Five Methods That Will Help Independent Gyms Compete With Chains When Offering Corporate Gym Memberships

Five Methods That Will Help Independent Gyms Compete With Chains When Offering Corporate Gym Memberships

It is a story we have heard from independent gym, fitness club and studio owners up and down the country.

“I’d like to offer corporate membership, but I don’t know where to set it up”.


“I’d like to offer corporate membership, but I don’t know how to attract interest from businesses in the area”. 

They are frequent concerns, and the reasons are not unfounded. Up until recently, corporate gym membership schemes had seemed like the domain of only the ‘larger’ chains, with the infrastructure, prestige and reach necessary to not only make the deals, but maintain them.

While this may have been true in the past, it is an orthodoxy that has become outmoded and outdated for a variety of reasons, many of which we will explore in this article. 

We will be looking at why it is a fantastic time for independent gyms and fitness clubs to start seriously looking into corporate memberships schemes for their fitness facilities. 

We are living through a perfect combination of desire and means, supply and demand.

In the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdowns, the trend of safeguarding employee well-being and fitness has been compounded. Already a growing concern prior to 2020, it has now become one of the top priorities for corporate decision-makers and business owners alike. 

One of the many lessons learned during that trying time was that a healthy, productive and engaged workforce was more than able to justify their price tag. This compounded a trend that had already been established across many studies, espousing the virtues of fitness on employee productivity and reduced absences. 

In addition, it helped feed into the growing narrative that a job in the 21st doesn’t just exist to pay a wage but to ‘enhance a lifestyle’. It isn’t a statement that everyone will agree with, but it is a sentiment that has gained significant purchase across the workforce, especially as Millennials and Generation Z become the predominant and rising demographic of gym members across many independent gyms and fitness clubs. 

What Is Corporate Gym Membership?

So what do we mean when we talk about corporate gym membership in the context of independent gyms and fitness clubs?

Well, it is important to specify we don’t just mean a discount for belonging to a certain organisation, though that is a type of corporate agreement that we have covered on this blog before.

No, we are talking specifically about a fully paid gym membership that is either subsidised or fully paid for by the employer of the member in question. Usually this will either be taken out of their salary (called salary sacrifice) or will be provided as a benefit.

It has proven an increasingly popular employee benefit in recent years, even in the wake of the 2017 reforms that saw the definition of a benefit and the associated tax breaks reduced and clamped down on.

The reasons are simple enough: gym members, especially for a local or independent gym, provide a good counterpoint to the usual corporate office engagement. Inactive, office based (or increasingly working-from-home based in the wake of Covid), the gym membership is a way to encourage a physically idle workforce into a form of exercise. 

These memberships are usually born from either the business or the gym approaching the other party to arrange a series of discounts, offers and material regarding the corporate gym membership scheme, to the mutual benefit of both. 

It is a win that makes the employees feel valued and increases their standard of life quality at a comparatively meagre price point compared to other employee benefits. From the perspective of the C-suite, it is a chance to give back to the employees in a constructive and mutually beneficial way. It is also a very topical and progressive solution to several modern ills, increasing everything from productivity to lifespan.

It also doesn’t hurt that it looks very good in a yearly employee satisfaction and wellbeing policy report, by the by. 

Methods for Independent Gyms and Fitness Clubs to help launch and sustain corporate membership schemes with businesses in the area

1. Plan the approach, understand the business in the area

Before any business is approached, it is important that any independent gym or fitness club looking to construct a corporate gym membership scheme understands what they are offering, who they are offering it to and how they are going to offer it.

We will go further into the creation of a corporate scheme later in significant detail, so for now we will focus on the latter two. Planning the approach and understanding the area.

Both are equally important for any independent gym serious about approaching businesses with corporate gym member offers. Unfortunately it isn’t as simple as just walking up to an office or sending an e-mail to the first e-mail address that can be found on a website. 

It is important to understand not only who to contact at every company that is approached, but also what information they will want to know in the introduction and what questions they might ask.

While the person or department in charge of employee benefits (and therefore the funds necessary to fund a corporate gym membership) will vary from company to company. It is therefore vital to understand who will be responsible, interested and engaged when it comes to striking new corporate membership agreements.

No matter how good the value of a corporate gym membership scheme is, if it lands in the wrong inbox the chances of hearing back become very slim. 

2. Understand the product, use that understanding to craft and engaging offer.

Too often when we talk through this process with  independent gym and fitness club owners, they have given no thought to the product they are offering beyond the concept of ‘gym membership’. 

In the world of justifying corporate budgets, that isn’t enough. That isn’t the language that they speak. It is important to craft a concise but engaging pitch for why this corporate gym membership is not only going to bring tangible benefit to the company, but how those benefits can be presented. 

It is a case of ‘doing their job for them’. If the person responsible already knows exactly how to advocate for a corporate gym membership scheme, they are that much more likely to successfully pitch and convince the necessary people within their business structure. 

As with any initiative in a workplace, it lives and dies not only on the strength of the idea, but the willingness of those championing it. 

Independent gyms hoping to secure such enthusiasm should not scrimp on details, an e-mail with a series of numbers might give all the information that is technically required but it will not set anyone off on a campaign.

Focus on benefits that will really matter to the office or corporate structure, and then also the members that the independent gym will be trying to attract and keep. This can be simple things such as equipment, very specific things to the area such as distance from the office, or associated benefits like PT sessions and other perks.

It is important that any independent gym attempting to implement and convince businesses to adopt a corporate gym membership benefit scheme understands that it isn’t a matter of convincing a single individual, but rather understanding the audience at every stage of the process. Giving the right individuals the tools to make the right pitches at the right time. 

3. How can independent gyms build a meaningful relationship with their corporate partners?

Our third point is an often overlooked part of the process.

