Health Clubs and Competition: Is Your Business Wal-Mart, Kroger Or Whole Foods Market?

  • Start new search
  • Choose Collections to search

  • Narrow search by topic

  • Start new search
  • Search by collections

  • Narrow search by topic

Your small wellness business may be like our local Kroger grocer was. The produce (equipment) wasn’t great, but the staff was friendly. They did OK… until Wal-Mart (low cost leader gym) moves in, and charged half the price for the same tomatoes (memberships).

Our Kroger (your business) kept a few customers who didn’t mind buying expensive tomatoes (memberships) from friends. Then Whole Foods Market showed up, charged twice as much for exotic tomatoes (1:1 training, private changing rooms), and the grocer (you) got pinched again.

The health club industry is undergoing a transition. Larger general-interest health clubs will consolidate. Too many clubs targeted at the superfit already exist. They cannot fill up their excess capacity because they do not appeal to high-growth underserved populations.

Over time, many will simply go out of business because it will be cheaper for the big-box health clubs to get those customers through marketing, avoiding the risk and headaches of acquisition.

Smaller clubs must differentiate to survive. Options include a focus on “weekend warrior” athletes, inactive or older adults, or the physically challenged.

Being in a small town does not protect you from this trend. Oxford, MS (pop. 12000) has a Supercenter…and it also has Curves, a university fitness center, commercial gyms and several not-for-profit facilities.

No market is so small that it’s immune from competition.

Are you Wal-Mart, Kroger, or Whole Foods Market?

Are you focused on a niche where you can build long-term customer relationships?

If not, assess your club’s strengths and the local market and focus accordingly.