- Predictions for 2021, as things are currently headed
- Large group training will continue to struggle
- Franchises will not see much, if any, growth
- Low engagement services are going to suffer
- Small group and semi-private will grow
- One-on-one training should grow
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Hey, Pat Rigsby here, and in this two part episode series, I’m going to talk with you about what my predictions are for 2021. Now I’ve done long form posts and different pieces of content detailing predictions for really almost 15 years now. And honestly, I think the track record is pretty, pretty solid on seeing where the industry’s headed, but obviously we’re also in some unprecedented times and different circumstances than we faced before. But if you want my insight on what you can do and where you need to be going to succeed in the upcoming year and beyond stay tuned.
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All right, I’ve got predictions for 2021. Now my, my kind of thin disclaimer here is obviously I have no insight as to whether or not things like vaccines are gonna have, have a big impact or how the medical world will continue to deal with the Coronavirus or anything like that. I’m basing these on what I see from a consumer behavior standpoint and the opportunities that that presents. So I’ve got two different episodes because I’ve got a number of things that I want to dive into to hear that I see his predictions that will allow you to be successful moving forward. Now I’m going to kick off with a couple of the ones that may not be as optimistic. Then I’ll get to the ones that are probably a little bit more upbeat and where you want to focus your attention, at least in my opinion, moving forward.
So the first thing that I would tell you is I do not expect large group personal training, too bounce all the way back in 2021, not even by the end of 2021. I think the people are still going to be a little bit more conservative about the way they approach it. Even when the guidelines are relaxed and people have the autonomy to yeah. To serve as many people as they want in a particular space. Now, does that mean that the best businesses, the most successful businesses won’t be able to have their groups in place in a way that is lucrative for them? Not at all. I think that just as a whole, we’re going to see the group training numbers tick down. We’ve seen a huge uptake in the number of group training businesses available. We’ve seen not only, you know, independently owned businesses, but you know, the, the growth of all the franchise businesses, like Orange Theory, F45, Burn boot camp, all those guys, plus the specialized locations that in our like Club Pilates or Cycle Bar, those sorts of things. And, you know, there’s just such a density, the group training businesses. I don’t see any way that many group training businesses are going to be able to successfully bring in clients and retain them consistently, as we saw maybe in the latter half of 2019. So if you were a group training focus business, you’re going to have to find a way to differentiate yourself, find a way to be better, or maybe make a subtle pivot into some of the other opportunities we’re going to talk about moving forward now, kind of along those same lines, I don’t think it’s going to be 2021 is going to be a banner year for franchise businesses. I think that, you know, there was this massive franchise growth in 2018, 2019. And you know, it, if I’m a franchise business, I have so many restrictions, so many limitations when it comes to the, the way that I can navigate and how agile I can be, because there’s this kind of franchise wide governing kind of framework that you have to stay within. You’re legally obligated to do it. Yeah. And I’ve seen it really happen. A lot of the franchisees that I’ve been in contact and who’ve been involved in any of the programs that we’ve done. So I think that the franchise landscape is probably going to take a real hit in 2021.
So I, you know, I don’t expect nearly as much franchise growth because if I were a potential franchisee, I’d be kind of leery right now until the market does have some sense of bounce back. And then also let’s face it most franchise based businesses in the fitness industry, at least in the training side of the industry are about a process it’s about a program. It’s not particularly client centric. And, you know, even if you, we’ve got a great franchisee who has a client centric mindset, you know, they’re, they’re throttled on what they can do. And in this type of environment, I think you need to be agile. You need to be a very client centric business. So I expect the franchise models to struggle a little bit in the upcoming year.
