Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Baby Boomer Gym Membership Booming

“You've probably noticed that your health club is more crowded with the New Year's resoluters. But what you may not know is that the uptick in gym membership for the past few years has been driven by Baby Boomers. They're either at the club to maintain their perceived eternal youth, or find their way back to it after years of slacking off. A Reuters story recently cited an International Health, Racquet and Sportsclub Association (IHRSA) survey showing that gym membership among the 55-plus group in the United States jumped from 1.5 million in 1987 to 9.9 million in 2007. Curves, with its 30-minute circuit training catered to women, is leading the pack in terms of membership, according to Reuters. ‘These women have the most purchasing power of any segment of the population. They don't want to sit their golden years out on the sidelines -- more than any other generation they want to stay young and fit,’ Becky Frusher, spokeswoman for Curves, said to Reuters. In a report entitled ‘Baby Boomers and Beyond,’ the IHRSA noted several ways that health clubs can meet the needs of Baby Boomers (and we're not talking a remake of Jack LaLane and Jane Fonda aerobic tapes): Customized fitness, Physical therapy, Brain aerobics, By appointment scheduling, Nutrition programs, Spa services. Marketer Tom Mann at TR Mann Consulting noted recently ‘the fitness industry will continue to represent a growth opportunity even in a down economy.’ He also cautioned about terminology when it comes to Baby Boomer fitness: ‘... the mature market reacted very negatively towards the term 'exercise' while the term 'active' tested very positively.’ So, after a drenching, sweat inducing workout, we're supposed to feel happy saying we were ‘active’? Thanks, but I'll stick with ‘exercise.’”

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