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Gym goers prefer no frills - survey

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

New research shows that tough economic times and the 24/7 business cycle are impacting the fitness industry.

Today's gym goers are opting for low frills operators, trading away high end service in favour of convenience, price and flexible contracts.

The independent Canstar Blue survey found there is now a place in the market for a different model of fitness club.

Top class equipment and facilities are important no matter where you work out, says Derek Bonnar, Canstar New Zealand National Manager, but gym goers are most satisfied with new low frills operator, Jetts.

"Not everybody wants the high end, high cost, full service gym experience. The survey shows there is a distinct preference for 'fitness on my terms', whether that's measured by value for money, 24 hour access or flexible contracts. Our New Zealand gym survey respondents gave Jetts a five star rating for overall satisfaction, outranking other nationwide chains*, just as they did in Australia**.

"Most kiwis are responding to the uncertain economy by being cautious about taking on debt, trying to save, and by trimming their expenses. At the same time, our expectations of service are expanding. People want to be able to go to the supermarket at midnight and to fill their car with petrol at 2am. These important trends are influencing the services that gyms offer and when and where people access fitness services," says Bonnar.

Bodies Beautiful, the Meat Market Myth and the Generation Gap

While today's gym goer is motivated to get fit, they're not buying into the body beautiful ideal or the meat market myth.

"Our respondents told us that going to the gym is a serious business, with 70% saying they felt guilty if they missed a workout. They're not there to socialise, or to meet someone. More than half work out on their own," says Bonnar.

Just six per cent of respondents confessed to dating someone they had met at the gym. By region Aucklanders (10%), were far more likely to risk a chat up line over the bar bells than Wellingtonians (3%), and across the generations Gen Ys (9%), were four times more likely than Baby Boomers (2%) to approach a potential love interest at the gym.

Most gym goers appear to be comfortable in their own skins, with almost three quarters saying they weren't intimidated by all the toned bodies. Baby boomers have the most relaxed approach and are far less likely to worry about missing a session, or be intimidated by the fit and the fab.

In stark contrast, says Bonnar, Gen Ys are most likely to be striving for the abdominal six pack.

"Gen Ys are most intimidated by the toned bodies at the gym. Perhaps that's why they feel the most guilty - of all respondents - about missing a workout."

The Business Side of Things

Gym operators are striking the right balance between running a business and looking after their clients, says Bonnar.

"We all know that gyms depend on a constant stream of new members, but that's not impacting on the customer experience of those surveyed.

"Nearly two thirds felt that the gym had their best interests at heart, and were more interested in making sure they achieved their fitness goals than making money."

That said, gym goers aren't na�ve; nearly 80% of respondents say they read the terms and conditions before signing up, says Bonnar.

"It's pleasing to see that the fine print is being reviewed. Gym contracts are legally binding and anyone intending to join a gym should do their homework before signing up."

About the survey

Canstar Blue commissions Colmar Brunton Australia to survey 2,500 New Zealand consumers each month to measure their satisfaction across a range of products and services.

The outcomes reported here are the results from a survey of consumers who purchased a gym membership within the last 12 months, within the survey group - in this case, 430 people.

Canstar Blue is a division of financial research and ratings company, CANSTAR which has been operating in New Zealand for nearly a decade. Canstar Blue provides New Zealanders with the latest customer satisfaction ratings on products and services free of charge via the website

*To view the full results of the Canstar Blue survey go to:

** Canstar Blue Australia gym goers survey, released to media 2 February 2012

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