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Feature report 2009 | Tendency of Community Gymnasiums in the Future



It has been discovered that more and more people over 45 years old are using fitness equipment in the U.S. Compared with equipment emphasizing weight training favorable to personal health and weight reduction, the fitness equipment with lower burden on users may attract more consumers in the future owing to wide promotion for bodybuilding with lower burden on exercisers. As a result of its convenience in applications to make more consumers purchase household fitness equipment to exercise at home, the sales volume for the household equipment market should ascend constantly. Additionally, more and more indoor or community-style gymnasiums installed in hotels, schools, enterprises, hospitals, apartment buildings, and official organizations for the general public popularized the fitness equipment or exercise in fitness centers in the U.S. The U.S. market consists of over 200 million high-income, exercise-loving consumers, either outdoor sports or indoor sports exhibit prosperous development. Recently, a stable growth in the number of American exercisers using fitness equipment has drove increasingly ascendant sales of relevant equipment and remarkable increase of people joining the fitness centers. (Resource: Status & Challenge for Gymnasiums in Taiwan, Chapter 3 of Prospering Physical Training to Boost Economy: Physical Training & Taiwan's Economy; author: H. L. Jiang, Bookzone Inc.)

As an appropriate place to meet the consumers' requirements in body-building, leisure, recreation, and social contact, the gymnasium is able to supply diversified fitness equipment and professional staffs offering instructions and advice service for customers reaching health in body and mind. The Aerobic Fitness & Health Association of R.O.C., after conducting a research regarding facilities and management, classified 100 gymnasiums into five categories of "multifunctional sports & leisure", "community", "commercial club", "professional fitness center", and "a hotel's auxiliary". Most gymnasiums have authorized a capital of NTD 5 million and the ratio is 52.4%. 33% of the health clubs have total investments from NTD 50 million to 100 million and 23.8% of them are under NTD 50 million. The identities of most members are the general individuals (49%), family customers (38%), and organizations (13%). The majority within members are males accounting for 54.6%, which is 10% higher than 45.4% of females. Most club members' ages are distributed from 35 to 44 years old (24%), secondly from 45 to 54 (22%), and thirdly from 25 to 34 (19%). (Resource: Aerobic Fitness & Health Association of R.O.C.)

Gymnasiums can be categorized into the following four types according to their locations and business types:

1. A hotel's auxiliary: Lodgers living in the hotel are the major objects offered service. Some hotels recruit members who are not lodgers and open their gymnasiums to the general public. However, these gymnasiums are unpopular because they charge too much due to the heavy investment and high-end equipment.
2. Community gymnasium: Located at regions with dense populations such as large communities or residential areas, these gymnasiums with simple equipment and basic sports & leisure facilities have a smaller scale and charge less than commercial clubs do. In general, they only open to local residents but some of them are open to other people living outside the community.
3. Enterprise-owned gymnasiums: Situated inside one large enterprise, this gymnasium regarded as a part of employees' welfare is provided to employees and their family members.
4. Professional fitness center: Located at downtown areas or inside commercial buildings, most fitness centers' consumers are 9-to-5ers. Offering professional services and equipment, or even other systematical services like cosmetology and diet direction. To match the consumers' daily schedules, these fitness centers may have their work hours match the consumers' noon breaks and off-duty hours.

In addition to building materials and the layout of the house, life function capacity may be increasingly emphasized by modern people planning to purchase houses. In this regard, one gymnasium included inside the public facilities of one apartment building is common in recent years. Ever regarded as an unnecessary auxiliary inside a community, the gymnasium has become one of the important options for a consumer.

Factors of ages and genders for residents living inside one community should not be excluded when fitness equipment is purchased for a community gymnasium. For a building partitioned mainly into suites, a buyer should prefer to buy equipment with functions of weight training such as multifunctional weight training and sit-ups owing to young men accounting for the majority of residents living inside this building, otherwise other equipment emphasizing cardiorespiratory function like running machine, bike, and air walker, which belong to fitness equipment materializing realistic effects, for a community with residents having higher ages; for a community without professional staffs controlling and directing gymnasiums, other equipment like barbell and dumbbell with potential risks at usage or storage should be excluded from purchase options.

