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

New Business Planning in writing

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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


  • 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.


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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.

5 Questions You Need To Ask About Your Membership Payment Collection

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5 Questions You Need To Ask About Your Membership Payment Collection

When looking for a company to manage your Direct Debits, it’s important to do your research and find the one which is going to work best for you and make the perfect partnership. Here are some key questions to get your discussion going and compare different providers with one another. In addition, we’ve added some follow-up and related questions. As this series of blogs goes on, we may expand some of these questions into full articles.

Furthermore, we’ve highlighted one follow-up question we deemed to be particularly important when you are considering your checklist of questions for any potential membership payment management collection company.

1. How can I sign up customers?

The importance of this question cannot be overstated and as such we’ve placed it first on our list of must-ask questions when it comes to looking for a company to manage your Direct Debits.

Signing up customers to your gym’s payment scheme is one of the most important steps of the entire process and in this age of automated, easy access gyms it is important that the process be as streamlined as possible.

Streamlined not just for the customer but for you, the owner. Neither side wants to be dealing with tedious forms or complex websites when a customer is trying to sign up to a new gym. This is where your initial research will be vital. It can be complex to disentangle yourself from a Direct Debit management company that isn’t well suited to you and/or your customers.

Most reputable companies will offer some form of demonstration for the service they are providing, and we would recommend noting down any of these questions that you feel might be pertinent to your concerns. In relation to this question, it is important that you are able to visualise the process slotting into the current structure of your gym. Or, alternatively, that the new structure it will usher into your Gym will be an improvement.

If during the demonstration you are starting to imagine the work-arounds and hardships that a system will bring when it comes up signing up new customers and gym members to your gym, it probably isn’t the system for you.

From the sign-up stage and through the entire lifespan of their member, the relationship with a Direct Debit Management Company  has to be one that benefits you, your gym and your customers.

As such, we recommend looking for modern, hands-off, time saving measures that the company offers.

Paper free sign-up is a big one to be looking for. In this age of instant communication, there are few reasons to be shackling your customers to a physical form. With the rise of fully automated gyms, many customers simply do not have the appetite for anything as involved as a pen and paper.

Think about the space you have. How will the sign-up be occurring? On your customer’s personal phone? On an iPad or tablet presented to them by a member of your Gym’s staff? On a static computer at a reception desk? Or on a laptop balanced on the top of a Shoulder Press machine?

Make sure that the services that they provide will work for your area. If you only have enough room for mobile or tablet sign-up, then making sure they have a mobile system that allows you to do 100% of the sign-up becomes even more important. 

It is also important to note the market has shifted, members are much more likely these days to sign-up to a gym online before they have even set foot in the premises. This represents new opportunities and it is important not to get left behind. 

To conclude this section, your sign-up system should never feel like it is impeding your customer or your business. Sometimes the bureaucracy of signing up can feel like a necessary evil, but it is quite an unnecessary one in 2021. As we have covered, by doing your research you can ensure that the sign-up system will work for you and your customers, integrating them into your gym’s payment system as quickly as possible, with minimal administration on your side.

Follow-up questions to consider: 

  • How many different methods are there for customer sign-up?
  • How long does the sign-up process take?
  • Where can it be done?
  • What tools can be used to sign-up? (Phone, computer, tablet, static terminal). Does your gym have those available. How will it fit in with your existing structure?

  • How does sign-up work for additional services?

2. How do I submit payments? Can This be Automated?

Submitting payments has never been easier and as such there is no reason to accept anything less than the smoothest operation when it comes to the payment collection company you use.

By looking for a company that uses direct debit collections, you are already eliminating many of the hassles associated with collecting and submitting payments. Not only is this system paper free and admin-light, it is also ripe for numerous strives towards automation, in the right hands!

By hiring a company to handle your direct debit payments, the question of how you submit a payment will become a thing of the past. With the right company, you will be in full control with only a minimal time investment. This will allow you to choose increases and decreases, payment periods, membership categories and more.

Payments will be taken by direct debit directly from your members bank account by the direct debit company, held in a secure, liminal account, ready to be paid into your account. But not before it has gone through rigorous data capture, for both security and feedback.

Which leads us effortlessly onto our next question.

3. What reporting do you provide so I can track payments?

It is the year 2021 and Data is King. The days of knowing roughly what is going into your accounts are over. 

With the right direct debit payment management company, you’ll be able to take your gym’s data outputs to the next level. As we hinted at in the previous, the focus on data capture has never been more pronounced, more automatic or more automated.

This means several things for your business. It means that services that used to require significant human labour have drastically reduced in costs. This has opened up powerful reporting operations for very low charges, providing the company you link up with is ahead of the curve (excuse the graph pun). 

Detailed reporting power when it comes to your cash flow has many benefits that go well beyond just the monthly pay. It will allow you to examine trends in your business, breaking down important aspects of the customer journey and potential pitfalls that are losing your members. 

In addition, all that data comes in very handy when it is time to satisfy the regulators. The chances of you finding yourself with the 10pm coffee, ready to crunch numbers into the night, dramatically reduces. 

Finally it will give you security, the ability to more confidently manage your business in the present and in charting out the future. When the span of data becomes years, you will be able to build a firmer picture of your business. Invaluable when it comes to creating strategies for the improvement and growth of your business.

Follow-up questions to consider: 

  • How are these reports delivered?
  • Are direct debit payment reports generated automatically? 
  • Will there be an obstacle to seamless reporting? Mis-aligned Data that will require monthly or weekly human intervention?
  • What software do they use?
  • Do they use their own software? Will it be easy for you to learn? Will you be able to transfer it if your business with the company ever comes to an end?

  • Is their data usable in existing common systems Excel? SQL? Google Sheets?
  • Are you comfortable using the software and data formats that they use?
  • Can you integrate these new reports with your old reports to fully map your data?


4. Is it possible to integrate your system with my accounts?

This question should be firmly on your notepad or desktop post-it notes as you consider the company you want to manage your direct debit payment management. 

As we discussed earlier, the year is 2021 and there is no need to generate more hassle than necessary. Any direct debit payment management company worth its salt will be able to seamlessly integrate their operation with your existing account structure (providing you don’t do all your work on Typewriter or Windows 95). 

This question should be near the top of your list (as it is near the top of our list) and you shouldn’t accept anything less than ease of access, ease of use and a concerted focus on integration during setup. 

Any decent direct debit payment management company will have their focus on reducing your administration workload and one of the easiest ways to manage this is by starting your relationship with them correctly.

Ask questions that will help you understand how their operation works, how they handle data and money, and how that can potentially merge with your own, existing accounts infrastructure. 

The way a prospective payment management company responds to this question (and the others) will give you a good idea of how your relationship with them could pan out. If they are versatile, flexible and professional, they will have no trouble adapting to even the most rudimentary or bespoke accounting system that you may have in place. 

Conversely, if their head isn’t in the game, you might quickly find yourself having to deal with more issues than they are solving for you. This is why it is vital to ask pertinent questions up front when you are scoping out the type of company. 

Follow-up questions to consider: 

  • Is the company going to be able to deliver or present the accounting data in a format that works for your existing operation?
  • Will reporting be automatic or will there be a manual exchange of e-mail every month. Does this increase expense or the capacity for human error?

  • What file types do they use?

5. How much do you charge per collection?

This simple question should have a simple answer for each company you approach. But the answer should have large implications to whether or not the company in question is the direct debit payment management company for you.

However, most companies will be slightly different in how they run their payment collection operation. Here we will cover several models that companies in the industry are currently using, discussing their benefits and their detriments.

Some will charge per month for a set number of users. This can be useful if your business is at capacity, or you have a solid idea of the amount of people you want using your business every month. 

This can be simple, but it is imprecise. It might feel effective and intuitive to say ‘My business has under 100 members’ and therefore select the package based on that. But this can present a real challenge for growth, even in the smallest metrics. If your business suddenly goes from 100 members to 101 you might find yourself negotiating in a high tier bracket that completely wipes out the gain of that single member. 

Not to mention all the hassle of renegotiating and maybe not even being able to sign them up. What started off as a simple time-saver could easily become a shackle and a burden to you and your business.

Some will go even more abstract, charging different packages based on a ‘business size’. This has advantages, you could find yourself in a favourable bracket. But it is a double-edged sword and you could find yourself just on the cusp of the next tier up and suddenly your fees will double.

In our opinion, precision is key for any fair business dealing and this logic definitely extends to a company managing your payments. 

A popular model will charge per transaction and this can be useful when growing a business. This method is closer to the ground in terms of representing value.

It has an added bonus of being incredibly flexible. That situation we outlined above where a business went from 100 to 101 members and suffered for it? Under this model that situation would be of no concern whatsoever. 

This situation can be reversed as well, to further show the versatility. Say that same gym from before goes back below 100. There is now a choice of paying well above the service level you are receiving or once again going down.

Given the Covid-19 pandemic that we are still feeling the effects of, you can understand why this system can sometimes generate more problems than it aims to fix. 

Therefore, as you can hopefully see, the real benefit of charge per transaction system is it keeps all costs firmly linked to profits. Keeping your business model as lean as possible, ensuring there are no excess profits being lost. 

Follow-up questions to consider: 

  • Ask about different types of collection. One-off payments for day passes might be processed differently?
  • Consider asking whether the system could also be used to integrate classes, personal trainers and other add-ons. The potential costs of these features and the potential time benefits they might bring?
  • If the system is per transaction, ask about broader fees. Setup, processing fees?

5 More Questions to Ask


If you still have questions you want answered, we’ve put out another five questions that Gym and Fitness Club owners need to be asking when they approach Membership Payment Management Companies.

Follow this link for more questions to add to your checklist, or look below for information regarding booking a demo or talking to a member of our team!



Unlike other direct debit payment management companies. The services that Ashbourne provides isn’t just some basic software and the ability to collect your direct debits. No, the team at Ashbourne knows that there’s a lot more to managing a successful club than simply collecting payments.

Now that we have armed you with the pertinent questions for navigating the world of payment management companies, we want you to come and ask them to our customer team.

If any of the questions and concerns we have covered resonate with you, then we might be the company for you.

If you want to chat about what we offer, or simply run through how we can help your particular health club, then get in touch with us and our team will contact you to talk things through.


The Best Remarketing Tool Ever To Make Your Gym Facebook Ads Just Work!

Spin The Wheel Promotion

When it comes to getting the most out of your marketing, there are only 2 things you need to focus on:

1 – Reach your customer in the first place

2 – Secure a way to stay in touch with that customer


It’s simple advice, but it’s a keystone of modern day marketing.

The beauty of modern digital marketing, is that you no longer have to leave it up to luck in order to succeed with your advertising. In the past, the best you could hope for was to send out a flyer, take an advert out in the local paper or put a poster outside of the gym. If your advert was catchy enough, people would come to the club. But in terms of perfecting that system and working out which part of your marketing was working, it was as accurate as reading the stars.


You Can Also Download Our Email Marketing Strategy Guide

If you don’t have time to read the blog, then you can always download our complete email collection and remarketing strategy right now, and discover how you can increase your email collection by almost 15x and decrease the cost of your Facebook ads.


How We Tested Our Powerful Remarketing Tool

During the relaunch of our clubs, Ashbourne has been trying to find a method to make every single penny count when it comes to our advertising.  Our proving ground has been The Fit Club Redditch, a club which we directly manage and market. Every single product or service we release to our gyms is always tested and trialled at The Fit Club, so that we can prove it works.

Our latest goal was to drastically improve the number of emails we collected when people visited our website. After all, every single person who came to our website and didn’t give us their email was lost forever. It was the same as them seeing a flyer. Without a way to contact them beyond that intial contact, we were losing potential customers.

We also wanted to use this increased email collection as a way of improving our Facebook ad performance. After all, the more emails we could intially collect when people visited us, the more times we could follow up with them.

Anyone who has run a paid ad knows that the number of “clicks” you get per ad, is far higher than the number of “conversions” you make. That means there’s a lot of interested people clicking your ad, that you lose touch with instantly.

It was turning more of those clicks into conversions which was key to success and the method to do that was collecting more of those clickers’ email addresses the first time around.


How Our Facebook Ad Would Work

Our Facebook ad funnel was simple.


  • Advertise to all people within our local area
  • Have a striking Facebook ad with an interesting promotion
  • Take members to a landing page, which offers that promotion further and gives a full description of the club
  • Get viewers to fill in their email to receive our promotion via email
  • Track the prospect landing on a thank you page after purchase to confirm the sale of a membership.


But we don’t want to leave it to chance…

After all, not every customer is ready to buy there and then. We instead have to do some followups to keep us in their mind short term and give them the chance to purchase when they’re ready.

For this, we have set an arbituary endpoint for the promotion, which is 3 days after they receive the promotion and then their code deactivates. This is simply to give us a set period to get an idea if our ad is successful, so we can make changes without wasting money, but also creates some pressure to purchase before time runs out.


Here Are The Results From Our 2 Tests

We have now run this exact set up twice. Once with a single traditional promotion offering, along with a simple pop up that asks each visitor to enter their email.

And another with our powerful new email collection tool.

The difference in numbers should be strike you right away.



Test results from traditional email collection

191 leads

£743.91 spent

£3.89 per lead

27 sales

£27.55 per purchase (12 month membership)




Test results from powerful new email collection tool

351 leads

£336.73 spent

£0.95 per lead

34 sales

£9.90 per purchase (12 month membership)


But why the difference when it was effectively the same ad twice?


