Gym learns a lesson about the benefits of being age-friendly

An over-55s fitness program in Australia had underestimated how time-consuming the age group would be.

In 2010, Fresh Start Health and Fitness Centre was a finalist in the 2010 Telstra Business Women’s Awards – but 18 months later, was forced to abandon the concept in favour of an all-ages 24-hour gym with an over-55s program.

The AF Audit
The AF Audit

The owner attributed the failure to several characteristics that all business can learn from when dealing with older consumers:

  • The business had underestimated how time-consuming the age group would be. ”They’d come in and have a full assessment, they’d get a program prescribed and go through that program with a trainer, but six, seven, eight times later they’re still coming in asking questions. ‘They didn’t grow up using gyms. We were completely overstaffed and as such, the business just became not viable”.
  • The over-55s feel entitled to pay less – the amount they were willing to pay was not equal to the service they were getting.
  • The club was helping to curb chronic health conditions, requests to government for funding fell on deaf ears.

Eventually, the group turned the business into a successful, all-ages 24-hour gym with an over-55s program.

This proves again that older people do not want to be stigmatised in their use of a product or service. The essence of an age-friendly experience as detailed in my book, is one that accommodates the needs of older people in a way that is natural and beneficial to all ages.