As with many aspects of business, a corporate gym membership benefit scheme is a partnership. A partnership that will require regular, scheduled contact to sustain itself and endure.

In our experience, the corporate gym membership benefit schemes that endure are the ones that forge meaningful, useful relationships on each side of the deal early on.

All it requires is a point of contact on each side that is enthused, engaged and knowledgeable about the process. 

As we covered in the previous section, the success of the partnership will determine the ability to enthuse people, which makes the setup of this process all the more important. If it is set up haphazardly and in haste, or without proper care and attention given to the working relationship between independent gym and company, the success of the scheme will most likely suffer. 

4. How can an Independent gym show their competence and sophistication while striking a corporate gym membership benefit scheme deal?

It is a question we hear a lot. How can we put our best foot forward? How can we show that we are as professional and competent as the chain gyms?

There is some good news and some bad news when it comes to the answer to these questions.

 The ‘bad’ news is that there is no way around it, independent gyms do have to be as competent, sophisticated and professional as chain gyms to stand out in the eyes of potential corporate clients looking for gym benefit membership schemes.

The good news? It has never been more attainable or affordable for an independent gym to go toe to toe with the chain gyms when it comes to offering corporate gym membership schemes. 

And that is due to the rise of the next generation of gym membership management software. 

While not every gym membership management software company on the market offers the service, it has become an increasingly desirable selling point to have gym membership management software that allows independent gyms to set up corporate membership schemes as quickly and efficiently as ‘the chains’. 

This has led to a new and exciting phenomena of independent gyms ‘punching above their weight’ in the corporate gym membership benefit scheme arena.

No longer held back by infrastructure and procedures not fit for large-scale transactions, with the right gym membership management partner, independent gyms have an incredibly valuable tool at their disposal for attracting and retaining corporate clients looking to start employee benefit schemes. 

 And in addition to gym membership management software helping to grease the wheels of commerce when it comes to setting up corporate membership benefit schemes, they can also allow independent gyms unparalleled data to help build the case as to why they are the right independent fitness facility to partner with and service their employee base. 

 The importance of gym membership management software for independent gyms when attracting corporate clients cannot be overstated.

It is important to remember that the first thing that the correspondence on the business-side will see, whether it is a HR representative or a member of a workers council, won’t be the facility itself but the pitch and the digital infrastructure. 

If this seems archaic, unintuitive or hard to pitch to the rest of the company, the chances of that corporate gym membership scheme seeing fruition just drastically decreased. 

5. Maintaining the relationship between independent gym and corporate client.

And finally, perhaps an obvious entry but nonetheless very important. Do not let the relationship that has been fostered between independent gym and corporate clients wither and die. 

While a good portion of this relationship will run on automatic once it has been successfully set up, there is a significant vested interest for the independent gym to stay in contact. Whether it is staff visiting the office, dedicated event days or merely a coupon/voucher/leaflet drop, there is always something to be done.

Once the idea is struck and the corporate membership scheme is in place, the independent gym knows a set location where a portion of the membership is likely to be. They would be remiss not to utilise this space for engagement and research. 

It is not enough to seal the deal between corporate client and independent gym, it must be maintained and understood. Work with the client to understand what has gone right and what has gone wrong. Incorporate this process into the next corporate offering. 

If done correctly, this will create a positive feedback loop that will help drive and maximise profits across the gym, but also provide valuable feedback across a variety of different operational areas.

Important selling points and attributes for any successful Independent Gyms corporate membership scheme and pitch

Just before we reach our conclusion, we are going to use this section to make a checklist of important selling points that will attract the corporate client liaison or representative when an independent gym makes a corporate membership benefit pitch.

1. Cost/Budget

One of the most important pieces of information that any HR department or corporate liaison will want to know regarding the corporate membership scheme of an independent gym. We do not recommend hiding the price behind a glamorous pitch. If they are not in the market for paying the prices a gym desires, no amount of prose will change that. 

3. Research

If the information is readily available, an independent gym can make large strides towards securing corporate clients and corporate gym membership schemes by researching the companies they are approaching.

Whether it is the aforementioned demographics and the company ethos or more basic criteria such as office locations, any information that can be included in the pitch will help signify to the representatives that the independent gym has taken it seriously. 

2. Broad Appeal

Corporate offices are not mono-cultures. There will be a variety of different people and demographics in any office and these people will have different forms of fitness that attract them.

Demonstrating a strong variety and depth of exercise is key for an independent gym to distinguish itself. While it may be a given for large chains, an independent gym must show that it will have enough of everything to appeal to the denizens of the office.

If the corporate client goes to their flock with a substandard offering, the chances of the corporate scheme getting off the floor for the independent gym becomes increasingly slim.

4. Membership Sign-up Process

It might not sound like the most intuitive final item to include in a list of how independent gyms can make a good first impression, but all the more reason it is top of the list.

Having talked extensively to people on the corporate side of the equation, one of the key concerns when being approached by an independent gym is ensuring that the sign-up process is sleek, professional and low-effort. 

Businesses are often caught between two conflicting desires. They want to provide high quality benefits to their employees, but these initiatives cannot be too time-intensive for man-hour strapped departments. 

As such, we believe the single most important thing an independent gym can do to put their good foot forward is to demonstrate how effortless and efficient the sign-up process can be.

If this is a cause for concern, then as we said above, an independent gym should look no further than approaching a new gym membership management software partner. With the help of the right gym membership management partner, the process can be made easy and effective. 


And speaking of gym membership management software! If you have been reading this and don’t believe that the independent gym or fitness club that you manage could provide a slick and effortless sign-up process for your corporate partners then look no further.

Because here at Ashbourne, we don’t just write guides for independent gym owners, we actively utilise our twenty five years of experience in the fitness industry to help our partners maximise profits and results. 

