What Is Fitness Class Management Software?

What is Fitness Class Management Software and how can it be used effectively by independent gyms and fitness clubs?

 

In today’s blog we will be tackling one of the most important technical issues for an independent gym or fitness club to get right. 


Class Management.

Or more specifically, Class Management Software. The days of keeping track of classes on a blackboard have passed! (Though you can keep doing it for the retro-aesthetic if you want!) We are looking for a method of fitness class arrangement that can’t be completely disrupted by a board-eraser/rubber. 

Much as with Gym membership management and access controls, the discipline of class management has been revolutionised in the last twenty years. Gone are the reams of paper and notice boards as the sole method of communication. 

Now the market has expanded, there are multiple providers of powerful software that enable an independent gym to organise and maintain a complete class booking system on a significantly reduced budget.

This software empowers gym and fitness club management with fast, reactive, and efficient means to handle bookings, payment, scheduling, rescheduling, and customer service. 

The centralisation of these tasks into a single piece of effortless and intuitive software can help revolutionise the amount of time and energy required to organise multiple classes in an active independent gym or fitness club environment.  

The drain on staff hours that used to come with the endless organising, rescheduling and liaising between instructors and class attendees can now be diminished and made manageable. 

With this in mind, we will be looking at the top features of fitness class management software and why it is a must-have for any independent gym or fitness club, whether they are looking to expand their class offering by freeing up capacity, or cope with their existing class structure that has become too unwieldy. 

 

Desirable Features 

 

A Unifying Force 

Perhaps the most impactful selling point of fitness class management software is how it can act as a central hub. Class management can, with very little warning become a quagmire. It is not uncommon that we hear horror stories from independent gyms and fitness clubs, usually concerning how they needed to reduce the number of classes or the scale due to the flaws in their approach to organising and administering the classes. 


Given that once a class schedule and scheduling system is introduced, it is meant to run constantly and consistently week after week, it is to be expected that even the slightest miscalculation in setup might result in significant inconvenience, either for the staff, the instructors, or the membership themselves.

This is where fitness class management software can set independent gyms and fitness clubs off on the right foot with their class scheduling endeavours.

By unifying every aspect of class management within a professional, tried and tested structure, the chances of these systems spiraling out of control is dramatically reduced.

With all the necessary information not only to hand but easily changed, updated, and amended, the process loses a lot of its inherent risk for spiralling out of control. 

With fitness class management software that allows gym members and staff alike to be reactive and proactive, the pitfalls of class management for independent gyms start to fall away.

 

Class booking applications and software to suit any independent gym or fitness club

With our twenty-five years of experience in the fitness industry, we know better than most that every independent gym or fitness club is unique.

This is why we recommend only going for fitness class management software that can provide the necessary flexibility to accommodate a broad range of classes and facilities.

Luckily many pieces of fitness class management software, including our own, are versatile, allowing staff to balance class-subscriptions, packages and bundles, single class payments and recurring payments, as well as discount codes. 

This is vital for ensuring that the payment infrastructure is connected to the fitness class management software and therefore has the flexibility to deal with the preferred method of payment for both the gym and the membership.

 

Payments: Contactless, Online, App-based, Direct Debits

This brings us to our next interlinked feature which is a must-have for all fitness class management software. 

As touched upon above, the ability to integrate a payment environment safely and securely is a must. 

Ideally, this should go beyond just web-based online payment as well. Post-Covid it is expected that fitness class management software should be able to handle not only app-based payments but also contactless. 

One of the main functions of fitness class management software is to make transactions as smooth and accessible as possible across the potential desires of an independent gym’s membership base! Different members will want to pay in different ways for their classes and the software and its supporting app must be able to facilitate as many as possible.

 

Software designed to suit and assist any Instructor 

As with members and staff, there is no point in having fitness class management software if it does not exist to aid the instructors.

The most sophisticated piece of software in the world won’t be worth the price point if no one in a gym or fitness club can use it. 

That is why fitness class management software must be usable by all parties, not just staff and the membership of the facility. 


Without this, the risk of further complications and the unnecessary transfer of information between staff and instructors.

This is a factor that often leads to the disintegration or discontinuation of effective class management structure in our experience, so it is important to find an app that removes the incentive by empowering the instructors appropriately. This can be achieved by giving them limited but direct access to the class management software. 


It is every bit as vital that they can manage their clients and class members in an independent but controlled virtual environment. By using fitness class management software that allows for payment, communication, alterations, and information requests, a significant amount of stress, hassle, and time commitment can be eliminated from the process. 

With the right fitness class management software, an independent gym or fitness club management will be able to confidently oversee their class scheduling system while being assured it is still in the hands of their staff and instructors.

 

A Powerful Retention Tool: Engaging and Communicating with Members

Deeply connected to the previous feature, we also thought it was worth referencing that the features of a truly impact fitness class management software suite will help empower members and aid retention. 


When looking for which fitness class management software to use, it is important to look for features that allow instructors and staff to communicate with the members regarding the classes they have signed up for. 

In our experience, it has been proven time and time again that members who receive bespoke, pertinent communication (not just spam!) about the classes they have signed up to are more likely to attend. 


Sometimes a bespoke message from an instructor or trainer can be all that it takes for an otherwise reluctant member to go to that Friday Barre class. And a member that goes to that class is that much more likely to keep their gym membership! 

It is a simple example but a powerful indication of what we all know communication can do when it comes to that all-important mission of retaining membership numbers.

It is an easy, efficient, and effective way of fostering a sense of belonging and community outside of the four walls of a fitness facility. A class will normally only last 45 minutes to an hour but with the ability for instructors to communicate it is a way to make that class feel like a more tangible part of the members’ life between sessions. 

 

Virtual Workouts and Fitness App Integration

The dual-rise of Virtual Workouts and Fitness Apps had begun before the Covid-19 pandemic, however, both skyrocketed in popularity as a result of the lockdowns. 


While the popularity of virtual workouts has not maintained their lofty highs from the now surreal lockdown, they are still much more popular than before 2020. 

This trend especially applies to millennials and Gen Z, who, as we have covered in other blogs recently, now make up the vast majority of gym and fitness club members. 

With these two developments in mind, it is no wonder that the desirability of virtual workouts and recorded classes has increased significantly in the last half-decade. 

Much like the communication feature we discussed earlier in this blog, virtual workouts allow for an independent gym or fitness club to project their influence and reach well beyond the four walls of the fitness facility itself.

Virtual engagement is now being seen as a powerful retention tool for the younger generations. They are tools that suit many of the values and capabilities they hold dear, whether it is working from home and then immediately partaking in a virtual workout or relying on their phone as the sole point of virtual interaction with their gym. 

As larger chains start to adopt more and more virtual and fitness app services, independent gyms and fitness clubs mustn’t be left behind in their choice of fitness club management software. 

 

Data Analytics, BI and Exporting Reports 

And here at Ashbourne, we know the importance of software that doesn’t just deal with business-as-Usual but is capable of raising an independent gym or fitness club’s operations to the next level. 

That is why one of the features we advocate for most keenly when it comes to fitness class management software is data. 

While everything we have covered up until this point is necessary, desirable, and important for a modern gym or fitness club looking to get its fitness class scheduling system under control, we don’t believe it is enough. 

As with every aspect of modern gym management software, whether it is membership management, access control, or fitness classes, we believe that that software should be giving the staff and management valuable feedback. 

Whether it is monitoring the correlation between attendance and price-point, the popularity of a certain time slot or class, or simply understanding the total number of members engaging with the fitness class system, a truly powerful piece of fitness class management software should be constantly working for the gym or fitness club. Gathering information that can be easily exported and turned into meaningful, usable data. 

Without this, valuable data such as the preference members have for certain classes, the waxing and waning popularity of classes across the weeks and seasons, and the impact of the peak hours on the class system, all of this gets left on the table, fated to disappear into the void.

Given the cumulative effect that this can have, we believe that analytical reporting features are a must on any piece of fitness class management software. 


As ever in business, it isn’t just what actions are taken, it is what actions are not. Without sophisticated reporting capabilities, data and feedback will be left on the table every week, every month, and every quarter. 

It is these data-driven decisions that can make a profound impact on the course that an independent gym or fitness club’s class offering will take. Without the ability to collect anything other than anecdotal evidence, the inability to react to otherwise obvious patterns is vastly diminished. 

 

Conclusion

We hope this blog has helped impress just how vital fitness class management software can be for an independent gym or fitness club, as well as reinforcing what features can truly make a difference.

It isn’t enough just to purchase any piece of fitness class management software, it is about picking the right one for the right club. 


Here at Ashbourne Membership Management, we believe we have created a complete suite of software that can handle fitness class management as well as elevating a host of other areas vital to the business-as-usual running of a fitness facility.


Whether it is assisting with access controls, BI interfaces or membership and payment, Ashbourne’s software is capable of unifying the key (and often disparate) functions of a gym or fitness club into one environment. 

So whether you are just interested in resolving some troublesome class scheduling issues or want a complete suite and a partnership that will help take your business to the next level, click here to arrange a demo today! 

Fitness Website Fundamentals: Engage, Equip, Empower

Fitness Website Fundamentals: Engage, Equip, Empower

In the increasingly digital world of fitness, having a compelling online presence is essential for reaching and engaging with your audience. Whether you’re a personal trainer, gym owner, or fitness enthusiast looking to share your knowledge, creating a robust website is the first step towards success.

Building a fitness website that thrives requires more than just fancy graphics and trendy routines. To truly engage, equip, and empower your audience, you need a solid foundation. Here are the essential fundamentals to prioritise:

 

Clear Branding and Identity:

 – Define your brand identity, including your mission, values, and unique selling proposition (USP).

 – Create a memorable logo and choose a cohesive color scheme and typography that reflect your brand’s personality.

 – Consistently incorporate your branding across all elements of your website to build brand recognition and trust.

 

Define Your Target Audience:

Who are you trying to reach? Fitness enthusiasts, beginners, specific demographics (e.g., seniors, athletes)? Tailor your content and tone accordingly.

 

User-Friendly Design & Navigation

 – Design a clean and visually appealing layout that is easy to navigate, with clear calls to action (CTAs) guiding visitors through your site.

 – Prioritise mobile responsiveness to ensure a seamless experience across all devices, including smartphones and tablets.

 – Optimise page loading speed to minimise bounce rates and improve user satisfaction.

 

Compelling Content Strategy:

 – Develop a content strategy that addresses the needs and interests of your target audience, such as workout routines, nutrition tips, and motivational articles.

 – Incorporate a mix of formats, including written articles, videos, infographics, and podcasts, to cater to different learning preferences.

 – Consistently publish high-quality, valuable content to establish authority in your niche and keep visitors coming back for more.

 

Interactive Features and Community Building:

 – Incorporate interactive features such as forums, comment sections, and social media integration to foster community engagement and encourage user interaction.

 – Offer online challenges, fitness trackers, or progress logs to motivate visitors to set and achieve their fitness goals.

 – Respond promptly to comments and messages to cultivate a sense of connection and belonging among your audience.

 

Credibility & Authority:

 – Expertise: Showcase your qualifications, certifications, and team’s experience.

 – Partnerships: Collaborate with reputable brands, trainers, or health professionals.

 – Testimonials: Share success stories and positive feedback from users.

 

Optimised SEO Strategy:

 – Conduct keyword research to identify relevant search terms and incorporate them strategically into your website content, including titles, headings, and meta descriptions.

 – Optimise on-page elements such as image alt text, URL structure, and internal linking to improve search engine visibility and drive organic traffic.

 – Regularly monitor and analyse your website’s performance using tools like Google Analytics to identify areas for improvement and refine your SEO strategy.

 

Secure and Reliable Hosting:

 – Choose a reputable web hosting provider that offers reliable uptime, fast servers, and robust security features to ensure the safety and accessibility of your website.

 – Implement SSL encryption to protect user data and build trust with your audience, particularly if you offer online transactions or membership services.

 – Regularly back up your website to prevent data loss in the event of server issues or security breaches.

 

 

By focusing on these fundamental elements, you can build a strong foundation for your fitness website that attracts visitors, converts leads, and fosters community engagement. Remember, your fitness website is a journey, not a destination. Continuously adapt, evolve, and respond to your audience’s needs to build a loyal community and achieve your goals.

