Fitness hiking is a way to condition oneself in nature, while spending quality time alone, with workout partners or with family. It’s a way to exercise your mind and body outside the hustle and bustle of a busy facility. For this reason, the attraction of outdoor workouts is becoming tough competition for many clubs.
“More and more people are skipping the gym to go mountain biking, in-line skating and hiking,” says Laurie Pehar, consultant and activities director for six Southern California Spectrum Clubs. “Even though our clubs are crowded, people are kind of bored with the same old stuff inside.”
There’s no denying it — walking is still the nation’s most popular activity. Walking and hiking require a minimum investment. You can do it inside or out, in any climate or weather — any time. And, almost everyone can do it. For clubs, off-road walking and fitness hiking may be the easiest way to tap into sports-oriented and/or family communities.
“People who have kids and those over 50 are the largest markets for health and fitness,” says fitness industry entrepreneur Sharon McPherson of ClubSport Pleasanton in California. “Families are making up a majority of our memberships. Athletic clubs are looking at this statistic and saying, ‘How are we going to keep these people, or attract them, as members?’ One approach is to offer on- and off-road walking programs for the entire family, advertised and promoted as ‘quality time fitness.’”