With our lightweight and powerful gym membership management software, we have helped hundreds of partners in levelling-up their operation. Whether it is working towards streamlining the sign-up process, harnessing data, access control integration or website and app development, we are confident we have the solution for an independent gym willing to put in the time and effort. 

Interested in seeing what Ashbourne could do for your independent gym or fitness club? Then contact our demonstrations team today here and start working with them to understand where Ashbourne can assist with and elevate the day-to-day operation of any fitness facility! 

Get your club in shape.

Want to discover how? Let us show you.

Simply select your preferred timeslot and we’ll be in touch to have a chat about your health club,
the goals you want to achieve, and how our system can help you.

Get your club in shape.

Want to discover how? Let us show you.

Simply select your preferred timeslot and we’ll be in touch to have a chat about your health club, the goals you want to achieve, and how our system can help you.

Get your club in shape.

Want to discover how? Let us show you.

Simply select your preferred timeslot and we’ll be in touch to have a chat about your health club, the goals you want to achieve, and how our system can help you.

Member of a gym? Simply text "HELP" to 60777 and we'll help you.

Member of a gym? Simply text "HELP" to 60777 and we'll help you.

Member of a gym? Simply text "HELP" to 60777 and we'll help you.

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

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. 

3 Things You Will learn...


A look into the key factors that had to change for the Fit Club to hold their ground against Pure Gym.


How Ashbourne’s membership management software and access control helped solve problems.


How the focus changed to building a community within the club.

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. 

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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 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. 


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!

More to Read...

Get your club in shape.

Want to discover how? Let us show you.

Simply select your preferred timeslot and we’ll be in touch to have a chat about your health club,
the goals you want to achieve, and how our system can help you.

Get your club in shape.

Want to discover how? Let us show you.

Simply select your preferred timeslot and we’ll be in touch to have a chat about your health club, the goals you want to achieve, and how our system can help you.

Get your club in shape.

Want to discover how? Let us show you.

Simply select your preferred timeslot and we’ll be in touch to have a chat about your health club, the goals you want to achieve, and how our system can help you.

Member of a gym? Simply text "HELP" to 60777 and we'll help you.

Member of a gym? Simply text "HELP" to 60777 and we'll help you.

Member of a gym? Simply text "HELP" to 60777 and we'll help you.

Using Gym Attendance Software To Grow Your Business

Using Gym Attendance Software To Grow Your Business


What will we cover in this article?

(you can also click to skip ahead!)


We will define both Gym attendance and the functionality of Gym attendance software.

How can hiring or incentivising influencers to endorse a fitness business boost their digital marketing campaigns?


How Gym attendance software can effortlessly assist in the growth of independent gyms and fitness clubs, no matter the age or size. 

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.

1. 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. 

2. 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.  

3. 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. 

4. 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. 

5. 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.

More to Read...

Get your club in shape.

Want to discover how? Let us show you.

Simply select your preferred timeslot and we’ll be in touch to have a chat about your health club,
the goals you want to achieve, and how our system can help you.

Get your club in shape.

Want to discover how? Let us show you.

Simply select your preferred timeslot and we’ll be in touch to have a chat about your health club, the goals you want to achieve, and how our system can help you.

Get your club in shape.

Want to discover how? Let us show you.

Simply select your preferred timeslot and we’ll be in touch to have a chat about your health club, the goals you want to achieve, and how our system can help you.

Member of a gym? Simply text "HELP" to 60777 and we'll help you.

Member of a gym? Simply text "HELP" to 60777 and we'll help you.

Member of a gym? Simply text "HELP" to 60777 and we'll help you.

Increase Your Memberships: Four streamlining techniques Gyms can use to smash stagnation in a challenging and changeable economy!

Increase Your Memberships: Four streamlining techniques Gyms can use to smash stagnation in a challenging and changeable economy!

This week we are continuing our focus on the fundamentals, this time by exploring the potential for streamlining and optimisation available to independent gym and fitness club owners. All of these techniques can be reviewed and considered with near immediate effect by owners and management, though some may require further commitment after the initial review to be fully effective. 

Our goal here was to create a quick and instructive article that will get gym and fitness club owners thinking about certain BAU (business-as-usual) operations within their fitness facilities that they may have taken for granted or let stagnate accidentally.

It is no secret that the fitness industry has been through a period of intense change over the last four years, and that trend shows no sign of abating. Whether it is a reorganising of power and profitability amongst the big chains, ever-greater technological innovation or the shifting of consumer habits and member priorities, this industry does not stay still and neither should its denizens! 

As such, we are here to find where chaff can be cut, where orthodoxy can be overthrown and ultimately where we can create the most value for members and the most profit for owners!

Jump Ahead to see our 4 techniques!

(you can also click to skip ahead!)


Independent gym owners should be questioning the 24-hour opening time doctrine

Effective, Intuitive, Contextual Automation


Demographic Messaging

Systems, Systems, Systems

Technique 1

Independent gym owners should be questioning the 24-hour opening time doctrine.

Is it worth keeping the lights on?

 With energy costing more and more, it is time to ask whether the 24 hour model is still optimal, aspirational or even viable in the 2023 landscape. 

We have seen significant discomfort being caused to the likes of PureGym and The Gym Group through their insistence, or rather, dependence on the 24 hour model.

Whereas the large, budget chains may have locked themselves into the 24-hour model, independent gyms and fitness clubs have no such obligation.

 With technology making the adoption of the 24-hour model increasingly viable, it was gradually becoming seen as the optimal mode of operation. The Covid-19 pandemic and the war in Ukraine may have heralded an end of this increase.

