When Is Someone Old? It Changes Through Life
When we're kids, we think our parents are old -- even though they might be in their 20s and 30s.
When we reach that stage ourselves, "old" seems like our bosses -- people in their 50s, maybe.
If we make it to 50, we still don't start thinking of ourselves as "old." That's always someone else, right? Someone a little bit older...
That's one of the challenges of marketing fitness services to people "of a certain age." See? We're not even sure how to politely and accurately describe the demographic.
- Older? Maybe -- but older than what?
- Mature? That's really vague.
- Silver or golden? Too cutesy.
I've talked about this a few times with Rick Mayo, a veteran trainer, gym owner and fitness industry leader. Rick has had Alloy Personal Training near Atlanta for about 30 years. And he has developed licensing and franchising systems to help other gym owners pursue the lucrative, largely untapped fitness over 50 market. Given the size and purchasing power of the demographic, it's still shocking how slow the industry is to see the opportunity. And a year into the Covid-19 pandemic, we're all still wondering how to keep "older" people healthy and secure.
Rick joined the Optimal Aging podcast
to discuss this, what the last year has been like for his businesses, and how he expects to succeed in 2021 -- by presenting fitness as a "premium service" to a coveted marketplace, not dumbing it all down with patronizing marketing and bargain-basement pricing.
Fitness over 50: 'Old' is a tough word to use'
" 'Old' is a tough word to use," Rick says. "If I say old to somebody 60, they think it's people who are 70. If I say it to someone 70, it's, 'Hey, wait a minute!' So, we say 'premium' -- but 'premium' has a cost to it. This market has amassed enough wealth to be able to afford those types of luxury goods and or services, which include personal training."
The past year has devastated many fitness businesses. But Rick says Alloy's businesses have not been hit too hard, because they focus on that high-quality service and highly valuing their over-50 clients.
"We have not seen a lot of negative ramifications in our age bracket because we're targeting that age bracket based on a premium service," he says. "That puts them into this sort of hard-charging, go-getter archeypte that doesn't see themselves as old or vulnerable. They're out and about, and they're coming to the gym, and they're just fine."
When Covid-19 is finally over, more and more older people will return to gyms, largely for the sense of community and social interaction. The proliferation of at-home, high-tech alternatives might have longer-lasting impact on the younger market. Fitness businesses should keep these kinds of trends in mind when trying to plan.
"You're going to see people come out," Rick says. "And if you're servicing in the right population, you're going to be just fine because they're still missing community. They're not getting it digitally, and they're going to come and look for it."