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5 steps to make fitness accessible to all

Practical considerations to make fitness accessible for all, regardless of their fitness level, age or ability.

Fitness goals in 2023

In 2023, most members aim to stay healthy and live longer. As proved by several studies, social interactions, community and group fitness classes are helping members to feel engaged, motivated and overall happy. The fitness industry plays a crucial role in the well-being of different communities.

The fitness industry was driven largely by aesthetics and ‘beach bodies’ that mainly focused on losing weight. However, in 2023, people are more concerned about strengthening their overall well-being than they are about improving their looks. According to the latest studies, fitness enthusiasts are choosing different types of settings with a strong preference for group fitness classes, strength training and on-demand classes.

To ensure your business remains relevant to members searching for holistic fitness solutions, you’ll need to ask yourself the following 3 questions:

  • Is my gym ready to welcome and support an influx of new members?
  • Can my gym win against rival businesses competing for the same new members?
  • Is my gym fully equipped to serve each of them at scale?

Answering ‘yes’ to the above questions might require you to align your core company values, like inclusivity and diversity, with your new offerings, such as your digital fitness content, tier-based membership packages, and even your marketing efforts. 

In this article, we explore how gym operators can make the fitness experience more engaging, accessible, and inclusive for all their members.

How to make fitness classes engaging for all?

1. Members want a 360-degree hybrid gym 

Since 2011, the Funxtion team has been testing several digital fitness solutions, from vertical screens to app-focused content. After a decade of trial and error, Funxion’s CEO Ernst de Neef and Chief Business Development Officer Mendel Witzenhausen concluded that app-based digital fitness offerings would become the must-have tool for gym and wellness operators.

In 2020, the global pandemic proved this statement right.

By testing more than 5000 exercises and virtual classes for members of all levels, Funxtion successfully validated that high-quality digital fitness content offers the experience gym members expect. They also discovered that digital content can radically change the member experience for good, making fitness more accessible, engaging, and interesting for all members. How can you take actionable steps to make your services more accessible and valuable for all gym members? Let’s dive into it.   

fitness experience for everyone in the fitness industry

2. Personalization fosters inclusivity

Personalization is the practice of creating a tailor-made customer journey for each member. This includes addressing each member’s fitness levels, interests, abilities, behavior, preferences, and health goals. While the task might seem overwhelming, particularly for large businesses with multiple sites, we are lucky to see that artificial intelligence is making this degree of personalization possible. 

However, what most gym and health operators fail to realize is that personalization and inclusivity are two intertwined practices. Inclusivity refers to the practice of creating a facility where members feel comfortable, safe, and welcome. It’s mainly focused on how they ‘feel’ and experience your gym. In return, this feeling translates into how people see your brand and what they feel about your business, even when they’re not physically there.  

According to The State of Fitness by Athetech News, 80% of regular fitness practitioners are GenActive (Millennials and GenZ). These groups are known not only for their affinity for technology but also for their passion for social and environmental justice. Operators now need to consider matters of inclusivity and accessibility as top priorities if they’re serious about winning over these large demographics. 

Of course, this is easier said than done. As personalization and inclusivity go hand in hand, gym operators must consider how to achieve this at scale without sacrificing quality or breaking the bank.

3. Digital fitness content drives personalization

Researchers concluded that GenActives get quickly bored when the experience is repetitive  (ClubIntel, The Gen Z Fitness Consumer 2023). They appreciate variety, but quality is still preferred, and  quality fitness refers to providing the appropriate training programs and virtual classes that are accessible to everyone and offer a wide range of adjustments. In other words, truly personalized content with a holistic approach to fitness. 

By giving your gym members access to a high-quality fitness library with multiple options, you provide personalization and inclusivity above and beyond what you’re likely capable of doing at scale without digital solutions.

It’s important to offer different content types for all levels, too. Your content library should include workouts for beginners to advanced, virtual classes with subtitles for people with difficulties hearing, audio-guided workouts for those who have visual difficulties, and content with a variety of trainers who showcase modified positions for those who might need special assistance or suffer from injuries.  

By implementing smart digital solutions in and outside the gym, operators can service a wide range and large volume of different member preferences.

What’s an accessible fitness routine for all?

There are several ways you can leverage digital content to foster a deeper connection between your gym and its members. You can use an Open Content Platform with diverse language options, a world-class ethnically and culturally diverse group of instructors, and customizable fitness classes adjusted to your members’ needs.  These strategies enable gym operators to unlock many possibilities, fostering a welcoming space for new members.

However, member attrition is real, and contrary to common belief, it’s not your membership price. Let’s explore the risk factors and how you can address member churn effectively. 

1. Fitness classes that showcase real results

In 2021, the Norwegian School of Sport Science conducted a study which suggests that higher levels of motivation and constant support are the strongest predictors associated with reporting regular exercise attendance throughout the first year of a fitness club membership. And this can be easily done at scale with the right technology.

In fact, Artificial intelligence is making a strong entrance into the fitness market. And many digital content platforms already use AI to provide tailor-made advice and support to members using data recorded, tracked, and communicated back to them via the gym member apps.

Showcasing real and personalized results can be particularly useful when decreasing new member churn rates.

2. Gyms that adapt their facility settings

Operators must follow certain nationwide policy regulations to make spaces more accessible. In most cases, you must ensure your gym is accessible for mobility aids, wheelchair users, and people with health conditions or impairments.

For example, in the United States, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) states that gyms must provide access routes with at least a 60-inch (or 152.4 cm) diameter between equipment to provide manoeuvrability. However, after inspection, it’s common that the gym site gets cluttered again. 

One way to prevent this is by using a content software platform that allows you to track the influx of people in each of your facilities. As a result, you’ll be able to declutter spaces effectively while efficiently distributing your class timetables and machines. Using a data approach, you can get an accurate estimate of what and where to place the functional gym floor, the stationary bikes and group classrooms. While accommodating the space is key, providing the right training to your staff is also important to ensure everyone feels welcome when visiting the gym. 

It’s equally important to ensure that people with wheelchairs and those without can use the same equipment. Giving everyone the independence to train is relevant for both the gym members and the operator. For example, EGYM technology provides accessible machines. With a personal RFID wristband, EGYM Smart equipment can automatically adjust the weight, without the need to bend and adjust the plates manually. Fitness should be for all, and smart solutions are here to make that possible.

Key takeaways for fitness operators

We explored how operators can make their fitness services more engaging for everyone, regardless of their fitness ability, age, or physical condition. We also explored how this is particularly vital when trying to win more Millennial and Gen Z members.

The key is to create more value through a member-centric approach that tackles multiple factors, like equipment facilities to content services, and not just the membership pricing structure. Digital solution implementation, from smart content platforms that allow a greater level of personalization to smart equipment that makes the space usable for everyone, is one major way to improve member accessibility and engagement.

Ready to try smart fitness solutions?

At Funxtion, we believe that fitness is for everyone, and digital in-gym and at-home fitness solutions are here to help operators cater to all their members, regardless of their health conditions and fitness level. After over a decade, Funxtion has developed more inclusive content, tailored to different fitness goals and preferences. Visit our Open Platform for more information or contact us to try our demo. 

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Funxtion x Benefit system partnership

Funxtion partners with Zdrofit – a brand of Benefit Systems S.A.

Funxtion teams up with Benefit Systems to revolutionize its digital fitness experience. This collaboration signals an industry step-change in how gym operators embrace fitness technology, positioning Zdrofit fitness clubs at the forefront of digital innovation.