Indeed, it now increasingly seems like the 24-hour model could soon be viewed as a luxurious remnant of a more prosperous age. There will still be gyms where it can operate and even thrive of course, such as the eternally busy city centres. But the time where it could be viewed as the norm irrespective of location seems to be quickly fading. 

Is there truly any need for a PureGym or any gym to be opening in some sleepy dormitory town all night, every night. Do the membership fees of the five night owls that come in to work out really justify a full night of operation? It is dubious as to whether they ever really did, but the energy crisis has put the answer into black and white. 

As such, we are seeing many gyms either revert back to, or away from, 24 hour operation. The benefits to this shift can be numerous. Saving electricity, increased security, diminished risk to equipment, dedicated repair times, the list goes on.

Technique 2

Effective, Intuitive, Contextual Automation

Perhaps it is fitting that for an article based entirely around streamlining processes for independent gyms and fitness club owners, this next technique is another ‘just because you can, doesn’t mean you should’.

 This time we are focusing on automation. While there are many, many forms of automation in even the most basic gym or fitness club these days, one area where this is becoming increasingly normalised is the entrance/exit area of any given fitness facility.

The benefits of automation in this area can seem numerous and apparent. There is the potential for decreased staffing costs, increased security and increased flexibility. 

But the wrong system can cause issues. Too often we’ve seen a system get implemented and abused. One of the most common shortfalls that occur is with keypads. While a unique pin that opens a gate or unlocks a turnstile may seem like the sleek image of the future, it is highly susceptible to abuse and exploitation. 

This helps to highlight that it isn’t enough to automate and innovate. It is about doing so with an end goal in mind, and with an output that you wish to see.

If a gym or fitness club is operating in an error that is prone to breaches in security or abuse, the implementation of a full-height turnstile has been proven to reduce the amount of incidents remarkably.

Equally, if there is a large amount of pin code/passcode sharing, a fingerprint system can eliminate nearly completely and instantaneously. 

Only with the specific contextual application of automation with specific goals in mind can automation yield impactful results. Without this vital step, it might create more issues than originally intended!

Technique 3

Demographic Messaging

Too often we find that gyms and fitness clubs are not aware of the messaging they are sending out, the brand identity they are cultivating and how it can affect the overall tone and success of a fitness facility! 

This is a trap that is easy to fall into. We have all seen posters, flyers and banners that haven’t been updated since before the Covid-19 pandemic lockdown. It is safe to say that the lockdowns, followed by the subsequent energy prices put many businesses into a sort of fight or flight survival mode. The rolling crises that have followed have kept many businesses in that mode of operation until today. 

This can have a knock-on effect in many different aspects of a fitness facility’s daily operations. It can reduce staff morale, damage member retention rates and ultimately start to impact the bottom line. 

However this is only half the issue we wish to raise today. The other half stems from the effect that this trend has on demographic messaging. The time period between 2019 and 2022 saw one of the most rapid societal and economic shifts since the second world war. People moved in unprecedented numbers, routines shifted and priorities changed.

With all of this, gyms and fitness clubs must also change. Take stock of the local area, work out who is there now that wasn’t before. If a gym is located within a suburban town, understand whether more people are working from home and whether the population increased as people fled the city centres. Conversely, if it is in a more central, urban location it is equally as important to understand the new, post-Covid landscape. This information will be available and acting upon the changes in the area could be vital to understanding whether the brand identity and messaging of a gym needs to change.

One thing that has become increasingly clear across all demographics since 2019/20 is the rise in the desire for functional, low-impact workouts that boost long term health. 

 While we appreciate this will not blend with every gym or fitness club’s chosen aesthetic and brand, it is a remarkably broad and versatile message that is finding more and more purchase out there amongst potential gym and fitness club members. 

It is important to examine the brand identity of a gym. If it has a name that invokes words and concepts such as ‘XTREME’, it will obviously attract a certain type of person and that is fantastic. But it is equally important to think about who is being pushed away. In an increasingly challenging economic environment, the decision to hyper-focus on specific demographics while neglecting others cannot be taken lightly. 

Technique 4

Systems, Systems, Systems

Our final technique represents a big change and a big step for many gyms and fitness clubs, but that makes it no less important.

The systems that power a fitness facility are the beating heart of the operation. Without the ability to efficiently organise and track membership, collect payment, pay staff and allow access, the operation essentially ceases to exist. As with any business, it is much more than just a building. It is an organisation trying to create the greatest value and experience for its members, a complete service. 

 And in the last twenty years, perhaps more so than any other point in human history, the definition of what constitutes a service has changed rapidly. This is especially true in the fitness industry, where an unprecedented application of technology has rendered many gyms nearly unrecognisable from their 1990s counterparts. 

With this in mind, our final consideration for independent gyms and fitness club owners is to earnestly review the systems that power and enable their facilities.

  1. Are they allowing your staff to operate as efficiently as possible?
  2. Are they maximising the feedback and data available to the operation?
  3. Are they giving staff and management the control to implement that feedback?
  4. And most importantly, is the system giving your members the best experience possible?

If the answer to any of these is anything less than an emphatic “Yes!” then it is time to at least consider other options. We have seen time and time again independent gym and fitness club owners settling with sub-optimal and sub-par gym membership management systems because they either believe, or can’t conceive of a better system out there.

But gym membership management software is a sector which sees development and innovation year on year. Settling on a system because it is ‘good enough’ could be holding a gym (and by extension their members) from experiencing something truly game changing!

Get your club in shape.

Want to discover how? Let us show you.

Simply select your preferred timeslot and we’ll be in touch to have a chat about your health club,
the goals you want to achieve, and how our system can help you.

Get your club in shape.

Want to discover how? Let us show you.

Simply select your preferred timeslot and we’ll be in touch to have a chat about your health club, the goals you want to achieve, and how our system can help you.