The logic here is simple.

By ensuring that more people gave us their email after clicking the ad, we could ensure we did more follow up emails and therefore, more people signed up.

Our new email collection method allowed us to collect almost 2x the emails for a quarter of the price.

From that point, we were able to sell members for under a third of the cost, making our money back on the first month of a 12 month membership.


Email remaketing and therefore better email collection is at the heart of this success.


With more followups, we were able to get people purchasing who would have completely passed us by if we hadn’t secured a way to contact them on the first round. And that allows us to not only secure a sale in the short term, but over the course of a lifetime, we can continue to send them numerous promotions and deals, until we catch them at the right moment.

Increasing your emails positively affects every aspect of your marketing.

So what was our special email collection tool? Let us show you!


The Random Discount Wheel

Spin The Wheel PromotionThis is an incredible tool that drastically increases your email sign ups.

While a high performing sign up form should have a sign up rate of around 2% – 5% of everyone who sees it, the discount wheel on average has a sign up rate of between 25% – 30%. You can already see why it’s had such a positive affect on our facebook ad spend.


How it works is simple:

  • When people land on a page, they will be shown the discount wheel
  • You can select a range of promotional discount codes
  • You can then select the probability of certain promotions popping up (high probability for the simple ones, zero probability for the really good ones)
  • All the viewer has to do is enter their email and then they receive a code


New and interesting ways of collecting emails like the discount wheel spark people’s interest and get them entering their email. Even though the proposition is the same – simply a special discount – the presentation makes it fresh and exciting.

We never even changed our promotion. The 75% off your first month was the best promotion on there, but with the random chance, it excited people to now enter their emails to give it a try.

This is always something to bear in mind. Sometimes it’s the presentation and interest which needs to change, not the offer.

Keep reading to the end of the blog as we have links to multiple wheels that will work with different website types.


The Email Followup Funnel

The next way to make the most from each wheel sign up, is to have some followup emails.

Not everyone who gets a discount is ready to buy there and then, and many people simply don’t bother checking their emails, or lose their promotional code… point being, you can never tell what you’re customer is doing, so you need to make sure they know about it.

In our strategy, we send out 3 emails across the following 3 days from when they fill in the form.


You can click the link to download our email text as a template for your own club:

The First Email – Sent immediately. Confirms that their code is available for the next 15 minutes

The Second Email – Sent 1 day later. Let’s the member know that you’ve kept their code available for the next day if they want to still sign up. The email contains the most common code that the customer can spin.

The Third Email – Sent 1 day later. Gives the member the best promotion available on the wheel as a final incentive (this gesture can be framed however fits your brand style best).


When are people most likely to sign up?

Based on our data, a majority of sign ups occur immediately after spinning the wheel and receiving the first email.

However, the addition of followup emails allows your advert to be more than a single hit. Your gym stays in the customers mind, so you can still convert customers who aren’t the kind of people to make impulse purchases and need a few days to consider purchases.

The best reason to use a set time period to send emails (3 days), is that you can then determine that by the third day, if you haven’t had a sale, then you’re likely not going to have one. While someone might sign up later down the line, when you’re spending money on Facebook ads, you want quick results, so if you aren’t making sales by day 3, it’s time to change something.


A Simple Overview of This Strategy And Why It Works!

To make things nice and clear for the overall marketing funnel, here it is laid out visually, so you can see every step of the process.

Please feel free to download this if you want to review it later.


Simple remarketing email campaign for facebook ads for gyms V2


And here is where you can download every step of it!

You are welcome to download all the copy and assets we used during our latest campaign to use as a template to run your own campaigns. After all, if it ain’t broke, then why fix it.


Our website landing page with wheelSee here

Our Facebook ad image and copyDownload here

Our full email funnelDownload here

Our e-book on how to create a Facebook adDownload here

The best discount wheels for different website types (ask your website admin if you’re not sure) – WordPress, Shopify, Squarespace


Ashbourne Can Help With Your Gym’s Marketing & More

Ashbourne helps its partner clubs stay ahead in the market by doing something that no other health club manager does… running its own clubs.

By managing our own clubs and testing every one of our services under real world conditions, we can maintain the best club management service out there, whether it’s handling your direct debits, payment collections, your gym’s check in security or your marketing.

Ashbourne has a service to help make every aspect of this marketing funnel, and many others, possible. By joining Ashbourne, we can help build you a fast and responsive site, offer you advice on your Facebook advertising and give you a powerful CRM to automate your emails and control your leads.

If you want to supercharge your club’s marketing and make your business stronger than it’s ever been, then we’d love to have a chat and show you around the system, so you can see your business’s bright future with Ashbourne behind you every step of the way.

Free Email Template: Keep Your Members Paying While Your Club Is Closed

sending email to prospects

With the continued closure of gyms and health clubs in the UK and Ireland, we want you to be sure how you can communicate effectively with your members to make sure you keep as many direct debits open and ensure payments are frozen rather than cancelled.

Unlike other club managers, we’ve been very proactive in making sure that regardless of the situation, you don’t lose a member outright, so we want you to be on top of communicating with your members about any potential gym closures, with us playing a supportive role.

How you keep on top of this is simple…

You can send emails from your CRM of choice, or if you’re an Ashbourne customer you can use your BI dashboard. If you click here you can find a full tutorial on how to send emails to your members using the BI dashboard.


Keep Your Members Paying With A Single Email

We know that every facility is different and as such we have created a few different options you can present to your members to either keep them paying their membership or keep them on hold.

We have provided this option to thousands of gyms and it is an amazingly effective way of clearly communicating with your members, being upfront and preventing hasty cancellations.


Here is our email template to send your members, complete with the 3 payment options


Hello (Gym Member),

As you are aware, our gym has been closed due to the COVID-19 shutdown. As a valued member, we want to make handling your membership as easy as possible, which is why we are sending you 3 simple options for what you want us to do with your membership while our facility is closed.


Please select one of the options below and respond to this email and we will action your choice straight away.


Option 1

You want us to continue your direct debit payments. This requires no action on your part. We’ll continue to take your regular payments and  provide online support and any other support that you need from us during this period.

Option 2

You want to freeze your account for the duration of the shutdown. We will stop taking your monthly payments and will restart them once shutdown ends. We’ll also give you a free month for the time that you’ve already paid for.

Option 3

You want to pay 50% for the duration of the shutdown. This will make sure your membership remains open and continues to help support the club during lockdown, even if you can’t afford to pay your entire membership.


Please respond to this email as early as you can so we can make sure your membership is handled to your preferences ASAP.

Kind regards,

(Gym Name)


Make Communicating With Your Members Easy With Ashbourne

We’ve been working closely with gyms all across the UK and Ireland to manage their members and help keep their businesses thriving during lockdown.

Unlike many club managers, we’ve stayed open and active, allowing our clubs to keep taking members payments and keep money coming through the door, even while their businesses have been closed.

If you want to keep your business thriving during lockdown and beyond, then don’t hesitate to get in touch for a full consultation and let’s discuss how we can keep your health club’s future bright.

The Gym Owners Forum Podcast: Target Your Prospects & Sell More Memberships Through Emails

Gym Owners Forum Podcast Blog Feature

Many gym and club owners are unaware, but emails are still the number one way to secure new members.That’s right, it’s not social media or even on-site sales, but emails which convert the most prospects into paying members.

In this podcast, we’re joined by The Fit Club Redditch owners Grant and Toby, as well as Ashbourne Membership Management marketer Harvey; to show you how you can make the most of your email database during lockdown.

We’ll walk through how you can continue to grow your database, clean it up so you are always targeting the right members for your club, and finally, we’ll help you come up with fresh ideas for what emails you should be sending in the first place.

This is the perfect podcast for any gyms or health clubs who are still using gmail and outlook as their primary email systems.

It’s time to get a proper CRM, customer relationship manager, and truly start to target the right members who are actually going to be sold a membership to your club.

In this episode, we’ll help you discover:

  • What emails you should be sending to keep your members engaged
  • Why you should cut out your gmail/outlook and earn more money with a pro CRM system
  • How you should split up your email database to accurately rarget the right customers for your club
  • Methods to keep your email database growing even during COVID
  • The importance of cleaning up your emails and why this is the perfect time


Remember to join The Gym Owner’s Forum facebook group for even more support from gym owners across the UK and Ireland.

If you’re interested in more direct help for your club, collecting your direct debits, to handling your marketing, then get in touch with Ashbourne today for a free demo and discussion. You can also find loads of helpful free resources on our site.


Listen To The Gym Owner’s Forum Podcast

You can listen to the podcast here, or find it on your favourite podcast host. We’re available on everything from Google Podcasts, to Spotify and Apple Podcasts.



The Podcast Transcript



Hi, everyone. Welcome to the next episode of The Gym Owners Forum podcast. I’m Grant Harrison from Ashbourne Membership Management and The Fit Club. Joining me again is Toby and Harvey.

How are you doing guys? Alright?



Pleasure to be here, thanks Grant.



I’m very well. I’m very well. I’m very excited for this episode. This is the data management episode, I’ve wanted to from the start.



Playing to your strengths. You have to say.






So today we’re talking about managing your membership and taking, taking charge of your database. We’ve got obviously plans to do other podcasts involving getting new members, keeping them, but while we were in lockdown, people have renovated the club.

People have put in different things, new bought new equipment painted, but some clubs have neglected the fundamentals of getting their database cleaned up so they can target certain groups of members. So that’s what we’re going to be talking about today. How to make the most of your database, manage your membership better and move the club forward.

So we’re going to break down today’s episode into three main parts. Firstly, we’re going to talk about what kind of content you should be sending to your members. Secondly, how to keep your database growing.

Obviously, even though the clubs are closed, what you can be doing to generate leads, getting more people into that database, and then thirdly, tidying up your database and how to keep it clean, moving forward. Okay. So let’s get straight into it.

So what sort of content have we been sending out from the fit club, Toby?



We’ve been automating a lot, throughout the first lockdown and in the one in November, we create a lot of content. We bang on all the time about scheduling and the importance of scheduling.

So, most stuff you can imagine is relevant to gym members. You know, you’ve got your workouts, your recipes, updates with the club, anything you’re doing, they’re interested in, it’s all good stuff, but it’s about setting it up. So it’s easy for you. So, spend a day, scheduling your content, spend a day filming and then send that out to your members in a staggered way.



Yeah, Toby is spot on with scheduling. So I primarily as we’ve talked about it in a previous podcast, but a lot of the Fit Clubs plan was to just basically continue doing as many live classes as possible and opening up to everyone, which was great for, for tax reasons, as you mentioned in a previous episode, but it’s also just a great way to market the club because we were going to keep some personal trainers on and it makes sense that if they’re going to do a workout class, we may as well basically just use it as a free advert for the club.

So, well, the good thing about that is though that we could schedule that, basically, as locked started and then I went through and just wrote like 50 emails, one reminding everybody each day that workout classes were going to happen and that’s just a great way to keep people in your database coming back and keeping the gym in mind, whether or not they’re a member, whether they’re a member or they’re just someone whose kind of signed up for your newsletter in the past and hasn’t really thought about you in a few months and now obviously during a lockdown, they’re getting blasted with you and they’re like, wow, that’s a great gym. Maybe I should join that when lock downs over.

Another thing we’ve tried is actually we’ve been doing like some pre-sales it’s, we found personally that we’ve been selling three month contracts and three month, sort of vouchers pretty well, which has been a good way to go because we found that people weren’t really interested in signing up for year long contracts right now, because things are a bit unstable. So once again we’ve been giving a lot of free things away, but we’ve also been using our database to actually make pre-sales by the time the gym opens and then of course we’ve had loads of Facebook groups going where we’ve been showing live classes and doing sort of a bit more, one-to-one sort of talking to people who are members.

So we’ve been trying to get people into that because at the moment we’ve got loads of people in our database who have never touched our social media and the other way round, we’ve got loads of people on our social media, who’ve never been in our email database. So we’re just kind of using this to try and get as many people into one place as possible and connect them into the fit club ecosystem. I guess you could call it. So I would say those are the three main things we’ve been doing and as you can tell, we’ve scheduled a lot of it ahead, so you can really get a lot of work done. If you just spend a day just writing emails, as long as you plan ahead,



The prepaid stuff’s very good. I mean, you give someone a promise of something when they get back for a good price and you’re generally going to be able to create some revenue now, which is really good. One thing I’ve seen from not so many gyms, but I think it could be applied to a gym is like a sweepstakes on your social media channels, where you have 50 numbers say, and 10 pounds buys you a number.

And then you add to enter the sweepstakes and if your number selected, you win years free membership. You can do that, you know, you can scale it up however you want, but it’s a quick way of earning some revenue for your club. I don’t know how dire your situation is, but you know, you can reapply this stuff and play with it, tinker with it as much as you want.



I agree as well. It’s a great way of getting people from your emailing system back onto your social media. If you say, come and join the Facebook page because we’ve got loads of exciting stuff going on.



If you, if, if you’re struggling for things to put on and what content, there’s so many videos already out there. So if you’re looking at workout videos rather than having to come up with your own stuff, just use one of the millions of videos that’s, on YouTube and look at how many views, look how successful their videos are and then I won’t say copy the video, but if you can make your own interpretation of it, then you, haven’t got to come up with another 50 exercises and another 20 things to do at home. You’ve already got that content there and you’re just essentially rebranding it.



