Investing in Health and Wellbeing

The Fitness Generation

“In the last 12 to 18 months, from an industry point of view, we’ve found that fitness has moved away from simply being a fad. It’s breeding in people’s daily lives now, whether it’s going for a walk with the kids, a ride on your bike or doing your own high level training at the gym. So one of our goals is to encourage people across all age groups to participate more in fitness,” says Andrew Cocks, National Marketing Manager of The Fitness Generation.

The Fitness Generation is part of Belgravia Group, which owns five key divisions including Belgravia Health and Leisure Group, Belgravia Financial Services, Belgravia Technologies, Belgravia Clothing Group and the Belgravia Fitness Equipment Group. A veteran in the sector, having celebrated its 30th anniversary last year, The Fitness Generation is in the business of marketing and distributing premium health and fitness product solutions through its commercial, retail and corporate channels. Its product solutions are an ideal fit for the healthcare sector with long term customers ranging from healthcare specialists to major hospital and rehabilitation groups to aged care facilities. That said, it also has a clear view of the consumer market as it has always kept an ear to the ground in order to understand the end consumer’s needs.

Thus, when Andrew joined The Fitness Generation a little over 18 months ago, he knew that the team was in the midst of significant change in the sector – people’s mindsets were shifting and fitness was becoming a lifestyle choice. These changes prompted Andrew to take an in-depth look at The Fitness Generation’s operations and offering, particularly from a marketing perspective and he foresaw the need to broaden the company’s product range and programmes in order to engage a wider range of consumers who went beyond the high-level athletes and gym buffs to the regular Mr and Mrs Smiths who were beginning to keep fit regularly through the simplest of activities.

Today, The Fitness Generation markets directly to both the commercial and consumer markets. Andrew sees value in educating the end user as to the features and benefits of the equipment in the market as doing so ties in with the organisation’s vision to increase engagement levels and improve customer experience. He explains, “If we can give our consumers who end up buying our equipment from a retailer or going to a commercial gym a fun and engaging experience, then they are happy, the gym owners are happy and the retailers are happy. This means that there will be repeat business for our retail clients and increased retention for our gym clients. Ultimately, it all comes back to the consumer experience and customer value.”

Not content to just be seen as a fitness equipment supplier, The Fitness Generation now offers programmes that can be followed alongside the equipment it supplies as well as fitness apps, which are all the rage at the moment. Andrew admits that the organisation cannot be everything to everyone but in saying that, The Fitness Generation will impart its knowledge, use its know-how and leverage off the global brands it represents to offer a comprehensive solution to its clients and subsequently, the consumer, in order to be recognised as a one-stop-shop for all things fitness.

And The Fitness Generation is fast building a name for itself as a solutions expert as seen in its increased success in the area of tenders. While The Fitness Generation has always had the capability to bid and make itself available to tenders, this success has multiplied in the last year and the company has won eight tenders over the past seven months. One particular tender in Torquay, Victoria stands out. Competing against four equipment suppliers, The Fitness Generation was the only organisation that was able to provide pricing on a variety of products in the brief, including ones that it did not even typically supply. The team’s willingness to go above and beyond in sourcing the right suppliers to offer a total and price competitive package ultimately led to its success in this particular situation, a trait that its customers recognise and appreciate.

While the industry is experiencing growth, the sector has become very competitive, made more challenging by the availability of cheap, lower quality equipment on the Internet with little warranty or service support. As accessibility to inexpensive equipment increases, so does the risk of purchasing counterfeit products. Andrew acknowledges that customers today are more educated about the products out there but advises them to be wary of cheap equipment because consumers run the risk of purchasing products that at best, do not have longevity or at worst, are unsafe to use. It is also imperative to ensure that the equipment is supported by local service technicians. The Fitness Generation distinguishes itself from many of its competitors with a national team of service technicians, several with more than a decade of experience.

The Fitness Generation imports seven international brands including True Fitness, Nautilus, Schwinn, Expresso and Stairmaster, which are well known to many Australians. Apart from Indorow, The Fitness Generation is the exclusive distributor of these renowned global brands and receives exclusive content and long-term commercial contracts from them, giving The Fitness Generation added strength and a point of difference in the market. To maximise the strength of these brands, The Fitness Generation did something that many of its competitors have not: the organisation promoted each brand individually and linked The Fitness Generation brand back to each of its international brands. Conversely, many competitors simply import equipment and sell or distribute them under their own brand.

Marketing and promoting each brand individually has helped The Fitness Generation break new ground. On top of being able to meet its clients’ different price points and fitness equipment requirements through its wide range of equipment, from entry-level to high performance products, clients can have greater confidence in The Fitness Generation because of their recognition of these major international brands. The Fitness Generation is seen as a facilitator, providing access to high quality equipment, whatever the budget. In addition, linking The Fitness Generation back to these global brands has helped the external market understand who The Fitness Generation is, creating buzz around the company.

To cement its positive reputation and ensure that The Fitness Generation sticks in the minds of people as the go-to company for quality fitness solutions, the organisation underwent a rebranding exercise a little over a year ago.

“The key thing for us in the last 18 months is that we’ve rebranded. We have a new logo, new website and new management team. We’ve also streamlined our systems and introduced new products,” says Andrew, adding that, “The Fitness Generation has taken the necessary steps to realign and modernise the business.”

Greater awareness of who The Fitness Generation is has also positively affected sales of Healthstream, the company’s own range of cardiovascular and strength equipment. Set at a lower price point for smaller gyms, corporates and personal trainers, Healthstream equipment includes quality products that are not over-engineered for bigger gyms that may see hundreds of people a day. Because of The Fitness Generation’s reputation of only supplying quality products that will suit the individual business owner’s goals, Healthstream has taken off since its launch in 2009.

Moving forward, The Fitness Generation will continue to study the trends in the sector, monitoring both the commercial and consumer markets in order to impart knowledge to both channels. Based on changing demographics in Australia and across the globe, The Fitness Generation has partnered with Nautilus to launch a new programme called “Ageing Gracefully”.

In 2012, the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) conducted a survey of more than 2,600 fitness professionals in order to uncover emerging fitness trends worldwide. One significant finding was that baby boomers are retiring in better shape than their parents and have more discretionary income. Thus, catering to this demographic with specific programming for older adults is a trend that the health and fitness sector is moving towards. While retirees are looking to stay healthy, they are certainly not going to run 5 kilometres on a treadmill at high speed. With that in mind, Nautilus has launched “Nautilus Strength Equipment” as part of the Ageing Gracefully Programme. Aimed at retirees and older people, the equipment in the range is lightweight and designed to build core strength.

As Andrew explains, “A lot of people droop their necks as they get older and this affects their eating and walking, which in turn leads to greater care needed at the retirement homes or aged care facilities. The equipment strengthens the core, giving the individual better quality of life. Ultimately, the individual is healthier and the retirement centres are able to lower some of their costs when it comes to care. Everyone benefits.”

And that is the key message at the end of the day – everyone directly benefits. The Fitness Generation will continue to offer first-class fitness solutions because it is in the business of getting people moving. Whether the team achieves this by bringing in age appropriate equipment, running fitness programmes or growing its social media presence, the ultimate aim is to make fitness fun, create positivity, and increase engagement levels.

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January 18, 2018, 8:48 AM AEDT

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