New Year Creates New Business for Health Care

Dr. Perry Haan

The New Year brings on resolutions for many. For those of us who overindulged during the holidays, one of those changes is often to take better care of ourselves. For entrepreneurs trying to help people become more fit, each New Year can bring new customers. Moreover, recent reports of increased obesity levels in the U.S. have added fuel to the fitness trend. 

Despite a meager increase of 0.1% in disposable income over the past five years, the fitness sector has grown at an average annual rate of 2.3%. This growth is from fitness clubs, pilates and yoga studios, boxing gyms and clubs, personal trainers, fitness DVD production and on-line sporting apparel sales. Sales are forecast to exceed $46 billion in 2013, with gyms and fitness clubs accounting for a little over half of that amount.

Hottest New Opportunities 

A recent list of the best industries for starting a business compiled by Inc. magazine included a number of health and wellness entries. Yoga-related businesses were near the top of that list. In 2012 a total of 15 million Americans spent $27 billion on yoga classes, apparel and related products. This represents an 87% increase in the last five years, according to Yoga Journal. The fastest area of growth is men’s yoga lessons and gear. Chicago’s O’Hare Airport opened a yoga room for those wanting to get in a session between flights.

Growth in the yoga industry is also being seen by Judi Bar, owner of HeartLight Yoga in Rocky River. “We live in a fast-paced society. People look to yoga as a stress management tool,” Bar explained. She also believes more people are seeing the health benefits of yoga.

Bar has also seen an increased interest by men in yoga. HeartLight started its first men’s class six months ago. From five to 15 men attend the all-male class that focuses on meditation.

Training for more serious athletes has become a niche in the health and fitness market. Synergy Strength Systems in Rocky River caters to more focused clients who have specific fitness goals based on their activities. “What we provide is different from general fitness,” according to owner Matt Linnevers. “We specialize in making athletes faster and stronger.” About half of Synergy’s clients are high school athletes. In addition to providing personal training to the general public, it also caters to college and professional athletes in the area.

Collette Strength and Conditioning in Rocky River does personal training for clients who are mostly in the 30- to 50-year-old range. “We are different from regular gyms that have spikes in their business at the beginning of the year,” said owner Tony Collette. “I do mostly strength training and conditioning with my clients.  I use techniques from sport-specific training and apply them to personal training workouts.” After earning a master's degree in Exercise Science, he worked as a personal trainer at a gym before venturing out on his own with a partner six years ago.

Self-improvement is another industry Inc. magazine included on its list of best potential start-ups. Along with physical health, self-improvement includes advice on motivation, wealth building, and even spiritual affairs. The self-help industry has been growing at a rate of 5% to 6% over the past 10 years.

Less traditional approaches to healthcare are also spurring growth industries. Nature’s Pharmacy and Compounding Center in Fairview Park provides individualized attention to patients who need prescriptions not always available from more mainstream pharmacies. “It’s like an old-time pharmacy,” according to Shelia Connell. She and her husband, pharmacist Mike Connell, own the business. Nature’s Pharmacy and Compounding Center provides back-to-basics remedies in the growing compounding pharmacy industry. Medical doctors and veterinarians both prescribe specialized products that are made and dispensed at the pharmacy.

Fitness and exercise are no longer just reserved for personal time. More organizations are providing employees opportunities to exercise on the job. While Silicon Valley companies are best known for providing wellness for their employees, many other firms in other industries are now offering benefits. This expansion has created a market for entrepreneurs who design and provide fitness and wellness programs.

No More Business Lunch?

Entrepreneurs are meeting clients for a run or spinning class instead of for a meal or drinks. Business is not just for the golf course anymore and entrepreneurs are finding ways to capitalize on this movement.

For more information, Dr. Haan can be contacted at 419-618-2867 or

Perry Haan

Dr. Perry Haan is Professor of Marketing and Entrepreneurship and former Dean of the Business School at Tiffin University. He resides in Rocky River.

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Volume 1, Issue 7, Posted 12:50 PM, 01.07.2014