The Ashbourne Team Joined The Community At Ireland Active Conference 2021

Ashbourne Membership Management Team Ireland Active 2021

Ashbourne Management Group Photos

 

Over the weekend, the Ashbourne team had the pleasure of attending our first Ireland Active Conference 2021 at Castleknock Hotel in Dublin.

Our 3 top team members headed out to show the Irish fitness community what great club management looks like and get to know the tribulations faced by Irish gym owners in the wake of lockdown restrictions being lifted.

Our dream team consisted of:

Evie Blackburn, the head of our support team who solve every single one of our customers’ issues.

Grant Harrison, our sales director who personally walks every single club through how Ashbourne works.

Shannon White, the latest addition to our sales team focused on reaching out to spread the good word about Ashbourne.

 

Ashbourne Group Photo

 

A Huge Thanks To The Ireland Active Team

As our first in-person conference of the year, it was incredible seeing members of the community outside of a screen for the first time in over 18 months, which gave us the opportunity to have some great chats with leisure centre and gym owners from across Ireland.

We wanted to give a special thanks to the conference organiser Niamh Norton, who gave us the warmest welcome into the Ireland Active community. We’re looking forward to being as involved as we can in the Irish fitness community as we continue to help clubs across Ireland grow their clubs and retain their members in one of the biggest shake ups to the fitness industry.

We’ve been putting in a lot of effort recently to become truly integrated with the Irish fitness community. Since we set up our new office home in Ireland, nothing has been made more clear to us that Ireland is a thoroughly unique place to do business, where personal relationships are at the heart of every single business decision.

 

 

We’re Always Here To Talk Fitness

We’re a newly established Irish company who love meeting with everyone across the Irish fitness industry and learning everything there is to know about your day-to-day. We’re eager to chat about your business’ successes, trials and what you need to reach your dream goals; and how we can help you get there.

We pride ourselves on our customer service, which we couple with the most diverse offering of gym management software available today. We handle everything from direct debits, missed payment collection, class booking, full club membership software and website building – we truly become part of your team and your gym’s day-to-day.

Our success relies on our team being as integrated in your club as possible. It’s why we like to put a name and a face to our staff, so if you ever need something taken care of, you can always talk to someone who you know will personally help you out.

You can get in touch with us at any time to book a demo, or simply chat with our team (you can email grant at grant@ashbournemanagement.co.uk) about what you need from your club management service. We can’t wait to talk to you in the upcoming weeks to kick off your 2022.

Stop business bad habits forming in your new club (before you even start!)

New Business Planning in writing

New Business Plan chapter one (1920x1080)

 

For this week’s blog, we will be drafting a checklist of Five Key Steps To Starting Your Gym Business and how you can avoid the worst business habits before they even have time to form.

The first months of a new gym or fitness club business are a real make or break period. While it is entirely possible to let your gym business come together naturally, if you leave too much up to chance and happenstance, bad habits could form within your Gym that will be hard to remove.

A bad habit formed within the first six months of a business’ lifespan can become systemic, and this could spell disaster if it is costing you your reputation, customers and income. 

But rest assured, we are here with a detailed list of ten things to keep in mind as you set up your Gym Business. These have been picked from our wealth of experience working with Gyms and Fitness Clubs across the UK and Ireland, and have been designed to ensure that your new Gym Business doesn’t form any bad habits. As such, we will be focusing mainly on how to set up your “business as usual tasks” (from here on in we will be calling that BAU for short) to minimise the chance of introducing systemic inefficiencies.

 

Starting At The Top: Defining the management structure of your Gym Business

From the outset, you should have a clear idea of what the management structure of your Gym Business or Fitness Club is going to look like. In this section, we will be looking at how to ensure that when the launch day for your Gym business comes around, everyone knows their position, their responsibilities and their objectives. 

Ideally, you will have certain positions already filled with people that you know are capable. Bringing in people who you trust, and who are capable of doing the job from day one will be a massive boon to your business. Having an established working relationship will go a long way when it comes to navigating the tumultuous first few months of any Gym business venture.

 

 

building simple house of cards

We think you can probably understand where we’re going with this…

 

However we appreciate that this isn’t always possible. If you are starting a Gym and many of your positions are not yet filled, our advice would be to lock in as many of these roles before launch day. Preferably with plenty of time to space.

Most likely, you are going to have an aspirational launch date, and this can be perfect for giving your new talent time to wrap up any existing commitments they have.

If you have the time, make sure you look for people who not only have the necessary skills, but seem like they will be able to innovate and work under pressure. In the first few months of your Gym Business’s lifespan, there will be a lot of decisions to make. Many of these decisions will subtly (or not so subtly) affect the course that your Gym Business will take. As such, it is important that you trust the individuals that will compromise your Management Team.

 

The other important aspect of this section is Structure.

 

A talented, innovative individual in a broken structure will always struggle to make the impact you want, regardless of their talents.

Therefore, once you are sure that you’ve hired individuals you trust, create a management structure that empowers them to make decisions, but one that will keep you, as the leader, in the loop.

Make sure that there aren’t overlaps in authority where possible. If there absolutely has to be, make sure that each of the people in the structure knows who has priority in which part of the business. Draft a list of all key responsibilities within your new Gym business and ensure that every single one is covered off by an individual.

house of cards fallingWhere possible, avoid single points of failure. It might be tempting when you have one person who can do multiple roles, especially in a small Gym business that is starting up. But that person is going to have to take a holiday, and might even have to take unexpected time off. As such, there should always be someone who can run the BAU operations when they are out.

This doesn’t mean you need to train them on the entire job, wholesale. Just make sure that whoever is designated knows enough to make it possible for the business to function. Depending on the workload you’ve assigned, you could even take this back-up role. Learning some of the roles well enough that you could do them in a pinch will prove invaluable when it comes to making sure that these job positions are performing to an optimal standard. 

Finally, make sure your upper management structure is lean and dynamic within your new Gym Business. The last thing you need is several people doing the same job. Make sure that your management team can respond to changing situations early on. If something isn’t working every single business day, it might be time to adapt the team. Keep aspects of your team modular where possible so that moving one piece doesn’t cause the entire house of cards to collapse.

This philosophy of efficient, dynamic and lean structure should be applied not just to your management team, but across the entire structure of your Gym. There is no reason that this line of thinking needs to stop with your management team.

Consider applying similar approaches to your rank and file employees as well where possible.

 

Make Sure Your Marketing Works From Before Day 1!

making new post on instagramMarketing is going to be a perennial issue for your Gym business throughout its lifespan, but at no point will it be more important than in the initial start-up period.

The marketing campaigns that you run in the first few months are going to look very different in message and intensity to any other period.

This isn’t a bad thing, if done right, it can be an incredibly effective way to catch-up with your more established competitors, but it is going to take a significant amount of time and energy. Finally, it isn’t a strategy that is meant to last forever. The marketing strategy of your first months shouldn’t become your Gym Business’s BAU. 

As you are starting up, two key factors at the front of your mind should be:

  • Your target demographics

AND

  • Your brand identity

 

These two should be interconnected to a degree, so there is no harm thinking about them at the same time. As you are starting up your marketing campaigns, you should be constantly focusing on your target audience and your ideal customers.

Are your ideal customers the dissatisfied members of a local competitor Gym?

Are they people who have never set foot in a Gym before?

 

Obviously you needn’t (and shouldn’t) limit yourself to one demographic. But it is important to understand who you are pushing your message to.

This is particularly pertinent at time of writing. The Covid-19 Pandemic of the last eighteen months has dramatically changed Gym membership trends across the fitness industry. If you are starting a new Gym Business in and around the ongoing pandemic, there is a unique opportunity to capitalise on the shift in both consumer trends and the demographic shift away from the cities. Given that established Gyms and brands will often have an in-built advantage, this could be invaluable for giving your new start-up the edge.

When it comes to brand, you want this to be in support of your brand identity. If you are targeting local, more traditional and maybe slightly older Gym goers, then a flash, post-modern Gym logo and name probably won’t get you very far. Conversely though, if you are trying to get Gen Z and younger Millennials into your Gym, a heavily online and convenient brand supported by unorthodox social media tactics will be perfect. 

Your marketing strategy shouldn’t just be the same methods with a different message. Different demographics will respond better to different methods of outreaching and communication and it is important that there is as little dissonance as possible between the marketing methodology of your Gym business and the brand identity you are striving for.

 

Ashbourne Blog

 

For instance, if you’re targeting an older audience then Instagram or Tik Tok is going to be a bad way to keep in touch. Conversely, your younger members aren’t going to be as active on Facebook.

 

This can be very costly if you spend your first few months making these kind of communication mistakes, so make sure that you have a customer in mind and invest all your time into reaching them where their attention is.

Think about what you can influence and what you can’t. If you don’t have control over the front of your Gym’s facility, it is important to keep that in mind when creating marketing materials. There will be a significant amount of dissonance created if your marketing implies that it is a trendy and high-tech facility and yet the front of your Gym just looks like a normal converted retail unit. That doesn’t mean it is impossible, but if there are certain realities that can’t be changed, you need to think about how your marketing strategy will address and work around them.

Finally if you have any sponsors or partners already lined up before the launch of your Gym Business, now is the time to utilise them post heavily. If you are having a launch party, make sure that everyone on your sponsor’s mailing list knows about it. Make sure that if your sponsors or partners have a physical store that the appropriate marketing material is there.

Utilise their existing social media following to start getting  and traffic to your own social media accounts.

 

Successfully Weight Up Your Risks And Opportunities

Speaking of the Covid-19 pandemic, this section feels particularly pertinent at the time of writing. The next key thing we would urge you to consider whilst in the process of starting your Gym business are the Risks and Opportunities that might occur. Now this might seem obvious and intuitive.

The big risk is the business might not work, right?

Well, we don’t just mean you need to think about everything that could happen, but what you will do if it does happen. 

With the last eighteen months of the Covid-19 pandemic now thankfully behind us, we feel pretty safe in saying that things won’t always go as we had planned them. In the post Covid-19 era, a Gym will be partially defined by what measures it will be willing and able to take to cope with outbreaks. On the other hand, the Pandemic offered a chance for innovation for those who were adaptable and prepared. 

Pros and cons symbolsIt is important that while you are starting your Gym business, you look at what you will do when risks and opportunities present themselves. Drafting a list of potential positive and negative scenarios with your management team will go a long way.

Some examples of this could include one or more of your competitors closing down, or more Gym’s starting up nearby. It could include the return of Lockdown if the pandemic continues to worsen, or a significant growth in the population of your local area due to the demographic movements over the last two years.

List the actions that can be taken as you start-up to take advantage of this situation should it occur. If they are comparatively inexpensive, then consider doing them ahead of time. If they will bring benefits irrespective of whether the situation comes to pass, even better. By implementing this forward thinking, agile approach, your Gym business can be ready to deal with any risk and capitalise on any opportunity at a moment’s notice.

 

DO YOUR RESEARCH!: Understand Your Area And The Competition Your Gym Will Face

Next we will be focusing on market research with a specific focus on the competition in the local area that your new Gym business will be operating in. Developing a good understanding of your competition and their capacity and ability to compete with your operation will be one of the keys to creating a successful Gym Business. If you are successful in your research, you will be able to carve out an existing piece of the competitive marketplace your Gym is setting up in.

A basic competitor analysis

Start by making a list of every competing Gym or Fitness Club in your area.

Once you have done this, whittle it down to the few Gyms and Fitness Clubs that are trying to do what you envisage your new Gym business will focus on.

For example if you plan for your facility to have a swimming pool, then it is only natural that say, the university pool, or the community pool is therefore a competitor. It takes a portion of that market share that you will be focusing on. On the other hand, if you are setting up a Gym that only deals in cardio and weight machines, the local swimming pool probably isn’t your biggest concern.

 

Make additional notes and flesh out your competition.

When we say make a list, unfortunately we don’t just mean to write down the name of the Gym or Fitness Club in question and call it a day. While this would be much easier, a list of names isn’t much use. You and your management team won’t learn much by reading the words ‘Jim’s Gym’.

But if underneath the words ‘Jim’s Gym’ there is a list of every piece of equipment at that Gym and the number of members, suddenly this goes from a list to a battlemap. A valuable document that will help you understand the area you are hoping to conquer. 

 

In addition, you should be listing the demographics each of these Gyms and Fitness Clubs are focusing on, and which they are ignoring. Hopefully it should quickly become apparent while doing your research what the target audience of each given Gym in your area is.

 

This may require a few boots on the ground (or hands on keyboards), but knowledge is power and the price for this knowledge is relatively low. 

In addition to the quantity and focus, you also want to be looking for the quality of your competition. Specifically you want to be looking at how effective and efficient the competing Gym businesses in your target area are. This information might be harder to obtain and verify, but if you can determine how satisfied a Gym’s members are with the Gym, it could go a long way to understanding their viability as a competitor to your new Gym business venture. It could be daunting if you knew that there were three dedicated cardio-focused Gym or Fitness Club establishments in your local area, but if you know one is in financial trouble and the other two are chronically mismanaged then the paradigm shifts somewhat. What could, at first glance look like a crowded marketplace becomes an arena ripe for expansion.

