Monday, August 17, 2009

Want To Get Fit?

“Feel like you could stand to lose a few pounds? Want to get in better shape? Statistics from a report released in July show you're not alone. The report, based on 2006 through 2008 data from the Centers for Disease Control, and 2007 data from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, ranked Kansas with the 18th-highest rate of adult obesity in the nation, at 27.2 percent. Kansas ranked 22nd-highest of overweight youth (ages 10-17) at 31.1 percent. With a target population like that, how difficult is it these days to successfully compete in the gym and fitness center business? The International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association (IHRSA) is a trade association representing for-profit health and fitness facilities. Its figures show that from 2004 to 2008, the number of health clubs in Kansas (333 in 2008) grew at a 55 percent pace. That ties Kansas for sixth with West Virginia in terms of club growth for the four-year period. The figures show that 17.7 percent of Kansans have a health club membership, according to the average from data collected from 2005 to 2007. Salinan Doug Longbine knows that member turnover is a staple in the health and fitness business. ‘You might have two guys quit and three join, and then three others quit and two join. But you've got to have people who have been with you (faithfully) to make it,’ said Longbine, who with his wife, Ann, owns and operates Next Level Fitness, 155 S. Fifth. Do tough economic times spell a decline in business for health clubs, gyms and fitness centers? Figures compiled by the International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association don't reflect that. A survey of 180 IHRSA member clubs comparing January 2008 to January 2009 showed the majority of clubs -- 70 percent -- saw member attendance equal or surpass the previous January. There was even an improvement in membership accounts during the fourth quarter of 2008. ‘Members want to keep their membership and are finding ways to make that work,’ said Rosemary Lavery, public relations manager for the IHRSA, headquartered in Boston.”

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