Get your club in shape.

Want to discover how? Let us show you.

Simply select your preferred timeslot and we’ll be in touch to have a chat about your health club, the goals you want to achieve, and how our system can help you.

Member of a gym? Simply text "HELP" to 60777 and we'll help you.

Member of a gym? Simply text "HELP" to 60777 and we'll help you.

Member of a gym? Simply text "HELP" to 60777 and we'll help you.

How Gyms Can Naturally Promote Secondary Spend Without Intimidating or Pressuring Members!

Increase your gyms secondary spend… for the benefit of your members and your bottom line!


Secondary spend can be a challenging issue for independent gyms and fitness club owners, whether relative newcomers or hardened veterans. 

At the core of the issue is what sells and how to sell it. This is a problem that’s constantly shifting with no single solution that will last the test of time. As tastes change, what sells and how to sell it also changes. As technology improves, it both allows us to sell new products to our members and can render old products obsolete. 


As well as that, there is the question of how to sell?


If a gym or fitness club is too forceful or inelegant with its sales approach, it risks isolating members, coming across as desperate or just generally taking the sheen off of a carefully maintained brand.

But too little force and your member base may not be engaged with the products, or even aware they exist! Stock goes unsold, taking up space and depreciating in value. 

As such, it is understandable (if incorrect!) that secondary spend is often either overlooked or ignored. At best seen as a side-earner when compared to membership fees. 

But that is shifting. With the rise of app technology on smartphones, lifestyle brands and ethical/sustainable consumerism. The game has changed on secondary spend.

Today we will be taking a look into how independent gym and fitness clubs can elevate their secondary spend operations to the next level with a few easy to implement tips and tricks! Starting with WHY owners should!


Feel free to skip ahead to our 5 tips if you’re eager to find out more!

Tip #1: Understand the brand identity of your Gym or Fitness Club and sell products that complement and enhance it!

Tip #2: Sell those products in a way that is natural and consistent with that identity!

Tip #3: Train your Staff in how to sell naturally and encourage them to sell when it will enhance the experience of the member!

Tip #4: Four: Communicate what you are selling honestly and effectively!

Tip #5: Five: Encourage Members to buy and create a culture where they want to buy!



The Benefits of Secondary Spend for the member and the fitness facility 

At the core of ‘why’ it is important for gyms and fitness clubs are two concerns. The member experience and the profitability of the business

By denying members the ability to buy trusted brands from their gym or fitness club, management is limiting their ability to truly engage with the club and depriving them of a method to reach their goals.

It has been shown in polling that between 30% to 50% of fitness club members would be likely or very likely to buy brands from their gym or fitness club if they stocked them


As we will cover, secondary spend is an important step on the path for Gyms and fitness clubs to fully realise their role as health and fitness specialists in the life of their members. That service doesn’t just stop at providing a physical location, it must involve guiding them to and supplying the products necessary for their journey. 

In addition to the generation of significant amounts of revenue, the way a fitness facility engages with secondary spend (if it does at all) will directly affect membership retention and experience. It increases the sense of commitment that a member has in their gym or fitness club, in addition to providing them with the materials necessary for them to succeed in their goals. 

When viewed through this lens, it becomes clear that secondary spending is about more than simple profit (though that is, of course, an important factor!).

Now we’ve piqued your interest! Let’s dive into how to naturalistically implement secondary spending into gyms and fitness clubs in a way that will benefit your members and your bottom line!



Tip #1: Understand the brand identity of your Gym or Fitness Club and sell products that complement and enhance it!

Our first tip requires nothing more than planning and reflection! 

As stated above, the reason we are selling is to enhance the member experience, to strengthen their commitment to the gym or fitness club and to enhance the identity of the facility’s brand.

With this in mind, the products that you sell are going to be very important.

Firstly, they need to be of suitable quality. If a gym is built around being a premium experience, then it is important that the product reflects those expectations. Your members will trust (or come to trust!) your judgement, make sure you don’t let them down by selling products you wouldn’t buy yourself!


Conversely, if a gym is targeted at a more discerning and budget market demographic, it will do little good to furnish your stores with the most expensive products on the market.


More than this though, it is important that the products support the aims of membership. If it is a high-intensity gym, sell products that will help their recovery cycle. If it is more about functional fitness and long-term health, sell products that will help them live their best life for longer!




Tip #2: Sell those products in a way that is natural and consistent with that identity! 

Once you have worked out what products will sell well and reinforce the identity of your gym or fitness club. It is time to get selling!

Luckily, by selecting products that the members will want, half the battle is won already. Now it is about marketing these products in a way that will speak to the membership.


Luckily, any good independent gym or fitness club will know its members. Run small-scale social media and in-facility marketing campaigns that generate interest in the product. 


Introductory sales when you start stocking a product will motivate sales and start spreading word of mouth! It will also help you get some near-immediate feedback from your members. 

React to their feedback, both positive and negative! Most people would rather buy from local businesses than from faceless corporations and websites



Tip #3: Train your Staff in how to sell naturally and encourage them to sell when it will enhance the experience of the member!

When it comes to training staff in how to sell, there are numerous concerns. While some people within the fitness industry are very accomplished salesmen, you don’t often find them on the gym floor!

And there is nothing worse than someone trying to sell you something tactlessly, or who doesn’t truly believe in the message. It puts off the member, it doesn’t secure the sale and it creates a bad atmosphere.

So that is what we are trying to avoid!

Luckily, that is quite easy! 

As we have based the acquisition of secondary spend products on what will help the membership and what is coherent with the gym’s brand identity. 


As such, it should be comparatively simple to teach the staff of a Gym what products are in store, what their intended use is, and case uses within the gym’s classes and culture where they could be recommended. 