As a closing note, it is important to state that this market research and competitor analysis should be done as early as possible in the cycle of launching your Gym business. It is also not something that should just be done once and then ticked off. The market is constantly changing, and what is true in January might not be in June. Where possible, keep your competitor research moving on a rolling basis. This doesn’t necessarily mean a weekly visit to your competitor’s Gym (they might start to get suspicious), but if you are basing a Gym business decision on a piece of information, it is prudent to check it is still correct.

 

Get Your Payment Collection Sorted From The Start

For our final section, we will be focusing on one of the most important aspects of your new Gym Business. Collecting payment from your members and for the goods and services that you will be providing. It is imperative, especially in the early stages of a Gym Business’s lifespan, that the cashflow goes unimpeded. It is what stops a company from being a massive money sink and it is what will convince your investors that they made the right decision. 

As such, you have a huge incentive to ensure that there are minimal barriers between your new members’ bank accounts and your Gym’s bank account. The last thing you want to happen is for your Gym to initially accept all sorts of payment types in a desperate bid to collect capital. There can be a temptation to accept cash, card payments and even cheques, just to make sure those positive numbers are coming into your Gym’s bank balance. But this is a trap. All of those different payment methods will make for an administratively intensive workload.

 

man confused by accounting

Your also accountant won’t thank you (especially if you are your own bookkeeper)

 

This is exactly the sort of bad habit we were talking about in the introduction to this blog. It is the sort of procedure you don’t want becoming your BAU practice. If every month you are having to reconcile large amounts of payment data, in three or four different payment categories and collate them against your Gym membership records. Well, we don’t have to tell you that that is a bureaucratic nightmare unfolding before your eyes.

But with a little bit of planning and philosophical reflection on the nature of Gym membership, this can be avoided. It starts with recognising that the collection of a Gym payment isn’t solely about making sure the money goes from point A to point B. It is closely connected to the management of the Gym Membership itself. We have seen a lot of Gym’s have made it so that the collection of payment is a separate entity in constant conflict with the administration of Gym membership, but this needn’t be the case.

This is where the market has provided a convenient and powerful solution in the form of third party direct debit management companies. This system of managing Gym membership has become one of the go-to methods of payment collection, and with good reason. It has helped make membership payments easier for both Gym’s and their members through applied knowledge, expertise and technical innovation.

The main draw here is that these systems are often light-weight, easily integrated (especially if you are starting a new Gym business) and convenient for all parties involved. It can help reduce the administrative workload around payment collection and reconciliation, as well as provide an expanding payment platform if you intend your Gym business to branch out into other services. 

These companies have achieved this by utilising new payment technologies, such as the safe, easy to setup and unobtrusive direct debit payment system. This system works great for well-established mega-Gyms and local, single-Gym start-ups alike. It allows for a scaling system, going as granular as even payment per membership. This means that the relative difference in cost and workload can grow steadily alongside your business. 

Furthermore, the expertise that these companies can bring to a fledgling Gym business venture can be invaluable. Money is an omnipresent concern, but the collection of it needn’t be something that dominates your thoughts in the first months. By allowing a team of qualified, experienced experts to deal with the collection of your Gym membership payment structure, this will allow you to focus on the other pertinent tasks and objectives required to launch a successful Gym business.

 

In Conclusion – Plan Ahead Not After

And so there we have it, we hope you have gained some insight into these five different areas of starting a new Gym business. If you have found this article useful, please save it or bookmark it and refer back to it as you embark upon your new business venture. Now all we have left to say is good luck!

 

Want To Solve All These Problems? Let us take a load of your mind

Here at Ashbourne, we have a proven track record, having helped thousands of Gym and Fitness Club owners across the UK and Ireland over the last 25 years. We have been personally responsible for managing membership payments and assisting the day-to-day runnings of thousands of clients. We have been a valuable partner to all of our clients and we hope prove that we can be a valuable business partner to your new Gym as well

Over the last two and a half decades, we have developed an advanced payment collection and direct debit system that is world class. We have refined our operation, with the ability to integrate our club management software solution into nearly any Gym or Fitness Club infrastructure. We are confident that we have everything we need to help run your club efficiently, effectively and profitably from day one. 

Our software has been developed to ensure frictionless integration and exchange within your Gym’s existing infrastructure. Equally, if you are in the process of starting a new Gym, we will be able to work with you to ensure that our systems work seamlessly with your own from launch day onwards.  Using our unrivaled knowledge of the fitness industry, we hope to be able to astound your new members with the ease and efficiency of our payment system. You won’t just be obtaining a new piece of software, you’ll be engaging with a partner who understands what it takes to become successful, one that will help you grow your business.

Interested in finding out more? Show us the Gym business plan template you’ve just crafted and let’s begin the process of upgrading your club.

8 Things To Consider About Your Post-Lockdown Exercise Routine

Women working out together in gym class

Lockdown and the Covid-19 Pandemic were a major disruption to many of our workout cycles, including my own. The closure of gyms, the shifting of work schedules, and the rewiring of our social lives all took their toll and took us out of the natural rhythm we were in pre-2020.  

It can be hard to get back into the swing of things. If an activity, such as going to the Gym, has a regular slot or time hollowed out in your schedule, it is that much easier to stick to.

However, just as Lockdown scrambled our schedules. Over a year later, the lifting of that Lockdown threatens to do the same.

Regular exercise is important for all aspects of our health, be it mental or physical. And as such, it is important to get that routine back in full swing as soon as possible. You’ve got to enjoy the exercise routine you set out for yourself, and if you are constantly trying to make time, or worse, feeling guilty about not making time, then it will all be for nought. 

 

As such, I’ve put together some tips from my hard-learned experience and others about how to get back into an exercise routine that works for you, ready for the reopening of Gyms and Fitness Clubs throughout the country. 

 

1. Plan a Routine

An old Prussian General called Moltke the Elder once said that no plan survives the first encounter with an enemy. In the same vein, no workout routine really survives the first encounter with reality.

But that is no excuse not to plan. Moltke was a master-planner and his strength was recognising that a plan was necessary, but that flexibility was paramount.

His philosophy lives on today in the AGILE method of work used in offices. And it should be used in planning your workout routine. Your plan is your guideline, and if a part of it doesn’t work out, it should be flexible to cope and adapt to that. 


Sometimes something will get in the way, an important meeting, a family emergency. Have overflow in your routine to be able to slot in a backup workout session without it feeling like a defeat. A friend of mine has a two-tier system. He strives to go to his gym at lunch every day, and if he can’t, he goes after work. It is simple but effective. Giving him the wriggle-room necessary to adapt to his mood. 

 

2. Trial Your Routine 

Visiting our good friend the General for some more advice. Trial your routine and learn from that test.

Did you try to work out at Lunch every day this week? Did you feel really hungry and tired in the latter part of the day? Maybe every day is too much, maybe Lunch isn’t the time for you. 

 

Did you set out an ambitious plan and end up only sticking to half of it? That might be a good indication to scale back your plan. Not by the full 50% you missed, but maybe by around 70 to 80%. See how your next week goes. 

 

Remember the days that work really well. Did Thursday’s workout feel beautifully stress free because you have nothing on in the evening after work? Then lock that one in place. Did Friday Evening on the other hand drag because you were missing out on all that weekend goodness. Then maybe try and lock in Friday morning instead. Adapt and learn from your routine. Otherwise you’ll forever be hostage to something you aren’t enjoying, poor motivation to stick to it, and no good for your mood or self-esteem. 

 

3. Variety is the Spice of Life. What do you want to do?

While this list is mainly focused on lockdown ending and the return to your Gym or Fitness Club, that doesn’t mean it is the only thing you need to do.

 

Mix it up. Classes will be reopening now with the lifting of restrictions and that means an unprecedented amount of variety. And I’m not limiting this to just resistance and spin classes. There is a whole world opening out there again. Dancing, football, rock climbing, paddleboarding. There are a hundred ways to move your body, so don’t limit yourself to 30 minutes on the treadmill every day.

We’ve spent a good portion of this year trying to reconstruct a routine under a limited set of parameters. It is time to get out there and find out what you love and what works for you.

 

4. Find a friend

Speaking of limitations. Another limitation you no doubt keenly felt this past year, unless you live on a commune, is the inability to see your friends.

What better way to reintroduce yourself to the world then by syncing up some of your workout routines with a friend. This will be a great way to get back to socialising and make your restart less daunting.


In addition, you and your friend will be able to keep each other honest. With someone to motivate you and observe your triumphs and failings, your journey to a fitness routine will be that much easier. 

 

5. Find a Target

So I’ve run out of quotes from our friend the General, but I’m pretty sure he didn’t make all those plans without a goal in mind. So let’s talk about targets.

 

A routine isn’t going to do all that much unless you have a target in mind. Now this target isn’t set in stone. As we discussed in point one, you’ll be shifting aspects of your routine as you learn what works and what doesn’t.

Your targets are the same. This will either be because you achieve them, or because your values change. Want to dress up as Conan the Barbarian for Halloween? Might need some more Chest Press in that routine. Halloween passed and you are now trying to keep that winter weight at bay? To the treadmill my friend.

Your circumstance and desires as you go through life will change, and your routine will change with it. But always have a goal, even if it is as minor as to just keep maintaining your existing gains. 

 

Finally, think about what really motivates you to exercise. It doesn’t have to be something grandiose like winning Mr Universe. It can be as simple as because you really enjoy exercising, or because it puts you in a good state of mind for work, or for the evening at home.

 

6. Don’t Burn Yourself Out

Leading on nicely. Be kind to yourself, in your routine, and your target. It has been a tough and extraordinary time over the last eighteen months. And many of us are in a very different place to where we were before.

This doesn’t mean you need to crack out the whip and pump iron until you can’t move. That is, in fact, the opposite of useful. What we are looking to do is build a sustainable, responsible but effective routine. 


And you hitting the gym twice a day, seven days a week until you’ve atoned for that lost year isn’t any of those things. It isn’t sustainable as you won’t keep it up and form a habit. It isn’t responsible as you may well damage your body, and it isn’t effective because you need time to recover.


Obviously, that is an extreme example, but we all have limits and this lockdown represents the perfect storm to accidentally over-exert yourself. You never want to hit the point where a workout will be pointless damage to your body. Sustainability is the name of the game. Ideally, you want this routine to be one you are doing for a long time (albeit with minor tweaks). 

 

7. Make sure to get enough rest

Once again with an effortless segue between topics, the last point reinforces why it is all the more important to factor REST into your routine. Like Plato understood when he was hanging out in a cave, without the dark we cannot know the light. And without rest, we cannot get the results we desire.

 

While it might not be as glamorous as going up another 5k in your reps and sets. It is how you are going to enable your body to make those improvements and therefore it can’t be taken for granted.

 

As we referenced in points 1 and 2, this means that if you have a day where you’ve got a workout planned and your body just doesn’t feel ready. The issue might not be with you, but with your routine. Examine it closely, is this a one-off, or are you pushing yourself too hard. The last thing anyone wants, you most of all, is permanent damage to your body. Your routine should be designed to protect you from this possibility, but if you ever feel yourself falling out of sync. Rest up.

 

8. Your Point of View

Mindset is key in every walk of life. Whether something is bearable or unbearable will nearly always come down to mindset and your Gym or Fitness Club workout routine is no exception.

Whether or not you are finding the workout enjoyable is what really matters. As I mentioned in the variety section, find out what works for you. As I mentioned in the Target section, understand what benefits you and your body. But most importantly it has got to be something you enjoy doing. Take my go-to example, the rear delt fly. I literally look forward to the moment I can sit down and do that exercise. And that is how you should eventually feel about at least one aspect of your routine, and preferably more.

There will always be parts you enjoy less. I hate treadmills if you couldn’t tell. But I still get on one because I recognise it is an important part of what will help keep me in good shape. (And if I’m not feeling like it, see point 2, I just use the cross-trainer instead). 

 

And In Closing…


If you’ve been paying attention, you might have noticed that a lot of this revolves around planning, trial, and error. Finding your feet with a new routine post-Lockdown is going to be all about practice, perseverance, and persistence.

Remember it isn’t a race against anyone else other than yourself. We have all been locked away for a long time, and many of us haven’t exercised around other individuals in over a year. Celebrate your successes, learn from your failures. If you can celebrate the successes of others then all the better. 

 

The Gym and Fitness Club environment is going to continue to be strange for a while to come. Covid-19 safety restrictions and measures will continue to be in force, and the looming threat of another lockdown is a distinct possibility as we move into the winter.

As such, it is all the more important that you remain optimistic, structured yet flexible in your approach to working out. Utilise your Gym or Fitness Club while you can, as long as it is safe and appropriate to do so. 


This journey is all about improving yourself in whatever ways you want and that is worthy of celebration. It is harder than it sounds, but if done right, it is worth doing. Good luck!

