Gym Membership Price Increases: Is the race to the bottom over?

piggy bank sinking in sea

Gym Membership Prices race to the bottom ashbourne blog


“Is It Time To Increase My Gym Membership Prices?”

We realise you’re busy, so there’s 2 parts to this blog.

If you want to read the full context behind why raising prices is a good idea, then just keep reading.

But if you want to skip ahead to our 12 tips to increasing your gym membership prices, then click here to skip ahead!



For the last decade, the fitness industry has been a battle between the independent gyms and the large chain giants with their budget pricing doctrines in what seemed like an ever-deepening race to the bottom.

It is a story we have seen time and time again in the fitness industry. The arrival of this type of a huge chain Gym in a city or town indicated a significant shift and for the greater part of ten years these huge companies have dictated the pace of the industry.

But this was never a system that could last forever. Only a monopoly is able to put up their prices with anything resembling confidence.

And a business strategy based around ever-lowering prices will only ever work when times are good.

Part 1: The State Of The Market (or why times aren’t so good for the big guys)

Between the aftermath of the Covid-19 pandemic, increasing energy costs and property rent spikes, it is safe to say that at the very least, the good times are on hold.

This represents a chance for a correction within the fitness industry for gym and club owners.

The cost of living is undeniably rising and rising at an alarming rate. Not only that, but rising energy prices are presenting a very real squeeze to the margins of Gyms and fitness clubs alike, regardless of size.

And yet due to the increasingly competitive nature of the sector, the question is still only tentatively asked… Should we be raising prices?


The answer is, of course, yes!


The price war that has come to define the industry can only abate in these trying times. While it is a model that allowed for rapid growth, it was one driven by very specific economic and technological factors. 

This shift prompted positive and negative change within the industry. The increased focus on automation is just one example of a development that was hypercharged by the rise of the budget chains for both better and worse in different areas.

But now that period of growth has subsided and both the chains and independent Gym owners are left with a quandary. There are relatively few gains to make through automation now. The Covid-19 pandemic and resultant lockdowns caused unprecedented disruption. 



Stock Market Increase

Pictured: The large gym chain business strategy



The model that previously seemed unassailable has reached the end of its artificial boom and now we have to ask the hard questions about where the industry goes from here and the culture shift that will have to occur when it comes to pricing. 

As hinted at the beginning of the article, it is actually telling that the industry is even approaching this debate so tentatively, when before so few gyms would even be considering a price rise, at the risk of turning members away.

Ultimately this approach is out of touch with economic reality. As inflation continues to bite, energy costs rise and rents increase, it is only natural that some of this should be passed onto the customer. As stated previously, the idea of ever-reducing prices is a mantra that can only exist in times of sustained prosperity. In a contracting or disrupted economy, it is neither prudent nor good business. 

Consumer Perceptions Have Changed!

While every price increase must be communicated effectively so your Gym patrons understand the reason for the decision, your members do not exist in a vacuum. Everyone is aware of the current situation to a lesser or greater extent. Consumers are seeing prices rise in different parts of their life, they are reading about it in the news and dealing with it in their own careers.

Context is king and in many ways the current context has the consumer prepared for a price increase in a way they haven’t been since 2008.

We must reinforce that it is still necessary to control and communicate the narrative for any price increase measures, but the position of increasing prices will be easier to justify.

And Sorry, But We Have To Mention Covid Again…

It is safe to say that Covid-19 has had a huge impact on our economic reality and we’d be remiss to not talk about it in the context of price increases in 2022. Quite simply, we don’t believe there has been an event in recent memory that has changed consumer habits so profoundly.

As such, the picture that is starting to emerge in our research is one of a post-Pandemic landscape that is focused on the creation of value, collaboration and community that will really make the difference.

The lockdowns showed us the value of socialisation that we had understandably taken for granted previously. (A complete lockdown of society having seemed previously unthinkable).

Now that the world has opened up and would appear to be staying open, we are seeing consumers that care more for interacting with friends and engaging with their community. We believe that these Independent Gyms, more likely to be locally focused and independent, will flourish during the post-Lockdown era. And the evidence is on our side.