In addition, giving discount codes that are specific to each member of staff can create an incentive for both sides. On the staff member’s side, it can be used to track sales and commission. On the gym member’s side, it creates a personal bond and recommendation from the staff at the given time. 

Reinforce that staff shouldn’t just give to every member. This will help create a naturalistic and authentic moment of recommendation, as well as secure that all important sale!




Tip #4: Communicate what you are selling honestly and effectively! 

This one should go without saying, but it is important to not get carried away or deceive the membership of a gym or fitness club.


Unlike some sales roles, gym members can vote with their feet if they are dissatisfied with a product they’ve received. 


This is why it is important that the secondary sell material only ever enhances the experience. Make sure that what is being sold is genuinely valuable and embodies the brand identity of the gym. 

When marketing it through social media, make sure the messaging is consistent and concise. Make sure it is pushed across all relevant social media avenues to give a sense of uniformity. Ensure where to purchase it and for how much is clearly displayed. 

By being upfront and honest, members will come to trust the recommendation of a gym or fitness club and incorporate purchasing products that enhance their life into their routine. 



Tip #5: Encourage Members to buy and create a culture where they want to buy!

Following on from communication, our final tip is to use secondary spend to make members feel valued.

There is one simple method that can be used to make them want to buy from you…

As we touched upon in tip three, discount codes are a great way to mobilise members into making purchases.


But we would recommend gyms and fitness clubs avoid blanket offers on social media. Announce that products are available on social media by all means. But by offering a discount code across the board, that becomes the new price.

There is no exclusivity and it loses the bespoke nature of the personally bestowed discount code.

Not only is it an invitation to buy the product, it is an empowerment. By wielding discounts as a nuanced tool rather than a catch-all net, a gym is almost guaranteed to mobilise specific parts of their member base. By placing it in the hands of employees, the people actually on the gym floor, it will ensure that the secondary spend reaches who it needs to. 



Want To Learn More About Growing Your Club?

All of this will help reinforce a fitness facility’s reputation and brand identity as one that cares about their members. This positive business model of creating additional value for the member and additional profit for the gym is powerful if implemented correctly. 

And if you are eager for a deeper look into how this nuanced but powerful form of business can work for independent gym’s and business owners, look no further!



The Gym Owners Workshop at the Talbot Hotel Stillorgan, is a nexus for fitness industry knowledge directed specifically at independent gym and fitness club owners and one of the talks relates to secondary spend! 


After the success of the Gym Owners Workshop 2022, the 2023 event is promising to be bigger and better! 


Our partners for the event over at Glanbia will be giving a talk called ‘Nutrition for Success – Driving Growth and Performance in Secondary Spend’. It promises to be a deep dive by industry experts into how to maximise the benefit for your members and your profits through meaningful and impactful secondary spend! 

But don’t just talk our word for it! Register your interest to the free event here and look into how to take your secondary spend approach to the next level!

Uncovering The Best Location For Your New Gym (or your next franchise)

Empty Warehouse Gym Location

Finding New Gym Location Help


“Where Should I Set Up My Next Gym?”


If you are a long time reader of our articles, you will know how much we value market research before undertaking a significant business decision…

…And we are also going to go out on a limb and call starting a new gym or fitness club ‘a significant business decision’.

And so, if you are ready to set up a new independent gym or fitness club, then it is time to hit the research. In this article, we will be focusing on, to borrow the title of a popular show, location location location. Unlike many aspects of setting up a new gym or fitness club, location is one that a gym owner cannot easily change once it has been established. (Though, of course, it is not impossible).

As such, we’ve put together the following checklist of criteria that you should keep in mind when looking for a location for your new gym. And just for good measure, we’ve loaded it up with tips from our 25 years within the fitness industry and our very own plans to expand our ‘The Fit Club’ franchise of gyms.



Consider a location based on your customer’s demographic


The kind of customers you’re going after will massively determine your location, or can even be a chicken and egg scenario, shaping what your gym becomes.

If you already have an idea of what you want your gym or fitness club to be, then your location is effectively chosen for you.

An MMA fitness club is probably not going to do well in a village of 100 people in the middle of Yorkshire with an elderly trending demographic.

Every area has a character, and one that can be understood with just a little research. Some, of course, are characterised by a fairly even balance, giving you access to lots of demographics in a single area. Others will be heavily skewed, for example, here are a few locations that come to mind in our experience, complete with their strengths and weaknesses to a new gym or fitness club owner.


Student Areas

While the usually dense population, significant free time and active nature of a student population are huge positives, these areas are also highly transitory, with many students only going to university for three year terms and putting down no significant routes.

The explosion in dedicated student housing has compounded this trend. They can feel like a great place to target active gym goers, but you’re also going to massively cut your retention as your members may be active, but eventually they will have to leave for reasons out of their control, no matter how many benefits you offer.


Dormitory Towns

Otherwise known as suburbia, the pros to these areas include relative prosperity and normally a much more firmly rooted population than in cities.

A common downside we have seen is that a lot of workers will favour Gyms within the city that the dormitory town allows an easy commute to. This dynamic of being split between two areas has, however, been diminished by the work from home revolution in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, so you might find more workers are spending more time, and money, on the services in their local area.


Town and City Centres

Normally highly competitive and expensive to set up within these areas, but always providing a vast influx of people relative to the surroundings. Certain types of Gym will not be viable here, while other, more niche clubs will flourish in a way that they wouldn’t in more out of the way places.

We’ve seen a lot of gym owners who instinctively try to set up shop in these populated areas. After all, more people, more customers.

But that thinking can come back to bite many-an-aspiring gym owner down the line, when high maintenance costs put you on a business treadmill to always keep your club filled to max capacity.