Simple Ways To Improve Membership Retention

Membership retention at gyms is something that has always been a challenge. With so many people choosing to embark on a fitness journey, it is no surprise that around half of people who start an exercise programme will drop out within the first six months.

With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, an entirely different set of challenges were given to gyms in order to retain their members. Due to the overwhelming uncertainty it caused, many gym-goers opted to cancel their gym memberships for a range of reasons. Even with facilities reopening, there is understandably some hesitancy and reluctance for people to get back in the gym.

Getting new members in the door will always be important in order to grow your gym, but looking after your current active members and those members who were forced to leave due to worldwide issues, out of their control, is the true key to the success of your club.

Putting retention strategies in place in order to ensure your members aren’t tempted to leave is imperative – now more than ever.

 

1. Create a loyalty Programme

Do not get so caught up in chasing and trying to attract new members that you neglect the old guard. These are the loyal, 4 times a week gym members. 

A loyalty programme is more important than any other marketing programme you have. If you treat the top 10% of your customers right, they will take care of most of your other marketing for you.

Keep the people who love you in love with you. Come up with loyalty programmes to make them feel appreciated:

  • Free Gold Member t-shirts for members that have been with you for an extended period.
  • If you have extra services at your club like massage therapists, supplements or a juice bar, give them a coupon for one of them.
  • Small touches can make them feel special – reward your members with free tea and coffee/ protein shakes. “I’ll get this protein shake for you John as a thanks for being such a loyal member.”

 

2. Build a Great Blog

Daily exercise tips, diet and nutrition tips, wellness, weightlifting, sports – comment regularly online about ANYTHING! A blog/newsfeed update keeps people up-to-date with what’s going on at your club. But more importantly, it builds a community link between your members and your staff and trainers. This further develops your customer loyalty.

Spread the writing of material amongst your team. Get your personal trainers to write about their particular areas of knowledge and expertise + their case study success stories in relation to results gained by particular members. All this is likely to lead to more training enrolments.

Encourage PTs to send out this info by email, even on Twitter and Facebook. This will lead to more referrals, which all leads to more business.

Most clubs say that member interaction is what separates them from chain clubs. But as these chains grow and their prices come down, independents have to work even harder at service. Most chain gyms have a receptionist who welcomes each member by name as they swipe in – they don’t know the name, they just see it on-screen. This is so powerful in terms of retention!

 

Ashbourne Blog

 

3. Get Personal With All Your Members

Do you know the name of everyone in your club? Could you greet each one?

It’s also not just about knowing everyone’s name, what can really separate you from the larger clubs is knowing more about your members. Know something personal – why they are here, the real emotional reason i.e. not just to lose weight but deeper than that. ”I want to lose weight so I can walk my daughter up the aisle without getting out of breath”.

Take an interest in what they like to do outside of the club. Get to know about members of their family – this will make them feel special/part of the club and that you really care about them.

Just asking general questions is not enough – “How’s the programme going?” will not get you an interesting answer. Compare this to, “How’s your training going for the London Marathon that you are running in April?” or, “How did your daughter get on in her dance performance?”

How much more powerful is this for retention? With a small membership this is easy, but how to stay on top of this info with hundreds or thousands of members? The best way is to use a software package that has an easy to use Notes section. This cuts out the impossible task of trying to remember all these details! With good entry software you and all of your team can know so much about each member and then really make them feel part of your club.

 

4. Include Details of Members in the Newsletter (With Consent!)

Remember that Newsletter we suggested you publish all those points ago? Well, you can use this to communicate with your members about the latest developments in and out of the club when it comes to their members. This could and should include success stories, charity initiatives, notable birthdays etc.

People, and especially members, love the lauding of their achievements. And you should as well! Go them! 

 

5. Create A Community In Your Club

Engaging a member with events and activities shows that you are putting their needs and experience above that of profit for the club… but in fact, we all know that a happy member is a loyal member and those loyal members are what keep us making a profit.

Engage members in various ways to keep them motivated and to feel that the gym is their club, their “3rd space” other than work and home. Turn a group of customers into a community. Creating this community feel within your club will not only keep your members confident that you care about them as people (rather than just their exercise results) but they will also have a fear of loss if they do not attend.

Many members will turn up at the club even if they have no intention of training just to see what is going on. Create various challenges for members as well as social events. These activities cost very little to organise and implement but will save you a fortune compared with the marketing costs needed to recruit new members in place of those members you have lost.

 

Facebook Community

6. Use Major Sporting Events To Your Advantage

Big sporting events can keep people at home watching TV so it’s important to turn them to your advantage instead:

  • Link spinning class challenges to the route of the Tour de France
  • Organise sweepstakes for events such as the World Cup
  • Create communal viewing of big sporting events on TV – it’s more fun to watch a big match in a group than on your own at home…

 

7. Coast-to-Coast Challenge

Create a map of the country and for each mile, a member completes on the treadmill they are able to move 1 kilometre along a predetermined route on the map. So, rather than someone just “going on the treadmill” they actually have an incentive to get across the country and complete the challenge.

If a member completes two miles a session then in two sessions a week they would complete the challenge in 8 months. For members on rolling contracts, this helps to keep them at the club.

 

8. Run Topical Workout Clubs

 As we said earlier, is the Tour De France on? Guess where your Spin-Club is racing today. Is the F1 at Monaco? Let’s go for a ride around Monte Carlo.

The Olympics? The London Marathon? The World Cup? Mr Universe?

When Covid-19 isn’t raging there is always something on the sporting Calendar. It is your job to incorporate these events and advertise them ahead of time.

 

9. Organise A Friday Coffee Morning

In most Fitness Clubs and Gyms, Friday is the quietest day. Offer a coffee morning in reception or in a dedicated coffee area. This will boost secondary spend as well as increase member interaction. Consider going to them yourself to allow members to give feedback in a neutral environment straight to the person who matters and can affect change.

Coffee Morning

 

10. Create The Best Layout For Your Reception Area

Make sure your reception desk is properly equipped to handle customer complaints or issues and prep your staff on standard procedures. Make sure you follow through in a timely manner when any issues do come up.

Gyms that hire people with a willingness to help will attract and retain more customers than a gym that offers 75 different kickboxing classes but whose employees won’t flinch when people have a complaint or service issue. The ability to relate and empathize with your members is just as important as professional certification.

 

11. Professionalism and Excellent Customer Service Are Your Priorities, Always

This will significantly increase your customer loyalty. Members are demanding more from their health clubs today. They expect to be able to talk to qualified individuals that are willing to listen and help. As we have reinforced before, your staff are some of your most powerful assets

Customers are most satisfied when they interact with self-aware and compassionate people who have the ability to show empathy and optimism. 

Nearly all of your members will appreciate a gym that offers staff that listens to complaints instead of a gym that offers 100 treadmills.

 

12. Retention Rates: Pay Attention To Your Data

For many years, larger gyms have ignored the retention issue and it has proven detrimental to their growth, customer satisfaction, and ultimately, their reputation.

Ask anyone who has been to a large, automated Gym for any length of time and they will most likely have an impersonal story of horror about these soulless and uncaring establishments.

Large enrolment numbers mean nothing if these members are not sticking around for their third or four-month.. It’s the revolving door of fitness. Five come in and 15 go out. Larger gyms don’t always pay attention to this because it’s harder to do.

For smaller gyms, you have an advantage. It’s easier to keep tabs on people and make sure that the core crowd is returning month after month. 

Data Example

13. Be As Visible As Your Staff If Possible

As the owner of the gym, you should strive to be as visible as a Gym Instructor on the floor.

Your staff should work as a team, with the ultimate goal of customer satisfaction and as such we have focused a lot on the guidance you can give them in meeting these aims.

However, at times your gym instructors may not be equipped to handle certain situations, so you as the gym owner should be ready and available to lend support. Showing your strength and versatility as a team and your ability to solve any problem. This will create an impression and a reputation for professionalism and excellence that is not easily forgotten.

 

14. Failure, Feedback and Asking How You Can Improve

In business, humility is a virtue. We do not get everything right the first time, every time. As much as we try and in the Gym and Fitness Club business, this is no less true.

Machines will be over-used or break, members will be stressed and won’t achieve their goals with the best will in the world, the coffee might be luke-warm on coffee Friday. 

It isn’t about the mistake or the short-coming, it is about how it is addressed. Ask your members how you can improve and focus on improving the most often identified areas.

If members see your Gym or Fitness Club shifting based on their advice, it will make an impression that won’t soon be forgotten. 

 

15. Target ‘high yield’ customers

Conduct a membership survey with an incentive for participating. The most valuable information about how your brand is portrayed is going to come directly from the target of your brand message, your members. You should use this information to find out what areas require improvement and also to build on and perpetuate areas of strength.

Operators who measure retention using ‘length of stay’ are ahead of the game as they are able to analyse key member characteristics in their data in order to identify which types of members stay the longest. Understanding which members stay longest and pay more over the course of their membership life will allow you to plan for future years and will influence sales drives etc.

Customer Satisfaction

 

16. Identify High-Risk Customers

Major Gyms and Fitness Clubs have been conducting detailed studies and analysis into ‘high risk’ customers. 

This is a form of agile customer retention that can prove highly effective in identifying and retaining flagging members. 

Meaning those customers most likely to cancel at a given point in time.

These studies show that when it comes to retention, prevention is far better than cure. Identify existing members who are at risk of leaving so that there is more time to intervene before they make the decision to leave.

Fall off in attendance, lack of engagement in classes, the signs aren’t hard to read. It is up to you and your staff to develop strategies to re-engage members in an organic, naturalistic, and unobtrusive way.

 

17. Understand Which Members Are No Longer In Contact and Learn How To Work Around This

Assign responsibility and set up a plan. Your first step will be to identify which member of staff will have responsibility for this area. Track your members so that as soon as they are out of contract you offer them a renewal deal to encourage them to stay. Be careful not to wake any sleeping members who are on rolling deals as you might just remind them to cancel.

Undoubtedly, there will be members who fall off the wagon a little bit. Do your best to try and capture these members early on. If you track attendance, it’s easy to run a report of last visits and call the members you haven’t seen in a while. Monthly newsletters, email campaigns, postcards, and regular Facebook or blog posts are other ways that you can keep your gym fresh in members’ minds and even recapture those you may have lost.

 

18. Stay in Touch

Leading on from the last point. It is important to stay in touch with members throughout their membership, albeit in a meaningful way.

Do not spam them with propaganda and bulk emails. A member should see a notification from your gym or fitness club and be enthused that they have received some quality content. Not another mindless TGIF spam email.

As a service, you exist to add value to your members’ lives and this is no exception.

Fill your emails with interesting events, promotions that are relevant, human interest stories that will ignite their passion and opportunities to improve themselves or their community.

 

19. Improve Your Technology and Research

Members want to feel that their gym has the latest and greatest, both in practicing principles and in equipment.

The reason they aren’t lifting dumbbells at home is because they want the best equipment and expertise at the lowest price. You need to make sure your staff and your equipment is the best it can be on your budget.

If you know you aren’t able to afford expensive new gym equipment, make sure your staff focus is even stronger to compensate and ensure your members are getting value for money.

Gym Equipment

 

20. Achievements Board

Not all achievements are equal. Everyone has a different journey and a different path to take.

Mary might just be interested in making sure she can still run a single kilometre without stopping and John might want to deadlift three times the weight of Mary.

Both of these achievements are important to both individuals and both should be celebrated, with their consent.

If Mary is consistently hitting her goals, then fantastic, and if John has just managed to up his game from 3 Marys to 3 and a half Marys, then excellent! (Though he should probably stop measuring success in Marys).

 

21. Communicate With Members Everywhere

Your Gym or Fitness Club will have certain areas where you have a captive audience. This includes a treadmill, the reception desk, and more pragmatically, the toilet cubicles and changing rooms. 

Use these areas to place posters that reinforce the message and story you want to get across.

Use your latest product or PT package and keep the info up-to-date. Members will be compelled to read the message and you will increase the chance that a member will decide to purchase that extra product from you.

 

22. Monitor Your Competitors and Their Pricing Levels

No man is an island as John Donne said, and neither is any business.

Don’t ignore what your competitors are doing price-wise. Your pricing decisions should be based on real market analysis, so keep an eye on what they’re charging for various membership types.

 

23. Allow Members To ‘Freeze’ Their Memberships

From time to time your members might have a genuine reason for not being able to attend the club. Rather than letting them cancel, allow them to freeze their membership. However, if you just agree to the freeze, the member might at the end of their freeze period stop their direct debit, try to cancel, complain or ask to extend the free. If you set up a system you are far more likely to reintegrate them back into the club.

Contact the member at various stages throughout their freeze period:

  1. a) At the start of the freeze confirm the terms of the freeze and check the members contact details.
  2. b) During the freeze contact the member to remind them you are still there and try to encourage them back earlier.
  3. c) Before the freeze ends to reduce admin, cancelations and encourage them back to the club.

 

 

Over the past 5 of our blog posts, we’ve armed you with 100 tips for recruiting and retaining members, there is only one obstacle standing in your way to running a successful club: implementation. It is time to get some of what we have detailed here underway. 