The last thing that I want to talk about when it comes to kind of a, that the side of the industry that I expect to struggle a bit is I, I think that a lot of the health clubs are going to really have some challenges as well, because is you know, it’s, it’s not a high engagement atmosphere. There’s not as much control, you know, creating the type of environment where somebody feels safe and where somebody is also going to get results. I don’t think that’s most health clubs, forte. I think that, you know, sure there’s going to be the kind of needle in the haystack type of glove. That’s going to be great at it. But you know, this is probably one of the tougher environments, a health club model has faced since I’ve been in the fitness industry. So I don’t expect health clubs to do so well in 2021 either.
So those are some predictions that maybe aren’t on the optimistic side. So let me start to dive into a few of the ones that I think are things that you can lean towards. Some things that you can move in the direction of. And then, you know, we’ll also cover the rest of those in the second episode.
So the first thing that I would tell you as well, the group training, large group training model may or may not thrive, I think small group and semi-private is gonna see a, you know, a massive uptick. So, you know, groups of four, six semi-private groups, two, three, I think that type of model where it’s going to be more controlled, more client centric, more personalized. I think those types of businesses are going to see see some serious growth. I think that businesses for the last handful of years have tried to figure out, Hey, how many people can we fit in a room and still deliver a result and a pretty solid experience? Well, you know, over the last several months, people have started to expect fewer people in each setting that they’re in. I don’t care if they’re in a restaurant or a theme park or whatever else, you know, spacing has become a little bit more than norm, you know, packing as many people into a, a room as possible is not.
So, you know, we’re going to see more of the small group and semi-private business models kind of grow and succeed. And, you know, a lot of people in our industry have always kind of figured that, Hey, I need to be the cheapest option. And I think that that’s the wrong way to view this. I think that that’s not the lead determining factor for so many people in the market right now. I think they want what they want. They want to go somewhere where they’re going to feel safe, where they’re going to feel cared for where they’re going to feel like the business does things right. And if that means that they pay a little bit more to have that type of experience, I think many consumers are going to be fine with that. And in fact, I also think that, you know, there’s so much media out there suggesting that obesity is a big problem when it comes to susceptibility of severe reaction to COVID. I think that just people staying healthy in general, you know, there’s daily awareness being brought to that. So, you know, we’re going to see more people have a heightened sense of awareness when it comes to, to health, wellness, fitness than probably we’ve ever seen. And, you know, they’re not all going to look for the cheapest option available to them. And I think so a couple of the big winners in that market are going to be small group training and semi-private training.
Now, the next prediction I’d have kind of falls along those same lines, but I think we’re going to see a massive resurgence of one-on-one training. I think that one-on-one training was obviously the lifeblood of the fitness industry at the point that I came into the commercial side of the fitness industry and left like a university setting, almost everybody trained one-on-one and, you know, obviously group training really kind of grew and one-on-one maybe regressed as far as market share, but now we’re seeing, one-on-one make it come back because I think people like that, that kind of individual experience. I mean, they like the privacy of it, the perceived safety of it. But I also think that we’re going to see a lot of people kind of dive back into being excited about in-home training people, you know, delivering things that our house, I mean, we’ve seen so much of a push for delivery, right? I mean, DoorDash and Amazon, it’s kind of been a bigger part than ever of people’s life. Convenience is really had a spotlight shine on it and delivering your workout to your door. You know, if somebody wants an in person experience and doesn’t gravitate to online, then I think in home, training’s going to see a big uptake as well. So if you’re looking for opportunities, the first couple that I think we want to focus on, are that small group or semi-private, or one-on-one training, whether it’s in your facility or in home, I don’t necessarily know that one on one training and big box health club is I’m going to see this same type of growth. It that the other one on one format do that it’s probably going to be more viable than just group X, where it’s kind of a revolving door and, you know, the, the odds of people cleaning things and taking care of things and the clients being the focal point really go down.
So there are a handful of predictions to get us started. I’m going to be back in the next episode, and I’ve got four or five more that I want walk through with you to make sure that you have kind of your focus in the right place. And if you’re going to make any changes in your business, you have this information and these, these thoughts or insights to help maybe spurn you on in the direction that you want to go. So look forward to that next episode and I’ll see you there.
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