It’s true and a lot of the time you are the expert and stuff that you might not think is that interesting or that special, your warmup stretch, your finisher when you’re doing exercise and stuff like that. It’s actually very interesting to someone at home. That’s not been at the gym for a while. So it’s worth recording this stuff and you know, just almost a life for the gym user, kind of a take on it, where everything you do is filmed and updated to your social media, to your email channels. It’s all good stuff.



Well, I think the thing about, cause what we’ll, I think we’ll move on to the other database bits in a moment, but it’s really the like the kind of content and kind of emails that you should be sending people.

I find that I’m sure you do Toby that there’s just, there’s so many people who are worried about sending emails because they feel like if you send an email that somebody might unsubscribe and I think a lot of gyms kind of, I think a lot of the gyms and businesses in general have to get over that because the first thing is that if somebody hates your email so much that you send two and they go, Oh, I can’t bear standing. These people, they’re a bad email person anyway.

But on top of that, it’s more, it’s more about what you’re sending them. I think most people unsubscribed when they receive loads of sales emails. Like if you just sent loads of pre-sales email saying sign up for three months, sign up for three months. People are going to get rid of you. But if somebody is receiving a free workout class every day, I cannot imagine anyone except for someone who really despises receiving emails going-



But they’re not going to, but they’re not going to become a member anyway. So what does it.



Precisely, but anybody’s not going to be like, oh, I hate all this free content or somebody who stop sending me all these free things.



And after the lockdown as well. What we’ve been through, anyone on your live member list knows about that. That knows that they’re paying for the gym at the moment. Yeah, there is. There’s no hidden members. There’s no sleeping members anymore. Like if you think there are, then you’re just wrong. Unfortunately, absolutely. That is a thing of the past. Now-



Sending an email, that was always a worry to a club to that database because they’re worried that they’re going to send out an email, 200 people aren’t using the club and they will then cancel because it reminds them that they’ve still got that gym membership. So it wakes up the sleepers. What we’ve noticed that Ashbourne is that clubs just don’t have any sleepers anymore.

Everyone’s been contacted about their membership and the payments and how it’s going to. So any sleepers that were there are now gone. So you know that your database, your database, you can send emails to and they’re not going to council because they already have. So it’s use it now.



And that brings us, brings us nicely on to the point about the high quality members on your database. So those who are still paying or had frozen their membership are committed members. These are your superstar members. You know, they’re not going to leave you in a global pandemic. They’re never going to leave you really.

So now it’s the time to recognize them, to reward them and what we did in the first lockdown, which has gone down a massively well was change or the status of all members that carried on paying to foundation members and they got a series of perks, like a discount in our store and a few other bits. And it’s just gone down massively well, I don’t think we’ve lost any of those members. There’s and there’s about 500 of them.

It’s not a small group of people. We’ve not lost any of those members and it’s just recognizing those on your database that are very loyal to the club.



Yeah, and let them know this stuff and let them know more than once because they might miss the first email.



I missed the first email as well. Yeah,



And let them know that. Yeah, absolutely. Let them know that they are the foundation members and we, we valued them in the first lock down. We value them moving forward. And these are the privileges that they get by, by, by supporting us through it.

So obviously that’s also bringing on to keeping the database growing. So although the club is closed, there’s still things that we can do to, to, to increase our database, to generate leads, essentially prospects into the come. Yes, we can’t do a tour round, but we can prime them ready. So prime them ready for when we do reopen to get them to join. So things like just lead magnets and things like that on a landing page, let’s get them get that data in so that when the club does open, you are the first club on their list.

They don’t go, we’ve got 20 gyms to choose from. Which one? No, no. I’ve been receiving stuff from the Fit Club all the way through. They’ve looked after me, even though I’m not even a member, I need to join a gym. The first one off the top of my head here, is the fit club. Make it obvious for them. So there are other things. What other things Harvey have we ever been doing to, to grow our database and our prospect list?



It’s a good point about staying on people’s good sides. I mean, we’re still receiving Google reviews about how good the gym is. Even though the gym is closed because you know, people just made it a part of their lives and now that they have a bit of time off, they’re like, oh, this gym’s still giving me loads of stuff. Now I’ll actually review it. So you’ve, you know, that that goodwill stays and sometimes can actually be amplified by the fact that you’re giving more when you don’t have to.



And show when you get a good or not a good Google review, but when you get in the good Google reviews, share it. Talk about Google, Google as a mouthful with it, share it, explain, tell your prospects what your members think of your club and they can feel part of that community too.



Absolutely. So yeah, in terms of, in terms of ways to keep growing, it will. So there’s some, as a ways there’s free and paid and everybody prefers free, but there are still some paid ways to get leads. Once again, this is kind of based on your gym’s budget. It’s, you know, how, how much is a customer worth to you and this is dependent on how much you charge per year. Obviously if your gym costs a thousand pounds to be part of, then each lead is worth about a thousand pounds to you, if you can convert them.

So, but what we’ve been doing is we’ve been all of this free stuff. All of these live classes, we’ve actually been running some pretty low cost, social media ads on Facebook and Instagram, which is basically just aimed at the reddish area. Obviously we don’t want people finding us in sort of Edinburgh, because then when the gym reopens, they’re pretty useless to us.



In terms of the community.



Exactly and unless we open a digital platform, they’re pretty much useless for now. So we’re aiming it at the Reddit area, people who probably would never have heard of us and we’re offering these free services and it’s not for a price that literally says these are some free at home workouts from your local area, because I feel like the local element kind of, I think it resonates with people a bit more than say Fitbit or something saying, hi, we’re a massive conglomerate, come and look at some free.



We’ll harvest your data.



Exactly. So like play on that edge. And then you simply ask, even if it’s in a Facebook group to get access to these live classes, you can get them onto the website, get them signing up for something you’ve got their email and your database and then they can enjoy all the content from you.

And then of course, there’s, there’s pre-sales. Once again, you can same sort of Facebook ad, but focused on selling three months when the gym opens and then on top of that as well, I’m sure you guys have got some, some other things to say about this. It’s not just about coming up with ideas. It’s also going back and just sort of seeing how you get people’s emails in the first place.

Like, cause you know, we have sort of email captures all over our website. So if somebody goes on a certain page, it pops up saying, hey, do you want to be part of our newsletter? Here’s a promotion for you and I go on a lot of gym websites and we make a lot of gym websites for people and so many people don’t have these, so this is a good time to review your website and just be like, how am I actually getting emails? Because your website existing, doesn’t give you emails.

People need a place to actually put that email in and they need a reason to, not just, Oh, could you send me some spam, please? I love spam.



But the easiest way is, as you say, here’s, here’s some lockdown workouts or tips for fit nutritional tips to lock down or recipes to try during locked down, get them, have a landing page, get their email address and then ping them the goods, ping them the goods.



Yeah, I mean obviously growing your database, one thing, but the social media following is also now part of that database, or there’ll be Facebook and Instagram, whatever own the data, which is annoying me, is what it is. But a couple of ways to grow that, I think I do bang on a lot about giving away stuff free, but it does tend to work.



It’s modern marketing.



Yeah, absolutely. So your Instagram competition, you just giving away a year’s membership again or something that you have in stock that you really need to get rid of. It’s all good stuff. Tag, every, each friend you tag in the comments, counts as an entry, powerful again, and they have to, they can enter, but they have to follow the page.

Instant new followers, instant new likes, instant engagement and then one that Harvey showed me yesterday is a website called viral, which is worth checking out. It’s you like set up competitions where members earn points, which are configured by you towards prizes. Again, picks by you by sharing content on social media. So like if you share something on Facebook, then you get one point and it automatically tallies it up and I can earn towards rewards. So it’s all automated and it’s very good. It takes, it takes it.



Yeah. I mean, until we took him out, it like that, it’s an extension of your database, your social media is, but E but also that kind of things like up viral, you can say to people on social media, put in your email, into our website in order to get access to the rules of the competition, because it’s, you know, it’s just a great way to sort of make everything, just basically get as much data from any names, you know, as possible.



When, when you’ve got that email address from the members, well, you’ve got to cultivate that relationship. You can’t just send them one thing and then wait till you reopen. And then you’ve got to keep sending them stuff all the way, and it can take a lot of work to send them an email a couple of days later, send them another email. So what we do is we use our prospect management and lead generation module. So the landing page is built within the software. The lead goes straight in and then a series of automations just trigger automatically. So we’ve set up about 10, 15 emails in this prospect management. So once the lead goes in, they receive the, the first email with the diet advice or the new, the workouts.

Couple of days later, they automatically then send, receive the, the next email, a bit more new information a couple of days later, again, more information and so on and so on, but I don’t have to sit at the computer and send that information out. It’s all done automatically. And that saves us so much time, especially when we’ve got leads coming in one, coming in at three o’clock in the morning and another one coming in at seven o’clock in the morning, another one coming in at two in the afternoon to sit there and be on the ball with it just takes too much time. So it’s all automated. As a matter of what time somebody enters the lead generation module, the automation just kicks in and kicks in and kicks in.



Absolutely. And the good thing about our prospect management system as well is, is yeah, we, we, we have a system where we just have automatic emails going out and we set it so that different automatic emails go out based on sort of how far through people are in the chain. So if somebody signs up a week ago, they would get an automatic email saying, here’s all the classes we’ve done up until now. If they sign up, now they get even more of a less. So it’s just an instant way of, you know, you don’t have to wait until you send that next email blast. You can instantly give someone like a reason start visiting your website and seeing how you add value. And also just, just



The dividing it up. If somebody comes in, because they’ve completed the landing page that says they’re interested in nutritional tips, you can target the email, the follow-up emails after that, based on nutritional advice, if somebody has said workouts from home, their emails, their subsequent emails will be about different exercises. They can do, you know, you, haven’t got to just send the same bulk emails to each group.



It goes, yeah, it goes into how much do you know how well do you know your members? So, you know, if you use a profit management system like that, you can create a, a fact finding campaign where you ask them a series of questions. And then depending on their answers, they get certain tags as grant says. So, you know, you’re not sending kids swimming class information to a 60 year old bloke. You only attend six spinning classes, you know? Yeah.



So, so essentially segmenting your database and sending targeted messages to targeted groups,



Which I think brings us very nicely onto the part three, clean up your database and segment your database.



Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. Cause it’s like, if you don’t know these people who come from this landing page and these people are come from this landing page, how do you know what information you’re going to send them? So that’s all part of the, the, the cleaning up the database



Completely. And as Toby says, if you’re concerned about sending too many emails to someone, then segmenting the database is even better because it means you can actually send more emails without annoying everyone. Like, as you say, 60 year old, Bob Hawkins, doesn’t want to hear about, sort of kids swimming classes that happen every Friday and that might be a reason why he ends subscribes. So it’s yeah, it’s cause cleaning up the database. We’re going to talk about more about who you should, moving people around and deleting people.

Deleting people’s a pretty good way of cleaning up your database. Especially if you have like user limits. If you have like a limit to how many emails you can have in your database, it’s pointless you sending thousands of emails out to people that are costing you money, who aren’t responding at all. But on top of that, like cleaning up the database also involves segmenting people, knowing what people are actually using your gym for and what they’re finding interesting about it.



For sure. I agree.



And another great one as well as to another great way to clean up the database is to actually stop the members receiving emails for people who aren’t members. So you can have people, you have your sales emails and then you have emails for your members. So great time to just stop members, receiving sales emails.



The way we do it is we have a clear line between our prospects. We have the prospect management system, and then as soon as they are a member, they’re live members. So they move into that system, which is our live database. And then we obviously hit them with the relevant stuff, more salesy nurture type stuff for the prospects and then club information, secondary spend, and just nurturing in a kind of different way to help maintain them as members once they are signed up. So there’s a clear split, which is crucial.



Yeah, completely. I mean, we’ve got this kind of set up automatically because we use the Ashbourne system, but on your end you can, I mean, you can do a manual reviews. You can cobble something together, which is the problem with not having a unified system, but, but yeah, like this is the perfect time to do it because, I’m plus as well as, you know, always good to not send the members, the really great deal that the gym memberships were actually 50% off the next week. Cause that’s a good way to upset people that lose money.



I think, I think in the next couple of episodes, we’re going to talk about the member’s journey, but we’ll also talk about the prospect’s journey as well. So today is more about cleaning up that database and being ready to send stuff to the right people. But we’ll also talk about in future episodes, the prospect journey, how a member comes in and then how you can nurture them and other things that you can do as well.



Make the whole thing watertight from start to finish.



I think obviously all these things you can do manually yourself. So you can get the email address and go into your outlook and send that person an email, but it’s, it’s time consuming and hard work. So obviously using the Ashbourne system will make your life a lot easier. So we’re not here to bang on about use Ashbourne, use Ashbourne, use Ashbourne, but use Ashbourne.



Well, think, just think about yourself and put a value on your time as what I’d say, make life as easy as possible and to fill out you do need as a unified system.



Absolutely. If you want to scale your, if you’ve got a club, we have a hundred members and you get in one prospect a month, then of course you could probably just automate, you could manually send out that email, but if you want to scale your club up to become a successful club where you’ve got seven, eight, nine, a thousand plus members, you cannot possibly manually send out emails all the time to your prospects. You have to have a system in place which draws the prospect in automatically then sends the emails out because you can then go on holiday. You can go away for a couple of, obviously you can’t go on holiday at the minute, but you can go. You can spend take a week off you’re off of the business and the emails will still go through and the process is automated. You lose a member of staff. A next one comes in. The process is exactly the same.



