This study endeavours to identify the expectations of women aged between 20 and 40 years to find out what features and services they are looking for in a fitness centre. The research aims to specifically address six specific research objectives, including what personal benefits women are looking for in a fitness centre, what features and services they deem to be important and how factors, such as payment options, location and demographics, may influence their decisions when seeking out fitness centre membership.
Secondary research shows that the fitness industry is expanding and that women are a large target market. Women have been shown to have high expectations in regard to fitness centre membership and the industry is increasingly responding to their particular needs (Senate Committee Inquiry 2006). To further define our research problem, qualitative research, including focus groups, expert interviews and individual depth interviews, was undertaken which gave additional insight into the special demands and desires of female fitness centre customers, aged between 20 and 40 years, living in Perth.
A questionnaire was designed, using nominal, ordinal and interval scales, and a pre-test questionnaire was conducted before data was collected at several fitness centres and public places in different suburbs across Perth. Women were intercepted and had to qualify through a number of screening questions (e.g. gym membership and age). The sample size was 200 and the sample included women aged between 20-40 who visited a fitness centre in the last year. The sampling method employed was non-probability sampling, specifically judgement sampling, as respondents were targeted specifically based on age, gender and approachability, and only those with an active opinion were selected.
A number of different statistical tools were used to analyse the collected respondent data. Descriptive statistics describe the sample at hand and inferential statistics, including factor analysis, Chi Square and one-way ANOVAs, enable the researchers to make inferences about the broader female fitness centre customer population. Descriptive statistics and measurement of central tendencies within the sample population showed that women aged 20-40 placed a generally high value on the features and services that are provided by a fitness centre and that they were more concerned with exercising to benefit their health and appearance and to reduce stress than they are for social reasons.
The conducted factor analyses found different target markets for fitness centre characteristics, services and benefits and indicated that amenities and additional features, staff, showers and equipment, and health and appearance were most important to the target group. Chi-square comparisons and One-way ANOVAs were conducted to examine possible relationships between fitness centre characteristics and demographic features, such as number of dependent children and personal income.
The results of the research enabled the researchers to draw broad conclusions in relation to each of the established research objectives and to make recommendations based on the analysis, which can guide decisions for fitness centre management to target women in the specified age group. This research provides useful information for fitness centre managements already in the market and prospective fitness centre managements in Perth. The findings can be applied by existing fitness centre management and by those who intend entering the industry. It will allow management to identify and evaluate opportunities and to make strategic decisions to better attract a female clientele.
1. Research Focus
This study endeavours to identify the expectations of women aged between 20 and 40 years to find out what features and services an ideal fitness centre should offer. We will also aim to determine a number of specific research objectives, including whether factors such as demographics, location, and payment options influence women’s decisions to join a fitness centre and to investigate what personal benefits women are seeking from membership.
1. Industry Background and Past Research Recent Australian research into women and their participation in sport and physical activity showed that women are the prevalent customers of fitness centres (Senate Committee Inquiry 2006). An examination of secondary data and industry background indicates that women have a wide range of expectations in fitness centre membership and the employed research instrument will take into account the findings of a number of studies, which provide valuable information about how to measure service quality in general (Parasuraman, Berry & Zeithaml) and in fitness centres in particular (Chang & Chelladurai and Afthinos, Theodorakis & Nassis).
It is proposed that 210 women, who are within the target age range and have been a fitness centre member in the past year, will complete a pre-designed questionnaire in the presence of an interviewer and the results will then be analysed. When considering what women in the target age group want from a fitness centre, it is important to consider past research and current industry trends. A review of some secondary information available provides important insights into the problem and points to some facts that the current research takes into account. Last year, the Australian Senate conducted an inquiry into women’s participation in sport and received submissions from well-known fitness centres across the country.