You’re a smart gym owner or you wouldn’t be reading this guide. You realise that everything boils down to getting and keeping members. You know you need to sort out your marketing, software systems, payment, collection, retention strategy, and more.

But you know all that, and the problem has always been having the time to do it. Who can you trust to allow you to have more time to focus on getting more members?

Ashbourne Membership Management has the solution.

Get in touch for a full demo of our software or to simply have a conversation about how we can help you and your gym achieve its full potential.

 

 

*Remember you can also download all 100 of our proven strategies to attract and retain members completely free! Available here

How Your Members Can Increase Your Gym Membership Sales

Today, we’re going to draw attention to how focusing on your members can in fact increase your membership sales!

Word of mouth has been one of the longest-standing and most successful forms of marketing. Not only is it incredibly cost-effective (costing you nothing!) but it also gives you the opportunity to hear from current paying members about how they are enjoying their membership at your facility and generate some ideas on what you could do to improve.

Impress your current members and they will do some of your marketing efforts for you! Recommending your gym to their friends and family, so let’s get started with our next 17 techniques to help drive your membership sales.

 

1. Breaking Down The Sales Barrier

So through the methods, we have tried so far, you have your prospective member through the door of your Gym or Fitness Club. Great! But if your sales system is an antiquated relic, that prospective member will leave without a membership as quickly as they came in.

Ensure that all of your staff know what is expected of them when a prospective member enters your club and make sure your sales system is carried out on each and every occasion.

When prospects enter your club you need to ensure that the systems are in place to secure the sale. Too many clubs we have seen have outdated and inefficient sign-up systems. These can be inefficient for the customer, taking up a large amount of time or on outdated equipment. Or they can be inefficient for the business, involving forms filled out by hand or done across multiple different systems with different data outputs. 

If this sounds familiar to you, then it is time to step up your Sales game. Things will need to change at your Gym or Fitness club if you wish to compete with the large chain gyms in your area. These gyms have a dedicated sales force that are sales professionals and will recruit the members that should be yours. They also have a strong automation game, with significant numbers of youth sign-ups being done without anyone being involved at all. Purely a digital sales platform.

 

2. Encourage Your Staff To Greet Your Gym Or Fitness Club’s Prospective Members

Much like the perfection of a working Sales doctrine for your staff. Reinforcing common courtesy can go a long way.

A warm smile, a hand-shake (before and hopefully after Covid-19), and an exchange of names can make the entire process less daunting.

Don’t assume that every prospective member will want to be given a hand-guided tour. Some just want to be left to their own devices. But it should be the standard for your staff to offer it and not push it if the offer is rejected.

 

3. Ask Them To Complete The Questionnaire At Or Around Point Of Sale

A simple, non-intrusive, and short questionnaire will help you identify areas of your Gym or Fitness Club that they should be using.

This will help your personal trainer, marketing team and associated staff determine the best course of action with the least intrusive set of information.

 

4. Be Upfront About What Will Happen During The Tour

Run through that you will:

  • Go through the questionnaire
  • Show them around the gym
  • Go through the various membership options and try to find a suitable option for them to join today.

 

5. Ensure The Staff Are Able To Fully Administer The Questionnaire

As we discussed earlier, the Questionnaire should be short and pacey enough that only the most impatient customer will be annoyed filling it out.

Keep the questions strictly necessary to your Gym and your new Member’s development. This will allow you to get the maximum amount of benefit from the start. As we covered in an earlier point, this will increase your chance of gaining and retaining customers. Their journey will be made easier and more impactful by the guidance your staff will be able to offer off of the back of their questionnaire.

 

6. Determine How New Members Heard About The Club

This can be included in the questionnaire or asked separately by staff.

While we want to keep the questionnaire as brief as possible, the answer to this question will be easier to correlate if all of the answers are in the same format from the questionnaire.

The responses to this question will be vital for understanding which of your many attempts to drum up membership are working and which are failing.

 

7. Returning Members

Use the questionnaire to determine if the new member is a returning member.

Perhaps include a section asking why they left or why they are returning. This could be important information for you to learn from when managing and improving your Gym or Fitness Club. 

 

8. Peak or Off-Peak?

Monitor your peak and off-peak foot-fall carefully. 

Your peak times will be important to monitor because an overly crowded Gym will lose members quickly. No one likes not being able to use your rear delt fly machine (as previously established, the best machine).

It is important to understand the equipment that does and does not get used during peak and off-peak times.

 

9. What Equipment Do They Want To Use?

To develop from the previous point. Finding a way to non-intrusively gauge what is being used, what is not being used, and what is being overused will be vital to keep your members happy.

If a member has been unable to use the rear delt fly machine six visits in a row, he might not make a seventh. Obviously, equipment is expensive but so is losing members. Consider your options carefully. A happy gym membership will be largely due to them being able to do the workouts that they want to do. 

 

10. Focus On Their Areas Of Interest

Conduct your tour of your facility by showing the areas that are of most interest to them. Invite the prospect to try a piece of equipment to experience how easy it is to use – ensure the weight is set low on resistance equipment.

 

11. Try The Equipment

While we are talking about equipment. Try your wares or get someone you trust to try your equipment.

Whilst your staff should have a set maintenance pattern to ensure your equipment is up to snuff. It never hurts to sample your produce. If there have been a lot of complaints about a certain piece of equipment, there might be an even better reason to test it out.

Understand if your chest press machine is the best it can be! 

 

12. Demonstrate Relevant Equipment On The Tour

Using the questionnaire, understand the goals of the new member receiving the tour and make sure the staff understands the best pieces of equipment to utilise during the tour.

Does the customer want to look like Arnold Schwarzenegger in the 1960s? I think they need a tore of the bicep and tricep machine, as well as a hefty go at the Chest Press. 

Are they wanting to look like Bruce Lee? They should meet their new best friend the rear fly delt machine and a treadmill. 

 

13. Price Options and The Tour

Make sure the staff giving the tour fully understand the different price points and tiers that your gym is offering. These will be vital to make sure the customer gets the best deal and your Gym or Fitness Club gets the correct amount of money.

 

14. FOMO And The Introductory Tour

Creating Fear of Missing Out on the introductory tour can be risky, especially if the customer is only there on a day visit on a week pass.

However, it can also be incredibly effective.

Work with your staff to understand which feel comfortable doing this in a way that doesn’t exploit the customer, whilst still effectively allowing them to make a decision that otherwise they might be hesitant to make. 

 

15. Closing The Sale Whilst on the Introductory Tour

Again, leading on from the last point. Make sure your staff understands how to close a sale in a way that won’t be crude, awkward, or overly apparent.

Not all gym staff are natural salesmen and the last thing you want is your Gym or Fitness Club associated with primitive pressure tactics.

 

16. Dealing With Objections

As we’ve addressed earlier, sometimes trying to close a sale will result in objections, even with all the tact in the world.

It is important that your staff understand when it is appropriate to push the matter and when it is appropriate to back off and take the loss, so to speak.

Sometimes mindlessly and relentlessly chasing the close will do more damage than good. 

 

17. Close The Sale!

With all objections overcome; with the emotional reasons for joining revealed and targeted; with the relevant parts of your facility clearly explained and demonstrated; and with the most suitable pricing options promoted, you should get the sale!

To help you further, here are various techniques you can use that will help you to close the sale:

  • Be assumptive during the tour and act as if the other person has made the decision to buy already.
  • Turn the focus of the conversation towards the next level of questions and assume the buying decision has already been made. For instance, “Once you have joined will you be bringing a friend?” When you act as though something is already true it is much more difficult for the prospect to deny it.
  • The alternative close works by offering more than one clearly defined alternative to the customer. If there is no third choice (i.e. to think about it), then they must pick one or the other. For instance, “Would you prefer the monthly direct debit option or the 12 month membership?” This works well when combined with being assumptive as the prospect only has a limited number of choices and not joining is no longer an available option.
  • List the pros and the cons of the prospect purchasing to show clearly that it will be a good decision to join. Ensure that the pros always outweigh the cons and the member will be certain to join.
  • When overcoming an objection, isolate that objection and ask if that is their only concern otherwise you will find you are just trying to overcome objection after objection. For example if a prospect says they can’t afford the joining fee use the conditional close, “If I can lower your deposit, will you be happy to take the membership today?” You’ve then established that if you can overcome this objection there shouldn’t be anything left holding them back.
  • When people are procrastinating or dithering over whether they should buy now or buy later, show them that delaying will either get them no advantage or may even be to their disadvantage. Talk about what they will miss by not having a membership over the coming period and emphasise the fact that they will miss out on the first visit discount.
  • The key to closing a sale is enthusiasm. Have a passion for what you trying to sell – if you believe in your product you are far more likely to convert the prospect. Make them feel what you feel. Making them excited about achieving their fitness and emotional goals will help transfer the enthusiasm.
  • A sale is either you convincing them that it’s the way to go, or them convincing you that they are right. The enthusiasm helps you convince them. Conviction and enthusiasm that the best thing for them to do is exercise at your club.
  • Positive body language will help reinforce that your staff genuinely want to help your customers achieve their goals. 
  • Every interaction with a prospective customer helps to reinforce their opinion of your Gym or Fitness Club. Ensure that you and your team exude confidence and a welcoming attitude even down to your answerphone message.
  • Find a positive in everything and try to get excited about that.
  • FOMO: Make the customer understand why it is in their best interest to commit to your Gym or Fitness Club today.

 

Now you’re armed with even more tips for recruiting and retaining members, there is only one obstacle standing in your way to running a successful club: implementation. It is time to get some of what we have detailed here underway. 

You’re a smart gym owner or you wouldn’t be reading this blog. You realise that everything boils down to getting and keeping members. You know you need to sort out your marketing, software systems, payment, collection, retention strategy and more.

But you know all that, and the problem has always been having the time to do it. Who can you trust to allow you to have more time to focus on getting more members?

Ashbourne Membership Management have the solution.

Get in touch for a full demo of our software or to simply have a conversation about how we can help you and your gym achieve its full potential.

 

Feedback, Referrals & Resources – How To Stand Out Amongst Competitor Gyms

Game of chess

With so many gyms, fitness clubs, personal trainers, and online health resources readily available today, it can be hard to define your business and know how to best set yourself apart from your competition.

At Ashbourne, we think it’s important to test out new strategies with the end goal always being in service of trying to attract more members. Before sharing these ideas, we always ensure to trial these ideas in one of our in-house run gyms so we can confidently share the most innovative approaches that have solid evidence of working to grow your gym.

Explore our most recent 20 new tried and tested ideas below and see which ones pique your interest and start implementing them today!

If you want our advice in getting started, or have some ideas of your own that you’d like to share. Please come and join our free gym owners forum and begin networking with like-minded fitness professionals.

 

Hold a membership referral drive

Referrals are widely believed to be the most cost-effective method of attracting new members, which is why you can afford to incentivise your existing members for attracting new customers.

Why not supercharge this process with a membership referral drive

Offer a prize each month to the member who refers the most new members who sign up for 12 months. From experience, investing in an attractive prize doubles or triples the impact. A flat-screen TV, a good quality bike or even £100 in cash can generate around 30-40 new members every month, with the winner usually referring to around 3-4 friends.

 

How To Implement An Effective Referral Campaign

  • Purchase a good-looking prize and display it in your reception with balloons and banners to catch people’s attention.
  • Put up signs around the club explaining the rules and that the member who refers the most new members this month will win this incredible prize.
  • Display a list of the members who have referred people to your club, complete with a running total. You will find that if two of your members have referred the same number they will both try to get more new members in order to win the prize.
  • Present the winning member with their prize on the last day of the month – take a photo and put this on display. Include a list of the other members who referred friends and thank everyone for their efforts. Keep this picture displayed for the whole year and then add each new month’s winning picture.
  • Start the whole process again on the 1st of the following month with a different prize of similar value. How to ensure your referral campaign is effective:
  • Start your campaign on the 1st of every month. If you go about this in an ad hoc manner, it won’t seem professional and your members may be hesitant to recommend your service. 
  • Always present the prize on the final day of the month and display the winner around the club. At the bottom write that next month it could be you walking away with the prize.
  • Keep a running total of who is in the lead – this keeps everybody motivated.
  • Make sure you have a few people signed up before the campaign begins or pad the list out with a few names from the staff. No one likes to be the first one on a list. 
  • Make sure the prizes don’t feel cheap. Personal Training Session might not cut it. 
  • Maintain the display. Nothing looks more tragic than deflated balloons and a chipped sign. Keep it fresh, keep it relevant. 
  • Make the winner the person who refers the most rather than having a prize draw – this rewards hard work.
  • To keep the campaign strong in November and December offer an even greater prize such as a trip to Paris.

Closing consideration: Securing membership referrals has been proven to be one of the most cost-effective forms of growth a Gym or Fitness Club can embark on.

A campaign such as this will cost significantly less than the corresponding Radio or Television campaign and should result in a large membership boost if executed correctly. 