Absolutely. I mean, I think even more extreme, like if you don’t, there are a lot of gyms who are still using G-mail and Outlook and just kind of have an Excel spreadsheet of all their members. Like if you, if you still at that point and you haven’t got like an automated system, then even more seriously learn how this stuff works because if you’re not using a system like this, it is the equivalent of still using a horse and plow now when we have tractors, like just, there really is no excuse for it. And yeah it might take a couple of weeks to learn and sort out, but over time you just save yourself dozens of hours and at the end of the day, like this is, this stuff makes more money. If you can contact more people with more deals and more promotions, you, you will see an increase in your memberships.



Is this a bad time to say that I use, G-mail still, alongside the prospect management system?






Of course, of course.



Great. Well, thanks for that guys. Appreciate your time on that and hopefully you’ve gained a bit of an insight of what you can do with your databases and cleaning it up. But let’s say for more information about how Ashbourne can help your club and help you to scale it up and improve your time management and everything like that. Just visit us at the website, which is Ashbourne High For or get in touch through the comments page on the forum and we’ll get in touch to show you how our systems can help your gym and we’ll, we’ll see what we can do to improve it.



And if you want more consistent gym owners, forum, content, then look for gym owners, forum, on Facebook and you’ll find our Facebook group where we only let you in if you’re an actual gym owner, which makes the conversation a lot more focused, qualified.



Absolutely good. Okay. Cheers guys. See you soon.



Cheers guys.



See you later.

The Gym Owners Forum Podcast: Keep Your Gym’s Social Media Active & Interesting in 2021

Gym Owners Forum Podcast Blog Feature

Keeping a social media page alive with content is tough for any gym or health club, especially during a lockdown.

Fitness is one of the most popular categories of social media that people engage with, and while there’s an infinite amount of content to post, nutritional advice to offer, exercise regimes to recommend and fitness memes to post; so many health clubs and gyms are failing when it comes to keeping their gym social media active and content rich.

While there are many things to be posted, as a health club owner, it can be hard to find the time to come up with ideas and even harder to find the time to schedule your social media posts to your members.

In this podcast, we’re joined by Ashbourne marketing manager Harvey, and The Fit Club Redditch gym co-owners Grant and Toby, to discuss gym social media and give you some tips and hints about how you can keep your social media fresh and earning you members throughout lockdown and beyond.

In this episode, you’ll learn:

  • Fresh content ideas for you to put on your club’s social media
  • The numbers you actually need to track to see if your content is working
  • How you can easily recycle content to triple the amount of social media you can post
  • Which social media platforms you should be using
  • How you can schedule your posts so you can front load all of your content


Remember to join The Gym Owner’s Forum facebook group for even more support from gym owners across the UK and Ireland.

If you’re interested in more direct help for your club, collecting your direct debits, to handling your marketing, then get in touch with Ashbourne today for a free demo and discussion. You can also find loads of helpful free resources on our site.


Listen To The Gym Owner’s Forum Podcast

You can listen to the podcast here, or find it on your favourite podcast host. We’re available on everything from Google Podcasts, to Spotify and Apple Podcasts.



The Podcast Transcript



Okay. Hi everyone. Welcome to the third episode of The Gym Owners Forum Podcast. We did have plans to do a podcast relating to attracting more members, retaining the members, increasing the yield per member, but as we’re into our third lockdown, it’s not really relevant at the moment.

So, we thought we’d do an episode on social media and things that we are doing at The Fit Club, to engage our members and keep them active, keep them engaged, keep them paying. So, we just thought we’d share some of our ideas. Joining me again today, is Toby Wassell, fellow gym owner with me at The Fit Club and Ashbourne product development manager. And Harvey, our resident marketing expert.

How you doing guys? All right?



Very well. Thanks Grant.



Good to be here, as ever. Thanks for the invite Grant.



It’s a pleasure. You’ve made it to episode three, Harvey. Well done.



Still on probation though. Don’t get too excited.



Make sure you keep coming up with these new ideas.

Okay. So, we just thought we’d share what we’re doing on social media with The Fit Club. So again, it’s things that you can put into your club and hopefully engage the members a little bit more, keep them active. I know it’s hard going into the third lockdown to do it over and over and over, the same thing.

So, we just thought we’d try and spice it up, do a few new things, and just keep the members as active as we can. So, typically we’ve been doing a few new things on Zoom, haven’t we? For instance, we’ve been using all the platforms that we’ve-



Yeah, absolutely. So, talking about social media, it’s obviously the only link that a lot of your members have to the club during this time. It’s the only bit they’re going to see of you. So, it’s important that you do take control of it and make sure that you are using it regularly.

Yeah. So, you talking about Zoom, we’ve got obviously all the live stream stuff. Thought I’d start with just the actual social media platforms, your Facebooks, Instagrams, Twitters, and stuff like that. So, it’s important to use them all or as many as you can, but it’s important to strike a balance between reaching a wide audience across multiple channels, but also not overstretching yourself.

I know that we found that it’s difficult to keep up regular posting, if you’re using too many. So, with Ashbourne we used to have a Twitter, and it never got updated, it never got maintained, and it was just a waste of time. It just turned into an extra cost and extra things to look out. So, it’s important to make sure that you’re just doing the bare minimum to hit as many people as possible.



On that note, I think, do two, well.



Yeah, absolutely. I mean, the main thing for me is, Facebook and Instagram are obviously connected. So, anything you post on Facebook, provided you’ve got it linked to your Instagram, will be posted on the other channel. So, that’s easy and they’re the most two popular things.

You’re hitting for me, an older audience with Facebook and then a younger one with Instagram, both are very popular amongst gyms and fitness people.

So, I think they’re the two absolute, bread-and-butter, have to do them channels. Email hits a different group again, a lot of the same people, but a lot of other people only look at their email. So, they’re the three that are absolute for me, essential, that you need to be updating all the time and sharing consistent messages. And through our view-



I think what you’re saying is, do a few things really well rather than do lots of things badly. If you can really hammer the point on the main platforms and make it a good production, it’s better than doing an average production, across lots of channels.



Completely, I think one of the strengths, as well as which… Because the big issue that I see with people that are running multiple social medias, is they want to schedule stuff. And what that used to entail, is you’d have to use stuff like Hootsuite and all these extra third parties to schedule stuff. And usually you don’t want to pay for that. So, you hit your limit and then you have to start paying for it.

So, as Toby mentioned, because Facebook and Instagram are now linked, if you Google, Facebook Creator Studio, it takes you to an area of Facebook where you can now just schedule all of your Facebook and Instagram posts from the same database, from the same dashboard. And it’s all connected!

So, especially if you choose Facebook and Instagram as your two big ones, you’re hitting both of those different audiences, but at the same time, you can now just schedule everything in one place without having to go to Hootsuite to do your LinkedIn or your Twitter stuff.



You’ve been scheduling everything on Zoom, haven’t you Toby?



Yeah. So, this is what I’ve been using. So, Facebook just added this and it is really useful for the Zoom links, which we started doing our live classes on. We’ll go into why we’ve started using zoom later. But yeah, just getting all the links for your recurring Zoom classes set up on a schedule on Facebook, to be posted 15 minutes before the class is due to start. And then, I set them up for the week and it’s just good to go. It just runs itself, which just… Yeah. Obviously, requires no management and I can do it at my own leisure.



So, when you actually then go and film the class, it’s already done for you. You just click one button.



Yeah, exactly. And also what’s really useful, I don’t have to be at the club anymore. We didn’t really want to give everyone access to the Facebook page. So, we used to have to go down to the club, set up the Facebook live stream and be there. Now that it’s on Zoom, we can just have someone else host the meeting. And yeah, they just go down to the club or in that front room and just film it, yeah.



And they only need access to Zoom, not the entire-



Yeah, exactly.



Yeah. We don’t want to be giving all of our instructors access to all the Facebook pages and everything like that. Who knows what will be posted on there? So, you said about having that plan and the schedule of your classes. So, it’s also really important to have that plan and timetable for your members, so they know what’s coming up. If you’re doing it ad hoc, right? At some point this week, we’ll be doing a video of something. Then the members are going to be, “Well, we’ll see.” But, if they know that Monday at 9:00, they get Zumba, Tuesday at 5:00, they get legs, bums and Tums. I think that’s that’s important. So, they know where they stand.



Exactly. We run it just like a normal class timetable. Send it out at the start of the week. And then, they know where to go for the classes.



You said, we put a live… So, we do the live classes, don’t we? But then, for those that have missed it, then the recording goes out as well, so people can catch up at their leisure.



Yeah, the recordings were a difficult one with this because, the reason we moved to Zoom was because Facebook was… It was good, it posted the recordings on Facebook, but it would mute certain parts, the problem was with the music copyright, it’s got a very good algorithm for picking that stuff up on Facebook. So, it’ll automatically mute parts of the video.

And actually with Zoom, what we started to do was download the video and post on Facebook. But then, again, the problem was it mutes certain parts of the video.

So, now what we’ve done is either post the Zoom link to the recording on Facebook so that the member can just click on it and watch on Zoom’s platform on their browser. And then, also we’ve set up a YouTube channel. YouTube has much more relaxed attitudes towards copyright.

You will get little notifications coming up saying that this might be copyrighted, but I mean, we’ve had videos banned in North Korea and Syria, which we don’t have any members there at the moment. And if we do have to apologize to them now, but yeah, it’s a lot more relaxed and yeah, it’s been a lot more hassle-free so far, touch wood.



Yeah. Yeah. The last thing you want is to put all that effort in only for halfway through the video, it’ll be muted out and nobody can understand what they’re supposed to be doing next. So, yeah. Good. So, we’ve done it for our members that are continuing to pay and are frozen, but we’ve also opened it up to use this to attract new members and potential clients.

Obviously, the gym is closed, but we’re trying to attract as many new people as we can. So, we use it in this group. So, people that haven’t used the club before, they’re now open to it as well, but we’ve got to get their data. It’s all well and good just saying, “Yeah, come and join and view the video.”

But for us, we need to use those as leads. So, anybody that now does it obviously has to give us their email address and contact details, so that we can follow up with them. And as we get closer to reopening, we can use that data. How are we collecting that data?



So, the two best systems to do it are, either take people to your website, to fill in a form. And then, once you’ve got their email address, email them a link to the group. Obviously the group is free. They could find the group if they wanted to, but the idea is it creates this idea that they have to give you their data to get to the group.

The second best way, which we’ve been discussing is, so Facebook groups, you can ask people questions, before they join.

And of course, one of those questions can be, “What’s your email address? Do you want us to contact you on, or what’s your phone number?” Or something like that. So, the thing to remember is that once you let someone into a group, that information disappears effectively.

So, the best way we’ve found to do it is that we ask them, “What’s your email address?” In the group. Before we allow them in, we then take a note of that information, put it into our CRM, and then we let them through.

The best way to do it, if you want to remain completely GDPR compliant, which I’m sure we will want to, is to do it in two ways. So, you can get them onto your website, get their email address so that you can send them the link to the group.

And then, one of your questions to let them into the group is, “What is the email address that you used?” Because, what it allows you to do is firstly, you can compare notes to see who’s actually going from the email to the group, but also it allows you to double check their email and then email them later because they’ve already agreed for you to have their email in the previous point.

So, there’s two good ways of doing it really, you can either take them straight to the group, or you can make them fill in a form beforehand.



That, filling in a form. I’ve just signed up to a Tony Robbins master class. And he’s got about 600,000 people on his closed Facebook group, and that’s exactly how he did it. He had his landing page, he did his Facebook ad or whatnot, directed us to the landing page, filled in the form. Soon as it then says, “Right, now you joined the Facebook group,” and it asks you the email address that you’ve used on that landing page. It’s almost getting that information twice from you. So, if it works for him, it’s going to work for you.



I think, whenever pretty much any business or even any freelancer or anyone, the big problem they have with social media is they just don’t know what to publish. But, I think the way Toby and Grant talking about doing all their classes through this, the good thing about that is it takes the onus of needing to come up with content, off you. Because, if you were going to host 30 classes during a week anyway, you now have 30 Facebook posts.



Absolutely. That always kills me. The, not being able to make up any content for your social media, because the gym has just got so much, it’s got Exercise of The Day, Workout of The Week, diet stuff, you got so much, there’s articles everywhere. So, yeah. I hate that reason, but that’s another good excuse or argument for scheduling, because you can spend the day looking for content, getting pictures from your gym and lining it all up and you’d get your head space in the right mentality of the marketer.



Exactly. I think it’s important to note as well that we’re primarily talking about Facebook and Instagram, mostly because our audience reacts on them.

They’re our best platforms and they’re connected. And obviously, Facebook are quite good. They put in a lot of the tools necessary to quickly engage and get in touch with your members. But, if you’re from a different gym where say, you are more focused on business people, they might respond better on LinkedIn and it’s unlikely, but someone might respond better on Twitter or they might even respond really well on Tiktok.

I know during this, we’re talking about Facebook and Instagram, but try to take these ideas about how you can get people involved, and then transplant it onto any of the platforms you use. We’re not saying, “Hey, you can only use Facebook.” But, if you are a gym where you have a big LinkedIn following, because you’re after a certain type of business person, then just try and use LinkedIn groups in the same way, try and engage people in these ways.



You’re absolutely right. And it’s quite funny you say that because I imagine if you’re a gym on the other end of spectrum that did kids class and stuff like that. I don’t know if it’s sleazy or not to do TikTok stuff? Because, obviously kids are massive on that. But, they’ll be pestering. Oh, they’re not massive on it?