How To Beat A Pure Gym: Case Study of an Independent Gym – The Fit Club: Redditch

How To Beat A Pure Gym: Case Study of an Independent Gym

The Fit Club: Redditch

 

‘A PureGym is opening in the area’

In every industry and sector, we have stories like this. The biggest fish is moving in. McDonalds to the fast food industry, supermarkets for convenience stores.

And often there are one of two reactions to this development. One, incorrectly, is to view it with an air of defeatism and inevitability. Some approach it with the steady resignation that impersonal and corporate brands will just roll across the country, setting up cookie-cutter businesses with the lowest overhead and the largest appeal.

While this is not unfounded, it is also not useful and ultimately, not true. 

McDonalds has existed as a global force for over 50 years, the supermarket as we know it is (debatably) pushing a century. And yet neither has eradicated independent and local business. 

PureGym, for those curious, is 15 years old this year and just like our previous examples, does not need to signal doom and despair to independent gyms and fitness clubs. 

And as we like to show our workings, our blog today is about a real instance of an independent gym fending off and thriving when a PureGym moved to their large town. 

So we will be looking at how Fit Club picked the second reaction to a PureGym moving, not despair and defeatism, but energy, dynamism and resourcefulness. We will look at how they were able to maximise their strengths and account for their weaknesses, all while taking into account what really mattered, their membership and the local area. 

 

How The Fit Club Thrived When A Pure Gym Moved In Next Door

We will start by painting a picture of The Fit Club in Redditch as it was just before PureGym moved into the town…

It is a gym that attracts members from all walks of life and all levels of fitness. Seeking to put itself into the bracket of a ‘low-cost provider that delivers more’ with a large range of top quality equipment, free induction upon sign up, a sauna, and a raft of daily classes hosted across three separate studios. 

The situation just before PureGym opened (and before their partnership with us here at Ashbourne), the club was not in a good place. Known as Prime Fitness Redditch at the time, the gym had several glaring problems, some were systemic, others just unexpected results of other, necessary decisions. 

The first issue that was identified was that the club had adopted an unsustainable, costly, and unprofitable 24-hour model.

Further compounding this problem, members were able to share access codes without any recourse or mechanisms to check. 

So the arrival of the PureGym represented something of a wake-up call. The inadequacies and profit leaks of the past would no longer be acceptable. With a competitive, more up-together and well-known brand moving into the area, many aspects of the fitness club would need to change. 

So we are going to look at some of the key factors that had to change for The Fit Club to hold their ground against PureGym. 


This will include the practical measures that Ashbourne helped introduce and enable through our membership management software, as well as structural initiatives and more social-based, community outreach that The Fit Club engaged in. 

 

Key Factors 

Value Proposition Increase for Members

Once the name was changed from Prime Fitness – Redditch to The Fit Club and the partnership with Ashbourne had been forged, it was time to get to work.

PureGym was already on the march so time was of the essence to make meaningful, tangible changes that would improve the experience for the existing membership while hopefully drawing in new members through positive word of mouth. 

At Ashbourne, we know that one of the biggest obstacles to retention is the Value Proposition.

If members do not feel like they are getting value for money, the likelihood of them retaining the services of an independent gym or fitness club drops dramatically.  

So we identified the first big win, one that was impacting the image of the Brand, the operational costs, and the perceived value generated from gym membership.

That unhelpful 24-hour opening time.

In and of itself, not an inherently bad concept of course, if it is managed correctly. But the complete lack of access controls, combined with the very low number of regular paying users made this the first area our Membership Management Software was able to ascertain. 

While the physical infrastructure was in place in theory, a full-height turnstile was backed up by a keypad access system. It was not supported, either by personnel or software. 

This was combined with the 24-hour nature of the pre-Fit Club and pre-Ashbourne facility. It meant that pin sharing was rampant and there was no effective recourse to stop it. 

This collapse of access control and security represented our first massive impact on the value proposition, and this one problem reduced not only the perceived value but the actual value of Prime Fitness membership in several ways.

The first and most apparent, is, of course, a not-significant amount of unrealised income. Money is not spent by those using the facility who might otherwise have memberships. 


And of course, news spread around Redditch that this was the case, not least among the members of the old gym.

This meant that the perceived value was reduced drastically. If others are getting away without paying and the gym is doing nothing to stop them. Why pay? Is it a club worth paying for? Suddenly the entry price could be zero if only you knew someone with a valid access code. It was a recipe for disaster and the reputation suffered, all from this one, unaddressed problem.

And finally, of course, there was the vandalism that can come with unchecked, 24-hour gyms and clubs. 


All of this represented a significant drain on profit, morale, and value for the members. Something had to change if this club was going to survive the arrival of a PureGym. 

 

Ashbourne Arrives


Once the partnership with Ashbourne had been cemented, things quickly began to change.

Like many fledgling operations, the initial club was not collecting data about many key factors of their operations. The club was running on inertia. It generated money, but outside of an amount deposited, no one knew how much or why. 

This is where the first major change came in.


With Ashbourne’s membership management software and access control, several problems that had previously seemed insurmountable were quickly solved.  

First, our gym management software allowed the newly minted Fit Club to deny duplicate entries into the facility when they originated from the same gym membership. This was simple and incredibly effective, instantly ending access sharing. 


To further eliminate this problem, a fingerprint entry system would also be added. Allowing not only the benefit to the membership of not having to remember an access code but also increasing security and with it, that all-important value proposition. 

Just as importantly, the implementation of our membership management software across The Fit Club’s operation revealed that the cost of that 24-hour access may not have been worth the price. 

As we alluded to earlier in the blog, the actual number of people that were revealed to be using the facility outside of ‘daylight hours’ was minimal, certainly not worth the physical and moral toll that has been inflicted upon the club.

Up until that moment and without our software, this had not been ascertained. 

This is a frequent trap we see independent gyms and fitness clubs falling into. In the wake of the rise of PureGym and The Gym Group, the fallacy that 24-hour clubs represent one of the ultimate value propositions is often proven to be just that, a fallacy. 

But with better data comes better decision-making, and in addition to the decrease in unauthorised membership, the 24-hour access system was abolished.

This gave The Fit Club a reorientation and a renewal of purpose, as well as defining it against the emerging PureGym. 

 

Price Increases

With the perceived and actual value of The Fit Club on the increase, these actions transferred into that intangible yet all-important commodity, momentum. 

With the gym staff and management no longer stretched across 24 hours, no longer battling with access control issues and not even fielding their membership enquiries now that the Ashbourne support line had taken over, this meant they were more able to focus on the membership in the facility. 

Furthermore, they were able to work with us here at Ashbourne to set up their own app, using our existing app model, we have made it easy for independent gyms and fitness clubs to have their own professional and bespoke application up and running quickly. 

With the club now being better maintained, the membership more attended to and the security and equipment in much better stead, the club felt confident increasing their prices, incorporating greater benefits such as regular weigh-ins to compensate for this measure. 

The visible increase in service level with the above changes, combined with the record high morale meant that most members were more than willing to pay the small increase. Value had been created and as such, more could be asked of the members.

 

Focusing on the Long Term Membership Health 

The next stage became focusing on the long-term health of the members. The goal here was to deliver something that isn’t associated with a PureGym or other large chain while making use of the extra capacity and capability that came from Fit Club’s partnership with Ashbourne. 

This represented a move away from simply putting equipment into a room and walking off. 

Again, this change in direction became possible due to the systems that Ashbourne put in place. 

In the old era, there had not been an app with which to project the benefits of membership beyond attending the facility, there hadn’t been a suitably advanced class-booking system, nor had there been the capacity for the staff to focus on member needs.

With spare capacity and capability came the chance to make a truly lasting impact on the membership. Between classes, equipment, and the regular weigh-ins, The Fit Club came to embody just that, the ethos of being ‘Fit’, not in a vainglorious sense, but in a practical sense. 

Membership management software, access controls, and other technologies were able to give them the space to create something truly personal and affecting for their members. 


A package that was meant to offer something, not just a soulless, automated facility with doors mindlessly opening and shutting to let people in and out. 

It had started to become a club that had the time and ability to focus on the wants and needs of its members.

This brings us very neatly to our last point.

 

Community Building

So with everything else in place, we reach the last opening initiative that was undertaken by The Fit Club – Redditch during the initial pushback against PureGym.

And that was the focus on building a community within the club and engaging with the community outside of the community. 

Much like focusing on long-term health, this would not have been possible without the capacity created by the Ashbourne partnership. 

The focus then became about investing those new profits into forging something else that would not come easily to a PureGym. A fostered sense of community focused around a local fitness club. 

This approach took several different forms, from hosting events for both members and non-members to approaching the local council to increasing the number of classes.

The addition of coffee facilities and a seating area only helped to enhance the idea that this wasn’t a place to simply come and work out. 

In a few short months, the facility was able to turn from something running on autopilot to a vibrant, community-focused and driven fitness club on the ascent. 

 

Conclusion 

And what was the outcome of all of these changes?

Well,  we are happy to say that The Fit Club’s membership numbers soared after the Ashbourne partnership to well over 2000 members. This cemented its place as one of the most popular fitness facilities in Redditch. 

This is why we decided to make it the focus of our blog today, The Fit Club is a fantastic example of what can be accomplished when the right facility partners with the right talent.


And the right facility might not be the one you expect. Looking at The Fit Club when it was prime fitness, you would have to squint to see the true value and potential. Luckily, those in charge did, and they contacted us at Ashbourne, who shared their vision. 

The management wasn’t content to try and outcompete PureGym in a 24-hour-a-day, 7-day-a-week race to the bottom in terms of prices and quality. 

Instead, they got smart. Recruiting a partner with the experience and knowledge to transform their business by identifying what had gone wrong and what could go right moving forward.

The Fit Club was able to quickly carve out a niche in the market that PureGym couldn’t occupy, as well as patching the holes in their existing structure that had gone unidentified until the Ashbourne partnership.

And from there, it has been a case of positive momentum replacing stagnant inertia. The Fit Club has been able to invest back into its facility and equipment, with a host of renovations and upgrades across its sauna, reception desk, equipment, and class rooms.

The partnership and the rebrand has energised this facility and helped it define itself in a challenging market. 

So whether you have a PureGym coming to town or not, perhaps you know a gym that can benefit from an Ashbourne partnership?

As we said, sometimes it is the gym or fitness club you least expect. 


If you are a gym or fitness club owner or manager and interested in seeing if Ashbourne can help take your business to the next level, please do not hesitate to reach out here!

Building a Stronger Team: Effective Strategies to Reward Your Gym Staff and Boost Business Success

Building a Stronger Team: Effective Strategies to Reward Your Gym Staff and Boost Business Success

 

Running a successful gym goes beyond just having state-of-the-art equipment and a trendy fitness atmosphere; it’s also about fostering a positive and motivated team. Your staff plays a crucial role in creating a welcoming and energizing environment for gym-goers. To ensure the continued success of your business, it’s essential to recognise and reward your staff for their hard work and dedication. In this blog post, we’ll explore effective strategies to reward your gym staff and keep your business thriving.

 

1. Competitive Salaries and Benefits:

A strong foundation for staff motivation is ensuring that they are compensated fairly. Competitive salaries, health benefits, and other perks demonstrate your commitment to your team’s well-being. This not only helps attract top talent but also motivates existing staff to perform at their best.

 

2. Recognition Programmes:

Implementing an employee recognition programme is a powerful way to acknowledge individual and team achievements. Recognise outstanding performance in areas such as customer service, personal training success stories, and teamwork. This can be done through regular shoutouts during staff meetings, on a bulletin board in the break room, or even on your gym’s social media platforms.

 

3. Professional Development Opportunities:

Investing in your staff’s professional growth not only benefits them but also enhances the overall quality of your gym. Offer opportunities for certifications, workshops, and seminars related to fitness, customer service, or management. This not only improves their skill set but also demonstrates your commitment to their long-term success.

 

4. Flexible Schedules and Work-Life Balance:

Providing a flexible work schedule and promoting a healthy work-life balance is crucial in the fitness industry. Allow staff members to have input into their schedules and consider implementing policies that encourage time off for rest and rejuvenation. This helps prevent burnout and ensures that your team remains energised and motivated.

 

5. Employee of the Month Programmes:

Highlighting outstanding employees through an “Employee of the Month” programme can be an effective way to boost morale. This recognition can come with additional perks, such as a reserved parking spot, a small monetary bonus, or a special feature on your gym’s website or newsletter.