As such, this makes for a greater justification for raising prices. The value of the product these Gyms provide will be more valuable. The operational costs are increasing. Consumers are looking for brands that they can rely on for more than just a service now. Frequenting an establishment now also carries the implication of protecting health.


Who is a consumer more likely to trust in that task? A soulless automated chain or a trusted, local Gym at the heart of the community?


It is these factors that we believe will effect the dynamic of price increases in the fitness industry in 2022 and beyond. As we hinted at earlier in the introduction, we believe this is one of the key factors that has taken the tempo of control in determining prices away from the rock-bottom chains.



Nutrition Plan


There’s A Greater Focus On Health In The Gym Now

And finally on this checklist, there is just a greater focus on health in 2022 than there has ever been. The Covid-19 Pandemic kicked the desire for fitness into overdrive. No longer was it just a goal to strive for, it became linked to survival.

While it might all start to feel surreal now we are out of lockdown, for 18 months everyone from the government and NHS to the supermarkets were telling the public to stay fit and healthy.

This really supercharged an existing trend for health and fitness that we have not seen abate.

Not only that, but we have no reason to assume that this new furore will disappear anytime soon. The historic survey data has only ever shown an increase in the importance of health and fitness within the public consciousness over the last twenty years. No data has shown thus far that the lockdown focus on fitness is receding.

In terms of raising prices, this means that gym and fitness club owners now hold a commodity with increased social and societal stock than ever before.

The Philosophy Behind Raising Your Gym Prices

So why have we spoken at length about the reasons that justify raising your prices?

Because the reasons that a gym or fitness club is able to identify for a price rise will be a cornerstone of how they communicate this to their members.

The crux of the matter is, if a Gym does not believe that the service it is providing isn’t worth it, it’ll be very hard for the leadership to justify a price increase.

So now we have discussed the state of the market, the increasing hardships facing all businesses, the Covid-19 pandemic and the role of the price wars in recent years.

With all that taken into account, it should now be easy to see whether or not the justification for a price increase exists within any given gym or fitness establishment.



Raising Living Cost Prices


Part 2: How Should A Price Increase Be Implemented At Your Gym?

So now we are going to focus on how to implement that price increase.

The methodology behind both the increase itself and how it should be communicated out.

Price Rise Tip 1: The Hard Maths Behind Your Health Club’s Price Rise

In this section we will be looking at the different methods that can be used to increase prices. Between different tiers of members, off-peak and on-peak, OAP and Students, premium members and concessions, there exists a multitude of different price points. 

Even without all of that, there are still hundreds of permutations possible when it comes to a price increase.

We are going to look at some of the most obvious and intuitive and work out their viability in the current market. We will make reference to what was covered in part one to justify or dismiss certain decisions. 

It is important to remember that just because a price increase method seems logical or has been used in other industries, does not mean it is necessarily a fit for the fitness industry. Increasing prices by 33%, 50% or 100% is a surefire route to disaster unless you have been seriously undercharging for a long time. 

Let us examine some potential methods of raising prices that mix in a little communication/spin.

Price Rise Tip 2: Pay Up-Front For A ‘Fixed Rate’

One way we have seen be quite effective is something derived from ‘price-locking’ seen in the energy industry, but with a fitness spin.

Communicate to your members the reasons we have discussed for the price rise regarding rising energy, rents and increased market instability. State the necessity of a price increase but state that this will not be implemented for one month.

If, within that month, a member is willing to commit to another 12 months, they will effectively be able to keep the old price for the whole year. Once the year has elapsed, they will be charged the new price. This will demonstrate that you are being proactive and rewarding loyalty and commitment to your Gym. Furthermore, if the offer is picked-up, it will result in a significant amount of revenue early on within this price increase initiative.

Price Rise Tip 3: Communicate With Your Members & Give Them Plenty of Time

On the subject of communicating a month ahead of time. We want to reinforce that in order to appear professional and in control of this price increase, we would recommend that a month is the minimum amount of forewarning a gym should give their membership of a price increase.