No, no, they always on it.



Yeah. So they’d be pestering you to, “Oh, so they’ve seen this on Jim and Sally Holloway advert, and they’re doing these kids’ classes and they’ve done it in such a way that attracts them. That’s one route in.



Yeah. Well, use the platform that’s relevant to your club, as I say, in your demographic. But also, as well as just doing classes. So, we don’t want to be doing the same classes again and again. So yes, we’ve got our timetable. It’s also important to mix it up with what you do. So, we might do a full 45 minute Zumba class, but then on Tuesday it might be exercise of the day and we’ll do different things.

It might be a 10 minute lower body workout, or something like that. So, mix it up because otherwise you’ll just have the same people that come to the same class again and again. And all you’re doing is hitting the same people you’ve got. So, we’ve got over a thousand members in the gym. If we just do the same time table, we’ve only attracting the same 20, 30 people that always go to our classes.

We need to do different things to get the other guys, and the other people that are using the gym.



It’s completely right. And then of course, if you were only attracting 20 each time, if one person suddenly decides that they’re not in the mood for it, then you’re down to 19. You’re only eventually going to end up with zero people, if you keep going for the same people.



Different ideas of exercises.



So, the big thing with the Facebook live stuff that we found is that, originally it was going to be just for our paying members who have continued to support the club while we’re closed.

However, we realized after a chat with our accountant, that from the first lock down, the reason we were able to claim membership payments as a donation and then pay no tax, was because we weren’t providing our normal service. But, had we been providing The Fit Club live stuff in this lockdown, then we’d be providing a service and we’d be due to pay VAT on that.

So, what we’ve done is we opened it to any members, frozen, paying, and even people just from the Redditch area. So that, it still does count as a donation, but we’re also now collecting a massive amount of data. We’re providing a great service for everyone and yeah, just building up that list and hitting them as, and when we reopen.



That’s really important. I think if you take anything away from this podcast, that’s the thing. Obviously, if members are continuing to pay, you have to pay the VAT on that income. However, the accountant now says that if you just provided the service to the local area, so not just members, then you don’t have to pay VAT on the money that’s coming in.



It’s the same with the Ashbourne app, because it’s accessible to people that are frozen, as well as people that are paying. Again, you’re not providing any exclusive services to those that are paying. So yeah, you wouldn’t have to pay VAT on that.



So, you can market and save on tax?



Is that not the dream? That’s a pretty, pretty good argument for doing that.



I agree with Grant. I think, that’s the golden thing to take away.



Yeah, you can turn it off now. You don’t need to listen to the rest, you’ve got the nugget that’s going to save your money so that’ll do,. So another thing that we’re going to do is we’ve just started a podcast for the gym. So, it’s got fitness tips and things like that.

So, what we’ve done is we’ve used our staff, who are the experts in the gym. So, we run the gym and own the gym, but they are the experts in the training, different types of training, nutrition and things like that. So, we’ve got them to do the podcast, so that they can tell people how they should be eating, different types of training methods and things like that. The principles of training that they’re the experts in. So, use your trainers to give information to back to your clients.



Well, while we’re talking about social media and content, I guess we can take it away from the creative side and look more at the analytics of it, as we love doing in the Digital Marketing world. So, I think this will probably be the best time.

If you’ve got a lot of your staff together, if you’ve got a bit more free time to focus on these things. Beyond just trying to come up with social media content, a good thing to do is maybe, take a look back through all of your social media and see what’s actually been responding.

See, what’s been getting responses, sees what’s been getting engagements. Because, the real worry with social media is not that you just won’t come up with any ideas, is that you’ll just be doing lots of stuff, which actually no one really cares about, and no one’s responding to.

So, good things to look out for are, in Facebook and Instagram, and most of the social medias, pretty much all of them like LinkedIn and Twitter, you can look back and see the engagements for particular posts. So, pretty boring, but you can do it in a day.

Make a spreadsheet and go back post by post and just see what time it was posted. Make a note of what the subject was, make a note if it was a video or a picture, make a note of how many people responded to it. Because you can find some interesting things.

For a few other jobs I’ve done previously, we found that posting later in the day was actually better than posting in the morning. And the idea was, we thought, “Well, we’ll get more views in the morning because the post will be up longer.”

But, what actually turned out was that most of the people on our page were Americans. So, we were posting in the evening and actually it was Americans visiting the Facebook page. We just assumed everyone was from the UK. So, possibly not relevant with the gym, but you can be surprised by when things will get engagements and what content will.

You might find that actually the stuff about classes and more of your admin stuff gets less views than the funny stuff, or things you talk about the gym, staff members putting up funny posts. And if you find out what actually is getting engagements and getting people back to your page, then that can be very effective and then getting more people to actually see the other stuff that you want them to, like the classes.



Yeah, it means you also don’t waste your time. That you don’t want to be putting up classes and posts where you’re not getting any engagement. So, absolutely find out what it is. You can also ask your members, just send out a post and say, “What else do you want to see? What do you think we could do better?” They will give you the feedback. You could create a survey and send it to them.

Or you could just literally put a post on Facebook, “What other content…” We’ve just done the same in the Gym Owners Forum in our Facebook group. “What other types of podcasts would you like us to produce? What things you want us to talk about?” So, get as much feedback from the members and make your life easy because they’ll come up with the content for you.



Yeah. I mean, you can even make polls on Facebook. Just have, “Do you want to see more classes? Yes. No.” It can be as complicated or as simple as you want.



Okay. Well, thanks guys. Hopefully we’ve given you a few more ideas of how you can improve your social media and things that you can do. But, I think that the main key is that tax break, Toby, that is a gem, you’ve come out with a beautiful one there. So-



I found it out, to be fair. The real advise is



Talk to your accountant, is the moral of the story.



If you have any questions about anything that we’ve discussed today, please do get in touch with us. We’re all available on the Gym Owner’s Forum Facebook group, and we’d be happy to help with any questions you have. Yeah. Please do feel free to reach out. Through.



Okay. Hopefully we’ll see you next time, when we’ll have the next episode of the Gym Owners Forum Podcast. Cheers guys.

The Gym Owners Forum Podcast: How To Get Members Back Into Your Club In January 2021

Gym Owners Forum Podcast Blog Feature

The busiest time for the fitness industry is just around the corner, so it’s time to put your marketing into full throttle and rebuild your club after the lockdown losses, to give you a strong start to 2021.

It’s make or break, so the same old marketing tricks simply won’t do the trick. You need to focus on maximising the value from every second of the day and every single one of your members. This is no time to simply offer the lowest prices. You need to start truly competing and offer the best service out of every single gym in your area.

In this podcast, our team of gym owners and digital marketers come together to discuss their plans for growing their club (The Fit Club Redditch) over Christmas and into January 2021.

From improving websites to hosting smarter promos and focusing their social media marketing; the Ashbourne team are here to give you the most complete and honest breakdown for how you can help your club recover in time for the New Year.

In this episode, you’ll learn:

  • Fresh ideas to help you compete with gyms in your area
  • Insight into what is actually holding gym members from returning to your club
  • Tips on how to drastically improve your customer journey for more sign ups over the holidays
  • How you can use the rest of 2020 to maximise your efficiency in your admin and marketing your club
  • Help with your social media ads and marketing


Remember to join The Gym Owner’s Forum facebook group for even more support from gym owners across the UK and Ireland.

If you’re interested in more direct help for your club, collecting your direct debits, to handling your marketing, then get in touch with Ashbourne today for a free demo and discussion. You can also find loads of helpful free resources on our site.


Listen To The Gym Owner’s Forum Podcast

You can listen to the podcast here, or find it on your favourite podcast host.



The Podcast Transcript



Hi, everyone. Welcome to our next episode of the gym owners forum podcast brought to you by Ashbourne Membership Management. I’m Grant Harrison again, and obviously we’ve got a few more topics to talk about this episode. Joining me again is Toby and Harvey. How you doing, Toby?



I’m very well, mate. Very well. Glad to be here.



Good. Harv, you all right?



I’m very well, Man. It’s good to be back for another episode.



The last episode that we’ve recorded got quite a lot of positive comments. So hopefully this one will as well. So what we’re going to talk about in this episode is, after lockdown and coming into January, what marketing ideas you can do just to really drive the club forward, trying to get it in prime position come the new year. So we’ve got quite a lot to cover. Again, we’re going to try and keep the episodes quite short, about 30 minutes. So you can just jump in and jump out. But yeah, so track it on. Let’s get on with it. So Tobe, we’ve obviously put in quite a lot of ideas that we can get into the fit club ready for January. What are we looking at?



So to start with, we’re saying to get the jump on your competitors. I think that’s one thing we’re looking at. Obviously, a lot of gyms in the local area. And just to start now with your memberships, with the campaigns for Christmas and January. So, one thing that we’ve started up is the online store where we’re going to be selling membership vouchers as Christmas presents and then also bundling a few products that we have in the shop anyway to make little gift hamper type things. So we’ve already seen memberships for January and for Christmas selling, even though we’re in lockdown, which is obviously brilliant. So we completely beat our competition to it and anyone that was um-ing and ah-ing about what gym, if they hadn’t heard of us, are coming our way.



So we’re selling that to our existing members?



Existing members for loved ones, yeah. And also done some Facebook ads with Harvey and promoting it to the wider Redditch area.



Literally the whole Redditch area.



Yeah, literally the whole Redditch area. And parts of Birmingham with Harvey’s Facebook ads.



People will travel 40 miles for that gym.



Absolutely. For that gym.



We essentially using our members to do our marketing for us. So with that, obviously those packages are being put together. Our current members can buy the one month and a hat or whatever the package was and to give to their friends, relatives, whatever it is. And then they’re also bringing those members in for us. So that’s working.



And it’s a paid in full membership. So when people sign up and come into the gym, we’ll get that email address and we’ll use them as a lead pretty much. They’ll only be entitled to a one month or three month membership. But once we put their emails into our prospect management system, they’ll get an automated program of emails, which will then convince them hopefully to join on a longer term deal and yeah, get the most out of the club.



And the good thing as well is that if you bought a thousand protein flasks…



It’s hard to shift them.



Well, exactly. And if you fail to shift them, then it’s always like if you’ve got 500 left, then your next promotion is, let’s give away a flask with each membership because that thing seems really valuable on the face of it, but really, if each one’s… was it about a pound fifty?



Yeah, something like that. It is the cross selling, like you say. It’s a good way of getting creative with what you’ve got in stock. Similar with what we were saying last episode about sending stock in bulk via the online store. That’s been a really popular thing where we’ve had all this stuff that’s actually going to go off in the next month, but people have been really pleased to take it off our hands. And everyone’s a winner in that situation.



Okay. So we obviously, we’re trying to get the jump on all of our competitors by getting all of our December marketing in place now, rather than waiting for January and doing a January offer, we’re trying to get everything in place now, get people into the club in December when it’s generally a quieter month. I shouldn’t imagine, it will be quite this month after the lockdown. But getting everybody into the club, getting them having a month of using it, the facility, making them feel comfortable. So come January, we are the obvious place that they’re going to stay. They’re not going to then go and try somebody else in January. They’ve been with us for a month and trying to get them all in place. So we’ve also got a few other Christmas campaigns as well, haven’t we? We’ve got the vouchers and the offers. What else have we got?



So one that we’re looking at the moment is pay what you like for December. But the trick with that one is, whatever you do pay will be donated to charity for the month. So it was a nice incentive to give something back in the community during what is a pretty rubbish time for a lot of people, and a good way of incentivizing someone to sign up to a 12 month membership. So that’s what we’re looking at in the minute.



So you say they can pay whatever they want for December. So they’ve got to join on a 12 month membership and for December they can pay whatever they like.



Exactly. And the December payment goes to charity.



Perfect. So whatever we raise for that goes to charity. So it puts us in a good light. We were going to give December away for free, but we thought, “You know what, let new members pay what they want, and that will all be donated.” That’s going to work well.



Yeah. The good thing about that as well is, it gives somebody an incentive to come to the gym outside of just wanting to come to the gym. Because somebody might be thinking about maybe starting in January after December’s blown over. So it was just a great way to just get somebody signing up now rather than spending a December of people not coming to the gym and not knowing if there’ll be interest in January, but people will be signing up to be like, “Hey, I get to do a good deed.” And then at least you have a gauge of good next year is going to be.



The way we’re tracking it is quite clever as well. We’ve made a voucher code for the charity and people that sign up with that voucher code, we can see each month who’s used it and then we can donate that amount of money to charity. So it’s just really easy and yeah, good marketing before Christmas.



The reason we’re doing it this way as well, rather than just saying, “Get December for free” because a lot of clubs are now saying, “Join now, pay nothing until January and you see, you get December free.” The trouble is, what we find at Ashbourne is that the amount of defaulters that come January, because they’ve not paid anything at the start, they don’t feel like it’s theirs. So because they’ve not paid anything, they think they can just stop their direct debit. So come January, doesn’t matter. So we got to start… Where if people pay something at the start of their membership, they’re less likely to default.



It’s also a weird phenomenon about, that often free trials don’t convert as well as promos that are pay a pound.



So devaluing it.



Yeah. So it’s a weird phenomenon that you’d expect the cheaper something is, that then people would go for it. But actually if you get them to pay a small amount for the trial period and then they enjoy the full period later, they’re much more likely to stay on. And as you say, Grant, it sieves out the people who are just like, “Well, I’ll just get a free December and then I’ll just ignore the default letters.”



