24 hour gyms have been making some major waves in the Australian fitness scene since they hit our shores about five years ago. Frontrunners include Jetts, Anytime Fitness, Snap and Active 24-hour Fitness just to name a few but a large number of new franchises are catching on to the craze and popping up across the country. The managing director of Jetts, Adrian McFedries, said that 24/7 gyms account for a huge 80% of the growth in the market since 2007. So why exactly are they so popular?
They suit any schedule
24 hour gyms are flexible and fit around even the busiest of schedules. They cater for night owls, shift workers, early starters, and those students and parents that like to avoid peak hours. In other words, your gym session becomes personalised and fits around your schedule instead of the other way around.
One Jetts franchise owner, Rodney Betts, explained that many Jetts patrons are doctors, nurses and chefs whose work hours don’t conform with the typical 9-5 day. ”A lot more people are no longer in that traditional working environment,” he said. These people struggle to fit fitness into their routine as it is, but the 24 hour gym allows them to exercise whenever they have the chance.
They cost less
24 hour gyms also appeal because they are usually cheaper than regular gyms. They may be open 24-hours but there is less staff, lower overheads and usually a smaller building that doesn’t have to incorporate extras like pools, spas and group fitness rooms.
Brendon Levenson brought 24 hour gym Jetts to Australia in 2007. Since then, Jetts has opened 85 centres throughout Australia and has another 13 planned before the end of the year. Levenson said that while he was surprised at how readily the concept of the 24 hour gym was embraced, its popularity was most likely boosted by the global financial crisis as gym-goers were looking for ways to cut expenses in many aspects of their lives.
No contracts, no worries
Many 24 hour gyms allow patrons more flexibility with payment, often with month to month memberships instead of yearly ones. This makes gym memberships more accessible as you don’t have to contend with a joining fee and the possibility of letting it all go to waste when you don’t go as often as you’d planned.
Today many fitness fanatics can’t – or won’t – commit to a long term gym membership. People are changing jobs more often than they did a few years ago and many move house on a regular basis too. According to figures from Fitness Australia, 30% of people who join a gym cancel their membership in the first year and only 45% continue on beyond that first year. Gen Y are particularly hard to keep as they have more mobile lives, explained the chief executive of Fitness Australia, Lauretta Stace.
They’re not for show-offs
The privacy that 24 hour gyms offer can also be a bonus. 24 hour gyms tend to be quieter and require much less interaction in general. You swipe in with a key card, do your workout with minimal staff around and rarely have to wait for equipment.
Some gyms have a reputation for attracting gym junkies that adore the mirrors and the attention that working out can bring. Justin McDonell, one half of the duo that brought America’s Anytime Fitness to Australia, said that some people prefer to avoid the ‘glitz and glam’ of traditional gyms.
“The whole ability to sneak in and do your workout and go home has a lot of appeal for many people.” he said.
They suit the changing face of fitness
There is a growing segment of exercisers that only use the gym at certain times of the year, for very specific purposes. Some people only want to use the gym in winter when outside fitness regimes are less appealing. Others use the gym during the off seasons associated with specific sports. For example, an athlete who does tennis or football might join a regular gym to focus on developing their strength and conditioning during the off season. In fact, the American College of Sports Medicine recently ranked sport-specific gym training at number 18 on its list of the top 20 fitness trends for 2014.
Clearly, the nature of 24 hour gyms with hours to suit all, the low cost and shorter contracts is an increasingly satisfactory option for many. As we try to fit more into our lives and become accustomed to a multitude of 24 hour services, it makes sense that our workouts follow suit.
Helen Jones is the National Communications Manager for the Australian Institute of Fitness. She has over eight years of experience in editorial and communications work in the fitness industry. Helen connects the Australian Institute of Fitness to its audience through fitness articles, blogs, social media and PR.