Ideally, this should be a two month timespan. An increased timespan works well with the above strategy as well, as the longer a member has to mull over their financial situation, the more appealing locking in a year of ‘cheaper’ membership will seem. 



Email Marketing and Customer Communication


Price Rise Tip 4: Provide Members With A Fixed Rate Follow-up

As a final word on the subject of the fixed rate up-front price increase, a Gym shouldn’t be afraid of utilising their list of former members.

It is an ideal time to contact lapsed or cancelled memberships. As we stated earlier, a lot has changed and members who cancelled before or during the Covid-19 pandemic and the lockdown may feel differently now. Additionally, it will make them feel part of the loop and connected to the news cycle of the Gym.

It will also be a communication that isn’t overtly about trying to sell.

It will be about the price increase, with the option to secure 12 months membership for cheaper than it would otherwise be available.

Whilst a small difference, psychologically it can make all the difference. 

Additionally, do not be afraid to communicate the 12-month offer several times. If a gym has communicated the raise and the offer two months ahead of time, we would say it is reasonable to remind members at least two additional times before the deal expires.

Price Rise Tip 5: Build Inflation Into Your Price Increases Today

We would recommend that essentially any price increase initiated by gyms and fitness clubs at the moment should cite inflation as a primary reason.

With that in mind, why not go one step further. Reinforce the causal link of this price increase to inflation by benchmarking it against inflation. If you raise prices by 33% or 50% of the total current inflation, say, 6% for example, you are effectively communicating that while you are increasing prices, relative to the market, you are still absorbing some of the costs.

This way the gym gains additional revenue, and your customers understand that you have protected them from part of the inflationary costs.

By crafting your increase around inflation, you are putting your money where your mouth is. This should leave little doubt in the mind of your customers that your motivations are in reaction to the increased cost of living. To any reasonable consumer, this will be taken as a positive on an unavoidable economic reality.

Price Rise Tip 6: And Think About Your Next Price Increase

If a Gym elects to go for this route, it might be worth considering raising the price of all services in line with this figure. Any additional workout supplements, drinks or associated accessories that you sell and have control over the price point of. 

By taking this approach, it is akin to ripping the band-aid off all at once and it is an action that is legitimated by your reasoning.

Conversely, if a fitness club does not wish to or need to increase the price of these additional services, it would be prudent to highlight this. It can be stated that due to the increase in membership prices, all associated prices will stay the same despite the new economic reality. This is once again a way to put a positive spin on a price raise outcome.



Planning Ahead In Your Gym Business


Price Rise Tip 7: Know Your (Local) Market

While this was touched on in the introductory section, it bears repeating here.

Context is king and no context is more important than the local market landscape that a Gym or fitness club is competing in.

Just prior to a price raise is the exact time for a gym to refresh its local market research.

A gym should strive to understand not only what the current membership price is for all Gyms and across all price points, but also how that contrasts with their historical pricing.

This will be a clear way to tell whether all Gyms that are considered to be competitors are also raising their prices and by what margin. It is important to understand the level of drop-off that can be expected and where they might go.

It will also help legitimise the price increase actions undertaken by a Gym.

Price Rise Tip 8: Make Sure Your Staff Are On The Same Page

No-one likes talking about price rises. The silent resignation that we have when the electric or council tax…So…


Train your staff on how to handle the price conversation!


No-one feels natural or comfortable while fielding questions regarding a price increase, especially during circumstances like the ones we find ourselves in. Spend time with your staff briefing them on the main reasons.

As these will have all been laid out in your e-mail and social media communication, it should not take too much work to collate these into material for your staff to learn from. If your staff are not briefed regarding this, bad interactions with customers who have taken the price rise poorly could work their way onto social media.

Price Rise Tip 9: Spread The Costs OR Add Value

When it comes to additional options and bolt-on amendments to Gym membership, there is room to manoeuvre in the realm of price increases. The inclusion of additional bolt-on options to a Gym membership can also be used to work around to give the impression of added value or a fair trade-off.