 

6. Team Building Activities:

Organise team-building events and activities outside the gym environment. This could include group workouts, sports activities, or even retreats. Creating a strong sense of camaraderie among your staff fosters a positive working environment and improves collaboration.

 

7. Incentive Programmes:

Consider implementing incentive programmes tied to performance metrics, such as membership sign-ups, personal training packages sold, or member retention rates. Offer bonuses, commission-based structures, or other rewards for achieving specific targets. This not only motivates your staff but also aligns their success with the overall success of the gym.

 

8. Wellness Initiatives:

Promote employee wellness by offering gym memberships, fitness classes, or health and wellness challenges. Encourage a healthy lifestyle among your staff, and consider organising fitness challenges with rewards for participants, fostering a culture of wellness within your team.

 

9. Open Communication and Feedback:

Establishing open lines of communication is essential for understanding your staff’s needs and concerns. Regular feedback sessions provide an opportunity for constructive dialogue and can help identify areas for improvement. Act on feedback received to show your commitment to creating a positive and supportive work environment.

 

 

By implementing a combination of these strategies, you can create a workplace culture that values and rewards your gym staff, ultimately contributing to the ongoing success of your business. Recognising the hard work and dedication of your team not only boosts morale and job satisfaction but also creates a positive ripple effect that enhances the overall gym experience for both employees and members. As you invest in your staff, you’re not only building a stronger team but also ensuring the long-term prosperity of your gym in the competitive fitness industry.

The Golden Ratio: How Many Members Should Your Gym Actually Support

 

The Golden Ratio: How Many Members Should Your Gym Actually Support

Within the fitness industry, a lot of ink (and more recently, pixels) have been spilled on one question.

Just how many members can a gym or fitness club fit in it? 

It feels like a simple question, surely we aren’t still debating it over 2,500 years after the Greeks first coined the term Gymnasium?

As this article might indicate, we are! But luckily we’ve made a few strides in the last two and a half millennia. Some might even say we’ve got it down to a fine art.

But like all good enduring questions, there are multiple answers and many different methods to reaching those answers.

So today we are going to take a look into a few different ways to reach the fabled Golden Ratio of gym membership capacity. And as per our expertise, we will be specifically looking at how gym membership management software can be instrumental in not only providing the numbers to calculate capacity effectively, but also provide an agile, proactive and low cost way for independent gyms and fitness clubs to maximise their capacity at all times.   

 

What IS ‘The Golden Ratio’

The term Golden Ratio is thrown around a lot, and unfortunately it can mean different things to different people. 


To some it represents a formula that will effortlessly solve all the capacity quandaries of a gym or fitness club.

To others it is the ratio of which a gym or fitness club is at ‘perfect’ capacity.


But even the definition of ‘perfect’ varies.

Overcrowding, a topic that invariably comes up during talks of capacity and ratio and that we will focus on heavily, will always play a part. The ‘perfect’ capacity may be too much for some, constituting overcrowding.

It might be becoming apparent that there is no one-size-fits-all ratio that can be applied to every gym to ensure that ‘perfect’ capacity is reached.

But as the old saying goes, perfect is the enemy of good. So while we will use the term Golden Ratio as a catchy and unifying name for our objective, we are not here to sell some mathematically complete, silver bullet solution.

Rather we will use data, experience and methodology to help independent gym and fitness club owners understand gym membership capacities and ratios in order to better implement it in their own clubs and facilities. 

 

Managing Capacity

What are we trying to achieve by managing Capacity?

When we talk about Capacity Management in the context of a gym or a fitness club, what are we really talking about?

Ultimately it can be boiled down to two key goals. We are trying to ensure that the maximum number of paying members are signed on whilst mitigating the undesirable effects of overcrowding. 

And overcrowding is a pernicious beast. It can be hard to detect for the management of an independent gym or fitness club, it can even be hard to detect for the staff on the ground.

But for the gym member? It is monolithic. It is pervasive and it is a death by a thousand cuts. 

It saps the desire to go to the Gym. Knowing you’ll have to wait for a treadmill, push through a crowded changing room, or be frustrated that the dumbbells you wanted have once again been taken. 

This brings us to our first formula. 

And that is: Value = Utility – Price. First detailed in Blue Ocean Strategy, by W. Chan Kim and Renée Mauborgne.

It is a simple but powerful abstraction.

What we are focusing on here is Utility.


Specifically, overcrowding represents the death of Utility. 

It needn’t have anything to do with the quality of equipment or the staff, not even the location.

Just the simple fact that a gym or fitness club’s one true desire is to get more members, is also one of the greatest existential threats to retention. 

It is a story we have seen many times within the industry across our twenty-five years of experience. At a certain point of expansion, an independent gym or fitness club will cease to be a pleasant place for gym members to go at certain times. 

When it is no longer a pleasant place to go to, we look back at Value equals Utility MINUS Price and suddenly the amount of utility has been impacted, and the price has stayed the same, which means that in the mind of the customer, the value starts to plummet. 

It is a serious issue, with very real consequences if mismanaged for an independent gym or fitness club. Next, we will look at why overcrowding and utility represent THE primary retention metric that gyms and fitness clubs should be focusing on. 

 

Capacity Management and Retention

While this list is not exhaustive, in our lengthy experience in the fitness industry there are four main groups of reasons cited when a gym member departs.

They are as follows:

Change in economic circumstance

Change in Location

Lack of Use

Overcrowded

Of these, we must look at what an independent gym or fitness club can reasonably control. It is no use focusing on those who have either had to move or have chosen to move location. And while there is an argument for being able to act upon changes in economic circumstances, ultimately we are not in control of the fortunes of our members.


So we are left with two very familiar sounding concepts that we can control in the grand and unending battle for gym membership retention.


Lack of use and Overcrowding. 


Utility and Value.


When seen through this lens, it becomes apparent that capacity management is one of the leading solutions to poor retention.

It is not a silver bullet, there are as many reasons cited for leaving as members. We are not suggesting that capacity management can solve things such as poor equipment or an undesirable location.

But what should be apparent is that capacity represents one of the few factors that is eminently controllable by the management of an independent gym or fitness club, with the right data, methodology and mindset. 

 

Data and Capacity Management 

With sufficiently advanced and powerful gym membership management software, capacity management becomes much easier. This is because it can help fill in a significant gap in one of the most effective gym and fitness club membership capacity management formulas. 


Before the implementation of gym membership management software, management and staff would have to either make assumptions, rely on vague intuition or take a leap of faith when it came to understanding just how long their average gym member was actually in their gym. 

Even the slightest disparity between reality and the assumed or intuited information about gym membership could result in wildly different numbers when it came to calculating capacity management.

And as we covered above, that could be the difference between tranquillity and a significant hammer blow to the value that a member is getting from their gym membership, in turn leading to reduced retention. 


So what can the best gym membership management software offer?

It will be able to track the length of every single visit a gym member makes to the independent gym or fitness club.

And from there, it will be possible to calculate an entirely correct average, to be used in capacity management calculations to help ensure that overcrowding does not occur. 

The difference between this and blind intuition will be like night and day.

Furthermore, while we will not be covering it here, it is possible to isolate and understand what times are the busiest with gym membership management software and factor that into a capacity management equation. While it is not the focus of today, we will hopefully explore further applications for gym membership management software in capacity management projects in further blogs. 


Example of a Capacity Management Formula 

So now our theoretical independent gym or fitness club is assured that the average length of a visit to their gym has been perfectly calculated from an up-to-date and verified pool of their membership. 

Now it is time to get down to the calculation. 

Step 1: First the gym or fitness club owner must collate the sum total of all individual pieces of cardio equipment (Treadmills, Elliptical Trainers, etc), all free-standing strength training equipment (Leg Press, Chest Fly, etc), and the number of benches, as well as determining how much studio space is readily available (with a sensible division, everyone cannot be expected to workout within 1m squared!).

It is important to also keep these individual statistics for Step 5. (Individual number of Treadmills, Leg Press machines etc). We will call each instance (aka, each machine or space) Floor-Capacity or FC.

Once all of those have been calculated, the owner will have the maximum number of members that can be actively using the gym at any one time.

Keep in mind this does not cover the reception or the locker rooms. 

Step 2: Understand how many people can use the locker rooms at any one time. Again, like the studio floor space, it is important to be honest about how much space you believe a member would be comfortable using.

Step 3: Combine these two sums for the total number of members that can be IN the gym at any one time.

Step 4: Take the figure for the average length of a gym member’s visit to the facility. (As specified above, should preferably be determined by data output from gym membership management software). 

Step 5: This part can either be done across the gym as a whole or across the individual sections of the gym, depending on the level of specificity required by the gym. 

Now we take the time our gym is open. For simplicity, it is open between 8 am and 10 pm, or 14 hours.

 

We will then take the average membership visit, as determined by our gym management software which comes to 60 minutes or one hour. 

Divide Operational Hours by Average Gym Visit for 14 divided by 1 hour in this case to equal 14.  

Now take the number of Floor-Capacity for an area or all areas, in our theoretical example we will do Treadmills, of which there are 15.

Multiple our two figures together (14 x 15) to get the total capacity of the treadmill section (210).

This represents the simplest Capacity Management calculation, not reconciling factors such as peak time and membership variance.

But what it does provide is both a solid number and a framework to expand in complexity. The true strength of capacity management is that a gym or fitness club can go as granular or as broad as they desire. 

What we are left with after our quick experiment is the hard limit of the number of members that can use those 15 treadmills in a given day. Given that we do not live in a perfect world where 14 groups of 15 members arrive every hour, it will need to be expanded and developed.

But that is where the increasing sophistication of data available to even independent gyms and fitness clubs means that capacity management is now more accessible than ever.

If we look at what can be achieved even with the simplest calculations, imagine what can be accomplished with sophisticated data outputs, quantifying gym membership attendance, and equipment usage not only across time but section. Establish trends and patterns that can be utilised to turn the above, simple formula into a powerful tool in the fight against overcrowding. A toolkit that can be used to increase retention, value and utility. 

 

Our Thoughts

Retention is what capacity management is all about. We all know it is less costly to retain members and battling the ‘churn’ has become a significant preoccupation for independent gyms and fitness clubs.

The delicate balancing act between expansion and value has become too valuable to ignore, as a lack of efficiency in this domain will significantly damage retention and by extension, profits. 


Luckily here at Ashbourne, we have channeled over twenty-five years of experience within the fitness industry into our gym membership management software, partnering with hundreds of independent gyms and fitness clubs to take their businesses to the next level.

As we showed above, with the help of a gym membership management service and software, an independent gym can go from operating in the dark to carefully planning out aspects of their operation such as capacity, secondary spending and control access. 


Have we piqued your interest? Excited to see how our cutting-edge software and data outputs could help inform the calculations and choices that will drive profit and growth? Look no further and book a demo here today! 

6 Ways to Futureproof Your Fitness Business

Futureproofing Your Fitness Business: 6 Ideas For Long-Term Success

In the dynamic and ever-evolving fitness industry, staying ahead of the curve is essential for the long-term success of your business. As trends, technologies, and consumer preferences shift, it’s crucial to futureproof your fitness business to ensure its resilience and relevance. In this blog, we’ll explore key strategies to help you navigate the ever-changing landscape and position your fitness business for sustained growth.

 

Embrace Technology:

The integration of technology is a cornerstone for futureproofing your fitness business. From fitness apps and wearables to virtual training platforms, technology can enhance the customer experience and broaden your reach. Invest in user-friendly apps that allow clients to schedule classes, track progress, and access workouts remotely. Consider incorporating wearable technology to monitor and analyse individual performance, providing personalised insights and recommendations.

 

Virtual Fitness Programs:

The rise of virtual fitness gained significant momentum, especially in light of global events that prompted the adoption of remote solutions. Offering virtual classes and training sessions allows your fitness business to transcend geographical boundaries, reaching clients beyond your immediate location. Invest in high-quality video production, create engaging content, and leverage social media to promote your virtual offerings.

 

Diversify Your Services:

To futureproof your fitness business, diversify your offerings to cater to a broader audience. Explore niche markets, such as specialised training programs for seniors, corporate wellness initiatives, or fitness solutions for specific health conditions. By diversifying your services, you not only expand your client base but also create additional revenue streams that can help your business weather economic uncertainties.