 

Label and Number Your Equipment

Not everyone knows what the Rear Delt Fly Machine is (which is a shame because it is definitely the best machine mankind has ever invented). 

But they are much more likely to know what Machine 3 is, as indicated by the large number 3 sticker you are going to put on it.

Back when I was a novice Gym-Goer, a system like this saved me so much time and effort.

Include a small sign or label with the officially recognised name of the machine and soon even your newest members will be sounding like veterans.

 

Display quality motivational banners

Avoid cliche motivational banners and posters.

Do your research and look into messages that will really speak to your members.

Make sure to include signs of moderation as well. Encourage your members to push themselves, not hurt themselves.

 

Cultivate a collection of fitness resources

Your Gym or Fitness Club should be an institution of knowledge and experience.

With the internet, this is easier than ever. Collect articles, journals, and blogs of interest and put them in a dedicated area on your website. This will allow you to showcase your dedication to fitness as more than just a profitable venture.

 

Enable your members to give effective and actionable feedback

Most club owners feel that they have the greatest club in town but it’s your members who really have the final say in that respect. If you don’t listen to your members you won’t know if there are areas in need of improvement. Create a lockable feedback box that only the gym owner has access to and allow your members to post their comments anonymously.

This box should be positioned in an area away from reception so that members can post comments without the glare from staff (who they might be commenting about). If the member has left their contact details, follow up immediately by thanking them for their feedback and stating that you will give the matter your immediate attention. And then ensure that you do!

Provide your members with free Wi-Fi within the club. Keep the publicly offered Wi-Fi and your club’s own Wi-Fi separate to protect your PCs and data. Provide the Wi-Fi code when members purchase drinks etc. from you and change the code regularly. You can even give the code when members check into your club on Facebook!!

 

Provide free Wi-Fi

Free Wi-Fi isn’t as expensive as it used to be, and members will really appreciate it.

As we mentioned in point 45, it also allows you to offer more data-intensive feedback systems without the presumption and burden of draining your customer’s data allowance.

 

Display the History of Your Club

Like any business, your fitness club or gym has had a journey. No matter how big or small, it is a personal story that will endear your members and prospective members to it.

History can help make a fitness club or a gym feel less like a building and more like a living institution that they can contribute to.

As we mentioned earlier, the inclusion of success stories from your club’s past can help feed into this legacy. Make your members feel proud to be a part of your success!

 

Be generous with exercise programmes. Don’t unnecessarily gate resources off.

Many club owners have the desire to gate off as much content as possible, to incentivise your members to pay that little extra. This is not always prudent.

Attending a gym can be a very personal experience, and exercise programmes being made readily available can have a vast impact on the individual member. 

Offering these programmes can effectively make the difference between a prospective member choosing your club or a competitor.

Take this as an example of a thought process that might secure you a membership: 

“So Mary, as you can see, we provide you with a complete personal training programme for you to follow, so you know exactly what you’re supposed to be doing to get results every time you come to the club. Then in 6 weeks’ time, we will have a re-assessment of your programme to ensure your time with us is even more beneficial”.

The last thing you want is for a member to be left to wander aimlessly around the club guessing at the best exercises they are supposed to be doing.

Especially not when you have perfectly good exercise programmes ready to go! 

 

Make sure your staff and personal trainers have their names displayed

It is daunting to walk into a new gym and not know anyone, and while your staff will hopefully be friendly enough to introduce themselves. Monogrammed or name-tagged clothing can really help break down the barriers for new members and members on trials.

I first learned the name of my adored and feared Trainer of choice Marcel by his name tag. A handy and timeless ice-breaker.

 

Let the t-shirt do the talking for your fitness club or gym

A free t-shirt, especially a good quality one that you’ll actually want to wear out or to the gym, can make all the difference.

Give it to members when they cross a certain membership threshold, say 3 months. Or as a sign-up incentive during certain campaigns and pushes. 

 

Discount on your first visit

Create a culture among your staff and PTs of offering a discount on the first visit of someone. This can be particularly effective during referral drives or on ‘Bring a Friend Friday’.

This once again helps trigger that primal desire known as ‘Fear of Missing Out’.

 

Offer to refund a joining fee on the spot. Short term gain for a long term commitment

If you have a guest in your club who has decided to pay for one session or if they are there on Bring a Friend Friday, then now is the time to put them on the spot and offer an incentive.

Whatever incentive you decide, ensure that the guest knows that this option is available to them and that they will need to make a decision at the end of their session. Only offering a limited number of membership options might be a reason some prospects leave your club without joining. Create several tiers of membership so you and your staff are more likely to find a membership package that will make them buy on the spot.

Not everyone is confident to sign up for a year on the spot. 

Here are some membership options to consider:

  • A short-term deal such as 1 month cash paid in full (highest price)
  • A one month rolling direct debit membership (slightly lower price)
  • 12 month direct debit contract memberships (lowest price).

By creating tiered options in this manner, you are more likely to find the sweet spot that the prospective member is happy to sign on at. 

A cash-only option should be available but only as a last resort. Direct Debit is always preferable.

 

Offer membership alternatives

As previously inferred. One-day passes, week-long passes and other modular alternatives can be a great way to get prospective members in the door.

This can allow friends of your existing members to work out with them for a week and get a taste for it.

Alternatively, a prospective member who isn’t aware of the myriad free trial schemes we’ve suggested will be able to buy in for a set amount and if your service/business pulls them in, they will hopefully be inclined to stay. 

 

Online sign-ups are a must

If we could put this point twice and still be satisfied that we’ve maintained our principles, we would.


Make sure your website has online sign-ups. The year is 2020, there is no excuse. Ideally, you should be signing up members inside your gym on your online system for ease of use.

 

Make time work for you by introducing off-peak and peak membership times

As we indicated earlier, Off-Peak and Peak membership is a good way to offer your prospective members a gateway package that they might eventually wish to upgrade.

The other big, tangible benefit to this is maximising the number of members you can have. Using some fairly basic data-mapping and projections you can work out how many members you can accommodate during a normal peak and off-peak.

If your peak membership capacity is full, it is the perfect excuse to push off-peak.

 

Boost your profits by introducing additional products

Maximise the amount of cash flowing through you by selling supplements, clothing and accessories in your club. Make sure any clothing with your brand on it is actually comfortable to wear and well priced.

Now is not the time to be making a large profit by selling an overpriced, generic t-shirt. The clothing will be a reflection of your brand and will impact how often the buyer wears it. 

You want to create one of their go-to items of clothing, not something they buy, regret, and throw to the back of a cupboard. 

Keep track of your stock levels using a digital EPoS (Electronic Point of Sale) system. This can also be used to track which member of staff sells the most clothing with a little bit of setup. This can be a vital reward metric for incentivising your staff.

 

The first 45 days are crucial for member retention

As we touched upon in our section on Fitness Programmes, the first few weeks are vital for determining if a member will stick with your Gym or Fitness Club.

Just as we detailed in that section how it is important not to withhold resources from new members. It is also important to encourage them and focus on their process in the first 45 days.

This is a key time period as it’ll determine whether they fall off their latest health kick or grow disillusioned with your gym. 

Get your Personal Trainer or staff to check that the new members are happy with their programme. Incentivise them to contact them via their preferred contact method to find out how things are going and when they will next be in the club.

Highlight to them how much they have improved or how much time they have spent in your gym or fitness club. Motive and encourage them.

Again, this approach will depend on the size of your gym or fitness club. This approach can be resource-intensive but intensely rewarding.

 

Member testimonials on online and onscreen

Use a high-quality smartphone or a video camera to record short snippets of your members explaining how they have improved by attending your club. Low-quality footage will reflect poorly on your Gym or Fitness Club so make sure it is up to a certain standard of audio and visual. 

Get the member to explain how they felt before they joined, what they feel now that they have achieved their goals, and what a prospect will find if they join.

Record their testimonial and post it onto social media. Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook are all great places to share and spread this message. This is the sort of message that will really resonate with a certain type of prospective member.

Alternatively, email a link to your prospective members and add it to your Gym or Fitness Club’s website. Video testimonials are extremely simple and powerful methods of engaging new members. 

 

Hone the brand identity of your club

As with any institution or business that wants to succeed and make a name for itself, branding should be one of your main priorities.

Branding for your Gym or Fitness Club doesn’t end at a logo above the entrance door.

Your logo should be on every letterhead and email signature, as well as featuring prominently on your social media feeds. It should be displayed as your Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter profile picture, unifying the brand identity of your social media presence

Your branding should become synonymous with your club so that whenever people see your two colours together they think of your club. For example, the colours red and yellow together make you think of McDonalds, so think of your own branding in this way.

 

Show off your gym or fitness clubs qualifications and accreditations

Joining relevant trade associations and professional accreditation bodies gives your club credibility and reassures prospective members that you have achieved a certain standard.

Encourage or even sponsor your PTs to achieve the highest levels of professional qualification that they can and then promote their achievements on social media as well. 

If someone leaves you to go to another gym, give them some really good reasons to come back to you. If you’re running a good gym or fitness club, chances are they will be regretting their decision. Figure out what the deterrents might be keeping them from coming back and address them.

It might cost money, it might not. Figure out what makes good business sense for you and do it.

 

And if you thought 20 ideas to get you started on attracting more members to your club was enough, then you’ll be delighted to hear that it really is just the start. Our team have collated an astounding 100 tried and tested strategies for you to experiment with. You can find all 100 ways to attract more members in bitesize chunks in our blog posts, or in our completely free downloadable PDF.

 

So what are you waiting for? Get started today!

20 Tested Strategies To Get More Members In Your Gym

Wake Up and Work Out

We know you’re here to get the inside information on 20 tried and tested strategies that you can implement into your gym or fitness club to immediately start getting more sign-ups.

So we won’t make you wait any longer, if you want to start getting more members into your gym then keep reading!

 

  • Offer Friends Free Friday

Friends Free Friday is a marketing ploy that pretty much explains itself. It’s a great way to gain some extra members without spending a fortune on advertising.

Contact your current membership database, offering them the chance to bring a friend to train at your club completely free on a Friday. Friday is usually a quiet day in the club so this is also a great way to generate a buzz around the place. Maybe have a designated Friday such as the last Friday in every month as the day when members can bring along a friend for free. If you just let the friend in to train, they will train and then go home and you will have gained nothing. As in any business this “friend” is a new lead which you should work hard on to achieve the sale:

  • Allow friends of your members to train for free provided they fill in a membership form.
  • Input their details into your membership software as a prospect.
  • Give them a full induction and even a training programme.
  • Work as hard as you can to show them why they should join your club.
  • Give them a tour of the facility so they get to know where everything is, allowing them to become a part of the club from day one.
  • Provide the friend with a discount if they join your club today, creating urgency and the fear of loss if they don’t join TODAY.
  • Use your current member to try and sell the club for you. Provide them with an incentive if they can get their friend to join today.
  • If a prospect doesn’t join on the day they visit, use their contact details to find them on social media – interact with them and send them emails to find out what you could have done to have got them to join.
  • Be in their mind, so that when they are ready to join a gym it is your club that is top of their list.
  • Promote Friends Free Friday as part of your use of the popular
  • #FitnessFriday hashtag for any twitter posts made on a Friday.

 

  • Keep your Staff, keep your customers

Your trainers and staff are a vital part of your service. Personally, I have left a Gym because my personal trainer left and I know I am not alone in this.

Gyms and Fitness Clubs that retain their good staff, retain their members. In the same way that you should strive to embed yourself in the community, great staff will be pillars of your Gym or Fitness Clubs own smaller community.

Do not waste this opportunity. Ask any veteran gym-goer and they will have stories about a personal trainer they knew and loved, even if they were never personally trained by them!

Mine was called Marcel!

 

  • Utilise your trainers whenever you can, host events

If your trainers are worth their salt, they will live and breath fitness and the multiple, branching interests that that entails.

Utilise them! Host events based on the various aspects of fitness. Fitness is as fascinating as it is complex. Whether it is diets, breathing techniques, specific exercises, or the latest internet workout challenge. You want at least an event a month.

 

  • Incentivise your staff to learn how to sell

Some club owners expect their trainers to push continuing membership to their club with the same vigor that they practice their actual fitness passions with. This won’t always be the case and this approach will only get them so far.

If a Gym or Fitness Club owner wants to really see results, they will need to formalise the process into a commission system. This will supercharge the process, as presenting tangible awards to each new customer will motivate your Personal Trainers even more than just the abstract reward of increased membership at their gym.

If you have a well-developed set of online tools supporting your gym, you can easily keep track of this on your own website/portal. 

 

  • A key to success for any Gym or Fitness Club. Get a great website.

Speaking of which, leading directly on from the previous point. If you want to succeed in business after 1998, you’ve got to have a stand-out website, and this is no exception for even the smallest Gym or Fitness Club. 

The secret is to minimise the amount of effort it takes for a visitor to your website to understand and access the information they want to know about your business and the services it provides. 

The internet is a more naturalistic place for many of your younger prospective members to gather information than the newspaper or radio and your website must have the resources put into it to reflect that. 