Yeah. Well, the thing is, they can pay whatever they like. So they could pay 27 pounds. They could pay 50 pound for the first month. They could pay one pound. All that’s going to go to the charity, which is… So it’s up to them really. We know we’re getting a prospect, which we would have given December away for free, but they’re more, what’s the word, they’re more integrated into the club because they’ve made that initial payment. So that’s what we do with that one.



Tested the card. That’s it, isn’t it?



Yeah, absolutely.



There’s actually currency in the account, which is crucial.



Good. So another thing that we’re going to do as well, is use our current members. So I think we’re going to send out a bring your friend in for free for the end of December. So send out a message to all of our members that they can bring in a friend into the club to train for the rest of December for free if they train with their mate. But obviously what we’re going to do there, is get their email address, get their contact details, treat them like any other member, give them an induction, give them a program so they feel invested in the club. And then hopefully when it comes down to the new year and they think, “Right, what club shall I join? Well, I’ve already had three weeks there. I already go with Mary. Let me join the club that I know I’m used to going to.”



Well, I think the lesson to take from all of this is, hopefully most people listening will find the idea of, “Oh, we’ve made an online store” and “Oh, we’re giving money away for charity and now we’re doing an entire month free for guests.” The lesson to take away is, be more creative with your promotions. If you’re thinking that lockdown is over and you can just go in with the usual, “I’ll have a fiver off the month.” Unfortunately, you are going to have to incentivize people to get back to the gym because a lot of people are going to maybe be under the impression that they don’t need the gym after being off for so long. Some people are just not going to want to come back because they might want to continue social distancing. Be more generous than you ever would because at the end of the day, every gym at the moment, there’s been a lot of cancellations and you’ve lost a lot. So it’s time to start being extra generous because in the long run, those members will come back. But you just got to make yourself stand out now.



I think just the standard referral competition, I don’t know if you’ve had any experience with them yourself, Grant. But you speak about being generous. Maybe now’s the right time to invest in a real rockstar prize for your referral competition and just scream about it. The one I was thinking about is, is flight vouchers, purely because instead of buying a holiday for them with flight voucher, you can keep posting pictures of different locations, and that’s going to tempt different people for different reasons. You send a picture of the slopes or whatever, beach and yeah. Just try and tempt people into referring as many people as possible.



Also, the great thing about that is, like you say, if you pick a location like Disneyland, you might have a single 40 year old guy who might want to be involved in the competition, but he’s like, “I’m not going to go to Disneyland by myself. That’s going to look a bit weird.”



Yeah. A big price is really good. So years ago when I started a referral campaign, I started off with, it was a water bottle with a towel and some flip-flops, that whoever referred the most members would get that. And to be fair, it was a bit shit. Because the price was a bit rubbish, we didn’t get many referrals. When I upped the prize to a TV, a bike, an iPod or whatever it was, something really big and tangible, the amount of referrals went through the roof. We had so many more people referring their friends to come and join. It paid for itself. And also, if you put that prize up for the month, it sits there for the whole month and now you can make a big sign in your gym, “Refer a friend and when this holiday, blah, blah, blah.”



Whoever refers the most, gets the prize, but that will sit there for a months advertising. Next month, do it again and again. Some clubs, they just say, “Oh, if you refer a friend, we’ll knock a pound off your membership.” Well, big whoop. If I bring my friend in and I’m going to get a pound off my membership, it’s not going to do anything for me. Yeah, absolutely. Where if I can say, “You know what, I’m going to get three of my friends to join the club and if they join, I might walk away with a 40 inch telly or a holiday.” Great.



I think all this talk as well, obviously coming into January, it’s very easy just to focus on the new members and forget about the old ones a little bit. It’s the age old thing, isn’t it? So keeping an eye on your attention is obviously crucial. I was going to say that contacting any canceled EDs that you’ve had and getting them to reinstate is now the priority in the next few weeks ahead of December and then January, because there has been a few and they’ve been trickling in. So yeah, I think that’s one for the gym manager. Get them called and get them reinstated before the gym opens.



Well yeah, because as soon as your retention rate falls off, that’s where the value is. And if you lose your old customers to your competitors in the area, because people are going to be super competitive now. Everyone’s on a mad dash to get as many members as possible. Be very wary of what other gyms in the area are doing because if you don’t, your old members have been supporting you through all this time. If you start pretending like you don’t care about them, they will go to your competitors.



And also, because we’ve lost members, we’ve lost an income, to just keep reducing our prices is going to devalue our product. We don’t want to compete against pure gym on price and it’s pointless. We can’t do it. All their other clubs can sustain a failing one. So what we have to do is say, “No, you know what, we’re not going to go with 16 pound a month and just compete purely on price. We’re going to give more value.” So all these ideas that we’re going to get and bring people in, we’ll say, “Right, we’re going to give you an induction. We’re going to give you a program. We’re going to do follow-ups. We’re going to check your progress. We’re going to create the Facebook group and talk to you and be the independent club.” Don’t come try and compete against them purely on price. So just find a different angle.


Grant (continued):

Obviously pricing does come down to it if you’re in a 90 pound a month gym. But for the sake of being 20 or 25, people will pay that extra five or six, seven pound a month if they know they’re going to get proper service. People don’t really want to join the budget clubs but if they know that they can for a little bit more, they can get a lot more service and feel part of that community at somewhere else. Okay, so we’ve come up with a few marketing ideas there. We’ve got obviously, the main thing there is to get that jump on your competitors. Start your January marketing now, get things in place, ready to go. Don’t wait until the 2nd of January and then say, “Right, let’s now compete against everybody else.”


Grant (continued):

So we’ve got the campaign for Christmas. We’ve got the free training, bring a friend in for the remainder of the month, pay what you like for December and that obviously goes to charity. So it makes your club look like an important and a caring place. The referrals and the things like that as well. Okay, so moving away from the marketing ideas, obviously it’s also about getting the club ready for that increased footfall. And obviously, we’re expecting a huge influx of people into the club December after lockdown and January as well. So if we do nothing, the club is going to be very, very busy. So we’ve done a few things to try and spread the load out if you like.


Grant (continued):

So not everybody is coming in at 5:30 because we will just be packed and the club will be inundated with people and overwhelmed, and that will have a negative effect. So what we’ve done is, one of our promotions is bring in an off-peak membership, haven’t we? So the the off-peak membership means when the club is quieter, people are coming in and obviously the turnstiles will manage all that for us as well. So it’s not a case of somebody having to sit there, “Oh, no, you’re a gold member, you’re an off-peak, you can’t come in.” The turnstile will simply just manage it all for us. We’ve essentially got to take the pressure off ourselves in terms of-



And another thing as well with the big influx of people, is making sure the equipment is up to scratch. Yeah, it’s obviously an absolute staple of the club and the treadmills were one thing that we’ve recently just had to repair four of them. And yeah, they’re going to be the most used thing in January. So you’ve got to have it all spick and span, oiled up, ready to go. And that’s what we’re doing at the moment. So just getting it all ready. Because I remember last year, just not… Oh, sorry. Earlier this year, not being able to get on one. Treadmills, cross trainers, all of the cardio stuff completely used.



I think he’s the least that people expect, isn’t it? You’ve been locked down, when they come back, the least they… And obviously, we talk in independent clubs here. Obviously all the big chains and the budget clubs will probably have an onsite repair person. We’re independent, it’s down to the owner. But the least that people can expect is that everything works when they come back.



As well as, outside of even just being able to handle the influx physically in the gym, be ready to handle the influx even with the signup process. If your website-



And let’s hope that is an influx.



Exactly. But this is the issue. If you have suddenly people who are wanting to sign up on your promotions, make sure that it can be done online through the website. Don’t have it through contact forms or people trying to ring the gym. Because if you make it too complicated for people to sign up, they will not sign up. They will get bored after three steps.



Yeah. Even though that is the case, absolutely, we’re still going to need more extra staff in there on those busy times because you get people coming in that can’t work out how to put in their bank details into an online form and stuff like that.



We’ve made sure that the fit club website is just extremely simple to just click a button and go straight through. And then they use the Ashbourne join online system with a coupon that when they enter the coupon, it literally gets rid of all the other things that the coupon doesn’t relate to. It’s the most simple, basic thing. So we could have a thousand people sign up. I hope that happens, but we’ll see. We could have a thousand people sign up and if they do, we actually don’t have to deal with any of them. We don’t have to be there answering the phones going, “Oh yeah, let me get your details down.” Messing that up.



Customer journey is what you’re talking about. And it’s absolutely essential at this time, making sure it’s as easy for them as possible. We spoke earlier briefly about the prospect management system and how it automates emails when people sign up. So, they’re going to get an email straight away with the app. They’re going to get an email straight away with the booking software and how they’ve registered their classes. And it’s just going to hold their hand the whole way through the process and make sure they have to ask us as few questions as possible.



Well, that’s it. We’re asking a lot of our staff and our manager in the club, to keep on top of everything, keep managing it. So that’s why the automated lead management and everything like that, all the automated emails and texts that go out are scheduled. So it doesn’t matter when somebody submits a contact us form or a join now, they automatically get the emails in the same sequence. Because obviously we’re asking our manager and all our staff to contact all these people and deal with all our current customers as well. So if we can take contacting all the prospects away and just automate that process, that it means they can spend more time on the rest of it. And that’s really important because yes, we want those new members, but if we neglect our current ones, they’re going to drop off on the other end.


Grant (continued):

So this prospect management module, so you can do it all yourself. We’re not here to say you must buy the Ashbourne prospect management module. You can do it all yourself. You can send the email, you can send the text, you can do the follow-up. But it’s a time consuming process. Where if you get this prospect management thing, it does it all for you. It will just send that email out. Somebody will completely the contact us form or I’d like a code or whatever. And it would send out the text, send out, they’ll do the follow-up. If they don’t join it, sends them another follow-up and so on and so on. It’s basically removed a member of staff for us. So it’s really useful.



Yeah, you see some people conducting all of their prospect management from a Gmail account, just replying in these endless chains. I do think people don’t realize how much time they can save in their business. I would often say if you’re running a business and there were certain tasks that you dread to do, then maybe think about how you can automate them. Don’t just be constantly catching up at three in the morning. Actually review everything. This is the time to do it. Review everything and make sure where you’re not automating things. And if you don’t know about ways to automate things, then type it into Google, go and look, there’s so many ways to automate things. We haven’t touched on this much, but for social media, for instance, there’s platforms like Hootsuite is one, Canva-



What’s Hootsuite?



Hootsuite and Later, is another one. All of these, they’re basically just online platforms where you connect up all your social media and then you can schedule things ahead of time. So we know that Facebook has a scheduling system. But for instance, Twitter doesn’t, Instagram doesn’t, LinkedIn doesn’t. These things link to all of your social media and allow you to schedule ahead of time. So once again-



Ah, perfect. So now for instance, while we’re not doing anything, we can schedule all of our next three, four weeks posts on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, all from one thing.



Exactly. We are not going to be touching the social media unless something extreme happens, like an asteroid hits the club, and we have to update people about something. Like, a national lockdown maybe.



Don’t do that, come on.



We’re not going to touch social media in December. It’s already done. So look into these things.



The other one as well, that I asked you about earlier was, you can schedule your Facebook ads to start at certain times, can’t you? So we want to really crank them up.



You told me you were going to actually physically ramp them up manually yourself. You only got to just sit there and schedule them. So come Boxing Day, you’re not going to be moving. You’ve done it already, aren’t you?



Grant, I do all of my work in January. I do nothing for the rest of the year.



You’ve had a whole month off now. Awesome.



Yeah. So I guess one area we haven’t really touched on, I guess it is obvious because everyone should know their gym inside out, is knowing your unique selling points. Who are you targeting? If you’re like us, we cover a range of interests at the club. So, we’re trying to reach out to a lot of different demographics. But potentially, if you’re trying to appeal to older people or younger people, anyone, bodybuilders, the like, you need to be targeting them in certain ways. I think it’s fair to say Instagram is more of a youthful platform, maybe a bit of a generalization. But I think on the whole, if you’re targeting that age group, Instagram would be a good place to do it.



All of the young people have left Facebook.



Replaced by their parents.






I’m on Facebook.



That’s awkward.



It’s very true, if you’re hitting social media channels, be aware of who’s using them and also don’t be afraid to start going into ones that you might dismiss as new. Tik Tok, for instance. This might not be as relevant for gyms, but it’s one of those things where the number of people who run businesses are probably in their thirties, all say, “Oh, what the hell is Tik Tok?” But Tik Tok is one of the most popular things with 18 to 24 year olds. And if you were advertising on there and had a presence on there, you would be hitting 18 to 24 year olds. So don’t be posting to your Facebook and going, “Where’s our 18 to 24 year olds” because they stopped using Facebook a long time ago. Some of them don’t even know Facebook really exists because they were born after Facebook existed. It’s been around a long time.



I think that’s a really good idea. If you’ve got characters in the gym, get them on Tik TOK because it will appeal to a group of people, isn’t it?






Okay, yeah. I like that. I’ve written down here as well, if you’re trying to hit an older demographic, how would you do it? And I’ve written, Grant, what would appeal to you?



I’m not that old.



You getting on.



