More Americans are becoming overweight or obese, according to the Anytime Fitness Weight of the Union report, which tracked the habits of the franchise’s 1.3 million members and was released in January.
But addressing the country's growing obesity problem could generate business for specialty fitness retailers, especially in the coming days, since Anytime Fitness said March is the busiest month for health clubs. SNEWS brings you results of the second annual Weight of the Union report.
Mark Daly, national media director for Anytime Fitness, said many Anytime Fitness members also own a piece of home equipment. The International Health, Racquet and Sportsclub Association reported that's also true for members of other gyms.
Weight of the Union
In the United States, two out of three people are overweight, and one out of three is obese. Those statistics represent an increase from last year, Daly said, and it’s becoming a problem to which one of the simplest solutions is more exercise.
Anytime Fitness found more of its members tackling their weight with fitness, and at all hours of the night and day. Among its members, approximately 1.2 million late night workouts, those between midnight and 3 a.m., were logged in 2011, up from 900,223 in 2010. Because of the club’s easy key-accessible clubs (all of which are accessible to any member), people are afforded more flexibility.
“People are taking any sort of job they can get regardless of what the hours are,” Daly said. “More people are getting off at midnight and going to workout afterward.”
Plus, Anytime Fitness members earned $4 million in insurance reimbursements (up from $1 million in 2010), lost a collective 200,000 pounds, visited clubs 1 million times more than they did in 2010, and logged a total of 52 million workouts in 2011.
While the number of members (48 percent of whom are women, 52 percent men) and their workouts are up for Anytime Fitness, so is the number of people in general who suffer from obesity or who are overweight. The obesity rate has grown 4 percent between 1999 and 2011, Anytime Fitness reported.
Daly said specialty fitness retailers can use the Weight of the Union information to educate their customers on the growing problem of obesity and excess weight, which will in turn help them sell more equipment.
Tax time cash-in
According to the Anytime Fitness report, March 28 was the most popular day to work out, in the busiest month of the year for the club.
"By the time March rolls in, people who have really made that full commitment to their January resolutions are in full swing," Rebecca DeRossett, psychologist and co-author of "Working Out Sucks,"said in a news release. "March is also the time that people start shedding those winter clothes and look forward to getting ready for swimsuit season."
March is a good month for fitness retailers, said Bryan Dorkson, co-owner of At Home Fitness. He said that could be due to a number of reasons, including that his stores are located in Arizona and the seasons are not too dramatic there. However, he added, it could have something to do with tax time.
“People are getting money back and we tend to notice in March that we’re seeing our sales jump a little bit,” Dorksen said.
And perhaps the two figures are related as many gym members own home equipment as well.
“People who belong to fitness clubs obviously are quite health conscious and they get to the clubs however often that they can,” Daly said. “But gym members typically have one cardio machine at home.”
There are a few things that seem to make Anytime Fitness successful. First is its 24-hour keycard entry policy, making it easy for members to come and go at any hour, and its AnytimeHealth.com online fitness and health tracker.
Nobody wants to put in the effort without seeing measurable results. And while there are numerous apps that can be downloaded on your customers’ phones that measure progress, there are a few options out there for fitness retailers to look into such as FitBit Ultra, Bodybugg or the Suunto Quest.
Research will be needed to see which products best fit your customer base and even then you might still be leery. While Dorkson carries heart rate monitors, he hasn’t made a commitment to carry items that track health like FitBit Ultra. Daly said though he doesn’t have the numbers, he knows many Anytime Fitness members use such tracking devices in addition to accessing AnytimeHealth.com.
“In order to achieve your goals you need to record your progress and take small steps,” Daly said. “Activity trackers are very, very popular.”