Sometimes looking for a quieter area and providing a unique club experience can be far more profitable in the long run, as your club can easily become a discount one size fits all gym when upkeep costs become a major driving factor.


Every area, even if it falls into an archetype, will have its quirks and foibles. Don’t make business decisions based on stereotypes and assumptions.




Thankfully, the internet has made researching an area easier than ever. From forums and social media to simply using google maps, it has never been easier to grasp an area. With that being said, most prospective gym owners in our experience are looking to set up in an area well known to them. While this has considerable and obvious advantages, do not be afraid to throw the net out slightly wider than usual.

Sometimes taking the road less travelled really does make all the difference. 

So once you’ve determined who you want to attract, now you need to work out where they live, and more importantly, where they are willing to drive to.

Unless it is in a town centre, city centre or business park, the assumption should be that people are not willing to drive more than 20 minutes.

Again, this will vary depending on roads, infrastructure, public transport and other interesting locations at the destination of a prospective gym. As such, ease of accessibility should be the top priority for the demographic you have in mind.



Look at the type of buildings available


The Covid-19 pandemic shook up nearly every market, and the business rental market is no different. Many businesses either shifted location or shut down entirely. This means that the pool of rentals post-2021 is significantly different.

The safest bet, predictably, will be a site that used to host a gym or fitness club. These come with several built in advantages, such as a pre-existing reputation within the local area and facilities that proved suitable for a gym in the past.

However you needn’t be limited by this. We have seen plenty of unorthodox venues transform from other areas of the economy into successful gyms and fitness clubs. Whether it is a former supermarket, restaurant or part of a school, with enough effort put into the conversion, we have seen prosperous gyms setup in all sorts of former venues. 

Don’t limit your imagination based on what’s available, but as always, be realistic in your budgeting about how much it’ll cost to convert that abandoned shoe store into a Kickboxing Gym.


Renovated Gym



BE SEEN! Don’t hide your Gym or Fitness Club away


This might sound silly at first. Surely it is what on the inside that counts?

Alas, there is a reason we tell people to not judge books by their cover, and that is because they do, CONSTANTLY!


A story we’ve heard repeated a hundred times from as many gym owners is the following:

‘They got inside our gym and they said they had no idea it was this good’.

Sometimes it is even worse and the visitor said:

‘They had no idea this was here’. 


More often than not, these gyms are hidden away on cheap industrial estates, down country roads, or only have a slither of a facade facing the street. 

While we fully understand the temptation to secure a bargain on an industrial complex or in a village barely anyone even knows exists, for most gym owners it is a false economy. Out of sight is, unfortunately, out of mind. The amount that will need to be spent on promotion and advertising to get people aware that your gym or fitness club exists, let alone get them into it, will be sky high. 

And even once the prospective customers to your new gym are aware, what is going to draw them far off of their beaten track? The unfortunate truth is that unless the area has an extreme level of car-reliance or fantastic public transport infrastructure, it will be hard to draw people away from the main streets. This is why certain chains, that shall go unnamed here, are always positioned in highly visible areas with large glass windows letting you see everything inside.

It is a tactic that works, and while you may find the premise will be more expensive than an out-of-the-way industrial estate, the benefits it brings can be measurable and powerful. A chalkboard out the front of your gym can get more eyes than a few hundred pounds of Facebook ads may ever do.



Take stock of what else is close to your Gym or Fitness Club


This is really a continuation of the last point, with a more specific focus.

Once you have an idea of the area, take a deep look at what is there.

Imagine you are a prospective customer, what would draw you to the gym?

Maybe there is a cinema along the street? Maybe it is next to a city’s business sector. Start to understand how people would weave your new gym or fitness club into their lifestyle.


High Street Shoppers



Collaboration & Competition


Now you have an idea of the area and what else might draw your potential customers to it, work out if any of these are ripe for collaborations.

A new gym requires a lot of promotion (which we have loads of helpful e-books on), and local partners are the ideal way to spread the good word about your new gym or fitness club. Think about what businesses would make for natural partners, both in the short term and the long term.

In turn, think about the competition that could arise in the future:

Don’t just look to see if an area is already overpopulated with gyms and fitness clubs, but also whether there are empty units or locations that could one day be turned into competition.



What is your Gym or Fitness Clubs Unique Selling Point (USP)?


As we hinted at in the point on demographics, if you are setting up a gym or fitness club, you want it to do something better than any other gym in the area. Whether that is a certain type of equipment or training, a type of class (the aforementioned MMA in Yorkshire), or the infrastructure, location or facilities that the Gym has, it should be planned in advance.

Once again, market research comes into play. Look at the prospective competition in the area you’ve selected.

Are there no gyms with a significant amount of parking?

Are there no gyms that offer competition level body-building equipment?

Does nowhere have an Octagon? 

It may sound like one upmanship and that is because it is. These are the sort of questions that the prospective customers your gym will be vying for will be asking themselves. Make sure your gym has enough of a USP that the answer frequently goes in your favour. 


Now, maybe it’s time to get back on Google maps…


To close off this article, we think it is important to reiterate what we said at the beginning.

Setting up a gym or fitness club is no small feat, but more importantly it is a task that rewards thorough market research beforehand.

We hope this article can serve as a checklist of criteria to look for when scouting for a location for your new gym or fitness club.


And if you are looking to start a gym or fitness club…

…And need help with running your business…

Then it might be time to drop us a line!

Ashbourne Membership Management has been working with partners in the fitness industry for over 25 years and we’ve been with gyms and fitness clubs at every stage of the journey, including setup.

So if you are interested in having your membership management locked in place before your doors even open, come and book a gym consultation today. We can show you round our system and give you tips for how to grow your club and collect your payments.

All our sales team own gyms or work within the industry, so a quick chat is well worth your time!

