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Sport & Fitness

Fitness segmentation is proving highly succesful, with gyms for women, 'regular guys' and kids popping up faster than you can say bench-press.

Our sister-publication trendwatching.com coined MASTERS OF THE YOUNIVERSE, an extreme-individuality trend that goes a long way in explaining the ever greater focus on targeted services that are all about a certain preference, demographic or personal lifestyle. The world of fitness until recently seemed to ignore this trend by offering broad services to literally everyone, but the nichefication of gyms is now in full swing, with the US leading the pack: witness the success of Curves, the chain of gyms geared to women that boasts 4 million members and 8,000 locations worldwide. Curves Clubs can be found in the United States, Canada, Europe, South America, The Caribbean, Mexico, Australia, and New Zealand. And yes, if gyms for women-only can build a multi-million business in only a few years, so can gyms aimed exclusively at men. Think fitness programs for the average guy (up to 80% of the US male population doesn’t work out on a regular basis, and that number won’t be much different for Europe or Asia-Pacific). No wonder then that Cuts Fitness for Men, is now making waves, competing in popularity with the other new kid on the block, The Blitz. Cuts offers a 30-minute cardiovascular and strength training workout exclusively for men. The workout promotes weight loss, enhances lean muscle tissue and reduces body fat through the use of specialized hydraulic equipment. Participants spend just 30 minutes per workout session, making their way through a 16-station resistance circuit. Cuts members pay USD 39 (EUR 31 / GBP21) per month, based on annual membership. The formula has proven so popular that Cuts has seen the number of franchises grow from scratch to about 160 in only 1.5 year’s time, with another 500(!) in the pipeline for this year. The concept is now moving abroad with locations in Central America and Ireland. The latter should see 35 Cuts Fitness For Men franchise locations over the next two years. The Blitz was founded in January 2002: the company currently has franchises in 19 states in the USA, 4 states in Canada and other international franchises in Puerto Rico, Guatemala, Bahrein, and Taiwan. The setup is similar to that of Cuts. And to go full circle, a Cuts Fitness for Women has just been announced, headquartered in South Beach, Florida. Expect this blitz for curves and cuts to continue for quite a while. And what about fitness and kids? There too, things are booming: clubs belonging to the International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association (IHRSA) reported 4.5 million members under the age of 18 in 2002, a 25 percent increase over the 3.6 million in 1998 (source: AP). So ample room for opening up kids-only gyms, like US based Fitwize4kids is doing. With two gyms in California, sporting kid-friendly opening hours and specialty equipment from Hoist, Fitwize4kids charges its young members USD 50 (EUR 39 / GBP 28) a month, while families can join for USD 75 for two children and USD 100 for three. Kids run through the equipment for a 45-minute workout; a supervisor equipped with a stopwatch calls out when it’s time to switch machines.Want more ammunition before jumping on this bandwagon? Fitwize4kids reports that one third of all US teenagers are inactive, that only 32% of kids aged 6-17 meet minimum standards for cardiovascular fitness, flexibility, muscular strength, and endurance, that 40% of 1st graders have at least one coronary disease (CAD) risk factor and that 30% of all school-aged children are at risk for CAD and premature death as adults.

Opportunities

Marketers and entrepreneurs, repeat after us: anything targeted is more valuable than mass. Add a dose of health, beauty and lifestyle (which will remain trends forever), and any person interested in new business ideas can see the global appeal of concepts like Curves, Cuts, Blitz and Fitwize4kids. And while these companies are setting the standards for the ‘new’ gym as we speak, there remains a whole world (literally) of opportunity for me-toos and franchisers. Or, if you’re really in a value innovation mood, why not set up gyms for that other segment du jour: baby boomers?

Website: www.curvesinternational.com, www.cutsfitness.com/, www.timetoblitz.com/

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