Make sure your website is accessible and well-formatted on mobile as well as computer. Increasingly consumers are moving away from Desktop PCs and a sub-optimal mobile site will put off the vital and energetic 18-35 market. 

Without a sleek website, your chance to stand out on perhaps your most important battlefield outside of physical space will falter.

Your website needs to quickly and effortlessly demonstrate to potential customers why your Gym or Fitness Club is different and a cut above the rest. 

 

  • Don’t copy your competitor’s website, lead the pack

It can be tempting to look through your competitors or other large Gyms and simply copy what has worked for them.

This is not the way.

If you copy, at best your website will be uninspiring and soulless, at worst it will be downright derivative and uninspiring.

Your website is one of your most valuable assets as a business operating in the 2020s. Take the time and invest in a vision that will deliver time and time again. 

 

  • Buy now, pay later, a potential Membership Style of billing

A simple method, but effective. The business psychology behind this is setting up the trust for a continuing relationship. 

Just make sure that Direct Debit is set up and ready to go

 

  • Data is King, keep data on your old members, attempt to market to them

Ex-members are not exactly a resource you want to have loads of. But, with that being said, they are a resource you can use.

Maintain a database of your old membership and advertise to them. Mount special campaigns, mail pieces and offers with the explicit intention of winning them back. 

 


  • Utilise Social Media to target new members of your Gym or Fitness Club

Social Media can help offer a very personalised touch. If a member has just joined, reach out on your Gym or Fitness Clubs Instagram, Twitter or Facebook. 

 

Social media is designed for posts to go viral and by offering promotions that involve retweeting, this can quickly and effortlessly occur. 

Use your existing members and followers to help spread the message out to non-members.

If your content is good enough, they might soon be followers or even members

 

  • Remind your Off-Peak members of Peak Membership Upgrades

A quick and easy win as a potential mail piece. Make sure that all your existing Off-Peak members don’t fancy a very quick and easy upgrade to a more expensive membership package. 

 

  • Fear of Missing Out: Revisited

Are there more terrifying words in the English Language than “Offer Ends Today”.

We don’t think so. Even if you are going to make the same offer next month or next week.

Setup your campaigns in a way that reinforces that this is a LIMITED TIME offer. 

Works especially well in the fast and furious world of Social Media. Less effective through traditional advertising. 

 

  • Up Close and Personal (Trainer). Free Personal Training Sessions.

An extra point to build on Fear of Missing Out. Offering a personal training session as a limited sign-up offer can be a quick and easy way to get people on board and for your members to start forging links with your staff.

 

  • Push and Publish your Membership Testimonials

Get your membership testimonials online and in print.

Nothing should speak to prospective members of your Gym or Fitness Club more than seeing a believable story of a transformation.

This is the sort of transformation they will be coming to your business to see in themselves.

This is also the sort of transformation that can quickly go viral (as we mentioned previously).

 

  • A limited time offer on the bottom of receipt at your club and other shops

Similar to our tactic with the Restaurant receipt.

Your own receipts shouldn’t be immune to injecting FOMO into your members and their friends.

Moreover, use your business partnerships we have previously discussed to open up new avenues of advertising and marketing

 

  • Making the most of that 30-day free membership.

So we have talked about offering 30-day free memberships.

But a member signing up and taking advantage of that offer isn’t the end of the battle, it is the beginning.

Have a doctrine in place for using those 30 days to make sure that member signs up.

Whether it is a free personal trainer session, a blitz on their mailing list, or free fitness lessons.

Engage with this new prospective member that has entered your Gym or Fitness Club and ensure that they feel noticed without feeling targeted.

Finally, when that 30-day membership is up, if they haven’t already signed up for more, make sure to have an automated email to ask them whether they are ready to join.

 

  • Create video content for YouTube

Video content is nowhere near as expensive to make as it was, and thanks to the utter market dominance of YouTube, it is easier to distribute than ever before. 

 

  • Celebrate the success of your members online and in-person

Use the newsletter, social media, and space in your physical Gym or Fitness Club to celebrate the success of your members.

Whether they have hit their weight loss goals or started to bench 100kg. Shout it from the roof.

You are more likely to retain that member and bring in new ones. Create a sense of community 

 

  • Members versus staff referral competition

Host a competition between staff and members to see who can bring in the most new members in a particular month. Pay your members £10-£30 for every referral that joins and pay your staff their standard commission (surely they don’t need more motivation than that). Every membership secured gets a ticket that goes into that particular team’s pot.

The team with the most tickets wins £1,000. Your members will pay a great deal of attention to that amount and it will really get people motivated. How many memberships do you need to sell to cover that? The motivation of winning £1,000 will be enough to sell extra memberships to more than cover the cost.

Stage a presentation of the prize at the end of the month, with no limits to the number of entries in the pot. Keep a poster in a visible area of the club showing both teams who are ahead and by how much. This will help keep them motivated as well.

 

  • Set a Membership Refund Prize for Referrals

Not to generalise unfairly, but in our experience Gym and Fitness Club members tend to be quite a competitive bunch, and they love hitting goals.

So set them a personal goal. When they hit 5 members that they have referred to your club that stay for a set period of time, they get their Membership Fee refunded. Simple as that.

As you can imagine, word of mouth will quickly spread about this offer.

In fact, everyone who comes to your club by way of this method will then be aware of this offer and may, in turn, want to recruit five more themselves in order to gain their own refund. 

 

  • Advertise members’ businesses on screen

Offer on-screen advertising on your club TVs to local businesses. Start by offering this to members who own local businesses. Charge £300 per year for an ongoing loop video. Get 10 businesses to do this and you have enough to buy a large flat-screen TV (choose one with a built-in DVD player) and have at least an extra £2k in profit. You will also have the opportunity to continue earning at least £3k each year from this TV.

And you don’t have to stop with 10 businesses. Profits are unlimited. You could then get another 10 businesses and set up another TV in a different area of your club. Or two smaller TVs and put one in each changing room.

The business owners or you can create a jpeg ad and then you simply create a CD.

In addition to a slideshow of ads, you can also display club announcements. This helps to draw attention to the ads, which members will watch and talk about. Business owners who are advertising will in turn talk about and promote your club.

 

 

And if you thought 20 ideas to get you started on attracting more members to your club was enough, then you’ll be delighted to hear that it really is just the start. Our team have collated an astounding 100 tried and tested strategies for you to experiment with. You can find all 100 ways to attract more members in bitesize chunks in our blog posts, or in our completely free downloadable PDF.

 

So what are you waiting for? Get started today!

The Question On Every Gym Owner’s Mind…How Can I Grow My Gym?

Marketing Strategy Diagram

The question that should be on every Fitness Club and Gym Owner’s mind, providing they aren’t already at full capacity.

How can I grow the membership numbers for my Gym or Fitness Club?

Well, we here at Ashbourne have put together some ideas and strategies to help bolster your Gym or Fitness Club’s membership numbers.

These ideas have been cultivated by members of our team with real, practical experience in running Gyms and Fitness Clubs. Each of these methods has been implemented in an actual club environment and seen results.

 

Stage 1: Marketing 

To the uninitiated or the uninterested, marketing (and especially digital marketing) can sound like a quagmire not worth wading into. However, with only a few simple concepts, you access and dominate this powerful front to really expand your membership base for your Gym or Fitness Club

  • Understand your target demographics/market.
  • Discover what that target audience wants/needs in a Gym or a Fitness Club
  • Understand if your Gym or Fitness Club can sate these needs? If not, can you easily adapt to do so. If so, fantastic!
  • Once you’ve got these customers, how are you keeping them? You have a captive audience, what message are you going to broadcast to them.

 

So as you can tell from those four points, marketing is about knowing your target audience, what they want to hear and having the product/services to give them what they want. 

Marketing will be essential for most businesses to stay afloat. Unless you are counting on an incredibly strong word of mouth spread from the members of your Gym or Fitness Club, you will need to help your message spread.

This isn’t a day of effort, marketing will be something that needs to be set up for every week, every month, every year. 

 

Understand how to market your Gym or Fitness Club inside and outside of your existing membership

  1. Send out regular mailpieces

A mailpiece is an e-mail, a letter, or a leaflet that will serve as a push or a reminder about the services that your Gym or Fitness Club offers. A successful mail piece will.

a. Identify a need of your target audience

b. Show how your Gym or Fitness Club can fulfill that need.

  • Branding is important throughout your business. This includes any mail pieces, you will need your logo and other distinctive branding elements on it so your existing and prospective customers know who it has come from. 
  • Ensure that the service/product your offering is one you can provide, and is enticing enough to retain or attract members. 
  • Your mail piece should tell them what to do next. This is typically called a Call To Action. Tell them to email you, subscribe to your social media, or sign up using a voucher. 
  • Scarcity and FOMO (fear of missing out) are tried and tested tactics. Make your deal seem scarce, add a time limit, a limited amount of spaces. This will make sure that your prospective customers don’t file it away as something to do later.

 

  1. Focus on the strengths of your fitness club or gym, what makes it different?

Perhaps the most basic and salient point in the list. Work out what makes your Gym or Fitness Club different and don’t stop talking about it. This is your USP, Unique Selling Point. 

You might have the largest Ladies-Only section in town, the biggest set of free-weights in the city, or you might just be the biggest gym in the metropolitan area. Whatever it is, make sure everyone knows about it.

 

  1. Charity Work and Fundraising Events hosted by your Gym or Fitness Club

Whether it is a simple foot race, like the Movember Run or the Race for Life, or something more unorthodox like a Liftathon, a community fundraising event can really boost morale, engagement, and interest in your club.

All while raising money for important, life saving charities.

Alternatively, you can sponsor a team into existing events. Branded t-shirts, branded sweat-bands, a big team picture, a shared fancy dress.

Attract the Olympians who want to win and the fun-lovers who just want to raise money for charity all at once.

Cultivate your calendar and you will always have something to show off on social media, all while doing genuinely good work for your country or community. 

 

  1. Spread the word on the High Street

We’ve been doing this one since ancient Rome, that is just how good it is! Get out there and just bloody talk to the people. Don’t just hand them a leaflet (though that can also work). Get your most passionate staff, the people who really speak the language of the gym-goers, and get them talking.

If you have particularly dedicated members of your gym, ask them if they’d like to get involved. That way your prospective members can hear about your club from your real members. 

 

  1. Talk to local shop owners and understand if you can establish an advertising relationship between them and your Gym or Fitness Club

While you are out on the high street getting some fresh air, pop into your local shops. Now is the time to cultivate some beneficial relationships. A sports shop? A shoe shop? A clothing store? Anywhere you can imagine the average gym-goer going.

Ask these places to hold your leaflets and offer to take their propaganda back to your gym or fitness club. A classic ‘you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours’. Who knows, maybe you’ll even make some firm allies in the area.

 

  1. Visit your local Weight Watchers meetings or set up a slimming club of your own within your Gym or Fitness Club

What better place to find people who might be in need of your services than a Weight Watchers or other branded slimming clubs. 

These are people who are looking to get in shape and you have just the service to offer them. 

Failing to find any decent slimming clubs in your area? Then you might’ve just discovered a niche, do the necessary research to set up your own and you’ll be providing yet another service to draw members to your gym or fitness club. 

 

  1. Get Charities and Stores to advertise your services and sell your vouchers

Similar to the previous advice, allow your charity and store links that we have discussed cultivating in the last few points to sell your free trial memberships.

This will allow prospective members to naturalistically and effortlessly set up a membership using your casual or more formalised business partners. 

 

  1. Welcome to the neighbourhood

Extend your hand to local estate agents and understand who has moved into the area. With their permission, this will enable you to send a welcome letter specifically for new arrivals. Offer them a 30-day free trial or a package crafted to their arrival.

These are a target audience who are unlikely to have a pre-existing gym or fitness club membership in your area.

 

  1. Formalise your partnership with local businesses

To list all the ways you can partner up with local businesses would be its own extensive list, so here are just a few ideas:

  • Informed endorsement mailing lists: Ask your partnered businesses for their mailing list (providing their mailing list has the appropriate consent to pass on the contacts to partnered businesses). It is important that the partnered business in question is at least partially relevant to Fitness. Your local hairdresser’s mailing list might not garner as many potential Gym members as say, the local Sports Shop. 
  • A place on your Newsletter:Produce a Newsletter and offer your partnered businesses a space, either as an advert or an interest piece in one of the sections of the newsletter itself.
  • Advertise yourself to local businesses and offer a specialised corporate rate. If you have offices of sedentary office workers in your area, these can be perfect targets for potential gym members, as they will not be getting exercise in their daily profession.

    This can offer a large pool of potential members and word of mouth can quickly spread around an office. 

 

  1. Utilise Restaurants and specifically, Restaurant Menus

As well as a great place to leave your leaflets and associated advertising. Your collaboration with a local restaurant can go one further.

Ask them to put your gym on the back of the menu, or better yet, get them to sponsor the healthy eating section. The people looking at this section are the type of people who will be interested in a fitness club or gym, so it is a no-brainer. 

