5 Ways Health Clubs Can Capture the Longevity Economy

We are sitting at a unique moment in human history. A tipping point that will forever change the marketplace influencing how we do business and the types of services we provide that will impact how we live. It's called the longevity economy.

People are living longer, and they want to live better. For the first time there are more people over the age of 50 than under, and by 2030, there will be more 65-year-olds than 18-year-olds globally. With more time, more disposable income and a greater desire to stay vital, healthy and well, these older people are proof that the longevity market is here to stay.

Although health clubs have traditionally marketed to 18- to 34-year-olds as their main demographic for membership, this age group historically doesn’t stay as long, visit as often or spend as much. IHRSA’s One Million Strong retention study looking at more than 1.47 million health club members' behaviors found that those over the age of 55 stay on average 22 months longer than any other age group.

The demographics, wants and needs of the population is changing. Your club can help more, earn more and reimagine what is possible by delivering longevity solutions to your community.

Longevity programming measures biomarkers of aging to then apply one or more lifestyle solutions delivered over a period of time that enhance specific health outcomes by slowing the rate of aging. A recent consumer review in longevity technology found that across all age demographics 18-74+ there are four key areas people are spending money most consistently in efforts to slow the rate of aging for improved health. They include brain health and function, body composition and weight, musculoskeletal joint, bone and mobility, and cardiovascular heart health.   

When you know what is important to your clients, you can create targeted longevity programs and solutions that meet these needs. A recent independent study by the Helfgott Research Institute found that by combining 150 minutes of activity with a diet rich in bioactive nutrients eaten in a 12-hour intermittent fasting window paired with seven hours of sleep and breathing exercises for relaxation, the group reversed age on average by three years in only eight weeks. 

From brain performance fitness and age-reversing weight loss to heart-healthy meditation programs, the opportunities to deliver new longevity solutions, products and services in your facility are endless. 

Here are the five essential steps to get you started.

1. Set a new vision. Today’s 55 + members aren't who you might think. Too often, the vision of walkers and wheelchairs is the norm as we assume with age comes frailty, sickness and disease. In reality, the science of longevity has proven we can slow and reverse the rate and pace of biological aging. This means we can stay healthier longer, and we don’t have to settle, break down or just accept less from our lives. This new ability to chronologically be 55 but express the biological age of a 35 year old is giving rise to a longer “middle age” period of life.  When you see a new vision, you can show your customers what potential awaits them when they enroll in your programs.

2. Learn the science. Expand the health and fitness knowledge of your team by learning the science of longevity. Understand why we age and the biomarkers of fitness that can be measured and correlate with all-cause mortality. Discover how to improve these fitness markers to slow the rate of aging, reduce the expression of chronic disease, and increase the natural capacity for healing, health and thriving. This gives you the competitive advantage to do more than offer a great workout; now you are enhancing the quality and length of someone's life.

3. Be inviting. According to a fitness industry round-up report, 50 percent of Americans suffer from gym anxiety. They are intimidated, uncomfortable and uneasy in the gym. Classes, routines and equipment feel daunting to them, and this causes many to stop quickly after they start. If they hire a trainer, many quit because they don’t feel heard, or understood. It’s a common scenario to have a trainer in their 20s working out clients that are older or of different genders, which can create the inability to fully appreciate what the client is experiencing. When we know the problem, we can identify solutions. 

With this understanding, it’s easier to appreciate that every person is starting from a different place. Yet across the board, if someone is new, what would they need to feel comfortable, confident and happy at your health club? What opportunities for enhanced client-centered communication exist that builds rapport, trust and connection? Consider the opportunities to be even more inviting and inclusive creating touch points along the client experience that increase retention and engagement.

4. Begin a new conversation. For many, fitness isn’t fun. In a large survey conducted by One Poll, people said exercise was like work: it was boring, something they weren’t motivated to do or didn’t feel they had the time for. People know that exercise is good for them, but they have a limited idea of what it is. Let’s face it, fitness needs a new brand image, and the longevity economy provides that opportunity. Start a conversation with your community sharing ideas, inspiration and insight into movement. Give your members a new way to think about the potential to look, feel and live their longest and best life by having fun at your health club.

5. Offer longevity lifestyle solutions. Fitness is the obvious reason members seek you out, but what will keep them month over month and year over year at your club? Longevity living solutions. 

According to Harvard scholar and longevity expert Dr. David Sinclair, lifestyle impacts the rate of aging by 75-90 percent. How we live matters. It influences our very DNA to either express or repress health and thriving. Mindset, movement, nutrition, environment, stress, rest, and connection are some of the foundational elements that either speed up or help to slow the rate of aging. This opens opportunities in today’s health clubs to become more than a place to hop on machines and burn a few calories. Longevity gives a new context and added meaning to why people should come to a gym. From added service centers, products and targeted programs to becoming a hub for community and connection, longevity brings lifestyle solutions that will allow your clients to live longer and better.

Every great market requires ongoing innovation for growth and impact. In fitness, the opportunity to innovate lies in remembering that movement is foundational to life. Fitness is for everyone, and there is a market 55 and up traditionally underserved that is ready and waiting to experience your solutions. Now is your time to capture the opportunities of the longevity economy to enhance the health and lives of the clients and community you serve.


Dr. Melissa Petersen is the founder of the Human Longevity Institute, a TEDx Speaker, host of the Igniting Limitless podcast, author of the best-selling book, the Codes of Longevity, an adjunct professor of continuing education at Life University, a clinical educator for MedFit (where she teaches this online course, "Longevity Lifestyle & Fitness Specialist") and is an advisory board member to Grr-ithm AI technologies and former fitness and tv personality.

For over 25 years she has been a sought out visionary in the health and human potential space as a clinician, educator, consultant and influencer that has worked across disciplines to lead the way in delivering solutions that are researched, vetted and work to help people and practitioners flourish and thrive so they can live their longest, healthiest and most fulfilling life. To learn more, visit: www.Docmelissa.com