 

Build a Strong Online Presence:

In the digital age, a strong online presence is non-negotiable. Create a professional website, optimise it for search engines, and maintain active and engaging social media profiles. Use these platforms to share valuable content, showcase client success stories, and connect with your audience. A robust online presence not only attracts new clients but also builds trust and credibility in your brand.

 

Prioritise Customer Retention:

While attracting new clients is essential, retaining existing ones is equally crucial. Establish strong relationships with your clients by providing exceptional customer service, personalised training programs, and regular communication. Consider loyalty programs, exclusive offers, and member perks to incentivise long-term commitments.

 

Stay Adaptable:

Flexibility is key in an ever-changing landscape. Stay informed about industry trends, consumer preferences, and emerging technologies. Be willing to adapt your business model and services to meet the evolving needs of your clients. Regularly solicit feedback and use it to make informed decisions that enhance the overall customer experience.

 

Our Final Thoughts

Futureproofing your fitness business requires a proactive approach to adapt to the evolving landscape. Embrace technology, diversify your services, build a strong online presence, and prioritise customer retention. By staying adaptable and forward-thinking, your fitness business can thrive in an industry that continues to evolve. As you implement these strategies, remember that the key to long-term success lies in the ability to anticipate change and proactively position your business for sustained growth.

 

Using Gym Attendance Software To Grow Your Business

Using Gym Attendance Software To Grow Your Business

What features to look for in order to distinguish great gym attendance software useful in helping to grow an independent gym or fitness club.

 

Today, we will be taking an in-depth dive into Gym attendance software. We will begin with an introduction to Gym attendance software where we will define both Gym attendance and the functionality of Gym attendance software. Once we have this framework, we will look into how Gym attendance software can effortlessly assist in the growth of independent gyms and fitness clubs, no matter the age or size. 

 

Before we begin, we will outline a few thoughts on what we believe makes for good, effective and powerful Gym attendance software. This is a market with a lot of competition, the number of online gym membership software and gym membership systems have sky-rocketed in the last two decades, a combination of ever-advancing technology and decreased development costs.

As such, it is more important than ever to look at the metrics that define a good piece of gym attendance software and the best gym management software. 

This comes down to a variety of factors, from day to day usability to how well it functions as a gym management access control and, of course, the all important data outputs it is capable of generating.

We will be looking at which ways gym membership software systems can provide powerful insight, data and gym users statistics that have previously been inaccessible to many independent gyms and fitness clubs.

 

What is Gym Attendance?

So before we get to the ‘software’ part of Gym Attendance Software, we will first define and explore what ‘Gym Attendance’ means. It is an unassuming term. In an abstract sense, dealing with Gym Attendance feels like it should be easy and intuitive. In a way, haven’t we been dealing with Gym Attendance since the ancient Greeks? 

But since then Gym Attendance, much like nearly everything else, has gotten a little more complicated, specialised and bespoke. Now when we say Gym Attendance, we are talking about a series of processes that affect every member every time they step into your facility.  Gym Attendance, as a concept, is designed to ensure the seamless and secure operation of a gym or fitness club for paying members and the staff, day to day, across every visit. 

With the rise of easily affordable, accessible and maintainable digital and data solutions, this has gone from a fairly primitive if necessary task to one of hitherto unimaginable scope and potential. Much like many aspects of modern life, data has transformed the concept of Gym Attendance for all fitness facilities, whether they are small independent gyms or giant chain fitness clubs. 

And with increased complexity, comes infrastructure, schools of thought, services and all importantly for the topic of today’s blog. Software.

 

As the large chains and small independents alike have adopted new methods and changed how we perceive the concept of Gym Attendance, so too has it become necessary to understand just what has changed and what is on offer. With an ever increasing reliance on specialised software packages, digital integration and data-driven systems, now is a perfect time to discover how the latest Gym Attendance Software can redefine a gym’s relationship with the concept of ‘attendance’. 

We will also take a brief look at how different types of independent gyms and fitness clubs can utilise different types of gym management software. Too often it gets overlooked that a 24 hour, 7 days a week fitness facility could benefit from different gym attendance software offering when compared to a small, 9 to 5 club. 

 

 

What Is Gym Attendance Software?

So now we understand what the concept of Gym Attendance covers, let us move onto Gym Attendance Software.  


Gym Attendance Software can be used to accomplish and assist with any number of impactful tasks around a gym’s BAU (Business as usual) operations. However for a simple definition, Gym Attendance software exists to enable and streamline the experience of paying members attending a gym or fitness club as well as helping to quantify and utilise the outputs generated from that attendance. It is designed to make life easier for all participants within a gym’s system, be it members, staff or management. 

As technology has gotten more sophisticated and integrated, the remit of Gym Attendance Software has similarly broadened. Now, depending on the software in question, many other pieces of functionality can also be found within a Gym Attendance Software suite. This can include sophisticated data reporting, in-built payment systems and transactional processes, secondary spend, class integration and much much more.

Once these systems moved into a ‘Pay Environment’, it was only a short step into allowing their branching out full on Gym Membership Systems. More and more in recent years we have seen them move away from simply monitoring Gym Attendance and fulfilling a wide-array of roles, including those detailed above. 

 

We have reached the point where Gym Attendance/Management Software features have come to include vast swathes of a gym’s functionality in a digital space. This makes the decision on which Gym Attendance Software to use more important than ever, but it also means that the benefits of this software have never been greater if chosen carefully and correctly. 

As the importance of smartphones and digital systems have risen, so too has that of the right Gym Attendance Software package. Without the correct software to utilise our evermore sophisticated technology, some independent gyms and fitness clubs may be left behind! 

 

Gym Attendance Software: How Does It Work?

Gym Attendance Software, as with many things, has changed significantly in the last twenty years. It has shifted from the domain of niche and unfriendly, disc only software suits into a thriving, client friendly and fully functional digital sector of the fitness industry.

Downloading Gym Attendance Software has been the most popular method of distribution for over a decade now. There has been a clear and dedicated stride towards making these gym membership software systems as lightweight and powerful as possible. No longer do programmes impose themselves upon your systems and hardware, these are designed to be as unobtrusive and helpful as possible. 

The shift in the market has been profound and irreversible. The old models of doing business have slowly disappeared beneath the waves, leaving a new generation of slick, swift digital Gym Attendance Software ready to take its place. Now that it can reasonably be assumed that lightweight technology such as iPads can be utilised by staff, as well as the near monolithic presence of smartphones amongst consumers, there has been a significant shift in the mentality with which gym attendance software is made. 

 

Now there is no reason that an independent gym or fitness club can’t obtain a sophisticated, powerful gym attendance software suite in the click of a few buttons, or after a few e-mails and a demonstration.

This represents a departure from a time where this was only available to those willing to pay exorbitant licence fees or those buying in bulk.

The market has shifted to become much more client focused, to the benefit of independent gyms and fitness clubs! 

The cost of Gym Attendance Software is now much more reflective of the quality of product you are getting. 

In fact, we are now seeing that gym attendance software is working less and less on the terms of economies of scale, with the cost-benefit to a smaller, independent gym or fitness club being approximate to that of larger clubs or multisite clubs. 

While this may seem like a small and unassuming shift to some, what it represents to independent gyms is the ability to access and justify accessing powerful gym attendance software that would have otherwise not been viable ten, or even five, years ago.  

This has, in large part, been driven by the push away from the static computing that defined so much of the early 2000s. Two dual-revolutions, the cloud revolution and the smartphone (now tellingly just called a phone) revolution have been the bedrock that have enabled this change within the gym attendance software landscape.  


Between the reassurance of knowing that the vast majority of potential gym or fitness club members now have access to the smartphone technology necessary to interface with certain aspects of Gym Attendances Software, the democratisation of powerful, lightweight software due to cloud and online advances and the increased utility and effectiveness of potential verification methods, the circumstances were ideal for the vast leap forward to occur. 

 

 

What are the Benefits of Gym Attendance Software?

We won’t beat around the bush. Unsurprisingly, the main benefit that Gym Attendance Software can bring to an independent gym or fitness club is…To assist a Gym’s staff and management with the BAU functions of Gym Attendance.

Though as we made clear above, this is far more than just a single, uniform benefit for a gym or fitness facility. 

With that said, over these next sections we will be taking a deeper dive into the different benefits that Gym Attendance Software can bring to an operation of any size, but with specific focus on independent gyms and fitness clubs. 

These sections are going to focus on the following.

 

  • Quality of Data Outputs and Data Security: How Gym Attendance Software can immediately improve data outputs
  • The User Experience: How Gym Attendance Software can be used to enhance the user experience at different levels
  • Operation Integration: How Gym Attendance Software can start connecting different aspects of a gym’s BAU operations.
  • Automation and Process: How  Gym Attendance Software can help define procedure and drive automation.
  • Increased Revenue: How Gym Attendance Software can help drive primary and secondary spend

 

Quality of Data Outputs and Data Security: How Gym Attendance Software can immediately improve data outputs

Of all the positive attributes historically associated with the fitness industry, data has probably not ranked among the highest.

Horror stories of even relatively large chain gyms and fitness clubs and their malformed data operations used to abound. Let alone for independent gyms and fitness clubs, which would always be more likely to fall onto the side of ‘driven by intuition’ rather than ‘driven by data’.

But time changes us all, and what was once the exception has started to become the rule. Due to the accessibility and affordability of Gym Attendance Software we have already talked about in this blog, those who don’t get with the times now risk being left behind! 

The rise of attendance monitoring software for gyms and fitness clubs has led to a proverbial arms race. Competition fueling innovation.

The result? There are now increasingly sophisticated and powerful gym attendance software products available to even independent gyms and fitness clubs. 


With the rise of better data input, naturally follows better and more reliable outputs which these gyms are using to fuel growth and innovation.

This can create a positive cycle for a gym or fitness club, capturing thousands of data points that were otherwise just flowing into the void every day and utilising them to make a genuine, powerful impact onto the business. 

 

The User Experience: How Gym Attendance Software can be used to enhance the user experience at different levels

Given what we have discussed so far in this blog, it is not hard to imagine how Gym Attendance Software could help to improve the user experience. Whether it is by harnessing existing data points, or more effectively capturing and collating member feedback, the best gym attendance softwares will be able to make a meaningful impact on the average gym member’s visit in a very short timeframe. 

 

While these improvements should be felt across all demographics of gym membership, there is one demographic that particularly appreciates them.

It is a demographic we have covered frequently and that is only going to get bigger for the foreseeable future. That is, the Millennial and Gen Z demographics.

As we covered elsewhere, this powerful demographic is set to constitute 80% of the gym-going population shortly. As such, it is better to get on their good side and fast! 

 

The adoption of more data-driven user feedback and user experience improvement measures will be especially appreciated amongst this tech-savvy generation. These are generations some of which have never known life without Pure Gym.

If Independent gyms and fitness clubs wish to appeal to some of the creature comforts they’ve come to expect while appealing to their predisposition for independent and local businesses, Gym Attendance Software is a good place to start cultivating that sleek, data driven culture within even the smallest environment.  

 

Operation Integration and Security: How Gym Attendance Software can start connecting different aspects of a gym’s Business-As-Usual operations.

As with any appropriately powerful piece of software, Gym Attendance Software can be used as a focal point to support greater integration across a gym or fitness club.

This is something we have seen many times before, and it is a story that has been repeated across many industries. A single powerful and impactful piece of software acting as the nexus point of a businesses information flow. 

Within businesses that have not previously had access to this quality or more importantly, unity of information, Gym Attendance Software can act as the seed from which greater unity can grow. 

By allowing practical, usable data from a gym’s membership to emerge, it can be combined with usage data, attendance data and payment metrics to form the basis for a powerful database.

This database can then be used to run reports, perform audits and act as a catalyst for change. When Gym Attendance Software allows an independent gym or fitness club to have eyes everywhere, the era of questions being answered with a ‘we don’t know’ or ‘that information isn’t available’ will be a thing of the past. 


To build on this point, the ability to report on, track and audit the data flow of an independent gym or fitness club will act as another layer of security for all aspects of handling customer data. All reputable Gym Attendance Software companies will put data protection and security as a paramount concern. By integrating gym membership information into their ecosystem, independent gyms and fitness clubs are ensuring that they are receiving a fully compliant service at the same time! 

This will free up valuable extra time and money that may be spent either paying for a consultant or researching and understanding whether the freeform, organic protocols that a gym may have in place are compliant with ever-changing and complex regulations. 