Well, the thing is as well, one of our clubs, they realized that most of their members were 45 plus. So what they did is, they changed all of their marketing. They marketed just the same as any other club, put pictures out of people in the gym. But when they literally looked down into all of their data, they found that most people were older because of their price point and the type of club. They were an older type club. So what they did, they changed all of their marketing, all their images of people in the gym, to reflect that. So what was the point of having an 18 year old on the treadmill when they’re aiming for 45, 50 year old people? So they changed all of their marketing.



All of their photos became more relevant. So as you say, know what you after. If you’re a bodybuilders gym, have pictures of bodybuilding champions and things like that and how you’ll your success. Just have pictures that are more relevant to you. Obviously, it almost goes without saying, but you’d be surprised of how many standard type health clubs then put a picture of a bodybuilder on. That actually, that’s going to intimidate people. I don’t want to join that one. So know what your market is. And as you say, get the right images.



Well, this is all part of the review process. It’s hard to talk on this about the entire UK because different parts of the UK are in different lockdown periods and some are just functioning as normal and don’t have the time to review these things. But go back to basics and really review everything you can, because this is going to be a make or break for a lot of businesses. And all of the things that you could ride off like, “Oh, we had a bit of a slow website or we don’t have an online signup.” These things are really going to make the difference in the long run of how quickly you can recover.



If you don’t have an online sign up in January, obviously, unless you’re at quite high price point and you need to do a proper sales tool, then that way you’d obviously bring people in and do the tour, then sign them up. But if you’re a standard price point and you running an offer, you need to get people to sign up straight away. So just get them on your website and get them signed up. But speaking of on the website and things like that, I think another thing that we’re going to do as well, is just give away a free ebook or a checklist for how to get through the Christmas period. So basically, don’t eat too much. So we’re going to send that to all of our members that share our posts, tag somebody in it. So we’re not asking them to do anything particular, but if you tag a friend in our posts, if you share our posts, we will send you for free, our how to survive Christmas without putting on the pounds checklist.



Really good one. If you’ve got a local partner that you think might be interested in working with you, say on Instagram, if you want to get a load more Instagram followers, do a joint competition and say that for each entry is when you take a friend in the comments. And you’ll get people tagging 50 people if the prize is half decent and you can double your Instagram following overnight. And that resource just becomes more and more powerful.



Well, you could advertise back to all of them on your Facebook ads and Instagram ads. Feel free to check out the Ashbourne site. We’ve got an entire free ebook on that stuff. We’ve got loads of free resources. But if there was the time to learn new skills, this would be it. So just become smarter in the way you’re marketing yourself and start outreaching more because this is not the time to rest on your laurels. I think that’s really the lesson of the day.



Absolutely. We’ll be sharing all this stuff on the gym owners forum Facebook page. That’s the best place to access it on a pretty much daily basis.



No. Good. Okay. Well, thanks guys. I think we’re coming up to our time now. So essentially, the key to it is, do it now, get the jump on your competitors so that you can hit January running and you’re already the place that people associate with joining a gym rather than, “Which one shall I join?” As I say, we’re going to have plenty more episodes to come with just more ways to get more members and things like that. But this was just a bit of a taster of how to get into January. So thanks to Toby and Harvey for joining me today. As I say, we don’t have a, and this is an Ashbourne sales thing, but if you would like more information on how Ashbourne can help your club, then just drop us a line or go onto the website and we’ll help you out as much as we can.

What The New Coronavirus Tier System Means For Health Clubs & Gyms

Confused Brain

Gyms across England are opening again from the 2nd December. In place of national lockdown, England will be reverting to a new 3 tier system, where different restrictions will be in place depending on where you live.

Gym owners will be keenly aware that while gyms will be open across all tiers, there will be different standards and rules expected from gyms depending on which tier they are in.

From our talks with gym owners across England, it’s obvious that the government guidelines are far from crystal clear. So whatever tier you are currently in, we want to give you some more clarity on what you need to do in each tier, in order to keep moving forward as a business during this period.


What Are The Rules For My Gym In Tier 1?

Tier 1 area rules apply to less than 1% of the English population, so if you’re fortunate to find yourself operating a facility under tier 1 restrictions, then you have a fairly straightforward time ahead, provided you remain in this tier.


The Government Guidance:


Organised indoor sport, physical activity and exercise classes can continue to take place – if the rule of six is followed.


Ashbourne’s Take On The Guidance:


Running your gym can go about as business as usual for yourself and your members. While you should still implement the social distancing practices and cleaning regimes that you implemented during the first lockdown, for the most part your gym can operate as normal. Socialising between multiple households can still occur in the gym, but as per the rule of six, groups must be kept to 6 or below.


What Are The Rules For My Gym In Tier 2?

Over 56% of the population will be in a Tier 2 area, so it’s highly likely that this will the rules that your gym will have to subscribe to. It’ll come as no surprise to anyone reading this that the rules are stricter than Tier 1, however, the good news is that it’s nothing that we haven’t seen before the most recent lockdown.

Government guidance: ‘Organised indoor sport, physical activity and exercise classes will only be allowed if it is possible for people to avoid mixing with people they do not live with (or share a support bubble with).’
Our take: Within this tier, the gym floor can largely operate as normal but, again, with the cleaning and distancing measures you will likely have already implemented after lockdown 1.
Group exercise classes are still permitted within this tier but additional efforts should be made to avoid mixing. Avoid members socialising post class, keep a 2 metre distance during class and clean all touch points in between sessions.


The Government Guidance:


Organised indoor sport, physical activity and exercise classes will only be allowed if it is possible for people to avoid mixing with people they do not live with (or share a support bubble with).


Ashbourne’s Take On The Guidance:


Running your gym will be very much like the rules following the first UK lockdown. While you will be able to run all of your regular classes and sport activities, socialising must be far more restricted and social distancing of 2 metres must be stuck to at all times. Outside of making sure members are keeping to social distancing, you should also keep up your regular cleaning regime that you established after the first lockdown, as well as providing ample santisation areas for your members throughout your facility.


What Are The Rules For My Gym In Tier 3?

It won’t surprise anyone that if you are in a Tier 3 area then you will be subject to the tighest regulations and rules. While Tier 3 is the highest tier level, a sizable proportion of the population will be subject to it, so there’s a good chance that your gym may very well be subject to tier 3 rules.

Our take: The good news is that gyms in this tier are allowed to stay open. However, group exercise classes are not permitted. Given that gyms are still open here, there is plenty of space to improvise with your offering. A few ideas:


The Government Guidance:


Leisure and sports facilities may continue to stay open, but group exercise classes (including fitness and dance) should not go ahead.


Ashbourne’s Take On The Guidance:


The good news to take away from all this is that your club will be allowed to remain open. However, group activities such as classes and indoor sporting activities will not be allowed to take place. The only part of your gym which should be open to members are the regular exercise equipment. However, this doesn’t mean that you still can’t be creative with what you have to offer…


How To Make The Most From Your Club?

Whichever tier you might find yourself in, there are plenty of ways to still maximise the value you can get from your club and increase your offerings to your members, even with the potentially harsh restrictions.


  • Change Your Layout – What was once a studio space, could now be used as a functional training zone. Use tape to mark out distanced work stations and open up your studio to members.


  • Shift Your Focus – Instead of group classes, offer a programme of 1 to 1 training sessions. Now could be a good time to increase your personal training uptake.



For all those reopening on Wednesday, good luck and keep fighting the good fight to keep our clubs open!

As always, if you have any questions then please do get in touch with the team.

Best regards,

The Ashbourne Team

Your Gym Needs An Online Store NOW! Here’s How To Build One Quickly…

Create an online gym store blog feature

There are misconceptions about operating online shopping experiences as a fitness facility. Many think they require too much management, whilst others raise concerns that fulfilling orders be it by post or customer collection is unneeded hassle.

However, these people are forgetting that by owning a gym you already have a captive market. That is to say, you already have access to a number of potential customers who have an interest in health and fitness in the form of your members. Why have these members shop for products through large corporations when they could be supporting the gym that they love so much!


3 Simple Reasons Why Your Club Needs An Online Store

Just in case you weren’t sold at this point, there are 3 really easy ways to justift an online store.

  1. It’s a simple way to increase your revenue with additional upsells
  2. It’s an additional source of income from cancelled members as you can advertise a new product to them
  3. It provides your members with more reasons to stay through membership discounts and incentives


An online store gives you an incredibly powerful way to maximise the value from every single member you have; regardless if they’re a current member or one who hasn’t set foot in the gym for years.

After national lockdowns around the world, the gym industry is hurting for investment. You need to get your business back to where it was pre-COVID. And the sad fact is that for a while, you’re simply not going to attract the same number of members that you did previously, at least for a while.

People are still struggling for money and many are nervous about returning to public areas after such a long stint of isolation. Because of that, you don’t need to grow, you simply need to maximise every single member, so you can make more revenue from what you already have.

And the best part is, it takes no time at all to start.


How To Set Up A Simple Online Store

There are 2 very simple ways to host an online store…

  1. Host your store on your current website
  2. Build an external store


How To Host Your Store On Your Gym Website

Whether you run your own website or have a web developer handling it for you, you can add a simple store to most websites with very little fuss.

How you add a store depends entirely on what software you are using to run your website, but bear in mind, this option is the more complicated of the two, so make sure you have a few hours to spare to learn how it all works.

If you are hosting your site on a website builder like Wix or Squarespace, then these site builders both have pre-built online store templates. You simply need to purchase the online store additions for a small price and then you can create a no fuss online store all by yourself.

If you have built your website on a platform like WordPress, then you have a few more options when it comes to starting your store. Simply searching for an online store plugin will bring back hundreds of options, all with their own pros and cons, which can range from free to paid. Our personal recommendation would be the WooCommerce plugin, which is typically accepted as the best option, but you are free to choose when it comes to your own personal needs.

Of course, if you have a web developer, this entire process is made much simpler as you can just ask them to update your site for you.


How To Build An External Store

If you don’t have the technical know-how to build a store on your own site, then an alternative is just to create another site that is focused on just being an online store and linking over to it.

There’s loads of them out there, but one of our personal recommendations would be Shopify. It’s a website builder that is build around online stores, so everything from stock management to payments is already handled on the site.

It’s perfect for complete beginners to set up and is extremely straightforward for beginners to use.

At just a small fee every month to keep a basic Shopify store open, it’s so easy to get your store up and running, get some products on it and then simply add a link to your current gym website.


Discover What Your Members Want To Buy

Getting the store set up is the easy bit. It’s selecting a catalogue of products that appeals to YOUR members is the real challenge. Consider the type of facility you are. If you’re personal trainer focused for instance, then perhaps class gift packs will be popular.

Products that you already sell a lot of in-house might find a wider audience by having a spot on your online store. In theory you be opening up your range of supplements or merchandise to a national audience.

Do you offer bespoke nutrition plans or training programmes? An online store is a great way of managing such sales as the automatic confirmation email when a member purchases these items could contain a link to book the initial consultation. Saving you time, money and organisational headaches!

If your gym contains a real mix of member types, it might be worth putting out a survey to your members to better understand their purchase behaviours. We’ve even written a guide on how to create free and simple surveys for you to start using within minutes.


A Few Additional Online Store Ideas

Just in case you were really interested in having and online store, but need a few more points of inspiration before you get started, here’s a list of a few ideas that our clubs have tried in the past.


  • Surplus or Bulk Stock – If you have items in your stock cupboard that have sat for a while, adding them to you online store may help to shift them before that used by date creeps up on you. Alongside this, a lot of items that may be easy for you to get hold of, are not so easy for members to find. One idea is to order in additional stock of popular products and sell them at a wholesale price to your members for the entire pallet or box.
  • Christmas Presents – That time of year is on the horizon, so now is a great time to offer your members the opportunity to purchase Christmas presents for their loved ones. Why not bundle together some simple equipment or merchandise and a paid in full gym membership for the month of January.
  • Old Equipment – Why give eBay the fees, when you have a captive market of members who may be interested in purchasing your old or unneeded equipment? Your old kettlebell could find a fantastic home with one of your members!
  • Training & Nutrition Programmes – Producing a generic training or nutrition programme doesn’t necessarily cost you anything but could have value to a member. You could even allow your trainers to create their own generic programmes and see which proves the most popular amongst your members! Bespoke programmes can then be charged at a premium.


Let Ashbourne Help You Build Your Site

The team at Ashbourne are here to deliver the most complete club management in the world. After 25 years, we know that managing a club is more complex than just collecting your direct debits and calling it a day. We only work with clubs who are invested in growing and building themselves, and we’re ready to join you on that journey.

If you’re interested in taking your club to the next level, then we’re all in. And the best part is, we have services for every aspect of club management, including building and maintaining your club’s website and online store.

If you want to learn more about us and see what we can do for your fitness business, then book a free demo here and we’ll show you around our entire platform, no strings attached.

The Best Platforms To Host Your Online Gym Classes On A Budget

Online Fitness Classes For Gyms blog feature

Virtual classes and online training and support, has come out as king during the year of lockdowns and virtual services.

While these has proven to be very successful as an incentive to keep members paying for their gym membership, and keeping many clubs relevant in the day-to-day lives of their members; this is still uncharted territory for so many clubs and gyms.

One of the biggest questions we constantly receive here, is not what service can I provide my members. Most gym owners are very aware that they need to offer an online service and training of some kind during lockdown. But the real issue has been:


How can we continue to deliver our members an online service, without a spending a fortune?


If you don’t have time to read the blog, then you can always download our online platform guide right now, and discover the power of direct debit collection for your club memberships in your own time.

The Best Platforms To Host Your Online Gym Classes

We’ve taken a look at the 4 biggest livestreaming platforms that you can use to host your online fitness classes and content.

