The lifestyle center is a way to get around inactive people’s strong immunity to health clubs’ traditional features-and-benefits approach to marketing.

When it comes to fitness, there are two types of people — Those Who Do and Those Who Don’t. The Those Who Do are the minority. These are the folks who join health clubs because they want to be in shape. They’re willing to put in the time and the energy to “condition” their bodies. They’ll take classes. They’ll use the equipment and periodically adjust their frequency, intensity and duration to further challenge themselves. If it’s fun, great. If it isn’t, they’ll watch TV or read a magazine to help pass the time. Either way, they have the discipline and the commitment to “do” fitness.

The Those Who Do , on the other hand, represent the majority of Americans. They don’t have the desire to engage in the “process of fitness.” They’re not interested in spending time in a room filled with exercise equipment — they don’t consider themselves athletes, and they won’t join a club where they’re surrounded by people who are. Whereas the Those Who Do exercise to achieve a specific physiological result, the Those Who Don’t choose to be active simply because it gives them pleasure.

Although much has been written and spoken about attracting the inactive, the majority of health clubs simply don’t appeal to this market.

Failing to convert the unconverted
Over the past few decades, the health and fitness industry has evolved based on the needs and wants of the Those Who Do. Clubs have become bigger and better, filled with only the latest and greatest equipment. Fitness instructors and personal trainers have increased their knowledge and skill in the areas of exercise testing, program design and instruction. And, the latest generation of exercise clothing now wicks, cushions, supports and stabilizes better than ever.

Although these advances have presumably enhanced the growth of the fitness industry, they’ve hindered efforts to attract the inactive market. Health clubs have traditionally taken a features/benefits approach to advertising and sales, striving to convince prospects that the club will help them achieve their fitness goals. An active, club-oriented individual might be positively influenced by the latest technology in exercise equipment. The inactive person usually isn’t. To the committed fitness enthusiast, certified personal trainers may be perceived as a benefit. To the uninitiated, however, the concept of a personal trainer is intimidating. The point is that clubs that proudly promote a “state of the art” message have difficulty attracting the inactive market. A business strategy based on the objective of converting the Those Who Don’t into Those Who Do is flawed and destined to fail.

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