 

Increased Revenue: How Gym Attendance Software can help drive primary and secondary spend

Unsurprisingly, the side effect of this enhanced integration and feedback will ultimately result in driving member spending across the gym or fitness club.

This effect will become even more profoundly felt if the gym attendance software in question allows for not only primary payment (Gym Membership fees) but secondary spend (food, drink, supplements, merchandise).

By incorporating all aspects of a gym’s payment environment into a single platform, one that a gym’s membership is already using for membership fees, a significant barrier is removed. Enabling secondary spend within a payment environment that a member has already been integrated into has been shown to boost the sale of secondary items within a gym or fitness club.

And this is really common sense, once the process of paying has been simplified and has been incorporated into a system that the member already uses and trusts to manage their membership, the rest falls into place. 

 

Automation and Procedure: How  Gym Attendance Software can help define procedure and drive automation. 

And to save one of the most important til last, the best Gym Attendance Software will be those that save staff or management time and energy.

As we highlighted at the beginning of the blog, when Gym Attendance procedures are not automated at an independent gym or fitness club, they are not only inefficient and time-intensive, but ultimately regressive.

What started off as an ‘easy-fix’ quickly becomes unsustainable and ill-suited. 

 

Coming up with procedures and standardisation measures to overcome this can be daunting, especially when there is a gym or fitness club to run. This is why the framework for automation and procedure that gym attendance software can create is truly invaluable. 

By centralising the administration of a Gym’s attendance and membership activities into a single, automated area, vast swathes of time can be saved on everything from payment collection to access administration. 

By reducing the reliance on arcane, bespoke or informal procedures within an independent gym or fitness club, the efficiency that can be recovered from a single Business-As-Usual day can be immense

Reducing the time out of costly payment reconciliation measures and non-payers, all the way to cancelled memberships and new-signups.

It also lessens the need for a single individual to ‘know’ everything about a system, reducing the brain-drain or knowledge-loss if that individual moves on. 

 

Our Final Thoughts

After that exhaustive list, we hope that even the most ardent fan of ‘intuition’ will concede that there is something to be said for gym attendance software. 

To take us back to the beginning, Gym Attendance Software originally had a very narrow remit. Many were no more advanced than a spreadsheet. But these days have long gone.

With the proliferation of seamless online payment systems and the ease of which these can now be integrated into complex, lightweight software environments, it is no surprise that a minor revolution has occurred over the last decade. 

No longer should independent gyms and fitness clubs be content with just paying for a system that just tracks who has entered or left a gym. 

The goal of the best gym attendance software should be to create a focal, central space that the majority of the gym or fitness club’s business can run through. 

Whether it is booking or paying for classes, changing membership tiers or purchasing gift cards and upgrades, the system a gym decides on should make all of these functions easier to enact from the members side, as well as easier to manage and process from the gym’s perspective. 

Gym Attendance Software in 2023 must be capable of capturing and then filtering strong data inputs and outputs. Working for both the members and the staff on a daily basis to ensure that Business-As-Usual operations are able to continue smoothly and with minimal human oversight. 

And in turn, the report it is able to generate must be easy to understand and full of data that can be used to help improve systems and procedures throughout a gym or fitness club. 

Modern Gym attendance software must be quick and responsive, effortlessly running in the background while ensuring that the relevant staff are never from the information they need to make key decisions and change what is necessary. 

While traditionally the remit of larger clubs, responsive gym attendance software is perfectly suited for the low-to-the-ground, swift and reactive independent gym operation that we’ve seen give such durability and zeal to the industry. 

And of course, it should be a safe and secure partner that independent gyms are able to trust with their financial transactions and that of their customers. 

 

Which is why, if you have gotten this far, we recommend looking at our services! Here at Ashbourne Membership Management, we believe we embody the values we have been espousing in our blog! 

With twenty five years of experience in the fitness industry and having helped unlock the potential in hundreds and hundreds of partnerships, we are confident that we can take any independent gym or fitness club’s operations up to the next level!

With our membership management software, gym’s not only receive a premier piece of gym attendance software, but a partner that is willing to work alongside them as they grow. Whether it is streamlining processes and procedures, saving countless staff-hours with cutting edge automation or effortlessly displaying critical data and KPIs with our BI dashboards, we believe Ashbourne Membership Management is in the perfect position to help any independent gym or fitness club grow.

Interested in finding out more? Follow this link to book a demo and learn more about what we can offer your gym today.

Maximising The January Rush: A Guide for Gyms to Thrive in the New Year

 

Maximising the January Rush: A Guide for Gyms to Thrive in the New Year

 

As the festive season is imminent and the calendar is preparing to turn to January, gyms around the world experience an annual influx of new members eager to kickstart their fitness resolutions.

This surge, often referred to as the “January rush,” presents a golden opportunity for gyms and health clubs to attract and retain a wave of enthusiastic clients.

With the IHRSA reporting that 12% of all gym sign-ups happen in January, whilst the rest of the year only accounts for an average of 8.3% of sign ups, this sudden sales surge is crucial for your club and you need to ensure that these new clients get off on the right foot.

To make the most of this busy season, gym owners and managers must implement strategic approaches to ensure not only a smooth onboarding process for newcomers but also a lasting commitment to fitness for the long term.

 

Revamp Your Marketing Strategies:

    • Update your website and social media profiles to highlight New Year promotions and offers.
    • Launch targeted online advertising campaigns to reach potential clients in your local community.
    • Consider offering limited-time incentives, such as discounted memberships, free personal training sessions, or exclusive access to group classes.

 

Create a Welcoming Environment:

    • Train your staff to be extra welcoming and helpful during the January rush, as first impressions matter.
    • Organise orientation sessions for new members to familiarise them with the facility and available services.
    • Enhance signage to guide newcomers and make it easy for them to navigate the gym.

 

Introduce New Programs and Classes:

    • Capitalise on the enthusiasm of new members by introducing fresh and exciting fitness classes.
    • Offer specialised programmes catering to beginners, such as introductory workout sessions or fitness assessments.
    • Implement a buddy system, encouraging existing members to partner with newcomers for added motivation and support.

 

Set Realistic Expectations:

    • Clearly communicate that achieving fitness goals takes time and dedication.
    • Provide realistic timelines for seeing results, emphasizing the importance of consistency.
    • Offer educational resources, such as workshops or informational sessions, to educate members about the fundamentals of fitness and healthy living.

 

Enhance Customer Engagement:

    • Utilise technology to engage members through fitness apps, virtual challenges, and online communities.
    • Implement a rewards program to acknowledge and celebrate milestones, fostering a sense of accomplishment.
    • Collect feedback regularly to understand member needs and preferences, adjusting offerings accordingly.

 

Optimise Facility Operations:

    • Increase staffing levels during peak hours to accommodate the higher demand for assistance.
    • Ensure all equipment is in optimal condition and increase the frequency of maintenance checks.
    • Consider expanding facility hours to accommodate varying schedules and preferences.

 

Promote Long-Term Commitment:

    • Provide personalised fitness plans to help members set achievable goals.
    • Offer membership renewal incentives to encourage long-term commitment.
    • Establish a follow-up system to check in with members and address any challenges they may be facing.

 

The January rush is a valuable opportunity for gyms to not only boost their membership numbers but also to build lasting relationships with clients.

By implementing strategic marketing, creating a welcoming environment, introducing new programs, setting realistic expectations, enhancing customer engagement, optimising facility operations, and promoting long-term commitment, gyms and health clubs can turn the January rush into a foundation for sustained success throughout the entire year.

With thoughtful planning and execution, gyms can help individuals transform their New Year resolutions into lifelong habits of health and wellness.

What Is The Best Access Control For Gyms?

What Is The Best Access Control For Gyms?

 

Access Control in 2023 and Beyond

While the once seemingly unstoppable march of the 24/7 business model within the fitness industry has slowed down considerably, the debate regarding access controls for independent gyms and fitness clubs has never been more dynamic.

With the Covid-19 pandemic and the still ongoing energy cost crisis, the common orthodox that access control automation had made 24-hour Gyms and Fitness Clubs a no-brainer has been challenged. As such, the debate of the last half decade has shifted again, to the most effective and reliable access control solution for each individual gym.

No longer is it enough to just say that a full body turnstile for 24/7 access control is necessary. We operate in a more nuanced market now. So we thought that now was the time to put our 25 years of experience here at Ashbourne to the test. We will be drawing on our knowledge prior to and during the 24/7 revolution to see what life in the ‘aftermath’ looks like for independent gyms and fitness clubs.

We have dealt with independent gyms and fitness clubs of all sizes, shapes and specifications over the years. Each one of our partners and clients have allowed us to learn and adapt in an industry where versatility is truly rewarded.

As the technology involved in access control continues to advance, we thought it was about time to harness our experience and authority and condense it into an article to help new and veteran independent gym owners adapt to this post-Covid, post-energy crisis landscape. 

So without further ado we will be taking a look at the different access systems, comparing their pros and cons with specific focus on the current industry situation. 

 

What should an Independent Gym or Fitness Club Owner be looking for in an access control system?

But before we get to comparing and contrasting different access systems, we should look into what we WANT from our control access systems, as well as some specific terminology that will be used over the course of the article.

 

When we say access control, we are talking about a combination of two factors:

 

  1. What is physically stopping a person from accessing your Gym floor until they have verified themselves as a member.
  2. The verification process itself. 

 

Now while the term process might only evoke new, popular solutions such as fingerprint scanners and passcodes. This process can also be as rudimentary as someone on a desk buzzing/unlocking a barrier for the gym member.

While it might seem obvious, it is important to state that this process can vary wildly from gym to gym. And with 25 years working with independent gyms and fitness clubs we have seen a lot of ‘solutions’.

And so what are we looking for from each of these factors?


Our first factor, is the physical barrier. We want it to be a secure, hard-wearing solution. Hard to break, easy to repair and easy to traverse once the verification process (Step 2) has been completed by the gym member.

A gym entry system has to be a bespoke combination of efficient, secure, easy to use and, if possible, aesthetically satisfying to the customer. 

 

To our second factor, we are looking for a system that is easy to understand, hard to circumvent and reduces the ability for members to share their access information. It should also take minimal time, respecting the time of the member and the staff. 

Close up of turnstiles lighting green

As such, it becomes apparent that a good access control system isn’t just ‘buying the most expensive turnstiles’. It is a decision that has to take into account a Gym’s members, staff, facility and physical constraints.

The access control system that a gym decides to put in place should enhance the experience of the members. If it is a system that members struggle with or find frustrating or difficult to use, this will stick in their mind and be part of what they recall when thinking about the gym. Ideally it should be an extension of the brand, effortless, convenient, efficient. 

 

Because at the core of it an access system isn’t just a FIRST impression that a member gets of an independent gym or fitness club, it is a repeated impression.

If something is tedious and we only have to do it once, we can quickly forget about it. If something is tedious and we have to do it five times a week. We will remember it for a long, long time.

As such, it is vital that gyms and fitness clubs do not make the actual access procedure a case of ‘death by a thousand cuts’.

Even if the process is going to be rudimentary, it must still be judged on how unobtrusive and time-efficient it is. If the devil is in the detail, this is a detail that gyms will want to nail in order to bolster retention. 

 

So as we’ve worked out that Access control systems for gyms are a puzzle of two halves. We will look at each of these halves in turn. First we will start off with the common and popular access procedures and mechanisms that are used the world over. 


After that we will focus on the different types of physical barriers, not just for their role in keeping non-members out, but also measuring the ease of which it allows members into the gym. In addition we will look into different incidents and considerations we have come across in our time, such as their behaviour during power cuts and the level of inconvenience it will cause if they break or are damaged. 

 

As we go through these sections, we will keep in mind why we in the fitness industry employ access control systems for gyms and fitness clubs. That it is not merely a matter of who goes in and out. It is also designed to monitor your members, gain data and use it to enhance their experience within a gym or fitness club.

This can be vital and independent gyms that don’t utilise systems that can capture sufficient data risk losing out on valuable feedback. 

 

When utilised in tandem with the right club management software, access control can be used to transform the way an independent gym or fitness club gains information about their BAU (business as usual) operations. 

 

With all that out of the way, it is time to look into the best access control systems for independent gyms and fitness clubs, starting with the verification process. 