Depending on your budget and your needs, each of these 4 platforms provides you with an amazing way to not only host your fitness classes online, but also help you grow your online prescence.

We’ll look through each of our 4 choices, to give you the pros and cons of each platform:


Youtube Live

Facebook Live





Using Youtube Livestreams For Your Online Fitness Classes

YouTube is the king of video sites and while YouTube has mainly been home to pre-recorded videos, in the last few years YouTube has started to expand into the world of live streaming.

Because of its widespread popularity and reputation for being incredibly stable, YouTube is on the face of it, a great place to stream your online fitness classes. But let’s take a deeper look…


YouTube Live – Pros & Cons


  • Completely free to use
  • Very stable
  • Ability to schedule livestreams
  • Great social media marketing opportunity
  • Instantly updates all your YouTube followers
  • Basic editing within the platform
  • Simple & easy video content for your YouTube channel



  • No built-in privacy features
  • Whether you can stream depends on your device
  • Lacking in unique customisable features outside of basic video streaming


YouTube Live – Cost & Features

Outside of YouTube’s premium service, everything on YouTube is free to use and livestreaming is no exception.

When it comes to livestreaming, it can be done at the click of a button. Instead of uploading a video, you’re given the option to livestream instead. From there you can start streaming right away, or schedule future streams.

When it comes to how you want to stream you can either stream from your webcam, which will directly stream whatever is caught by your webcam, or you can connect YouTube up to an external program, which allows you to add effects and music to your stream.

If you want to increase your streaming quality, you can always attach an external webcam or camera, which YouTube can use as your webcam in order to provide a higher quality stream and audio quality for your watchers.


YouTube Livestream Dashboard


YouTube Live – Interactivity

As a streaming site, YouTube only allows for you to send video to your audience.

While your audience are able to send messages to you in the chat, the interactivity you can have with your audience is limited to message chat.

Moderating your chat is very easy on YouTube, so if you do have any troublemakers in the chat, you can quickly ban them from commenting, but they will still be able to watch your stream.


YouTube Live – Membership Access

This is where YouTube Live has a flaw, although you can easily spin it into a positive.

YouTube Live doesn’t allow you to control who you livestream to. When you start a stream, you simply broadcast it to everyone on the platform. When it comes to moderating, as we mentioned earlier, you can also only moderate the chat. You can’t stop people from watching your stream, outside of stopping the stream entirely.


YouTube Live – Extra Benefits & Unique Features

One of the neatest features of YouTube livestreaming, is that any video you stream can be immediately uploaded on your YouTube channel, so you can keep your training content around for others to watch later.

You can even edit and change your content before it goes completely live on your account, to streamline it all to be watched later.

YouTube also allows you to collect donations through your livestreams, so it is possible that you could use this as an additional revenue stream outside of just your member’s payments.


YouTube Live – Final Thoughts

YouTube is a really simple and popular way to livestream, so it’s a no brainer for anyone who wants a no fuss way to livestream their classes.

The main downside of YouTube Live is that it restricts which devices you are able to livestream from, depending on how many subscribers you have on your account. If you have less than a 1,000 subscribers then you are unable to livestream from your mobile. While this isn’t the end of the world, it’s very likely that your mobile phone may be the best camera you have available, so be aware you’ll be restricted to your laptop and webcam when it comes to streaming.

There is also the issue that you won’t be able to livestream just to your members. This is great for your marketing, but your paying members might feel like they’re not getting an exclusive experience since it’s publicly available. This might require you to offer your paying customers a little extra to keep them happy.

However, outside of that issue, YouTube is a simple and quick way to stream – while also being a great way to produce video content for your YouTube channel and market yourself to your wider audience.



Using Facebook Live For Your Online Fitness Classes


Facebook Live – Pros & Cons


  • Completely free to use
  • Packed with features to personalise your streams
  • Ability to schedule livestreams
  • Allows public / private livestreams
  • Great social media marketing opportunity
  • Instantly updates all your Facebook followers



  • No built-in privacy features



Facebook Live – Cost & Features

As with Facebook itself, Facebook livestreams are completely free and can be set up in just a few clicks.

Facebook Live gives you lots more options to connect to different streaming services and use a wider array of camera types much easier. You can still use a webcam, but if you want to hook up a DSLR camera and additional sound equipment as part of your stream, Facebook Live makes that far easier, as you can easily stream through other platforms and connect them up to your Facebook Live.

Facebook has also added in all of the fun social media features like stickers and filters that you can already use on your Facebook posts, but within your livestreams.

And if you didn’t need any extra compliments of the system, you can also schedule your livestreams ahead of time and alert all of your Facebook followers when you go live.


Facebook Live dashboard Live dashboard


Facebook Live – Interactivity

Much like YouTube, Facebook Live doesn’t allow for 2 way video interaction, but it has a fully featured chat system so your members can message you and each other during your class.

This chat feature comes complete with emojis and additional features which make the chat a lot more vibrant on Facebook Live than other livestreaming platforms.

You also have full control over moderating your chat, so you can quickly remove anyone who is causing trouble on your streams.


Facebook Live – Membership Access

One of Facebook’s strengths is that you can livestream into different parts of your Facebook account:

  • Business pages
  • Groups
  • Personal pages

Because of this, you can easily split up your streams to target different member types.

If you want to stream something to your wider audience, in order to keep your gym on their mind and get your marketing going, then you can livestream to your general business Facebook page.

Alternatively, if you wish to give some more exclusive content to your paying members, then simply open up a Facebook Group, make it private for just paying members and then livestream to them.


Facebook Live – Extra Benefits & Unique Features

One of the most unique aspects of Facebook is that your success and outreach with your livestreams can feed back into your Facebook advertising.

Facebook Live is a new feature for Facebook, and because of that, Facebook will alert more people to a livestream taking place than a simple post or video upload, as this is the best way for Facebook to promote new features.

If your livestream gets you more likes to your Facebook page, then that is even more Facebook users that you can target when you run your next Facebook Ads campaign. Facebook Live has far more long term bonuses to it, than just the stream itself.


Facebook Live – Final Thoughts

When it comes to livestreaming, Facebook has a lot of advantages in its corner that go far beyond just how easy its livestreaming service is.

From Facebook live being completely free, allowing you to livestream to different parts of your audience and also giving you the long term benefit of being able to to advertise back to any Facebook followers you pick up along the way – there really is a huge argument that going with Facebook is a terrific idea if your social media focus is Facebook to begin with.



Using Zoom For Your Online Fitness Classes

Zoom has become a household name throughout 2020, hosting nearly every single class, business meeting and social event throughout the global lockdowns. But Zoom has very quickly also become one of the most popular ways to livestream fitness classes and personal training sessions.


Zoom – Pros & Cons


  • Free options, but restrictive
  • Built in security features for private livestreams
  • Allows public / private livestreams
  • Option to stream to social media also
  • 2 way member interaction
  • Lots of features and settings
  • Record all of your content
  • The addition of breakout rooms to host multiple sessions at once


  • Costs more to get the most from it, but can be well worth the investment
  • A steeper learning curve because of increased features
  • Restricted to just 100 attendees, even on the lower paid tiers


Zoom – Cost & Features

Zoom is notable for being the only service on this list which isn’t completely free. While you can use Zoom for free, there are certain limits in place, most notably that meetings can only last up to a maximum of 45 minutes if there are 3 or more attendees. You are also limited to the number of attendees you can have depending on your membership type.

Presuming you are hosting groups larger than 3, or keeping your classes very short, it’s more than likely that you’ll need to invest in at least a PRO account, which will allow you to host unlimited group meets that can last as long as you want.

Zoom allows you to easily broadcast yourself, while also sharing a screen and delivering music directly from your device, all without having to use any additional programs. When it comes to hosting a professional looking, high quality broadcast, Zoom has all of the in-built features to do all that.

Also, while Zoom costs money, you can always pay on a monthly basis, so whenever you want to cancel your subscription, you can do so without a huge financial investment to discover if Zoom is the right platform for your livestreams.


Zoom Pricing Structure


Zoom – Interactivity

Because Zoom has been built for business meetings, that means it allows for 2 way video and audio communication, along with a text chat feature.

If you want to livestream your classes or even a personal training consult for your members, then a Zoom meeting gives you more ways than ever to interact with your audience and actually see them perform live.

And of course, Zoom allows you to completely control who is present, so you are free to mute and block anyone who you don’t want interacting or viewing your content.

If you are uncomfortable with your audience being visible on video, you can also block anyone from appearing on camera at all, making it very easy to control your livestream environment.


Zoom – Membership Access

Every single Zoom meeting can be password protected  as standard, meaning that you can easily share your livestreaming content with only the people that you want to share it with.

You are even able to make a list before the livestream, where you can make it so only certain Zoom accounts can login to watch your content, although this isn’t very practical as many of your members may never have used Zoom before and therefore won’t have an account to restrict them to.

Unlike the social media livestreaming options, your Zoom meeting can be made completely private, so if you only want to create livestream content and classes for your members, then you can be certain that only your members will receive it.


Zoom – Extra Benefits & Unique Features

One of Zoom’s greatest benefits is that you can also link it up to your social media and livestream across multiple platforms at once.

You can livestream to Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Linkedin and Restream from a single Zoom account. If you want to go beyond your members and stream to literally everyone who has ever heard of your brand, then Zoom social media streaming is a really easy way around that. It also conveniently helps you get around their 100 attendee limit, as social media viewers aren’t counted towards the total.

The recent addition of breakout rooms to Zoom is also an amazing extra for anyone who wants to hold a more complex class. Breakout rooms allow you to split your attendees off into seperate Zoom meetings and then bring them back into a main larger group. This can be a great way to host multiple different workouts and classes at the same time, but all within the same meeting.


Zoom – Final Thoughts

It should come as no surprise to anyone that when it comes to livestreaming, Zoom has earned its title as one of the best.

If you want to invest some extra money into your livestreaming platform, then Zoom is one of the best value options out there. And because it’s been built to handle so many different kinds of live events – Zoom is incredibly flexible for any kind of live fitness session or class that you might want to host.

With the additional option to livestream over your social media as well, Zoom really does feel like the best of both worlds, with a small price tag attached.



Using Twitch For Your Online Fitness Classes


Twitch – Pros & Cons


  • Completely free to use
  • Packed with features to personalise your streams
  • Simple editing within the platform
  • Very stable video quality
  • No upper limit to how many people can watch



  • No built-in privacy features
  • A slightly higher learning curve than other free platforms
  • No connection to your social media outside of Twitch
  • Less known for fitness videos


Twitch Stream Dashboard


Twitch – Cost & Features

Like all of the other social media livestreaming platforms we’ve mentioned, Twitch is completely free for you to start using and streaming with.

Twitch is used by tens of thousands of video game streamers a day, and while it is not commonly used for streams outside of this, its requirement to stream high quality video game footage means that it is designed to get people streaming with relative ease and in great quality.


Twitch – Interactivity

As Twitch is primarily designed for gaming streams, Twitch interactivity can be as basic or as complex as you want it to be.

Although it comes with a basic text chat feature for your members to get in touch with you (with the ability to moderate and ban users from the chat and your stream), there are multiple fun and interesting features that you can add into the chat, to liven things up a bit.

However, unlike Zoom, there is no 2 way video and audio communication, so while Twitch has a really fun and deep chat feature, that is as much as you’ll be able to interact with your members.


Twitch – Membership Access

While Twitch does provide you a way to stream to a private group, unfortunately this requires any viewers to pay you via Twitch in order to get exclusive content.

While this might not be an issue for some gyms who want to go all in on streaming, if your members are already paying you directly for their club membership, it might be an issue to also require them to pay for your Twitch exclusive content.

However, in terms of public livestreaming, Twitch is easy to set up in minutes and you can quickly share your stream on all of your social media channels.


Twitch – Final Thoughts

While Twitch is a very solid platform, it’s lack of popularity outside of the gaming community might scare off many of your members.

Twitch is one of the more complex livestreaming services, allowing you to integrate a lot of other platforms and features into your streams; at the cost of a slightly higher learning curve to get the most from it.

However, if you want a quick and easy set up, Twitch can provide that, although it doesn’t offer quite the same feedback into your social media that directly livestreaming from a platform like Facebook might allow.



And Our Personal Winner Goes To…

Zoom or Facebook Live!

When you break it all down, Zoom and Facebook Live cover all the bases that any gym or club would ever need.

Facebook Live is an amazingly simple service that a gym can use to start livestreaming fitness content completely free and instantly reach most of their members, as Facebook is used by almost everyone at this point. The ability to livestream to groups and pages seperately, also makes it a great way to hit different parts of your membership.

Zoom comes out top for a paid service, simply because it’s a very small investment for some huge benefits. When you combine its high quality streams, the ability to interact with your members via video, control your content’s privacy and also get the benefits of livestreaming to Facebook as well… Zoom is an amazing deal for a gym who wants to livestream on a budget.



Ashbourne Can Help With Every Aspect of Your Club

Unlike most club management services which just give you some basic software and collect your direct debits, the team at Ashbourne knows that there’s a lot more to managing a successful club than simply collecting payments.

From debt collection, to web design, marketing ideas and more – the entire team at Ashbourne Membership Management is at your disposal to help you succeed and master every single element of being a successful gym.

If you want to chat about what we offer, or simply run through how we can help your particular health club, then get in touch with us and our sales manager Grant will be back in touch to talk through everything.