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The fitness, leisure and physical activity sector as a whole is beginning to change. In part this is due to the fact that awareness around the health benefits of exercise is growing, but the availability of affordable leisure facilities is having an impact on local communities that would have otherwise remained disengaged from exercise. Yet the continued expansion of budget gym chains are an indicator of a wider trend. Now that the cost of living has increased across the board, customers want more for the little money that they have.
Having strong face to face service skills are the key to ensuring that customers will keep coming back.
Having strong face to face service skills are the key to ensuring that customers will keep coming back. As a holistic approach to exercise becomes the norm, a professional that is in a position to offer bespoke services unique to their client will be in a stronger position in the long term. Of course while it is equally important to have the correct qualifications and demonstrate technical knowledge, it has to be acknowledged that the future of the sector lies beyond the 12% that are already regularly attending the gym.
With the Government investing in both skills and school sports, as well as numerous programmes targeted specifically at families such as the Asda Active campaign, there is a shift towards the importance of an overall lifestyle change over a short term fix.
By learning from large corporations that have taken the time to invest in hospitality, the consumer facing part of the sector can be drastically improved. As more people inevitably take to the gym floor in order to tackle underlying health problems, it is taking the time to understand a customer’s needs that will impact on long term success. Not only can this help develop a steady stream of income for the personal trainer, fitness instructor or gym chain, it can also assure a long term impact on the lifestyle of the client.
Word of mouth continues to be one of the most powerful and influential forms of advertising, one bad word can turn an entire network of people away from your business. So take the time to talk to your customers, be friendly and gradually the walls between those that visit gyms and those that don’t will start to crumble to the mutual benefit of all involved.
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By David Stalker, CEO, ukactive (www.ukactive.com)
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