 

Section 1: Membership Verification Systems

First, we will be looking at the verification process. This is the system that gym members will be using to gain access to the gym. It goes without saying that the digital and resultant automation revolution have transformed how gyms are accessed in the last two decades. As such, while we did reference the idea of a staff member manually checking and buzzing people through a gym’s security measures, we are not going to include it on the list. 


That is because this system, simply put, is not ideal. Not only is it expensive in terms of staffing costs and manpower, it is also the worst method when it comes to data capture. We appreciate that independent gyms and fitness clubs that are starting out or have incredibly specific opening times might find this solution appealing, but we believe that it is a short-term solution for a long-term problem. 

 

There is an argument to be made about cost, but even then we believe that in the long term, the automated, higher-tech solutions that we are about to recommend will ultimately result not only in a saving but also in a greater scope for development moving forward.

 

Magnetic Swipe Cards, RFID Cards and Keyfobs

Membership card being swiped on turnstile

Starting in the physical (albeit still digital) realm, our overview will begin with a collection of access control methods employed by gyms and fitness clubs.

 

The reason these three methods, Magnetic Swipe Cards, RFID Cards and Keyfobs, have been grouped together is because they share something in common.


Each one relies on a physical object that will interface digitally with the gym or fitness club’s security system. From there, this physical object’s digital signature will confirm that the member is entitled to enter the facility and open the access control system for them. 

 

  • RFID, or Radio Frequency Identification cards, have become a staple of not only gyms but office access control. A small, credit card sized card that is pressed against a scanner for a few seconds. We will go over the main drawback with these cards at the end of this section, but compared to their magnetic counterparts they are largely considered reliable and hard-wearing due to their functionality being internal.  
  • Magnetic Swipe Cards are very similar in concept but rather than being pressed against a pad they are ran through a card reader. This is essentially a different method of interfacing. While popular, we have seen their popularity diminish somewhat due to a tendency to ‘de-sync’. Given these cards are often stored in magnetised wallets or phone cases, this has led to two different issues.

    One is that the magnetic stripe becomes scratched away due to repeated use.

    The latter is that the magnetic stripe becomes compromised by the magnetic wallets and phones that they are now commonly stored in. 

 

  • And finally we have the ‘key fob’. Used by everyone from office blocks to apartment blocks, these little balls of hardened ABS plastic essentially opt to store the aforementioned digital signature in something a little more unorthodox than a card. Normally worn on a keyring, they are exceptionally hard-wearing. Given that the scope for customisation is greater than a card, they have become quite popular amongst independent gyms as a method of free advertising. Of the three ‘physical-digital’ hybrid methods, they have the greatest aesthetic potential. 

 

The main appeal of these methods is their simplicity. Their function is easily understood, even if an independent gym or fitness club isn’t appealing to the most tech-savvy crowd. Short of the aforementioned de-magnetisation, the scope for them to fail in their functionality is very limited. They are easily portable and often kept in items such as wallets and keyrings that are hard to forget.

In terms of our digital feedback check, they pass with flying colours. Each will be specific to the gym member in question, and with a suitably sophisticated club management system and software, it will give all the necessary feedback and data straight to a BI dashboard. 

 

Furthermore, a branded membership card or stylised key fob can easily be made to reinforce brand identity. If the entry solution to an independent gym or fitness club is simultaneously aesthetically appealing and effortlessly easy, the membership will rightly build a positive connection with the brand. A positive reinforcement loop will start to occur where they associate the keyfob or card with the efficiency that the gym offers on the door. 

 

With all that being said, there is one key (excuse the pun) issue with these fobs and membership cards.

 

As physical items, they are susceptible to being lost and/or stolen. Both situations are unfortunate, requiring the card to be cancelled, lest the security of the gym or fitness club be compromised. 


It is also a method that is very prone to ‘access-sharing’, where people attempt to give out their keyfob or access card to their friends. While staff can be briefed on this, it is ultimately very hard to enforce as it requires the checking of cards. This can feel like a violation of trust to members who are just quietly going about their day.


Once cancelled, the keyfob or card must be reissued. This means keeping a physical supply that has to be given out. In turn, the decision then becomes ‘should members be charged for losing their card, and if so, how much?’. While these are not insurmountable questions, they can cause a degree of hassle for both gym members and gym staff. We would recommend that if an independent gym is considering adopting a key fob or RFID/Magnetic card system, that the management reflect on how these situations will be dealt with, as well as ascertain the cost of maintaining a supply of the cards/fobs. 

 

Barcode and QR Code Scanners

Barcode scanner on a turnstile

The barcode and its pseudo-successor, the QR code, are ubiquitous in modern society, especially in the wake of the Covid-19 lockdowns. Though these are nominally two very different technologies from two different time periods, we have lumped them together for simplicity given that their distribution and functionality are largely interchangeable.

With the number of QR codes generated now running into the hundreds of billions, it is safe to say a few industries have found a way to utilise them! These codes are usually either generated on or sent to a phone application. In specific, more low-tech instances they can also be sent via e-mail. 

 

Both barcodes and QR codes are used the world over, and the fitness industry is no exception. Many independent gyms have latched onto these scanners as a cheap, purely digital alternative to cards and keyfobs. 

 

By removing the reliance on human input, these codes are able to effortlessly transfer a passcode to the access control system, satisfying the criteria for entrance while requiring a digital footprint for our aforementioned data efforts. 

 

Without the need to physically buy, monitor and replace an item such as a card or a keyfob, this system is cost-light and ultra-efficient. It can even be counted towards reducing a carbon footprint, with the diminished use of physical materials!


Ultimately the QR codes and barcodes, while simplistic, are ultimately effective. With the appropriate digital infrastructure behind it, these codes achieve an efficient, easy-to-maintain digital access solution for any independent gym or fitness club.

 

With that being said, they are not infallible. There is always the risk of members forgetting their means of access, their phones running out of battery, breaking or otherwise being corrupted. In addition, they are not the most intuitive for the technologically illiterate and may require some explanation that could put off older or more luddite-leaning gym members.

Furthermore, this method is very prone to ‘access sharing’, something that plagues many independent gyms and fitness clubs. 

 

Biometric Scanners

So while the biometric scanner fulfills the same essential function as our other two categories of access control for independent gyms, it does so in a much more futuristic way. By relying on something a gym member (hopefully!) always has on them, their finger. 

 

While the initial effort to collect biometric data and the machinery necessary to use it makes this the most cost-intensive method, the technology has become a lot more accessible and widespread. This can be most evidently seen in life through the rising prevalence on mobile phones. Once seen as a luxury feature, now even budget models come with fingerprint scanners. 

 

While the setup can be more laborious, the payoffs are undeniable. Independent gyms and fitness clubs that invest in biometric scans will adopt an access control system that is easy to use, impossible to forget and unnecessary to replace. 

 

If that isn’t enough of a benefit, this solution also provides the most effortless and satisfying experience providing that the biometric scanners are correctly maintained. Few other solutions feel as futuristic or secure. If an independent gym or fitness club is trying to reinforce the values of its brand via its access control system, we could not recommend a better solution. 

 

Furthermore, it is a system that is basically unable to facilitate the access sharing that has plagued the previous two options that we have investigated. 

 

Section 2: Physical Club Entry Mechanisms and Systems

Now that we have gone through all of the verification methods that we would recommend to one extent or another that can be utilised by an independent gym or fitness club, it is time to look at the other side of the coin. 


Namely, what is the physical mechanism stopping non-members from getting in and whether your members are trying to by-pass with a gym’s access control verification system of choice. 

 

We will be looking into quite a few options here, ranging from the expensive and all-conquering, to the simple and functional.

 

Keeping in mind what we explored at the beginning of this article, that in this post-covid, post-energy crisis bigger is not always better when it comes to the independent gym on a budget.

 

But without further ado, let us explore the second half of the puzzle that is access control. 

 

Speed Lanes

Starting with one of the more recent access control mechanisms that have been springing up across the fitness industry, we have the Speed Lane system. Designed more for efficiency than security, the speedlane is a light-weight option emphasising aesthetic and ease of use over cast-iron might. Speed is the name of the game…And the lane. 

 

Pros

Designed specifically to feel like a premium experience, speed lanes take inspiration from existing airport security mechanisms. In an age of near-instance everything, the speed lane is supposed to make the gym member feel like the process was near effortless. A small, quickly withdrawn plastic or metal gate will present a small obstacle before the card is presented, only to be whisked away without the member needing to break stride, ideally. 

 

Unlike some of the other solutions that will feature on this list, they are not an eyesore, and can be used to fully showcase an open and aesthetic workout space. This is the access control solution that feels most suited for the generation that has latched onto terms like ‘Zoomer’. Speed, convenience and efficiency is of the essence. 

 

Cons

Unsurprisingly, all that talk of aesthetic and efficiency comes at a cost. A comparative lack of security.

Or rather, a need for additional security measures perhaps. Speed lanes are relatively easy to circumvent and we would not recommend them as the only security solution an independent gym or fitness club uses, especially if they are a 24/7 enterprise.

The ideal place of use for speedlanes is a traffic-heavy gym or fitness club in a relatively secure area that operates purely within daylight/business hours. As such, we would only recommend the speedlane as a specific solution for a specific type of gym, not a catch-all solution. 

 

Swing Gates

access control for wheelchair user

Our next access control system that independent gyms can utilise, the Swing Gates, represents a more secure alternative to the Speed lanes. Though, as some might have guessed, at the cost of some speed. 

 

These gates are spacious, which is of course, a double-edged sword. They provide relatively quick and easy access whilst allowing a motorised system to ease the passage of members into the facility without need for them to interact with the gate itself.

 

Pros 

The Swing Gates have several benefits. They are material light, cheap to maintain and easy to repair. Their spacious design allows people with mobility issues or disabilities to navigate through them much easier. This is the cheapest solution that also benefits wheelchair users. 

 

If an independent gym or fitness club is looking to prioritise accessibility, the swing gate should definitely be an avenue that is considered. When compared to the turnstile, it offers a much more reliable situation. While some may require assistance, the number will be significantly reduced. We have even seen some gyms utilising a singular swing gate as an option for those that have accessibility issues. 

 

Cons 

With that being said, all this accessibility does lead us to the other side of that double-edged sword. It is very hard to recommend swing gates as a solution for a 24/7 gym or a gym that will not, in some capacity, have their access control system manned and monitored.

 

Tripod Turnstile 

tripod turnstiles

The archetypal three-prolonged turnstile needs little introduction. Perhaps one of the most ubiquitous access control systems in the world. Over a century old and utilised the world over, our question becomes:

 

Is it a viable solution as an access control system for independent gyms and fitness clubs in the post-lockdown, post-energy crisis 2023 and beyond?

 

Pros

As the saying goes, it is a classic for a reason. The tripod turnstile is hard-wearing, hard to break and easy to fix. It is a system that is instantly intuitive and uses space efficiently.

 

Indeed, when compared to more heavy duty solutions, the tripod turnstile can easily come out on top in terms of cost, space and usability. 

 

It is little wonder then that the tripod turnstile has become the staple that it is. When combined with low running costs, it is a system that is remarkably well suited to the post-energy crisis UK and Europe. What goes around comes around we suppose!

Furthermore, the installation of these systems is relatively straightforward and can be adapted to even the most compact gym or fitness club setups. As such, it is no wonder that it is the go-to choice for independent gyms and fitness clubs working on a budget and just starting up. 

 

Cons

But as ever with the most budget-friendly, start-up friendly solution. The turnstile tripod is not without its drawback. Just as we praised the virtues of the swing gates for their accessibility. The turnstile stands in direct opposition for those with mobility challenges. It is often not the easiest for members to navigate, and gyms that utilise this solution may have to find some work around to help those unable to use it comfortably. 


Furthermore, it is not necessarily well suited for 24/7 operations. Perhaps the most famous phrase associated with the humble turnstile is ‘jumping the turnstile’ after all. As such, we would say that once again this system primarily benefits daytime/business hour operating independent gyms and fitness clubs looking for a cheap and effective access control system. 

 

Full Height Turnstiles

full height metal turnstiles

Speaking of ‘jumping the turnstile’, here is one that even an olympic high-jumper might struggle to overcome.

 

Whether they go from floor to ceiling or merely stand at an imposing 2-meter-plus height. The full-height turnstile has become the emblem of access control for the 24-hour gym or fitness club. As such, we’ve seen both these systems rise in tandem, each helping the other succeed.

