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Return to wellness checklist

What Do Consumers Want as They Return to Fitness? Here’s What Our Research Says

By Margo Badzioch

January 4, 2022

With the world finding its footing again, consumers are getting back on track with their health and wellness routines, too. In fact, we’re seeing booking trends approaching pre-pandemic levels across the United States and other regions across the world. Customers' wants and needs have changed, though, and now’s the time to listen.

As part of Mindbody’s upcoming 2022 Wellness Index Survey, we asked consumers what they’re looking for as they get back to (or start going to) a studio or gym. Here's what they’re saying.

Lower costs: 37%

Of the participants surveyed, over a third said that reduced costs would be an enticing factor in returning to a studio or gym. Cost-conscious consumers aren’t new, but as you look to rebuild your business and attract new customers, it’s a great time to find creative ways to incentivize your customers (or make sure you're promoting these incentives widely). Whether it’s offering add-ons at a reduced rate or building out a loyalty or rewards program, finding ways to create more value from your offering is important.

A free trial: 23%

Having a “try before you buy "option alleviates any worry for those considering your studio or gym. Twenty-three percent of participants said this would influence their decision to visit a gym or studio. While we aren’t always a fan of offering your services for free, you can get creative in providing lower cost ways for consumers to experience your services. Having a strong intro offer is key. Or offer something like a “free movement assessment” with an initial purchase.

Working out with friends or people I know: 22%

Much of the globe spent over a year isolated away from their family and friends. Understandably, customers are itching to spend time with each other again. Take advantage of this opportunity to leverage the community aspect of your business. Host events, start an accountability challenge, or create a promotion that encourages customers to invite loved ones. If you haven’t already, develop and promote a referral program that entices customers to spread the word about your business. Over 20% of consumers say they're influenced by recommendations from friends and family when trying out a new group fitness class—and clients who work out together are more likely to stick around long term.

Check out this blog post to see what fitness businesses are doing (challenges, included) to welcome their clients back.

Beginner routines/classes: 17%

You have potential customers who are considering joining a studio or gym for the first time. This experience can be intimidating. Welcome a variety of experience levels, specifically beginners, to bring new people in the door. Don't forget, too, that even for more experienced individuals, they may have been out of their normal fitness routine during the pandemic.

Make it easier for customers to ease into things with tailored offerings—like a series of beginner workshops or classes—that go back to basics. Keep in mind that 17% of respondents also said they prefer more intimate settings with more attention and fewer people, so smaller groups may be preferred.

Working out with more people like me: 13%

Consumers surveyed also said they prefer to work out with people who they have things in common with. Consider offering classes specifically catered to various demographics, including age, experience level (as discussed previously), or specific (pre and postnatal fitness, for example). This guide outlines ways to serve diverse audiences at your fitness business.

These days, your customers are evolving as much as you are. Now that you’re empowered with what’s most important to them, use that insight to create the best experience possible.

Mindbody. “Summer 2021 US Consumer Survey.” July 2021.

To see how Mindbody can help, connect with us today.

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About the author:

Margo Badzioch

Margo Badzioch

Market Research Lead

Margo is as passionate about data as she is about wellness. She has an extensive background in quantitative consumer and business research across multiple industries and loves to translate data into stories. She has a healthy obsession with wellness and has multiple certifications, including intimate life coaching, health coaching, and culinary nutrition. Naturally, her path led her to Mindbody where she is conducting wellness research.

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