Why Gym Membership is a Fantastic Employee Benefit to Implement


“Why You Should Offer Your Employees A Gym Membership Incentive!”


Over the course of the Covid-19 through 2020 and 2021, individual health shot up the agenda in a big way. From an employer’s perspective, this was part of a long term, growing trend seen amongst employees. 

As such it is not surprising that even as society opens up, the focus on fitness has not receded. In fact if anything, it has intensified. 

Now that all restrictions have been lifted on everything from gyms and fitness clubs to swimming pools and stadiums, the desire has been met with the means and it has caused an explosion in popularity. Increasingly, employers are realising the power of offering on-site gyms and reduced corporate memberships as employee benefits.

As such, we’ve taken the time to write this article where we will be examining the benefits of an employee benefit scheme for both employee and employer with specific focus on these benefits in the wake of the Covid-19 Pandemic. 


Click them to skip ahead…


A History of Steady Growth into A Fitness Explosion

How fitness benefits benefit both employees and employers

Different methods to improve fitness within the workplace


A History of Steady Growth into A Fitness Explosion

Reduced corporate gym memberships and on-site gyms are nothing new, yet they’ve gained massive popularity in recent times.

The popular app, Engage, reported a 32% increase in the trend of employees demanding gym membership discounts from employers in April 2021. It is no stretch to imagine that this came as a result of the desire to return to the crossfit trainer after sustained periods of lockdowns and closed gyms. 

We are confident that this trend isn’t just a kneejerk reaction to the pandemic. The public desire for fitness and wellness has been on a steady but significant rise for over a decade. This has been borne out time and time again on surveys of both employees and the general population.

The current demand we are seeing is built on a solid foundation of a general consensus and desire for fitness. The benefits of the Gym and other organised fitness environments have lived large in the public consciousness long before the Covid-19 pandemic and this has merely solidified the myriad benefits of a healthy lifestyle. 

The fact that between 2011 and 2019, the number of UK gyms doubled. It is apparent that this was a rise in supply to meet an ever growing demand. A demand that has only been intensified over the period of 2020 to 2022. 

So, how can we use our knowledge of this growing desire for fitness and transplant it into tangible benefits within the workplace?


How fitness benefits benefit both employees and employers


Perhaps one of the biggest strengths of fitness and Gym memberships as an employee benefit is its universality. It is a benefit that helps employee and management alike in both their personal and professional life.

It is therefore little surprise that we are seeing more businesses incorporate fitness into their workplaces and workplace benefit packages. 

Let’s examine some of the benefits that Gym or fitness club membership can bring to a workplace.

Increasing the General Fitness Level

While this might seem like a given, we aren’t so much looking at the increase in fitness as what it represents and the powerful knock-on effect it can have. 

Studies have proven that even thirty minutes of working out a few times a week can yield significant health and morale benefits. Now replicate this across an entire office.

An increased level of fitness can mean increased self-esteem, confidence, wellbeing and even team cohesion. Even if employees within a given team or company aren’t going to the Gym together, they have a shared place of interest. It has been shown that employees going the same Gym together will deepen their personal and professional bonds.

In addition to all these benefits, an employer can take statistical solace in the knowledge that more active workers have been proven to take fewer sick days, to be happier in their work and more productive.

And speaking of which…


Higher productivity levels

The impact of productivity can be so profound that it warrants its own section. If the employee Gym membership scheme has enough up-take and regular engagement, a workplace can see significant improvement to its energy and morale levels.  In turn, these benefits quickly spread to nearly all aspects of an employees personal and profession life.

A stronger, healthier and more motivated workforce is something no employer would pass up. And it is all the better if they can partially trace the origin of their happiness to the employers Gym membership benefit scheme.

Reduced stress

Exercise has been proven to have a tangible effect on both stress and mental health. I know I always feel a whole lot better after 30 minutes on a Crossfit trainer. We all know the science at this point (further proof of a rising public knowledge of health and physical fitness).

By releasing endorphins through exercise, people are more able to navigate the trials and tribulations of everyday life. Including work! In turn, an employer can look forward to stronger attendance and employee performance.

Better talent

By offering Gym membership as part of an employee benefit package, a company is demonstrating their commitment to their employees wellbeing.

Company culture has become a huge element in recruiting and then retaining the best staff. As such, employee benefits have come to form a core pillar of any corporate culture or employer ethos 

To take it one step further, an employee Gym membership scheme as part of a benefits package shows that a company understands the values of the era. It shows that they take a dynamic, money-where-their-mouth-is approach to fitness. Prioritising their employees physical and mental wellbeing by offering them benefits that have a broader impact in their lives beyond the workplace.


Different methods to improve fitness within the workplace

It is only natural that fitness in the workplace will take a different shape for every business. There are a lot of options to choose from, but we’ve narrowed it down to a few. We will be discussing the pros and cons. 

Providing Free gym membership as an Employee benefit.

With many owners now setting aside a set amount of money ‘per head’ for their Employee Benefit scheme, a free Gym membership is becoming increasingly viable.

It hits that sweet spot of being just enough that your Employees will notice and appreciate the gesture, without being pie-in-the-sky, like a company car for everyone. Given the number of benefits we have already discussed, you won’t be surprised that this gets our seal of approval. 

Providing Reduced gym membership as an Employee benefit.

Alternatively, if the budget can’t stretch to free Gym membership, there is plenty of leeway when it comes to just reducing the cost.

The two most popular methods for this involve salary sacrifice, where the employees sacrifice a very small portion of their wage in order to help fund the membership. This method is as flexible as it gets. The split can range from 1% to 99%.

The value for this will nearly always work out favourably because businesses generally get a collective discount. The power of collective bargaining! 

On-site gyms

If you have the space and the funds, an on-site Gym could definitely be the way forward.