Traditional gyms evolving to appeal to millennials

Research finds traditional gyms like 24 Hour Fitness or Snap Fitness are losing their visit share while boutique fitness visits are growing.

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) -- Research finds that traditional gyms like 24 Hour Fitness, 10 Fitness and Snap Fitness are losing their visit share while boutique fitness visits are growing.

Not everyone loves the idea of walking into a big gym filled with sweaty people and rows of treadmills.

Perhaps, the group that likes it the least is millennials. 

A report by Business Insider shows that millennials like to work out, but they're ditching gyms in favor of boutique, class-centric centers.

That means younger people are more likely to visit places that are distinctly spin, yoga, CrossFit and more.

Greg Hartwick co-owns Above and Beyond CrossFit in Little Rock. He sees more millennials interested in their classes than traditional gym programs. He said millennials are moving towards more coaching focused classes and they’re more focused on being fit than big and buff.

“These younger people love the high intensity workout and also the community aspect of smaller, personal classes,” said Hartwick. “I think the community aspect is a big thing everybody talks about with CrossFit.”

He says another factor is that CrossFit works well with the mobile millennial generation. Moving for work to different cities is something millennials are more fond of than other generations.

“A lot of people move here for work and if you move somewhere there is going to be a CrossFit gym. It doesn’t matter where you go across the country there will always be a CrossFit gym.”

He says having a place they can always go to helps with a transitional lifestyle because people can immediately walk into a CrossFit gym and find people with similar interests.

As these smaller boutique settings become more popular, bigger gyms are being forced to evolve. Lee Ann and Burke Jolly work to build community with the Athletic Clubs of Little Rock. They say their clubs have added more small group classes, a CrossFit studio, and smaller spin classes to better compete with the fitness boutiques.

“You have seen this surge in boutique style fitness and these smaller environments and that’s why what we have done here at the Athletic Club, in a place that can feel so big, is create small group training opportunities,” said Lee Ann.

Burke said that he believes gyms can and will stay relevant by becoming a one-stop shop.

“We’re going to be continually moving and changing and adapting to what society is doing, so when you’re coming here you’re not just paying for one thing, you’re paying for everything,” said Burke.

Lee Ann also mentioned that, more than any other generation, millennials rely on technology for feedback in their fitness activity. That's why high-tech fitness tracking is something the Athletic Club and other gyms are also starting to feature to attract millennials.

© 2017 KTHV-TV


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