“Cost of Living: Energy Costs, Power Cuts and the Fitness Industry “
With great economic turmoil not only on the horizon but in our midsts, we thought it was a good time to look at the context that has caused these events and what the fitness industry is doing, and can do, to endure these trying times.
With costs skyrocketing, even after a lackluster government interaction, quite a few gym franchises and gym owners have reported they are scaling back the amount of electricity their facilities consume. This is being achieved in a variety of ways, from lowering the temperature of swimming pools and gyms, reducing operating times and turning off Jacuzzis and spa rooms.
It is important to stress that all of these actions are being taken irrespective of the flagship government measures aimed at capping runaway energy prices. Even though it was announced that they would be ‘capping’ prices for six months from the 1st of October, as it is not a solid cap this still means that gyms and fitness clubs are facing a substantial rise.
Many gyms use large amounts of energy to keep their saunas, pools and jacuzzis warm throughout their opening hours.
We are seeing examples of many gyms cutting back throughout the fitness industry, from small independents to even some of the biggest chains.
Better Gyms, well known for operating over 250 council-owned gyms and fitness facilities were one of the first to announce measures to tackle ever-rising prices.
While it is being decided on a case-by-case basis, all 258 gyms within their operation are looking at scaling back costs. So far this has included lowering the temperature of their swimming pools by a degree celsius but leading figures within Better Gym and their parent company Greenwich Leisure Limited said that they are looking at further cuts.
Several possible measures have been floated including turning off more facilities overnight and limiting the opening time for energy-intensive services.
They stressed they would be constantly monitoring customer feedback on these measures.
An important thing to keep in mind. While saving money is paramount at a time like this, it should not come at the expense of customer satisfaction.
It is important to ensure any changes are communicated clearly and compassionately.
Customers are aware of the economic situation and will appreciate money-saving measures that are taken if they are done transparently and responsibly.
An example of this feedback in action is the Bannatyne’s group and its chain of health and fitness clubs. They tried to implement similar temperature reduction measures as Better Gyms, but their customers were dissatisfied and so this measure was reverted in short order.
It is important that this process, if made in any gym, is a dialogue between customer and business.
Better Gyms aren’t the only gym and fitness chain that is scaling back their services. The national titan, Nuffield Health have announced that they will be turning off all of their 72 jacuzzis until at least the spring.
While this is an extreme solution, it will ultimately save their operation a significant amount of money over the autumn, winter and potentially beyond. While it will most likely cause more customer dissatisfaction than lowering the temperature of pools by 1 degree, it will also save significantly more.
The example presented by Nuffield health also has value to smaller gym and fitness clubs.
A spokesperson for Nuffield gave their reasoning behind this action. They confirmed that turning off their jacuzzi facilities nationwide would allow them to save enough of their operational funds to keep their swimming pools and steam rooms functioning over winter.
This is the sort of thinking that can be applied to either one gym or many. Shutting down less popular and more costly facilities can be the key to keeping others running through this period of record high prices.
Just like with Better Gyms, the Nuffield group have not ruled out that more cost saving measures might be necessary this winter.
It has now been confirmed that the energy price cap in its current form will only last for six months. While it has prevented the situation from getting worse, most businesses have already seen their energy costs doubled. Given that we’ve been told that these energy prices are likely not going to shoot down again anytime soon, it is important that we in the fitness industry prepare measures that are sustainable, responsible and with the outlook that they may last for a long time.