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5 Cool Ways Health Clubs are Shrinking Seniors’ Waistlines

Posted Jul 23 2012 9:00am

Guest post by David Roddenberry.  
David Roddenberry is co-founder of HealthyWage, ( ),
the only company that pays Americans cash to lose weight while offering
and expert-based support, tools and resources, and goal-setting and tracking
technologies to address our nation’s obesity epidemic and improve America’s collective health.

Health club memberships in the U.S. have leveled out over the last 20-years while the obesity epidemic has ballooned. Many health clubs are adopting unconventional programs to bolster their older membership base and better motivate the senior marketplace to get fit, trim and healthy.
“Amid the growing rate of obesity in the U.S. and the aging population of boomers, health clubs are continually challenged to drive new memberships and inspire current members to visit their facilities for workouts with some regularity to get, and keep, them on a healthy track,” notes Kelli Calabrese, international fitness, nutrition and lifestyle specialist twice named “Personal Trainer of the Year.” “I applaud the health club community for integrating new, exciting and innovative ways to attract and engage members to keep their fitness lifestyle fresh, fun and frequent…and even profitable!”
Here are a few cool new programs now underway             1. Whole-Life Training.  Health club facilities are now looking beyond just the exercise component of fostering a healthy lifestyle.  In addition to personal training staff, today’s progressive health clubs are boasting on-site nutritionists and other allied healthcare professionals like physical therapists and even psychologists.  These value added services holistically address all areas of a member’s life that impact their overall well-being, health and happiness. Engaging and assisting members in this comprehensive way maximizes member results, retention and referrals.
2. Kicking Members Out. For outdoor fitness, that is.  Some health clubs are utilizing their external real estate to promote fitness activities al fresco. Club owners are realizing that many people get bored with the indoor offerings—even depressed or deterred—so they are offering running and cycling clubs, parking lot boot camps and spin classes, and more. 

3. Weight Loss Wagering.  Diet contests and weight loss betting programs, like that offered by, are exploding in popularity as both individuals and employee groups from coast to coast “diet for dollars.”   More than 4,500 health clubs nationwide now serve as  “weigh in locations” for contest participants, with many opting to also purchase a club membership as they shed pounds with their eye on the $10,000 team prize. This financial weight loss incentive approach is so effective Fortune 500 companies nationwide have integrated such programs into their corporate wellness initiatives to benefit both employee groups and their own bottom line. 
4. Clubs Go Retro. Nostalgia evokes emotion and emotion drives action. With this in mind throwback 80's fitness classes, in which participants dress in period-inspired spandex and leg warmers and do aerobics to music by Michael Jackson, George Michael, and the like, are bringing the neon headband sporting, leotard-wearing enthusiasts to health clubs in droves.   Originating in hipster 'hoods like LA and NYC, this 80’s fitness craze is sweeping the nation, proving to be a fun, creative and, like, totally awesome way to attract new members – and keep current members coming back for more. 
5. Patriotism Personified. While military discounts are nothing new in the business landscape, full-scale, week-long national programs offering completely free benefits to any and all active, reserve and retired military members, and their families, throughout the U.S. is wonderfully above and beyond the norm. This is exactly what one large national change is doing, for five consecutive years having provided complimentary week-long club access to America’s extensive number of active, inactive and retired military personnel—and dependents—in observance of Veterans Day.  This same sentiment-oriented national health club chain also celebrates “Active Aging Week” by offering free week-long workouts for older adults age 50 or above.

It’s time for fresh approaches, innovative thinking and even risk taking to trim the waistline of America’s seniors. Novel health club programs can tactically and effectively address obesity in new and compelling ways on the front line. (Editor's Note: We do not in any way endorse Healthy Wage but do believe that incentive plans for losing weight can be effective.)

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