Written by James Charles.
Inspired by our UK team’s visit to the 2018 Quest NBS and CIMSPA Conference; this blog post explores the current picture of physical activity participation in the UK and USA, why it is so important for your members to get moving and the role you and your club can play in this.
The start of the Quest NBS and CIMSPA Conference 2018 (held in Kenilworth, Warwickshire, UK last week – Tuesday 20th and Wednesday 21st February 2018) was a very sobering one. The second presentation of the first day of the event, delivered by the charismatic and engaging Nigel Smith, Health and Wellbeing Programme Manager at Public Health England, showed the multiple ways we are inevitably all going to die thanks to the modern world and the fact that we don’t move enough within it!
Thankfully, as someone working in Health and Fitness (assuming you practice what you preach) you’ll probably be alright, at least better off than the 31% of the world’s population aged 15 or over who are ‘insufficiently active’[i]. But what about your members who fall into that category, how do you bring them on that journey to a healthier, happier, longer life with you? The opportunity to do this, and to make a real difference (and I am talking making someone happier, reducing the pain they feel every time they climb the stairs, giving them the ability to run around the park and make memories with their kids, and, ultimately, extend the length of their life), is something you are in a position to take action on.
Where Are We Now?
Let’s look at the facts, what does the current physical activity landscape look like and why is it important to encourage your members to move more?
(To give an international context, as we have a transatlantic audience, figures from U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health England and the World Health Organisation are included in this piece)
As computers, cars and office jobs have become more and more commonplace over the past 60 years, the UK has seen activity reduce by 20%, with 20% of men and 25% of women classed as physically inactive, in a trend that is set to continue at an even greater rate to the end of the next decade[ii]. In the US, 34% of adults are now obese, more than twice the proportion of the population categorised as such in 1970[iii], costing those individuals an extra $4,879 per year if they are female and $2,646 per year if they are male[iv]. 27.5% of the population of the USA aged six or over are physically inactive[v].
The Benefits of Physical Activity
Public Health England are passionate that physical activity should not just be seen as a solution to obesity, with a whole host of ailments, diseases and disabilities associated with a sedentary lifestyle.
Image Taken from Public Health England/GOV.UK
Here we see not just the physical benefits of an active lifestyle, but also the mental benefits – another point to note in your communications to members: Who doesn’t want to feel happier, less stressed and get better quality sleep!?[vi]
What Can You Do?
With a captive audience of individuals who have already shown at least some form of interest in health, fitness and physical activity there is loads you can do to play a role in helping your members live happier, healthier, longer lives by being more active!
1. Educate your members! Public Health England, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and organisations such as ukactive are working hard to create tools and resources for consumers to help them understand the importance of physical activity in their lives and how they can incorporate it in a way which suits them. Take a look at these resources and think about whether they would be beneficial to your members:
- NHS Choices (UK) – https://www.nhs.uk/livewell/fitness/Pages/Fitnesshome.aspx
- One You (UK) – https://www.nhs.uk/oneyou/moving#qKUvtGYMUPLYQfL2.97
- Active10 (UK) – https://www.nhs.uk/oneyou/active10/home#q3y63My17XQF7qM3.97
- Change4Life (UK) [Aimed at Families with Children] – https://www.nhs.uk/change4life#P0ALfSdve4IrKILX.97
- healthfinder.gov (USA) – https://healthfinder.gov/HealthTopics/Category/nutrition-and-physical-activity/physical-activity
2. With just 34% of men and 24% of women reporting taking part in mobility-promoting[vii] ‘muscle-strengthening activity’ the World Health Organisation’s recommended twice a week[viii], what can you do to encourage your members to pick up a dumbbell? Educate them about the importance of this type of exercise and facilitate regular participation adapted for different levels of strength, fitness and experience. With 58% of members citing the social side of visiting their club as a factor which highly motivates them[ix] and those who make a friend 40% less likely to cancel[x], could weights-focused class programming be an effective strategy?
3. Use the Dor, Ferguson, Langwith and Tan findings on the financial implications of being overweight or obese to put the price tag of membership into perspective. As a reminder, the annual cost of being overweight in the USA is $432 for men and $524 for women[xi]. The average cost of being obese is $2,646 per year for men and $4,879 per year for women[xii] – the return on investment of a gym membership starts to look pretty impressive indeed when you compare it to some of these figures!
4. Update or create exercise plans. Our research shows, for each factor a member reports making progress on, the risk of cancelling during the following 7 months reduces by 10%[xiii]. Use your knowledge to make sure they are doing the right things, at the right frequency so that they will see an impact and keep going.
5. Encourage and incentivise visits, particularly in the early days of new memberships. 30% of members fail to visit their club in each of the first 3 months of membership and, compared to not making a visit in a given month, making at least one visit reduces the risk of cancellation in the next month by 20%[xiv]. Keep your new members in the game by ensuring they make it into your facility on a regular basis to get in those World Health Organisation recommended 75 minutes of vigorous or 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise per week[xv] from word go!
6. Support more women into physical activity with Sport England’s This Girl Can: https://www.sportengland.org/our-work/women/this-girl-can/this-girl-can-activation/
7. Make sure your facility is physical activity friendly![xvi] Do you have bike racks, so members can easily secure their bikes when cycling to the gym? How about a sign on the lift/elevator that says ‘If you can, please take the stairs – it is part of your workout!’ – you can quote Public Health England, who say that “2 minutes of stair-climbing each day could burn enough calories to eliminate the weight an average adult gains each year.”[xvii] These are just a couple of examples.
Understand Exactly What Your Members Want From Your Club.
Utilise actionable member feedback system Insight’s ‘additional questions’ to gain a deeper understanding of your customers’ goals, challenges and motivations so that you can help them achieve success.
[ix] TRP 10,000 ‘What Motivates Your Members and Does Their Perceived Progress Affect Retention?’ July 2014 (https://trpcem.com/research/what-motivates-your-members-and-does-their-perceived-progress-affect-retention-whitepaper/)
[x] TRP 10,000 ‘What Motivates Your Members and Does Their Perceived Progress Affect Retention?’ July 2014 (https://trpcem.com/research/what-motivates-your-members-and-does-their-perceived-progress-affect-retention-whitepaper/)
[xiii] TRP 10,000 ‘What Motivates Your Members and Does Their Perceived Progress Affect Retention?’ July 2014 (https://trpcem.com/research/what-motivates-your-members-and-does-their-perceived-progress-affect-retention-whitepaper/)
[xiv] TRP 10,000 ‘The Effect of Average Visit Frequency on Income from Membership’ October 2015 (https://trpcem.com/research/the-effect-of-average-visit-frequency-on-income-from-membership-whitepaper/)