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The children are not our future.

August 23, 2012
Categories: Member Acquisition

And the sky is red. Water is dry. And if you believe all that then have I got a bridge to sell to you. So why have I decided to make fun of our industry this week. Because I’m sick of making fun of myself. But mainly because nothing irritates me more than short sightedness. Want to know why no matter what we do, we still can’t get more than 17% of the population to join a gym? Let me tell you why…

The children are not our future.

Because you all are short-sighted (perhaps I already covered this in the first paragraph). I know insulting our customer-base, twice, isn’t the best way to make you consider using Motionsoft as your club management software but sitting up here on my high horse, it’s just painfully obvious. I don’t see any significant investment in children fitness.

After 10 years, here is what I have learned about kids and our industry:

  1. No club makes money on child care. They all consider it a loss leader to get the parent (or a way for the owner to have some undeclared income!)
  2. Because it’s a loss leader, it’s hard to justify making an investment of time, money, space or resources in child care.

And you wonder why as percentage of the population we can’t seem to get above the mid-teens? Call me crazy but kinda makes sense to me. Let me explain. (I warn you the next few paragraphs are going to be graphic so read at your own peril.)

Kids learn from their parents. Whether it’s religion, or politics or fitness. Our parents have a lot of influence on us. Which explains why we CAN’T grow the pie. We keep talking to the same group of people. Let me put it another way. It’s your damn fault.

The people who are members today likely had parents who exercised. It’s pretty friggin linear people. Don’t think that because exercise is good for you that they will join. If we only did stuff that was good for us then there would be no fast food, cigarettes, alcohol, or high heels (On that note, wedding invites should come with shoes optional since it seems every women I know takes off her shoes.)

I’m also a realist. You can’t make massive investments in children’s fitness. It has to make business sense. And if we want to grow the pie, we need to think about it both tactically and strategically. Next week we are going to make the business case. Or we will go down in flames trying. Either way it will either be informational or educational. A no-lose situation. Unlike fast food and high heels.

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3 Responses to “The children are not our future.”

  1. IHRSA says:

    IHRSA just happened to write a story this week on the pros and cons of childcare:
    http://www.ihrsa.org/home/2012/8/22/childcare-may-not-bring-in-money-but-it-pays-off.html

  2. Alan Lawrence says:

    Childcare is huge. Being able to drop my kids makes all the difference in having me getting to the gym. That said, I’m totally for more stuff that has them exercising instead of just playing on the computers in the kids room.

  3. I have added several “fun” pieces to appeal to youth and the young at heart. But what I have found in my community is that youth involved in organized sports are forbidden to work out anywhere but at the school & have to drop memberships that they had. In the off season, they have the option to work out at the school as well, so that limits my ability to reach much of the youth. When the youth then ask for donations for their sports teams, I have to bite my tongue.

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