More gym goers are choosing to work where they work out.
As health clubs look to accommodate the growing number of global employees who work remotely, they’re adding office space to their operations and muscling into markets dominated by the likes of shared workspace darling WeWork.
Worldwide, workers are ditching corporate offices or finding flexible work arrangements. Indeed, the 30% share of employees who work outside the office at least once a month is rising, according to Global Workplace Analytics.
Some of the industry’s largest clubs, such as Equinox, Life Time Fitness, and Wellbridge, are integrating space into existing floor plans or building new areas for members to set up laptops, charge phones, and conduct business, including interviewing and conference calling.
Equinox, which operates in the US, the UK, and Canada, has set aside dedicated space for lounging and working at several of its clubs, focusing first on its popular San Francisco and London locations.
Clubs carving out places for people to work has huge upside potential.
More than 180,000 fitness centers worldwide attract nearly 145 million members and generate about $84 billion in annual revenue, according to the International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association. Countries with the most fitness club memberships include the US, Germany, the UK, and Brazil. According to First Research, the US alone has 30,000 fitness and recreation centers with combined annual revenue of about $27 billion.
Strategically, health-club operators are providing workspaces to give members yet another reason to make the trek to the gym — and keep paying monthly dues.
Because members are lingering longer to work, gyms are logging rising revenue for high-margin discretionary items: sipping on smoothies, indulging in massages, and springing for extra pairs of yoga pants.
Still, working out of a gym is more cost-effective when compared to fees charged by traditional co-working spaces. Interestingly, gyms can also trump quiet coffee shops for remote working, as clubs offer a unique energy and ambient noise that allows for making business calls without being a nuisance to the person next to you penning the next great American novel, or whatever they’re doing over there.
Industry Impact — Fitness centers that provide workspaces for gym goers are more likely to enjoy higher membership retention rates and see an increase in discretionary spending for services and products, such as smoothies, workout wear, and massages.
Tracking the moves of consumer products makers since 2003, Catherine Colbert is an industry researcher, writer, and blogger. Previously, she spent ample time in magazine publishing, technical writing, ad copywriting, medical writing, and marketing. Follow her on Twitter.