The headline of a recent article in SGB Today Fitness Magazine caught our attention. It posed the question, “Do baby boomers want six-packs?” The crux of the article was that maybe the current trend toward high-intensity workouts with loud, thumping music wasn’t giving this large generational cohort what they wanted from their fitness facility. So we did a little research of our own.
According to US Census data, about one-third of Americans are over the age of 55. Defined as those born between 1946 and 1964, the youngest of the baby boomers are 52…and the oldest are now turning 70! But as baby boomers will tell you, “Fifty is the new thirty.” And whether you teach at a big-box chain, a private club or medical center facility, or a dedicated cycling studio, there’s a good chance your classes include a few (or many) boomers.
The fitness industry—like many categories where “image” matters—is heavily focused on marketing to young people. And although the millennials are a large group, the real spending power still resides with the boomers. It makes sense to market to them; they have time, they have money, and they’re the first generation who is aging actively and staying engaged in fitness well into their 80s. And let’s face it, they’re the first generation who listens to the same music their kids and grandkids do, and they’re a far cry from their parents’ generation in both attitudes and health. Some of the best instructors we know are over 50!
The article in SGB talks about how NOT to market to this age group. We work in an industry that relies on ads featuring images of young “hard bodies” sexily sweating in a tableaus that look more like cologne ads. After all, that’s why we belong to the gym, right? Who doesn’t want to look like that? But is it possible that we’re missing out on an opportunity to build our indoor cycling classes because we’ve missed the mark on what baby boomers want? What if we’re not speaking the baby boomers’ language? Are we giving them what they want and need when they come to our classes?
Our qualitative research with this audience uncovered some insights that can help keep your boomers engaged, happy, fit, and most importantly, in your classes!
I have a large number of baby boomers in my class and I think they would agree with this article, in fact I’ll share it with them next class! They love the social aspect of our class (a spin family), and we play a variety of music from past and present so there’s something for everyone. And just hearing how they’ve stayed healthy through so many challenges in their lives inspires me.
what a great article. I am a 59 year old instructor I have been teaching spinning for almost 20 years (did I just say 20 yrs) wow..all of my students are boomers or a bit older or younger and I really try to ask what they want and need ..but you really put the nail on the head..we all want to look and feel better.thank you for re-affirming what I thought was true