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What Gen X Looks for in a Health Club

The generation after Baby Boomers looks for equipment rather than classes

Look out, health clubs! Millennials might seem like your target market, but it’s actually Gen Xers that are signing up in droves.

According to the IHRSA 2017 Health Club Consumer Report, Gen Xers are more likely to join health clubs than any other demographic, even Millennials. Gen Xers currently encompass 33% of all health club members – a percentage that has remained steady for the last five years.

Not only are Gen Xers signing up for health clubs, they’re much more likely to become loyal members. The study found that on average, Gen X stays at their club an entire year longer than members from other generations.

Top 5 Things Gen X Looks for in a Health Club

Interestingly, the study found that the biggest barrier that Gen X has to exercise is lack of time. This makes sense – they are in their prime career years and are more likely to have young children at home. It will come as no surprise, then, that the top five features Gen X looks for in a health club are almost all equipment based, with a few high-intensity classes thrown in:

  1. Elliptical motion/cardio cross trainers
  2. Free weights
  3. Weight resistance machines
  4. Boot camp classes
  5. Treadmills

Top 5 Things Millennials Look for in a Health Club

Gen Xer’s preferences are in direct contrast to what Millennial health club members prefer. The same study found that Millennials much prefer experience-driven workouts in a class-style setting and tend to avoid fixed memberships.

  1. High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)
  2. Barre classes
  3. Cardio kickboxing classes
  4. Yoga classes
  5. Group cycling

Don’t Forget to Engage with Generation Z

Health clubs also must pay attention to Generation Z, the generation after Millennials. Dr. Denise Villa, CEO of the Center for Generational Kinetics, recently spoke with Health Club Management about the emerging trends between Gen Z and fitness.

“Make sure you’re on YouTube,” Dr. Villa says. “If you’re not on YouTube, showing people what you do, giving people information and building your following – be it as a personal trainer or a gym – then you’re totally missing this generation.”

She suggests that if a gym or health club has a particularly charismatic trainer, she or he needs to get on YouTube in order to build that authenticity and to build that following with Gen Z.

It will be crucial for health clubs to pay attention to both generations’ changing needs as they age. Clubs will have to figure out how to provide enough features for both generations, without alienating either one – a tricky balancing act.

Learn more about Gen Z in our national research study white paper.

Do have a generational challenge with sales, marketing, strategy, or employment that you want solved? Contact us. Our talent is driving measurable results across generations. Email us here if you’d like a little info on our customized generational speaking, research, and consulting. 

Interested in more cool stats, facts, and insights for bridging generations? Follow us on @GenHQ and @JasonDorsey. We are passionate about sharing our latest generational discoveries.

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