Furthermore you can capitalise on FOMO by putting a limited time off on the receipt at the restaurant. Offer an additional 30 days free membership or a similar discount and then they will have a voucher in their possession. A powerful incentive to try out your Gym or Fitness Club. 

 

  1. Understand the opportunities in your local area/community

Whether it is a community message board, a community forum, a local seminar or a fair. Understand the opportunities in your area. Maybe this is something you or your staff are integrated into naturally through your place in the community.

Be sure to view any event as an opportunity to make your Gym or Fitness Club a pillar of the community. 

 

  1. £5 Note Promotion

Generate a list of all members who have referred a friend over the past year – these are your referral champions. Go to the bank and get a supply of £5 notes and mail one to each of them. Tell them they will receive 10 more of these for each friend they refer during a particular month, with no earning limit. Maybe your headline on the letter is a big bold “May I send you 10 more of these?”

Enclose 5 postage-paid postcards with their picture on and write your member a letter explaining to them that it is an ethical bribe to get them to put the address of 5 friends or co-workers they feel would be interested in getting in better shape, writing a quick note, and dropping

the postcards in the mail. Since this is a bit more expensive, I would send only to those who have referred members in the past and to the members who spend more with you i.e. personal training clients, boot camp participants etc.

This is a customised, personalised letter sent out along with a customised gift card (with X amount of value) affixed to the letter with a glue dot. This has incredibly high perceived value. You will be targeting your marketing efforts to people who currently spend money with you or who have spent money with you in the past.

Reaction stands for the 4 “Re’s”: Renewal, Referral, Retention, Rejoin.

When you send this to existing members, they can use the gift card (let’s say the amount printed on it is £50) toward early renewal, toward personal training (retention) or if they have no interest in either of those, they can give the card to a friend. Similarly, when you send to your expired members, the £50 can be used toward “re-enrolment” and their first month dues. In the letter you get to specify what they can use the gift card for. People will throw away coupons every day, but it’s tough to throw away a credit card style gift card because of the perceived value of it. Think about it, if you already spend money with a company and they send you a £50 gift card, you’re going to want to use it.

 

  1. Digitise your Referral Programme

As well as the above method, you can bring your referral programme online. If your Gym or Fitness Club has an existing online portal or account system, you can incorporate the referral bonuses directly into your online presence.

This can take the form of a link that they can send their friends for online sign-up, which in turn will allow you to quickly understand who is spreading the good word about your club

 

  1. Inspiring Stories: Shout about the Paragons of your Club

A classic, and for good reason.

Take a member of your club who has undergone a real transformation and ask them if they’d be comfortable with their story being shared.

If so, obtain pictures of what they looked like before and now, and ask them to write out their story. If they aren’t comfortable doing so, then either write it out yourself or ask someone else to do so.

Then you can incorporate this into a physical mail piece or push it as part of your social media campaign.

An inspiring story put onto Instagram, Facebook and Twitter can make all the difference to a Fitness Club or Gym as such things can go viral in your area, greatly increasing exposure and prestige for your business.

 

  1. Offer Health Checks to Businesses in the Local Area

Offer to visit businesses local to your area and perform health checks on their staff. This can include a complete BMI tests and blood pressure exams. You could also use your Fitness Club or Gym staff to hold lectures explaining the benefits of exercise and how your Gym or Fitness Club can specifically help them.

Top this all off by offering a free period of membership! 

 

  1. Outside Lessons and Activities 

When the weather starts behaving, take your classes outside!

With a bit of planning and the consent of your class attendees, an outdoor class can really put your club in the mind of the locals.

If you really want to go all in, hand out branded club t-shirts beforehand and then watch as people stop and watch your uniformed army of club representatives. 

 

  1. Contact your Local Paper as part of your Fitness Club or Gym’s continued role in the Community

Offer to use your collective expertise to write articles in the local Newspaper.

Keep it classy though, your articles shouldn’t be thinly veiled advertising but actually insightful commentary on fitness in your local area.

With that being said, of course ensure that the article cites the person who has written the article and their affiliation with your Fitness Club or Gym, just to make sure the message gets across for those really paying attention.

 

  1. Advertise your Gym or Fitness Club on your Local Radio

Video might have killed the Radio Star, but local radio still has a prominent place to play in the advertising of your Fitness Club or Gym.

An ad personalised to your area or community will really help you stand out above other, more soulless gyms.

 

 

  1. Sponsor Local Sports Teams

For a personal touch, sponsor a local team in your area. This will help feed into other strategies we have previously mentioned, such as charity events.

Obviously the size of the team you can sponsor will depend on the size of your Gym or Fitness Club, but even sponsoring a small but beloved local team, or a youth team, is better than nothing and a vital step to making your business feel like part of the community.

 

  1. Get people hooked on your Club

Getting a member through the door is much harder than keeping them there.

This is where the Free Membership offers we have been talking about come into their own.

Once someone is in the doors and in your systems, they are much more likely to gravitate back to your Gym or Fitness Club. Especially if it has left a positive impression.

Again, this isn’t re-inventing the wheel, but it is important to state nonetheless. Utilise Guest Passes and other offers to break down the barriers between prospective customers and your Gym or Fitness Club.

 

And if you thought 20 ideas to get you started on attracting more members to your club was enough, then you’ll be delighted to hear that it really is just the start. Our team have collated an astounding 100 tried and tested strategies for you to experiment with. You can find all 100 ways to attract more members in bitesize chunks in our blog posts, or in our completely free downloadable PDF.

 

So what are you waiting for? Get started today!

 

What Makes “Good” Web Design for your Fitness Club or Gym

Fit Club Website example on laptop

As you might’ve gathered by our pointed use of quotation marks in the title, this is a topic with some nuance to it. What makes for good website design? The short answer would be, whatever design endears the person looking at the website to it. Working around this metric is, unsurprisingly, impossible. However, it is possible to know your audience in the broad strokes and this is why it is important to ensure that your website design is ‘good’ for the market you are operating in.

For the purposes of this article, we will be looking at Fitness Club, Gym and Personal Trainer website design. 

For starters, here is a quick checklist/summary, detailing some of what we will be covering today. 

 

  1. Logo: Ensuring that the branding of your business is correct and prominent. That your logo and other branding elements are striking and not overpowering
  2. Structure: The sleekest website in the world isn’t worth a dime if your members or potential members can’t navigate to where they need to be. It cannot be overstated that a vital part of design is usability. Don’t put style before substance.
  3. Interaction: Make sure there is something they can click or engage with on the page. Something as simple as a ‘Find Out More’ button is a surefire way to increase engagement and will be a useful indicator as to whether your design is effective.

  4. Description: Ensuring that the descriptive aspects of your website are well presented and well written. Ensuring that the prose is precise and evocative, to best communicate your brand and it’s message. Think about what your potential customers want to read to hook them in, and then make sure that prose is formatted in a style that will draw their eyes.
  5. Imagery: Prose is vital but if your website looks like it comes straight out of 1995 then it isn’t likely to win awards. Striking, relevant imagery will capture your audience. Think what your potential club members want to see. Is it your workout equipment? Your facilities? Your sauna?

 

The Fundamentals of Effective Website Design

Notice that we’ve used a better word? We will be switching back but it is to reinforce a point. What we classify as ‘good’ is what is effective. At its core, you want your Website Design to be intuitive. Ideally, the only thought you want them having is ‘This is a well designed site’, but it is also a victory if it catches their eye and allows them to understand your business and the services it provides. 

Use Website Design to make your Product Understandable

What is the purpose of your website? How can you communicate that purpose as succinctly as possible?

These are big questions, but they are the questions you need to be asking. Once you understand the purpose. Think about the target audience. Dream scenario, what type of people do you want to be landing on your website.  What do you want them to understand about your product? How best to communicate to those different types.

This is where planning is invaluable. Make a list of different archetypes. For fitness clubs, these archetypes are, luckily for us, fairly well defined. Once you’ve listed these, work out elements of popular web design that are likely to appeal. 

It is important to note that none of these need to be permanent. One advantage of modern website design is adaptability and versatility. If you find your business aims shifting, or even come up with a new service, or just a new perspective. It can be incorporated into this system. 

Ensuring that your product is understood will be one of the key metrics we use to measure ‘good’ (Effective) website design. 

Use Website Design to emphasis why your product is useful 

We might be going back to business 101 here but we did say it was the fundamentals and this is a mistake we see too many websites making.

In an attempt to catch the eye, they forget to sell us the product or service.

A product or service needs to be wanted and to be wanted it needs to be useful, your potential customer needs to understand why it is going to make their life better.

When applying this to Gyms and Fitness Clubs, you need them to understand why your club is better for them than another club, or pursuing their fitness goals at home. This is where glowing reviews about your classes and high definition pictures of your gym equipment in use will help carry the day and convince them you have a business they want to be a part of.

 

Aesthetics and Website Design for your Gym or Fitness Club 

Aesthetic is a word thrown around a lot these days. It has become a catch-all term for pinterest boards and thrift shops everywhere. But it has a place in our website design fundamentals. 

Purpose and functionality are the bedrock of your site. Aesthetic is where you really get to show off. Thankfully when it comes to the topic of fitness clubs and gym website design, we are spoiled for choice. Gym-goers have a natural aesthetic beauty to them, our nature sensibilities lead us to find the young, the muscular and the athletic intuitively aesthetic. 

Especially if they are mid-way through using some of your striking and top of the line gym equipment. By either hiring a professional photographer for a day or using existing photographs taken by you or your members, you can easily get some great source material to incorporate into your website’s aesthetic.

This philosophy needn’t terminate at muscles and heavy weights though. If your club or gym has striking features, say a sauna, a swimming pool, or even a particular nice facade outside. Capture it and incorporate it into the design of your website. 

 

Website Design Specifics for Gyms and Fitness Clubs

Okay, so now we have the broad fundamentals down. Let’s get specific. In this latter section we will be covering three distinct areas.
 

  1. Your Home Page/Landing Page

      2. The Rest of your Content

      3. Your Overall Display (including continuity between the two). 

 

Each of these areas present their own challenges and opportunities. We will be exploring each in turn with specific focus on how they can relate to a Gym’s website design or a Fitness Club’s website design. 

This will allow us to explore the specifics of each key part of a website and how it all blends together. 

Okay, now we have the fundamentals down and our mission statement. Let us get started on the basics of website design for Gyms and Fitness Clubs 

 

Your Checklist: Five things your home page or landing page can’t be without.

This list isn’t comprehensive but it is designed to take you through five of the most important things you should be considering for your home page or landing page.

 

Your Branding Element

As discussed earlier in our section on the principles of ‘Good’ website design for a fitness club or gym, your branding on your landing page is of utmost importance.

Think of a website you use frequently. Google, Amazon, Netflix. You’d instantly recognise if you went onto Google and everything was Purple and Black. The importance of a unifying and professional look for your site cannot be overstated and you begin forging this brand identity on the first page that your potential customers and consumers see initially.

In most cases you’ll want the logo in the top left or the top centre. Everyone has a set of expectations and rules they expect to see a website, even if they aren’t aware. The visual language and etiquette that someone responds to is deeply ingrained.

As such, you need to be both striking and familiar. They need to effortlessly navigate to your logo and understand the website they are in, essentially without thinking. By making your website’s colour scheme the same as your logo, you will be further ingraining that pattern of thought within your consumer from the first minute of their visit onwards.

A Good Description

A good logo isn’t the be all and end all though, without clear description it will exist in a void. What does your specific logo mean to someone who has never seen it before? Most likely, nothing. This is where your Logo and Branding Elements for your gym or fitness club will be supported by well written prose in an eye-catching style.

Ideally next to your logo should be a stylised version of your Gym, Fitness Club or overall brand identity. If the name doesn’t give a clear indication of your business/service, then add the necessary words underneath your brand name in a separate, but equally striking font.

During these opening stages of a customer journey, it is of paramount importance that every piece of vital information is accessible with the least frustration possible. That means that it must be visually pleasing, easily identifiable and prominently displayed. 

If your visitor struggles to understand what the company that runs this website is, or even worse if they sense that it is lazily or unprofessionally laid out, this is a psychological blow that may make them navigate away. 

 

Engagement: How to grab your visitors with a call to action.

Everything you do in business has a purpose. And your website’s landing page or home page is no different. 

What is the purpose of your landing page or home page?

To make your new visitor want to see more. 

A tried and tested way for achieving this is the call to action. Challenge your visitor. Ask them a question or make a powerful statement that’ll grab their attention and have them clicking on the button beneath to see more

For an example of a grabbing question you could have:

Are you ready to take your fitness to the next level with our top of the line equipment?

 

If you want them to read a specific blog, thinkpiece or eBook, then here is an example:

Available now, our latest blog on returning to the Gym post Covid-19 

Or

Grab our eBook of workout techniques and post-workout recovery tips, crafted especially for the equipment and facilities at our Gym. Available for free, now!

If your aim is to get them to sign up to a mailing list or a newsletter, consider 

Do you want the latest tips and tricks from our experts straight to your MailBox, sign up to our free Newsletter today right here!

