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2016 Fitness Industry Forecast, According To Michael Cunico, Fitness First Australia

As part of our 2016 Trends article in the Summer 2015 edition of the WNiF Magazine, we chatted to Michael Cunico, National Fitness Manager of Fitness First Australia, which currently has approximately 200,000 members, nationwide.

Enjoy reading the full Q&A with Michael, which we couldn’t fit into the article. Enjoy!

How would you summarise your brand’s achievements in 2015? 

Last year, we refurbished more than 50 Fitness First clubs as part of a global rebrand the company undertook in 2014 when we launched the new Fitness First brand. Our newly refurbished clubs now offer members access to the most cutting edge fitness innovations, workout spaces and fitness expertise in the industry.

Further to this, Fitness First has launched a wide range of unique fitness product offerings, giving our members a wide variety of fitness options when training. Some of these fitness innovations include Gymnastics Strength Training, Mixed Martial Arts and Barre, as well as a variety of group fitness classes as part of our Freestyle Group Training offering.

What key industry developments do you predict will take place in 2016?

Consumers are armed with more knowledge on exercise and value of a membership than ever before, so this has placed the onus back onto their club or facility to ensure they are providing enough value to justify their membership. The influx of health clubs at all price levels over the last five to ten years means there is someone not that far away willing to take your member/client if you aren’t providing an adequate level of service and support.

From a movement perspective we will see a continued shift toward total body training as opposed to breaking the body into sections, and with a significant portion of the population aging we may also start to see an increase for programs that favour movement quality and regeneration over the traditional ‘more is better’ mentality.

What impact do you see personal fitness technology (e.g., wearables, training apps, etc) having on fitness businesses this year?

Over the next year training apps will be more prevalent than ever before and will be supported heavily by fitness businesses. This will give consumers more options to vary and measure their training at low cost. The technology is a nice addition to the tools available to a member, however I don’t envision that this will impact face-to-face services. Technology is not advanced enough to replace the motivation, service and relationship that comes with human interaction of personal training or group exercise.

Wearable fitness technology will be seen increasingly in gyms over the coming year, but due to the speed of innovation and fragmentation of the market the vast majority of it will be consumer driven rather than led and integrated within fitness businesses over the short run. Increasingly people will have more access to data and information about their performance, but still have little idea about what is required to ‘move the dial’ on the key information. This presents an opportunity for fitness businesses to be early adopters and stamp their mark in this space. Fitness business who help consumers use this information effectively to create behaviour change will be well placed to be leaders in this area of the market.

Do you have any predictions or thoughts regarding developments in gym and/or cardio technology this year?

Integration of technology in cardio equipment with internet connectivity on screens and virtual training services are already prevalent and will continue over the coming year. There is less technology integration with strength training and non-equipment based training. Larger equipment companies are developing more sophisticated technology integration into their suite of strength training equipment to allow more holistic integration. The race is also on to effectively measure and monitor strength training, which is currently lacks sophistication and accuracy in its current form, but due to the complexity involved is unlikely to see huge advances during the year.

What do you think may be the next big thing in group fitness, in 2016?

The wave of bodyweight programs really hit mainstream over the last 12 to 18 months and due to the accessibility of this type of program, it will continue to be popular this year. You will see elements of this in Fitness First Freestyle Group Training program as we can get large groups of members moving quite easily, and cater for different levels of exercise experience and ability.

What changes or developments, if any, do you think will occur in 2016 in the landscape of personal and/or outdoor training?

Increasing competition has created significantly more options for the consumer in the traditional health club space over the past 5 years. In a similar way the low barriers to entry and popularity of outdoor and personal training (one-on-one and group) will result in more competitors and options for the consumer in 2016. Providers will need to more effectively find their niche to stay relevant and profitable.

Do you predict any significant changes in your or the industry’s membership base (e.g., who is doing what – male/female/baby boomers; changes in demographics/psychographics; uptake of PT services, etc)?

We are attracting a broader membership base from a demographic and psychographic perspective. This is due to the breadth of product available within our membership. The shift in our clubs to deliver Freestyle Group Training and specialist products such as Gymnastics Strength Training, MMA, Barre and Hot Yoga is ensuring that the environment is more inclusive.




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