Has this beneficial relationship come to an end with the partial retreat of the 24-hour gym that has been witnessed over the last two years? Or is this only a temporary trend, quickly being undone? Time will tell, and we shall leverage our expertise to explore just what is in store for the full-height turnstile. 

 

Pros 

Able to offer unparalleled security whilst allowing for comparative ease of access. The full-height turnstile is an obvious candidate for the ‘heavy duty’ solution to gym access control. It is a striking statement of intent, a dedication to security, and a true investment.

The durable, all-encompassing nature of it means that it is one of the only access control solutions that offers full peace of mind while unmanned in a 24/7 gym or fitness club. 

 

It all but ensures that the only way that a person is getting into the facility is with the appropriate verification method.

 

This is important to reassure both the management of a gym and the members. If someone is working out at 3am, they want to know that only the people who have paid to be within a facility can get in. 

 

Finally, and perhaps what has given it a critical edge, is the relative ease of passage once verification has been provided. The full-height turnstile mechanism, for all of its bulk, is often easier to navigate than a more traditional turnstile. 

 

Cons

So while the full-height turnstile is a fantastic solution for certain independent gyms and fitness clubs, specifically 24/7 facilities, that does not mean it is a catch-all solution or a silver bullet solution.

 

The fitness industry is complex and the answer to the best access control system is not as simple as merely purchasing the biggest option on the market. 

 

And indeed, one of the key downsides to the full-height turnstile is cost. It is an expensive solution and one that will require more maintenance than cheaper options were they to break.

 

Furthermore, accessibility is another casualty. Unlike the much cheaper swing gates, not everyone will be able to comfortably navigate the full-height turnstile.


And lastly, space is a large consideration. Both in width and length, the full-height turnstile will take up significant room and will take time and space to install. 

As such, while many independent gyms and fitness clubs should seriously consider the full-height turnstile as their access control solution, it is not a given. This is not one of those listicles where you can scroll to the bottom to get the best solution.

But with that being said, to many independent gyms and fitness clubs looking for security as they implement 24/7 or unmanned solutions, the full-height turnstile will be invaluable!

 

Our Access Control Roundup

And so the conclusion? If you’ve been reading then it should be apparent. Independent gyms and fitness clubs are so varied and specific (in fact it is one of their greatest strengths) that the answer was always going to be multi-faceted.


With that being said, we hope as the article has progressed that it has helped to eliminate certain solutions for certain requirements and parameters. For example, the 24/7 hour aspirant should now be fairly assured of the type of access control system that will most benefit a 24/7 gym or fitness club. 

 

Furthermore, we hope that this look has reinforced how each system can help enhance the brand and image that an independent gym or fitness club is trying to project. Whether it is with an effortless speed lane or a hi-tech biometric scanner, each piece of equipment and verification method that we’ve gone through communicates something different.

 

The significant number of variables means that the best access control solution for one gym might not be the best for its nearest competitor. Whether it is based on the demographics that frequent the gym or fitness club, the space available, the opening hours or the number of staff members.

 

What this article hopes to achieve is a framework to interrogate each of those solutions in a constructive way, as presented by a company that has helped install thousands of them over the last 25 years.

 

If you are a new or veteran independent gym or fitness club owner with a desire to refresh, upgrade, or install the best access control system entry system for your facility, please do not hesitate to reach out and contact us.


Here at Ashbourne, we’ve been working with these systems for over twenty-five years, and with that twenty-five years come a level of confidence and dynamism that is hard to match. Our goal is to work with all of our independent gym and fitness club partners to deliver the solution that is correct for them, whether it is a verification system, access control system, or both! 

 

Whether your gym is in a busy city centre or purely targeted at the older denizens of a small town. Whether it never shuts or operates in a very specific window. We are confident that our experience and expertise will give us an advantage in finding the best solution for your gym at the best price. Furthermore, our industry-respected club management software can help use this equipment, turning member access into meaningful data that can influence the very fabric of an independent gyms operations. 

 

Don’t hesitate to arrange a demo with our team today on the following link! 

How To Attract And Include Younger/Junior Members In Your Club

 

How To Attract And Include Younger/Junior Members In Your Club: From Millenials and Gen Z to Junior Members

In this week’s article, we will be exploring a subject that is in need of frequent revisitation, a complete discussion about how and why to attract younger people to be members of gyms and fitness clubs.

Now this might seem like a well-worn road, but that logic can be a pitfall. The young people of today are not the young people of ten years ago and certainly not of twenty years ago. Just as the demographics constantly shift, so too do the demands of those demographics. The last generation that didn’t have smartphones in school is now firmly over a decade graduated, an entire generation is near voting-age that was born after the release of the first iPhone.

When we say young people we no longer mean people who grew up with a GameBoy Colour, we mean children who grew up with iPads. 

With Millenials and Gen-Z now constituting up to as much as 80% of the gym and fitness club going population, what do owners need to know about how to attract younger members to their gyms? 

How do their expectations contrast compared to the generations that came before them? And while our focus is on youth, we are going to look at what owners can do to make their gyms safe and appealing to under-20s.

It is a trickier topic, relying on knowledge of how to treat young members at different age thresholds and what is expected of a gym, but one that can be broken down into its composite parts fairly easily. It is important to note (and we will reiterate this at the beginning of the section) that this article does not constitute legal advice. If a gym owner or gym management has any concerns around the physical safety of children (or anyone) within their gym environment, we recommend contacting a legal professional with the relevant expertise.

But with that being said, we are happy to recount what we have seen work for our independent gym partners over our twenty years of experience in the fitness industry. A new generation of gym-goers might have risen in that time, but our dedication to staying on the cutting edge of the fitness industry means we are just as ready to assist this generation as we were for the last. 

 

Why aim for a younger demographic?

As with many inevitabilities in business, it is simply a numbers game at this point. Between the generations we know as the much-maligned Millenials and the relatively new Gen Z, we now have approximately 80% of the gym-going population. 

That is a current statistic, in fact, almost an old statistic. Not a projected number in five years’ time. It was one of the most striking discoveries of the Les Mills Global Consumer Fitness Survey in 2019. Gen Z was not imminent, they were already here. A significant shift in the generational makeup of the fitness market had occurred without appropriate recognition. At the time it was the largest survey of its kind, questioning over 12,000 participants across over 20 countries.

Four years on, and as surely as none of us have gotten any younger, it is safe to say that this trend has only been compounded. The health of the industry and its techniques were formed by, and to cater to, the generations prior. The Baby Boomers and Generation X. And while it might not feel like much has changed, this steady shift is now undeniable. Though these generations will play a key part in the management and direction of the fitness industry, they no longer represent the majority of the consumer base.

Of course that doesn’t mean diverting all efforts towards attracting these generations. Our goal here is to address what marketing techniques work, as well as the services that are expected and desired from independent gyms by this burgeoning generation. A generation that is well on its way to being firmly entrenched in our fitness scene.

So now that we’ve covered the ‘why’ it is important for independent gyms and fitness clubs to appeal to Millennials and Generation Z, let’s address the ‘how’.

Generation Digital

Perhaps more than any two sets of generations in history, the cultural and practical divide between Generation Z and the elder generations is pronounced.

And really this is not surprising. As a society, we have experienced the most rapid technological acceleration in human history. It is understandable that when the gulf in technology is so massive between the adolescent period of two generations, an equal and appropriate gulf in attitudes will follow.

So where do the values and priorities of these new generations fall? The answer broadly falls into two categories, technological sophistication/competence and time efficiency. 

 

  •  Readily Available. Easily Searchable. Implicitly Tech Savvy

Surveys have consistently shown, perhaps with little surprise, that the on-demand generation wants things…Well, on-demand.

Despite being the generation to whom googling is second nature, they aren’t one for second chances. If a gym or fitness club’s website or app can’t be immediately found and accessed in a single search? They might not want to know. 

These are generations that have grown up with the omnipresent, omnicompetent mega-corporations. They have a high standard for online presentation and sophistication. If a website looks like it was made before they were born, they’ll know. If an independent gym or fitness club doesn’t have an app, they’ll notice. Keenly. 

Luckily many of the services they have come to expect are easy to provide. 

Tech-enabled automation of turnstiles and workout equipment has never been more readily available. These can help an independent gym’s staff provide a more efficient service, as well as enable them to focus on that personalised, social service that Gen Z have come to expect and value. 

When supported by an App that allows them to easily navigate and access the services of an independent gym, the key needs of the average ‘Generation Digital’ denizen are being met.

Class schedules, temporary facilities closures, events, news and sales. It is no longer enough for all of this to be stored on a website, it must be readily available on mobile phones in order to meet our criteria of ‘readily available’.

This preference extends further into the social sphere and even the home workout sphere (Which we will get to next). This feeds into the narrative that Gen Z and Millenials are looking for an independent gym to be an enhancement to their lifestyle, not just an area they visit. Integrated virtual solutions enable a gym to project its influence on its members’ lives beyond the walls of the facility and into many more aspects of their lives, from virtually guided workouts to diet and sleep.

The numbers don’t lie, it is estimated that over 60% of our target generation engages in some form of Virtual Fitness. And that is to say, nothing of the now pushed over 80% of polled gym members that aid their gym workouts with home workouts.

More than ever, it is vital for a gym’s services to extend beyond the four walls of a building and the key methods for achieving this lie in the palm of their, and our, hands.

 

  • Home Workouts, Lifestyle and More

Speaking of home workouts, we thought given the aforementioned statistics that over four in five gym members complimenting their workout routine with home sessions was worthy of further attention.

Traditionally Home Workouts were seen as something of a threat to the gym, competing for the same schedule and same space. This attitude has shifted dramatically and it is safe to say that most gym members are not attempting to substitute what they can achieve in a gym with what they can achieve outside of a gym.

This is fantastic news for the fitness industry. As we implied above, advances in everyday software and hardware, allow gyms and fitness clubs to influence, guide and act as a source of expertise in ways previously unimaginable.

Whether it is providing virtual classes at scheduled times, instructional videos or dietary information, gyms can now provide a repository of information for their members to access at any time, in any place.

These are the sorts of services that independent gyms and fitness clubs want to be focusing on if they wish to make themselves truly indispensable to Generation Digital. Gen Z and Millenials have been raised on the subscription model. In many ways, it has primed them perfectly for the structure of most gym membership payment systems.

What is required is for more independent gyms to recognise that the expectations have expanded, now encompassing more than just the workout equipment and dedicated spaces they’ve provided. Now the onus is on providing a digital space to match the physical.

Digital guidance solutions have been proven to enhance the effectiveness of home workouts dramatically and virtual classes have been shown to lower attrition. Any independent gym or fitness club leaving these options on the table needs to seriously ask why!

 

  •  Go hard or go home? The Generation that does both! 

Famously decried as the ‘Lazy Generation’ in the 2000s, a decade later it would appear they are anything but! The aforementioned study determined that over 80% of regular exercisers polled are now working out at least three times a week, a dramatic rise spurred on by the two younger generations. 

Gen Z is leading this charge, with 87% of the polled members of the demographic exercising three or more times per week (including non-gym or fitness club workouts). Millennials rank only slightly behind them (Which can perhaps be attributed to employment and an increasing number becoming parents). 

All of this points to a pair of generations that are deeply fond of fitness. Gen Z is famously the generation now smoking the least and drinking the least. Their ‘sesh’ of choice isn’t a drinking session, but a workout session.

The implications of this development are profound on many levels, socially, societally, and economically. What it can tell us in the fitness industry is that this generation will be active, motivated and above all else, discerning.

These are generations that have grown up with warnings about obesity, smoking-induced lung cancer and alcoholism. More than any generation before them, they are keenly informed on the benefits of exercise and the detriments of unhealthy living.

As such, they will be drawn to any independent gym or fitness club that can channel, promote and embody these healthy lifestyle virtues while providing a social environment. If this can be achieved by a gym, then it will near-inevitably become a place where the younger generation can gather multiple times a week to thrive. 

 

  • A Social Generation

And on the subject of socialising, that is another area where it is clear that Gen Z puts particular value and focus. Exercise isn’t just enjoyable because it represents health and self-improvement, it is because it can be done together. 

More than the generations that came before them, these generations love Classes and class-led exercise. This is especially true of Gen Z, who even outnumber Millenials in their focus and dedication to classes.

And it makes sense. This is an online generation, one that grew up with calendar apps and schedules. Even though they can talk to their friends whenever they feel like it, this has only deepened their connection to meeting up and participating in an activity together.

