Magazine article Marketing

Brand Health Check: Gyms

Magazine article Marketing

Brand Health Check: Gyms

Article excerpt

Traditionally a top-ranker in New Year's resolutions, the gym may lose out this year.

As rituals go, watching someone tell anyone who will listen that they're thinking of joining the gym in January is almost as traditional - and boring - as hearing the same person boasting about their pointless bingeing on food the previous month.

Much like the hardened smoker who makes an annual rash and drunken vow to quit the evil weed in the new year, for many pledged gym-goers, the thought remains just that, and they continue to lead the life of a sloth-like sybarite.

What must be more worrying for the gym chains, however, is the evidence suggesting that those who already hold memberships, which can cost upwards of pounds 700 a year, are planning to cancel them.

Research by price-comparison site moneysupermarket.com shows that gym membership is a luxury for which consumers are not willing to pay in 2009. Its findings showed that 14% of gym members are lapsed users who admit to rarely going to the gym and are therefore planning to cancel their memberships to save money; a staggering 42% want to keep going to the gym but cannot afford it. Few expect that all respondents who fall into one of these two camps will actually cancel their memberships, however, there is little doubt that gyms are under pressure and that subscriptions will decline.

How can gyms get people through the doors? We asked Joanna Mitchell, marketing manager for Lonely Planet magazines, and Marc Nohr, managing partner, Kitcatt Nohr Alexander Shaw.

DIAGNOSIS - TWO INDUSTRY EXPERTS ADVISE GYMS ON KEEPING BUSINESS HEALTHY

- Joanna Mitchell marketing manager, Lonely Planet magazines

In the current climate, people are more concerned about saving pennies than losing pounds, so it's no wonder that fitness clubs are feeling the strain: they're expensive, stuffy and stuck in the 80s.

With my wedding fast approaching, I'm definitely watching my waistline, but it's the green gym I'll be using this New Year. A walk in the Lake District is a lovely way to spend a winter's day.Nothing beats wrapping up in lots of layers and donning your wellies to take a bracing walk in the countryside - and it's free.

But if walking is not your thing, there are plenty of other, cheaper alternatives to the gym that are also good for your physical and mental health.

Dance classes are very much in vogue with the success of Strictly Come Dancing; what about yoga in the local village hall; or stay inside where it's warm with family and friends and play on your Nintendo Wii. …

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