Strength training and socialization, the ‘mix’ of the gym to seduce the young public
Gyms return to their origins to adapt to the post-pandemic era. The strong irruption of the adolescent public that fitness centers have experienced in recent months has led to a transformation in the spaces of sports centers. The great beneficiary of the new scenario led by Generation Z and the millennials, collectively known as Active Generation, has been strength training, which has gained integers and has established itself as the favorite activity of a new teen user who not only seeks to take care of their physical appearance, but also to socialize through an activity that allows them to strengthen their health.
Numerous studies corroborate that this is a global trend. A report from the Mindbody fitness app located strength training as the most popular activity in 2022, ahead of yoga and pilates, after analyzing thousands of reservations made by users in fitness and wellness centers. A survey by the CivicScience platform, for its part, found that strength training and free weight lifting was the most chosen activity among 35% of users between the ages of 18 and 24 who declared they practice some type of exercise. And, in its annual report on fitness trends, the ACSM ranked free weight training second only to the use of wearables.
In response to the growing demand for this type of modalities as a result of the change in the profile of the typical user in gyms, operators have spent several months redesigning, expanding and renewing their strength training areas, as well as all your free weight equipment. It is a necessity that AEFA Les Mills wants to help cover with the release of Strength Development (SD), a new training program specially designed to meet the needs of Generation Z.
These classes have already been launched in New Zealand, where the Les Mills headquarters are located, and the results of the twelve-week pilot test have not been long in coming. 95% of the participants state that they would continue attending these classes, 96% indicate that they would recommend them to someone they know, and 98% were satisfied with the new program. From the company they admit that offering strength training in a directed class helps to break down the myths that exist about bodybuilding training and the female audience.
“We have noticed that a good part of the members who train with the new program did not use to participate in the rest of the directed group activities; in peak hours, it manages to attract up to 60 participants to the room, while in off-peak hours around thirty”, says Tash Vincent, Group Fitness Manager of Les Mills Auckland City clubs. These are figures that certify that the activity is penetrating the subscriber base, which favors customer loyalty.
It is not a minor matter, since the data confirm that those under 30 years of age currently represent a higher percentage of the total number of users than there were in Spanish gyms in the year prior to the outbreak of the pandemic: they went from representing 25% in October 2019 to 36% in the same month of 2022, according to the FitnessKPI sports consultancy. A trend that has continued to increase in the following months, as confirmed by the main gym chains in the country. But what is it about strength training that is so attractive to this user profile?
“The main factor that has contributed to the viralization of strength training and its benefits has been the great campaign that has taken place in recent years by professionals in the sector and especially content creators. The challenge for the industry in the face of the Active generation is to adapt their customer journeys, getting to connect with them and knowing how to direct them towards areas of the gym that generate greater retention than free weights”, explains Cesar Navarro Jr, Aefa’s director of operations. The launch of a new generation of programs called GenFit, by Aefa, goes in that direction. “This new generation of training sessions will have an innovative format designed to meet the needs of the Active generation and market trends, but above all they are designed to introduce this public to group training and directed activities”, adds Navarro.
“Adolescents and young people between the ages of 14 and 25 have begun to recognize the importance of strength training to improve their overall health and well-being. There is a growing awareness of health and fitness, which has made this type of training increasingly popular among young people who seek to develop their aesthetics, hypertrophy and resistance”, points out Toni Brocal, founder of the European Sports & Health Institute (Eshi).
Social networks and the growing weight of influencers linked to fitness are acting as engines that encourage the arrival of more and more young people to gyms. “The training areas are becoming a space for socialization and surely there is an attraction effect promoted by the amount of content that is being posted on social networks and the Internet,” adds Brocal. The new design of many gyms, with a look and field increasingly modern, seeks to promote the generation of digital content among users.
The close relationship that this client profile has with new technologies is also reflected in a greater knowledge about what physical responses it generates in their body. The closeness of the millennials and the centennials towards new technologies has opened the doors to a wide range of information about the benefits of strength training. This has made it possible to break many prejudices that historically existed in free weight areas, especially among certain audiences such as women.. The possibility of improving bone density, increasing muscle mass, joint health, improving body posture, reducing body fat or preventing pathologies such as sarcopenia are just some of the reasons that, with the endorsement of Numerous scientific studies justify putting the focus back on strength training.