And given that they aren’t meeting at the pub as much as the generations that preceded them, this opens the doorway for independent gyms and fitness clubs to vie to be a place of choice for socialising 

It is quickly becoming apparent that one of the main topics stopping the younger generations from engaging in gym life is classes. Whether it is how they are presented (as covered in our app section), whether they are easy to book or just whether they exist at all, any independent gym that can nail this formula will be much more likely to be a hit amongst this burgeoning generation. 

 

  • Content with Content 

When Bill Gates famously wrote ‘Content Is King’ in 1996, people believed him. But few were able to grasp just how salient and prophetic his words would be. 27 years later, the phenomena he described has shaped our society, and economy and must necessarily shape how we approach the generations who have been raised in this system.

In fact, it has reached the point where even the word ‘Content’ feels like a bit of a strange term. Technology has prompted a rapid evolution of how we consume information and the word content has shifted with it. 

Suddenly it seems like everything is content and the concept of an independent gym or fitness club producing ‘content’ has seemed alien to some owners. 

But independent gyms and fitness clubs are in a good position to sate the ‘content’ demands of this new generation. This is a generation that overwhelmingly consumes non-traditional, non-analogue media. Sitting down to watch live television is something they only do with their parents. What they want is specific content made from sources that they trust on topics that interest them. 

And as we established their keen interest in fitness, independent gyms are in a prime position to be one of those trusted content sources.

It is speculated that nearly 90% of those engaging in app-based workout content belong to Gen-Z and Millenials. This trend shows no sign of abating either, with an ever-more dominant portion of the market seeking out these trends. The digital revolution is only going to be compounded as more generations move into the consumer market.

As we touched upon earlier, it will be the gyms that can bring value to these younger generations when they are outside the gym as well as inside that will ultimately have a higher retention rate and secondary spend engagement. 

Whether it is initiating a partnership with creators who specialise in this sort of content or engaging staff members to create it in-house, the benefits in membership retention and engagement will be evident! 

And not only that, this content doesn’t merely need to be used to preach to the converted. Content can also help independent gyms and fitness clubs in reaching non-members.

As we covered earlier, having a sophisticated online presence can help project the influence of a gym significantly. If the resources created are good enough to be shared by members or even social media feeds, new members will be exposed to the gym and its brand in a way that previously would not have been possible.

  • Personalities still go a long way

To a generation that has everything at its fingertips, music, film, art. There is an authenticity and meaning issue that they are constantly trying to address. It is why, as we covered earlier, they crave experiences so much. It is why we have seen the explosion of retrograde technology such as vinyl. It is the inconvenience, the exclusivity, the hardship in obtaining something that makes it feel real.

While such a distinction might have the analogue generations scratching their heads, this is something all too pertinent to the younger generations.

But away from the media, where does authenticity come from? What can’t be downloaded or replicated (at least yet)…Other people.

In this case, we are talking about staff, personal trainers and instructors.

In the era of ‘following’, a personal trainer or instructor that the younger generation can latch onto can make all the difference.

It is becoming ever-clearer that the quality and personality of the instructors are the key factors for Gen Z as to whether they keep or ditch a class. The business-like, stoic approach to classes has fallen by the way.

By employing magnetic, energising people to lead classes, independent gyms and fitness clubs will be poised to drastically increase retention amongst younger members!

 

  • Specialised Price Brackets and Membership Tiers

While we have spent this length of this article so far going into the virtues (and intricacies) of this generation, there is one important thing to keep in mind that is not quite so pleasant.


Via several pertinent metrics, Millennials and Generation Z are the poorest generations in recorded history. Now we know it sounds strange, we’ve just talked about how they have a life centred around technology. But don’t be fooled, behind that technological facade are two generations that own a lower portion of societal wealth than ever before.

While they don’t completely lack purchasing power, they are very prudent about how it is spent. More than the generations that precede them, they are willing to wait for a bargain and do without until then. 


While this could initially be seen as a frustration and a detriment, as with much of what we have covered, it merely requires a change of tact and approach.

This is a generation that responds infinitely better to things such as flash sales, discount codes and concessions.

 

The Marketing Generation?

Perhaps it is fitting that the first generations born after the fall of the Soviet Union have embraced technologies ideal for marketing businesses. As we are probably all too keenly aware, the era of quietly going to a place and quietly leaving it is over. The phrase ‘being seen’ no longer purely applies to the physical world. 

But a place has to LOOK great before it can earn the honour of being woven into the digital tapestry of someone’s life. This is why now more than ever it is important that independent gyms and fitness clubs look the part. Fitness facilities have to look like somewhere that they would be proud to call a backdrop.

Every post, every photo, every video. It is a statement and a story. If a gym or fitness club isn’t somewhere that Millennials or Gen Z are keen to be seen, it will mean comparatively little exposure.

And worse than that, it means that they might just start searching for another gym that can meet those ‘aesthetic’ needs.

As such, it is clear that the look, feel and, to use the parlance of our time, ‘vibe’ of a gym or fitness club is an all important retention factor and a key part of the mental maths of whether they stay or go! 

When the dichotomy is reduced to either ‘increase your marketing footprint at no additional cost’ or ‘give your members another reason to go looking elsewhere’…Well, the choice really makes itself!

 


The Next Generation: How to Attract Junior Members 


So, what is the logical continuation of this article exploring how to appeal to and include younger members? The answer is simple, we need to look beyond Generation Digital, to the younger potential members, those still forging their generational consciousness. 

For the purposes of this discussion, we will use the term ‘junior members’ to mean someone below the age of 18, and sometimes even below the age of 16. While some independent gyms and fitness clubs don’t focus on these areas at all, we don’t believe this potentially lucrative and rewarding demographic can be entirely overlooked.

The reasons that appealing to the under-16s/17s/18s (we’ve found different gyms have different cut-offs on age for valid reasons) is often neglected is understandable. These age groups are often more prone to error and injury and may require parental or adult supervision. It is a simple and understandable reaction. ‘Why appeal/allow in junior members when they have to be treated in a separate categorisation compared to ‘adult’ members’.

Well, the simple and understandable response is because it is money left on the table that needn’t be. In areas that have a large secondary school or a large teenage population, that amount of money can become significant enough to warrant further investigation.

That is what we plan to do in the latter part of this article, a quick overview of the easy ways to appeal to potential junior members without compromising the core membership base of any independent gym or fitness club. 

 

  • Reaching out to Schools and Colleges in the area and community 

This first part might be the key consideration when independent gyms and fitness clubs are considering whether there is profit to be made in appealing to junior members.

If there is a lack of local schools and colleges then it may not be worth the time and effort. Invariably certain areas will not contain enough of the correct demographic to make pursuing this avenue worthwhile.

With that being said, generally, where there are people, there are schools and colleges. And these will be where the potential junior members of the area will gather.

Much like our articles on contacting the council as a nexus/focal point of community life in a local area, schools can act as a similar focal point to access otherwise hard-to-reach demographics. Not only is this a cost-effective way to reach a broader audience, but it is also a great way to establish an independent gym or fitness club as somewhere that is interested in engaging, improving and assisting the local area.

In turn, in our experience, we’ve found that schools and colleges are often very willing to partner, cooperate and collaborate with gyms, especially local and independent. This is because schools are often under pressure to demonstrate how they are helping to combat both the obesity crisis and the increasingly sedentary nature of their students.


But once an independent gym or fitness club has reached out and established a relationship with an independent gym, the benefits can spread to both quickly! 

 

  • After-School Programmes

One of the benefits of a partnership with a local school that can be initiated at comparatively low costs is after-school programmes. These are simple to arrange and easy to govern. They always happen around the same time (unsurprisingly, after school).

This is perfect because the majority of clock-out times (1500 to 1530) for schools come at an off-peak time for many independent gyms and fitness clubs. And ideally, by the time the junior members are done working out, it will be in time for the 1700, after work rush!

Of course, these after-school programmes are normally done at a reduced rate or at the very least, a bespoke rate. But the combination of good publicity and additional funding makes it an easy win for independent gyms and fitness clubs trying to bolster their numbers during the day.

Furthermore, we’ve seen several phenomena occur off the back of programmes such as this that lead to an overall increase in adult members. Whether it is an increased take-up of parents attending the same gym or junior members eventually transitioning into adult members once they are of age, after-school programmes can be a great way to make sure more people are entering through the doors of a gym or fitness club.

  • Discounts for After-School Hours

While this focuses on the same time period, between 1530 and 1700, the system proposed here does not need to go through the schools. Instead, it is an appeal directly to the junior members and utilising the after-school/college time period.

We have seen independent gyms successfully drumming up additional footfall between 1530 and 1700 by offering discounted membership to teens and/or those in education who come to the gym before 5pm. Once again this is designed to address a frequent off-peak time in a gym’s schedule and once again can be used to generate positive word of mouth.

  • Hosting Teen and Junior member-focused Events

We all know the archetype of the bored teenager. Often in the places where people choose to raise teenagers, there are not enough activities to keep them interested or occupied.

Running events aimed at this demographic (in an area where teenagers are a prevalent enough demographic), can help dramatically increase the uptake of new junior members, as well as potentially filling up a gym on an otherwise less-than-busy night.

These events needn’t be anything flashy, but it is best to consult with personal trainers and class leaders to make sure that it is genuinely engaging and productive for the teenagers to get involved with. It may also be worth understanding who within a gym’s given staff has run events like this before if anyone. This is because running an event for teenagers can be quite a different experience compared to running one for adults! 

 

  • Hosting Youth, School or College Sports Team and Clubs 

The ability for an independent gym to be able to engage in this one will be based on the facilities to hand. Not every gym will be able to host activities relevant to every club.

But with that being said, not every event that a sports team or club holds needs to be directly connected to their main sporting activity. So while it is easy to see how most gyms or fitness clubs could be of service to say, a school or college Running sports team, it may be less apparent how they can aid a Football team. The answer is fairly simple however, general fitness is important and no team purely uses their activity of choice to improve their strength, stamina or endurance.

Even the most rudimentary independent gym or fitness club has something to offer these teams, using free weights, treadmills and class spaces to bolster fitness, focus on teamwork and team cohesion or focus on areas that the teams or individuals wish to improve.

Gyms and Fitness clubs should not be reluctant to use their facilities to offer sport-focused or specific classes and lessons to competitive teams and leagues in the area. The positive publicity and energy that these young athletes can bring to a gym environment is priceless and contagious. 

 

  • Sport-specific classes and fitness regimes

Some teens want more physical activity than their school or college can reasonably provide, especially if they want to go into sports after their academic studies are done. If an independent gym or fitness club finds itself within close proximity to one or multiple schools and/or colleges, it may be able to attract a significant number of students by advertising focused on this benefit.

Independent gyms and fitness clubs might be able to offer programmes of physical conditioning that school facilities often cannot match or that might better fit the needs of the children in question. By focusing on programmes that increase stamina, strength and speed it is likely a gym can attract young people eager to raise their performance in their sport of choice.

  • Teen-specific App Support

Much as we focused on app-appeal for Generation Z, potential junior members are equally as likely to find this sort of service appealing, especially if there are sections aimed at them. Nutrition and routine can vary for children, so a specialist area of the app might be necessary to ensure the correct advice is given, but equally, it will be all the more appreciated by teens who are eager to learn more about the world of working out, diet and nutrition. 

Conclusion 

So there we have it! Now we have covered how an independent gym or fitness club can appeal to everyone from 16 to those now pushing 30. Though these generations have largely gone silent in a business sense for the last decade, it is apparent (and indeed, inevitable) that they will continue to occupy a greater share of the economic share of the fitness industry until they themselves become the elder generation.


More than many industries and sectors, fitness requires a keen sense of the now. Fitness has always appealed to the young and while that in and of itself is changing (another article for another time!) It is vital that we do not treat this generation as the generations that came before it.

These are the first of the digital generations, and perhaps as importantly, they will not be the last. Though no-one knows, most likely the reality we are adjusting to now…One of instant communication, scheduling and further technological integration. That is the environment that the fitness industry will be operating in for many generations to come. If the last twenty years are any indication, not only will this process not slow down, it shall accelerate.


While there may never be such a gap as that that has come between ‘the Analogue Generations’ and ‘The Digital Generations’, it is apparent that this gap must be bridged in order to make sure the fitness industry keeps apace with what has always been our main demographics, the young, the enthused and the energetic.