A popular meme on social media shows before and after shots of a gym around New Year’s time – one side being deserted and the other being a mob scene.
It would actually be funny if it weren’t true.
But does that spell success or a false start for sports events?
It can be both, so let’s see how various entities are marketing to this season of brand-new beginnings and boundless optimism.
This year, New Year’s falls over a weekend (with Saturday being New Year’s Eve). That, plus the fact that it’s a period when plenty of schools and businesses are closed, provides good opportunities for planners of sports events.
The period has long been popular for youth tournaments, with events in everything from cheerleading to basketball (at the youth, high school and college levels). And those events make money; in fact, with a ready-made audience (particularly in the youth arena) and the time to travel to compete, along with a festive holiday mood when it comes to spending, the potential of such events is practically limitless. Tie in a visit to cities with Christmas displays and parades, and you have what might be the closest thing to a foolproof recipe for success.
Travelers to other cities over the New Year’s weekend result in a huge boost to the restaurant business; in fact, restaurants have developed specific strategies, promotions and more for getting visitors through their doors and seated at a table – and those tie in with the New Year.
But that doesn’t even begin to address the numbers of events for adults who want to take advantage of that bright new start the New Year period provides.
One of the best snapshot views of involvement on the adult amateur athlete will be found in the numbers of road races offered over the New Year’s period. In fact, from the Wednesday prior to New Year’s to the Wednesday after, Running in the USA records over 400 races coast to coast. Approximately half of these are 5Ks, although other distances (10Ks, marathons, half marathons, etc.) are also present.
There are plenty of race-specific challenges. Some encourage runners to predict their finish times – and to remove their watches prior to the race so that there isn’t any tampering with the results. The individuals closest to their predicted times win prizes.
Of course, the advent of the fitness wearable has also resulted in competitions like most steps (and fewest steps, for those long-legged individuals), calories burned, steady heart rates throughout the race and more. (The fact that a lot of people will be getting fitness wearables this Christmas means they’ll be willing to take them for a test drive, as it were.)
US Masters Swimming, the organization encouraging adults to become involved with competitive and recreational swimming, has also created a calendar of events around the New Year’s period. Even pickleball, the newest and hottest sport for the baby boomer set, is getting into the mix, as is evidenced by this tournament in Placer Valley.
And plenty of people will want to get in shape, so organizers of indoor activities (including CrossFit, weightlifting, powerlifting and more) should be prepared as people join the gym and start getting involved.
According to statistics warehouse CreditDonkey, the following stats will prevail regarding gym memberships (so planners can tailor events to them):
40+: The age of the average person joining a gym
$75,000: The average income of a gym member
44: Percentage of individuals who join a gym with a friend so they can work out (and perhaps compete) together
12: Percentage of gym memberships sold to coincide with New Year’s resolutions
4: Percent of new gym-goers who don’t use facilities after January (well, that’s depressing)
14: Percentage of new gym-goers who only make it to February (that might be worse)
But beyond that, sports planners who work at gyms (particularly those with multi-purpose indoor facilities, such as tennis, basketball, racquetball, squash or pickleball courts, can work to create programs such as leagues, which create a schedule in which people can play and which result in economic impact. Offering tournaments and other events will continue the engagement.
Of course, as much optimism and good intentions the New Year brings, it can also bring a huge attack of sweaty-palmed self-consciousness to those who are making their way back into the sports world after an absence. And for that reason, Wareable came up with an article, entitled “How to Give a Fitness Tracker This Christmas Without Insulting Your Loved One.”
Happy holidays, everyone.