships, the viability of the current rigid pricing structure in the fitness and wellness industry has never been in greater limbo.
Once a statement of discipline, the pricey commitment of a fitness club membership is no longer as enticing as the flexibility and adventure that comes with the freedom to sample a smorgasbord of trendy and exciting fitness activities.
People prefer not to tie themselves down to one club at the risk of missing out on the latest and trendiest workouts offered by the burgeoning marketplace of specialised studios.
Furthermore, fitness is no longer a mark of conspicuous consumption but a crucial component of a fulfilling life.
It is becoming a lifestyle - and its pursuit is proof that you are living with purpose.
People are now less willing to spend on expensive fitness memberships but more willing to spend on experiences that span a variety of activities.
After all, there should not be a need to splurge on a binding membership when there are plenty of fitness classes available on-demand.
With dwindling membership numbers, fitness clubs, including digital fitness passports, are forced to reckon with under-booked classes and their inability to maximise revenue with dynamic pricing strategies.
With their huge scale and high operating cost, membership-based clubs are less incentivised to adopt such flexible pricing strategies.
Also bear in mind the complex market data and know-how required to effectively implement such strategies.
The convenience of seeking out new classes and making bookings has never been greater than a time like now, with the advent of online and mobile booking platforms.
However, most large membership-based fitness clubs still operate on an admission-card entry basis and are slow to adopt digital booking and registration of classes and staff/trainer management.
That said, it is not enough to create an app for every single fitness studio to address this need for convenience. The value of screen real estate on consumers' smartphones is real, severely limited and very valuable.
It is only understandable that members would curate their apps diligently, where only apps that offer the most versatility, flexibility and convenience would reside on their smartphones' homepage.
Activpass' research, based on population size and average spend a customer, showed that in Singapore alone, the market size for the fitness industry is estimated to be between $200 million and $300 million.
There is a huge opportunity for growth, and it is imperative that the industry keeps up with the needs and demands of consumers.
With the ubiquity of ever-advancing smartphone technology and data-driven customer analytics, there is no better time than now for the fitness and wellness industry - especially the small and medium-sized enterprises - to give a much-needed jolt to its business.
Perhaps, to face these changes, the industry needs to embrace consumers' changing mindsets on fitness and lifestyle and take advantage of disruptive technologies.
The writer is the founder of Activpass.com. This article appeared in The Business Times on Friday.