Or it could be as simple as:

Why wait, click here to get in touch today.

These are just a few examples to get you thinking along the right lines. Each of these questions would have a corresponding button either built into the question itself, or beneath it with text that represents a positive answer to the question. 

Moving forward we hope to make a blog and a guide dedicated to helping Gyms and Fitness Clubs up their copy game to make it more eye-catching, engaging and impactful.

 

Sensible and Obvious Website Navigation

This point has actually pervaded the entire article, making it all the more important to highlight it in it’s own section. All of our effort so far and below will be for nothing if your visitors do not know where to go. 

The reason the challenging question above is so effective is because it gives the visitor not only something to think about, but a very obvious path to take next. If they are engaged with the question, they will click the associated button.

But it doesn’t end there.

Again, going back to our discussion on visual language and etiquette. Visitors expect to see a top bar of categories that will help them swiftly navigate your gym or fitness club website.

These categories could be as broad as ‘facilities’ or as niche as ‘Our History’, to help them get to know the story of your gym or club.

Sensible navigation becomes less important as your visitor scrolls down your page. At that point your prose should be doing the work! 

With that being said, you will still want the occasional  link if it seems intuitive.

Once y

our visitor has hit the bottom of your article/landing page/home page, you want to give them as many navigational tools as they had at the top.

If a visitor gets to the bottom of your website and there is nothing to entice them further, chances are that that is the end of your visitors’ vi

sit to your website. Now they aren’t a visitor, they are a goner.

With simple prompts at the bottom of your page you can increase engagement dramatically. 

The good news is that if a visitor has gotten to the end of your landing page for your Gym or Fitness Club, their engagement level is likely to be, on average higher than that of the average visitor at the top of your page.

This should make capturing their attention further with buttons and navigational tools all the easier. 

An Eye-Catching Visual Element

This section is extrapolated from our principles of effective website design for a Gym or Fitness Club. As you’ll hopefully remember, we focused on pictures and visual imagery. This is important on your landing page as the photographs your visitor is immediately exposed to will set the tone moving forward. Here are some pertinent examples:

  1. An image, photograph or infographic that represents your Gym, your Fitness Club or your core messages and values. 
  2. A photograph or series of photographs that show the service you provide, people utilising that service and the positive effect it is having on them. 
  3. A photograph or set of photographs that show the more personal side of your Gym or Fitness Club. Tell a story in a few pictures that make your club more than just another name.

If you take one thing away from this section on Landing Pages and Home Pages for Gyms and Fitness Clubs, it is that first impressions really do count. As such, make sure that the pictures you display on your website are of the highest quality you can muster. Smartphone pictures might not make the cut! 

The Rest of Your Content

So you’ve got a striking Home page and/or Landing Pages. This is their entry into your site. Now we need to work on the rest of the website for your Gym or Fitness Club. 

The good news is that if you’ve got this far, the visitor to your site is probably engaged. Now you need to decide what the rest of your site is going to look like. 

One rising school of thought has started to get rid of additional content all together. This is known as the One-Page website and it essentially boils down to all of the information being presented on one long, well formatted, scrolling web-page.

This has advantages and disadvantages, as you can imagine. One clear advantage is the lack of disconnect between information. One challenge we discussed earlier is that when the page runs out, this is a danger zone for your visitors attention span. This doesn’t happen one a one-page website but that doesn’t mean it lacks issues.


It’s important to consider the amount of information that you feel a reader can absorb. If you are confident that you can fit this information into a few bite-sized chunks or concise sentences, you can certainly go ahead and put it all on one page.

But our principle regarding navigation might suffer. Navigation tools help direct your visitors to the information they want to see. If they have to scroll endlessly to locate and even revisit certain points, this is a level of tedium that might prove too much. 

With that out in the open, here are some of the sections you’ll want to have in your website, whether it is on one page or multiple pages.

Your About Us/Our History Page

We mentioned this earlier but an About Us page or a page that goes into ‘the Story’ of your Gym or Fitness Club is really a must. This is somewhere visitors have been proven to seek out. What better way to get an overview of the institution you might be joining than to know when they started, why they started and who started them.

This is a chance for your gym or fitness club to become a relatable, personal institution to them for the first time. Do you have a funny founding story? Some lovely photos of the first days setting up the Gym? Some characters that really made an impact? Here is where to put them in an environment where receptive visitors will find them.

Your Reviews, Testimonies and associated ‘Buzz’ Page

This page needs no introduction. Whenever we receive a positive review, our first instinct should be to put it up in lights along with all the other ones. This page will allow you to collect these heartfelt and genuine reviews and experiences.

If you are undertaking a project, ask your existing members for their experiences in your gym or fitness club. They are bound to have some stories to tell!

Your Contact Us Page

Another page that will be conspicuous if missing. A generic Contact Us page will be necessary for sealing the deal on many visitors who might be turning into members. Remember to include a map so that they can quickly ascertain whether your Gym or Fitness Club is in the right location. 

Your Equipment, Facilities and Resources

Your Fitness Club or Gym has to make a difference to your customer’s life, and this is where you really get to flex how you can help them transform their existing routines, workouts and bodies. 

A Space for Blogs, Think-Pieces and Articles

This space, properly cultivated, can be a big draw to your Gym or Fitness Club. This is a place to put all of your experience, expertise and knowledge. Through the medium of a blog, you are able to refine difficult concepts into easily digestible reads for your customers. Impart advice, give your staff and customers a voice and create valuable content to help guide any visitors that stumble across your website.

 

Bringing It All Together

So, now we have spilt a lot of digital ink on the subject of Good Web Design and Content for your Gym or Fitness Club?

Have you noticed any underlying patterns?

Good web design is about minimising the time between a potential client or customer clicking on your page and them receiving and understanding the message you want to deliver.

Every aspect of Website Design we have covered here goes into this in one way or another.

If your website design is effective, the only time your customer will notice it will be when they are marvelling at how well put together your website is. The rest will just allow for seamless and naturalistic navigation to the information that they care about. 

 

We Can Help You

Now you are equipped with the principles of good (or effective) website design and many examples of how to implement these.

But this guide is only the beginning, and website design is only one piece of the whole that is running a successful Gym or Fitness Club.

There are many things you need to have under control, marketing, software systems, payment, collection, retention strategy. The list can seem daunting, especially when you’ve got to run BAU.

Well, Ashbourne Membership Management might have the solution.

Get in touch for a full demo of our software, our principles on website design or to simply have a conversation about how we can help you and your gym achieve its full potential. 

When Should You Go To The Gym and Train Post-Lockdown?

Clock

For as long as I’ve been going to the gym, me and my friends and my Gym acquaintances will get into debates. Some seem quite antiquated these days (namely, should you clean your Gym Equipment after use). But some are still relevant now we are hopefully moving past the Covid-19 Lockdown. 


Namely, what is the right time to go to the Gym? Is it at 10:45pm so that when you arrive there is no one but you and the guy wearing a mask that makes it harder for him to breathe? Or is it at 5am, where it is probably quiet but you risk running into the practitioners of Yogalates? Maybe it is at lunchtime because that is when everyone else seems to go? Ah, maybe not.

If you already have your answer, you might not need to stick with me on this one. But maybe you are feeling academic. Maybe you are feeling like switching it up now we are exiting Lockdown. Or maybe you haven’t made up your mind at all. If that is the case, keep on scrolling.  

 

As you hopefully realise, there isn’t going to be a silver bullet, miracle answer at the end of this blog. But hopefully I’ll be able to impart some knowledge and insight into when might be the best slot for you, and whether the strategy of mixing and matching the times where you visit the Gym might be better. 

 

Exercising at night. Better Sleep or Blighted Sleep?

So here is a talking point you’ve probably heard before if you’ve spent any amount of time around Gym People. The question goes, does working at night, before bed, kill your sleep quality and mess up your sleeping schedule?

If you are like me, you’ve heard people tell you both answers. They can’t get to sleep without their evening pump. Or they can’t get to sleep after it. 


While I fully believe the people who say they sleep better, chances are that they are in the minority on this one. It is generally accepted that working out immediately before you go  to sleep is not a good idea, and will impact most people’s quality of sleep.

However, that being said doesn’t make night workouts a no go. It just means you need to be careful. Plan a barrier of an hour or more between your Night Workout and the time you go to bed and you can still get away with this quiet, cosy workout slot. 

 

Additionally, working out in the evening is a great chance for you to blow off some steam and disperse the tension and stress of the day. Additionally, you’ll most likely be sitting on a lot of fuel from your lunch and dinner that you’ve had during the day. So there are definite benefits if you can pull this one off!

 

Your Internal Clock: Work around your strengths

You’ve most likely heard the phrase ‘Biological Clock’ before. The concept that people have times where they would normally be awake and more functional if left to their own devices, and times where they are less functional if you forcibly wake them.


This often comes into place with Teenagers, who tend to have biological clocks that trend towards 12 to 2pm in the afternoon as the ideal time to wake up. That being said, I know plenty of adults who work on this scale, so it isn’t a hard and fast rule. Everyone is different and the same person can have a different biological clock in their 20s to the one that they’ll have in their 30s. 

 

What this means for the purpose of my article here today is that, the time that worked for you pre Covid-19 might not be the time that works for you post Covid-19. 


Time has moved on, you have most likely changed and your routine may have as well. Examine your daily routine before you go back to the gym. Do you no longer feel as spry as you once did in the mornings and now really come into your own past midnight? Or conversely, did lockdown turn you into a Yogalates practicing juice drinker? Either is great, as you long recognise it and plan around it. 

 

How About Lunch?

No, I’m not asking you to lunch. In the introduction I mentioned lunch. Now, as you may remember pre-lockdown. A sizable portion of any given office staff in a city love to go the Gym at lunch. It makes sense right? You are in the area, you have an hour to kill. You are mid-way through the day and you’ve just had food or you’ll have some afterwards?

Unfortunately, an intuitive time does not always make a good gym-slot. And that is because of two key things. Overcrowding, and time restrictions.

Post Covid-19, Gyms and Fitness Clubs are going to have to be much stricter on the number of people that can go into any given workout area at any given time. In addition to that, everyone will be spending additional time cleaning any gym equipment they use.

Therefore, unless you plan to spend the entire hour gunning it on a treadmill, everyone’s workout will be taking a lot longer, during a lunch hour that was already pushing it in terms of efficiency. 

 

The only positive for lunch-time workout hour I can see post-Lockdown is that with the rise of Working From Home, actual office workers might be in scarcer supply in the big cities. 


But conversely, they will be more prevalent in suburbia. Understand your area and the behaviour patterns of the Gym-Goers in your area for the best, least stressful results.

 

So you want to use the Best Machines and Equipment?

Every Gym or Fitness Club I’ve ever been to has had certain pieces of equipment in short supply. Sometimes it isn’t even for a lack of trying on the Gym’s part. I’ve seen 3 to 4 Chest Press Machines all be consistently full during a 1 to 2 hour period. Sometimes you just can’t plan for the demand. 

 

As I covered in the last section, this problem is only going to become more acute for, at the very least, a while after the Covid-19 lockdown is lifted. 

 

Gyms and Fitness Clubs will be rightly prioritising hygiene and unfortunately that will result in long cleaning times, especially on the desirable machines.

The implication of this is that if you want to do a workout at your own pace, you are going to have to find a comparatively quiet time, or series of quiet times. 

 

One semi-reliably quiet time at the moment seems to be the very early morning. Getting your workout in while it is still dark out can be a challenge, but also very rewarding. The lack of distraction on that cursed mobile phone we all have will do you the world of good. And, at least for me, starting the day at the Gym really feels like I’ve achieved something before the rest of the world is awake. 

 

If you like structure and minimal wait time between equipment use, then starting the day at the Gym can be a real boon. But as we covered earlier, if your biological clock isn’t ringing until 11:30am, this might not be the one for you. 

 

Closing Thoughts: On Convenience, and whether to be Consistent or Consistently Inconsistent?

Convenience is a double-edged sword, as you might’ve reflected as you read my thoughts on this matter. Any time that might work well for you, might work well for other people.

As such, it becomes important to understand who you are sharing a Gym or Fitness Club environment with. If 40% of the membership is there at 6am everyday, then perhaps it is time to consider going after work.

And equally, as I’ve implied throughout this article, there is nothing saying you have to go at set times of the day. In his autobiography, Total Recall, Arnold Schwarzenegger talks about how he felt he got the most gain when he started training at two separate times of the day. And that seems to have worked well enough for him! 

 

Jokes aside, the best time to visit the Gym will ultimately be the time that works for you. It sounds like a cop out, but it is the truth. Personally, I am someone who thrives when I am doing workouts at irregular times, depending on the day. Before lockdown I’d only ever be found in the Gym immediately after work on a Friday, because I knew it would be dead.


This sort of agile approach can allow you to access the great slots without locking yourself into bad slots. But it isn’t for everyone. I hope you can make the right decision for you, and I hope my thoughts have helped.


Good luck!