Fitness – “The Insight from Indian Customer”
A comparative study of the attitude towards Fitness and Fitness Club Services “Pre COVID vs After Relaxed Lockdown”
By Devashish Singh
Delhi NCR:- The pandemic has jolted the world. But, against all the odds – the human being is an agile expert in adaptation and improvisation to survive. It is well known that It takes 17 days to make a habit, and less than 7 days to break a habit. With the hard lockdown of 60 days, many businesses were at a standstill, and some have had to adapt to a new way of operating for a changed consumer behavior and consumer expectation. Every business when they open, will have to go through the litmus test of doing the same business in a new way.
Consumer behavior has changed. Why? Digital savviness and ease of use of OTT platforms has increased, everyone has become Google happy (search any and every topic) and look at YouTube, Insta and Facebook for their areas of interest, and not just socializing. Everyone from a doctor, physio, personal trainer, chef etc. etc. if on the various platform giving their version of quick fix solution. There is a lot of progression in isolation. Consumer now has more knowledge of what they earlier were atmospheric about, they have consumed a lot more of information on most of their areas of interest, and also developed new interest.
Like every other business, the Fitness Business is driven by the users (members). In the current scenario of hard lock down, a hyper awareness and need for physical distancing, it is very important to understand what the users (members) feel about exercise, exercise at the gym they visited (before COVID19) and what they expect from the gyms post lock down. What should the gym operator do to be ready to service the same member post COVID19 and also to attract new users (members)?
To be able to get an insight in the consumer behavior, expectation of a gym user (member) and get answer to the above question, we have endeavored to conduct a survey to ask gym going users (members) a few questions, that will provide us an insight of what they now feel about the facility & services they used at their gyms before Cov19 and what they expect from their clubs, once the lock down is lifted.
A total of 1037 gym users (members) participated in the survey. 83% of these participants have had a regular exercise history exceeding 4 months. The users (members) are primarily spread across Delhi NCR, Mumbai, Bengaluru, Kolkata, Ahmedabad, Hyderabad, Chennai and a few from other cities in India.
Through a series of questions, response data was gathered from participants to gain insight on the various activities they participate while using a fitness facility. The questions were designed to understand – exercise history, access pattern, the impact of pandemic on members to exercise and use club services, their likelihood to use online support, exercise at home, buying exercise equipment for home, and their likely hood to continue to use the same fitness facility etc. For comparative questions Likert scale (1-10) “1 – highly unlikely and 10 – highly likely”, was used to understand user (members) behavior and for other questions – YES, NO and MAYBE options were used”
A total of 711 (69%) Male and 326 (31%) Female users participated in the survey. Maximum particiaption (46.2%) was from the age group between 25 years – 34 years.
Exercise and Access History:
The Exercise and access history among the users (members) was high. 74% of the Males and 70% of the Females have been exercising over 8 months. 69% of the users (members) exercise for more than 19 days in a month.
Some of the survey results are as follows:
- Users (members) perspective towards exercising in club has changed.
- Enthusiasm to exercise in the club After Relaxed Lockdown is high, however 34% may not continue to exercise in the same club.
Social Distancing (Physical Distancing):
There is 49% change in users (members) perspective towards social distancing.
With the highest average of 9.1, most users (members) are highly likely to be vigilant about social distancing in club. The age group of 45 years – 54 years has highest change (81%) in vigilance factor.
Group Exercise (GX):
There is a negative trend in the comfort in participation in GX classes (by -28%). 25% of the respondents have rated “1-Highly Unlikely” but only 12% of the respondents have rated “10 – Highly Likely” to continue using GX classes.
Personal Training (PT):
PT is the least affected segment, though a negative trend in the comfort in participation in PT (by -10%).
Users (members) with the access history between 1-5 days show the highest decline (by -21%). 35% of the Female respondents in the 35 years – 44 years age group have rated “10 – Highly Likely”, to comfort in participation in PT Services.
Free Weight Area:
Comfort to use the free weight area and strength area has a negative trend in participation (-12%). Female users (members) show the highest decline (by -17%). Only 4.2% of the surveyed users (members) have rated “1 – Highly Unlikely” to use free weight area.
Changing Area and Shower Facility:
Comfort level to use changing area and shower facility has seen a major negative trend (by -27%). Users (members) with exercising history between 4-8 months and member with access of 1-5 days in a month showed a -32% and -43% decline in the comfort to use the changing area and shower facility respectively.
Second highest change of comfort is observed in the use of lounge area. Irrespective of the exercise history of the user (members), there is a major drop in the comfort to use the Members Lounge (by -31%). 17% of the male participants have rated “1 – Highly Unlikely” to use Members Lounge.
Exercising at Home:
There is a positive trend in the use of exercise from home (or WFH) by 22%. Female users (members) and the age group 45 years – 54 years how a 29% and 48% positive change towards the likelihood to continue exercising at home after relaxed lockdown norms are enforced and fitness facilities are allowed to open.
The survey report clearly suggests that the clubs will have to restart their operations with a new strategy as the customer expectation, due to the forced behavior change under lockdown, has evolved. With the possibility of up to 34% of the users (members) Pre COVID leaving the existing fitness facility (cancel their membership or seek an alternate fitness offering like – online training or PT at home), it can be critical for the operator. However, the migration of these 34% will also be a great opportunity for any health club or online training or PT at home etc. It will be equally a critical mission to retain the remaining users (members), via confidence building measures of safety and acceptability of facility and services offered. Consumer now has more knowledge of what they earlier were atmospheric about, with the spike in the level of awareness about health and immunity – It is anticipated that there will be a tremendous increase in the first-time users (online users/join a health club / both). However, the need to attract new users to the new fitness facility offering and operational reality will also be a critical and steep learning curve. These two factors will decide the fortune – sustainability and future of the fitness facility. The approach to reopen must be personalized for every section of users. It will be important for the fitness facility to make visible the changes made in the facility to gain user confidence. The online support of exercise guidance to the user (members) will become an integral part of the New Normal, and the offering by the fitness facility.
About the Author
Devashish Singh is a Fitness Business Consultant. As an expert with over 12 Years of experience in the Fitness Industry, his professional expertise alligns with Business Consulting, Planning Innovative Solutions and Crisis Management.
Shwetank Bansal (Business Consultant and Operations Analyst)
Anirudh Sharma (Business Finance Partner – Performance and Analytics)
Jose Paul (Project Specialist)