"I don’t wanna go to the club! It’s boring and there’s nothing for me to do there!" Parents with kids under the age of fifteen have heard that protest countless times when trying to get the family to the gym. Most clubs and facilities have policies that severely limit those under the age of fifteen from using the fitness center, and while most places have a daycare area for toddlers and young children, those who are seven to fourteen are in no-man’s-land. Parents often hear the phrase “ I don’t want to be with the babies”.
And what is it that kids in that age group DO want? According to Hayden, age 10 from Wilmington, Delaware “we just want a place to play and have fun with our friends and get some energy out.” Playing games is every kid’s passion, whether it’s through sports, video games or impromptu running around. The problem is that most clubs don’t have a place for kids to do that; and that’s a serious issue for two reasons –
Kids don’t like going to the gym, making it more difficult for their parents to get the most out of their membership (thus leading to cancellations)
As a result of this disconnect from the club, those kids won’t feel engaged and want to become members themselves once they turn the appropriate age to do so. From very early on they develop a dislike for going to the club and this is catastrophic for your business.
Creating that space and bridging that gap between these kids and the health club can be a lucrative play to one up the competition and increase your profitability. When working with clients, it is my goal to provide them with solutions that give them strategic advantages over their local competitors while at the same time maximizing revenue sources. This is especially true when working with so called "family fitness clubs" who are really missing out on being a true "family provider" since they are not engaging this very profitable demographic.
One of my favorite partners is a group that has been at the forefront of this kids fitness movement, and over the past decade has emerged as a perfect solution for this situation. Designed to engage seven to fourteen year old's in physical activity by merging technology, gaming, and fitness.
There is one clear leader in this industry and that is Exergame Fitness. The technology based fitness company provides facilities like YMCAs, JCC's, schools and health clubs with the latest interactive fitness equipment and turn key room solutions. This concept isn’t exactly new, but it has made vast improvements and is showing great results.
Take a look at this video, I love it.
Exergame has developed an experiential Youth X Room for kids ages 7 – 14. The idea behind the turn-key room package is that it’s a stepping stone area for the kids where they can immerse themselves in interactive fitness which in turn acclimates them to the club environment and develops the healthy routine of coming to the club because they WANT to, not because they have to.
These Exergame rooms are a complete turn-key system that comes with all of the interactive fitness equipment, scoreboards, data tracking, room graphics, reward systems and more. The equipment is commercial grade and incorporates a major component of fitness such as working on speed, agility, quickness, reaction time, sensory perception, strength, cardio, balance, cognitive capability and more. The variety and game-play make it so fun that most times the kids don’t even realize they are getting a working out. After playing a nine inning baseball game on the Exerbike – a commercial grade recumbent bike hooked up to an X-Box where you have to pedal for the controller to work – one kid realized he had biked seven miles and hadn’t even known! His mother said: “I can’t even get him to ride his brand new bike down the driveway!”
As technology has grown in its capabilities, so have the types of products available for interactive fitness as well as the number of clubs installing Exergame rooms. Each year about 36,000 kids go to the Chicago Bulls Sox Academy to spend the day in the Vault Exergame room. Many of these kids are coming via a school field trip, which has proven to be a source of revenue for the Bulls Sox Academy and a great way to introduce the kids to fitness! This in turn has led to memberships, programming revenue, parties and more.
Leaders in the fitness industry are always on the cutting edge and looking to improve their member experiences. Some top level organizations such as Midtown Athletic Club, UFC Gyms, California Family Fitness, Sport and Health and YMCA’s have recently added components of interactive fitness and Exergaming to their membership offerings, appealing to the entire family and those looking at add some fun to their workout.
To learn more about Exergaming and how the company Exergame Fitness can help your facility build membership and retention now and for the future, contact them atwww.exergamefitness.com.
What are your thoughts on Exergaming? Post in the comments below, I'd love to know.
(Much of this article was originally written for and appeared in National Fitness Trade Journal, Spring 2015 edition.)