Based on the trend of people's selections for houses in the future, gymnasium planning is not only necessary but also needs to strive for excellence. A builder should continually consider the matching users' requirements, together with the architect as well as the sellers selling professional fitness equipment, and they need to carefully select and arrange proper equipment for maximization of use, so it can benefit the residents, bringing them healthy bodies & minds.

New trend for the gymnasium inside a community:
1. Serving residents in rush hours, a coach employed by a community will optimize the functions of facilities.
2. For the sake of less charges and directing group programs containing more residents, communities begin to employ proprietary coaches.
3. Sports volunteers cultivated inside a community are able to serve local residents.
4. Prosperity of commission management service for gymnasiums.
5. Prosperity of convenient, economic, and miniature community gymnasiums.
6. Lease of fitness equipment for saving maintenance costs and multifunctional deployment of equipment.
7. Purchase of various sports videos for routine broadcasting to save costs.
8.Purchase of low-cost sport equipment such as elastic cord, fit ball, etc.

With more and more gymnasiums planned inside communities, requirements for proprietary coaches employed by communities are the trend in the future. Integrated with resources from the government or civil organizations, the health classrooms founded indoor or outdoor space within the community centers, parks, and schools for conventional communities without gymnasiums and necessary equipment are places for activities favorable to residents' health. In essence, people will naturally respect community gymnasiums or relevant activities when sport is instrumental to everyone's health.

A community's proprietary coach must establish files regarding the health of residents living in this community wherein the health status and sport habits for each community member should be included. Just like a family doctor, a family coach may also be regarded as a preventive method. An ideal community coach is someone that lives in the community, because in this case all the members will be neighbors and family, creating coherence and care for one another, so that they would encourage each other and cultivate exercise habits.

Enterprises emphasizing leisure sports encourage employees to use their gymnasiums and release their pressure. However, the expected effects usually fail to be realized because of a low utility rate. As a result, with integrated management service covering leisure facilities, health & leisure, and standardized process plus complete complementary measures, the commission management service, as one agency system for enterprises' fitness centers, derived from enterprises' urgent requirements for management of gymnasiums fulfills the completely managed centers to extend the life time of equipments, lower consumables' costs and employees' pressure index, and increase employees' happy index and manufacturing output.

Because the female miniature body-building market is expected to become the main stream of the community gymnasiums this year, Curves Fitness Center specializing in the community market aims at females with ages from 30 to 70, who care for their health but were too lazy to exercise. Except for the counter area, a Curves miniature community gymnasium only needs a classroom with an area of 1100 ~ 1400 square feet as a sport area and a simple dressing room. During member exercises, only one coach will be needed to take care of the status of the exerciser, so as to minimize man power. Equipment supplied in the sport area is 12 machines for exercising different muscles of a human body and 12 pedals. With music broadcasted during exercise, each exerciser would complete a 30-second exercise at one machine and needs to execute a 30-second aerobics before transferring to another machine, and spends exactly 30 minutes for two complete exercise cycles. Based on a member's exercise, slight perspiration may be observed on the body but shower is unnecessary for an exerciser, who can go home or go to work after leaving the gym. The machines are driven by oil pressure, and are able to generate force and reacting force without accidents, or any sports injury from weight of the machine. If controlled properly, muscle training can be realized.

Modern 9-to-5ers, however, despite their desire to exercise, usually give up owing to personal economic pressure or simply inconvenience. As a result of low costs and minimized service staffs employed in a miniature community gymnasium such as lifesaver beside a swimming pool for the sake of lowering labor costs, to manage a miniature gymnasium will become an unavoidable tendency. Expecting to lower use costs directly transferred to users as feedback, a business operator while facing an economy slump considers preserving fundamental requirements for exercise and body-building but decrease costs from unnecessary services such as sauna, swimming pools, or restaurants. This action has driven more demands for miniature community gymnasiums. Compared to one conventional gymnasium constructed at a broad shop front in a downtown area with high rentals, a miniature gymnasium with convenient, safe and easily-operated equipment installed without necessary adjustments needs an area of only 1400~1800 square feet and is a very ideal concept to be extensively deployed at locations convenient to users for exercise. Undoubtedly, the miniature gymnasiums are the trend of developing community gymnasiums in the future.

To enjoy a proprietary gymnasium what everyone's dreaming about but fitness equipment under no special maintenance or professional coaches employed may be damaged easily. Therefore, minimized community gymnasiums with the concept of the lease of fitness equipment and commission management included will evolve to be the tendency of the future.