In one scenario, if you include a set number of sessions with a personal trainer as part of your membership with the increase, this helps give the impression of compensation for the service being provided. In turn, this will make members not only more likely to stay than if nothing is offered, but also more likely to engage with the gym or fitness club.

Conversely, by removing certain benefits to new members, you will be able to minimise the price  increase for newer members due to value saved. However, this should be implemented carefully, and rarely, if ever, on existing members. 



Personal trainers at your gym extra service


Price Rise Tip 10: Keep Your Price Increases Steady

Do not announce that the price increase is only temporary. No-one can predict what the future may bring and any goodwill gained from stating this will not equal the risk of being unable to fulfil this pledge.

While there are scant few reasons to reduce your price, unless your price increase has significantly priced you out of the market, it should never be pledged ahead of time. Instead, it should be communicated as a pleasant bonus. 

In practicality though, if a Gym did their market research correctly, it would take an immense reason to reduce prices after they have recently been raised.

Price Rise Tip 11: Prepare For Members To Abandon Ship

It is inevitable that some members will leave during a price increase. But if communicated effectively this number should not matter. The price increase should be structured in such a way that the increase is able to mitigate any potential dropoff.


As the old adage goes, you can’t please everyone, and some members will take any reason to quit.


Others will have been scaling back their expenditure irrespective. It is important to deal with these customers fairly and politely.


If a gym doesn’t already have a ‘lapsed/previous’ members mailing list, this is the ideal time to create one.


A gym should monitor the numbers that leave through their CRM system as that will be a key indicator as to whether they have done their market research and communication correctly.

Price Rise Tip 12: Remember That It All Adds Up

Earlier we covered the idea of increasing prices just for new members, or increasing the price and offering the old membership rate to all members.

These are tried and tested methods that we have seen in the fitness industry. However, we’d like to end our article on this practical piece detailing one of the many methods that can be used to implement a price increase.


Instead of using percentages, or only charging new members, one method involves a price increase of £1 per month for each member.

The thinking here is that this sum won’t seem a lot to each customer and isn’t represented as a percentage on purpose.

If you take a club with exactly 750 members, this little £1 increase transforms into £9000 a year prior to tax.


Naturally this can vary depending on the number of members and the average price paid at a club. As another example, we shall say a club has an average Gym membership of £40. Certain tiers come in on either side of that total, of course. Now we say that this club increases each membership, irrespective of tier, by £2.

A club where someone is already paying £40, providing it meets the criteria laid above, should not see significant dropoff from this.

But in turn, they will receive a windfall of over £1.5k a month, or nearly 20k prior to tax in a given year. 

As such, you can understand why this method can quickly cope with any small amounts of dropoff that may occur if implemented, communicated and handled correctly. 

Using direct debits, it becomes easy to arrange a price increase across your entire customer base as we’ve just described.

Interested in this method? Then you might be interested in Ashbourne Membership Management. Here at Ashbourne, we have twenty five years of experience in the industry, getting our partners the money they deserve, each month, every month.

Interested in finding out more? Then arrange a demo and gym consultation with us today.


In Conclusion…You Can Do This!


While we understand the aversion that many Gym and Fitness Club owners have to raising their prices, it is a decision that, given the state of the economy, they should be considering.

No business can maintain the same price points for their entire operational lifespan, that sort of inflexible doctrine will only result in damaging the long term viability of the gym.


Maintaining prices only damages your business and your profits.  


By failing to react to the increase in the value of the commodity that is fitness, a Gym is passing up profit at a time where it can scarcely be afforded. 

If a Gym truly believes itself to be an institution that adds value to the community and its membership, there is no reason they shouldn’t have the confidence to ask for a little more. 

As we stated at the beginning, the era of the budget club dictating the pace is over. It is a system that cannot survive contact with market contractions. Now the market must seek value generation, and to ensure that the proper price is being paid for that value generation. 

How Can Gyms Tackle Rising Energy Prices in 2022 and Beyond?


“How Your Gym Can Tackle Rising Energy Prices in 2022 and Beyond?”


It is a time of tension, both across the world and in the UK. It is hard to shake the twinned feelings of horror that one, energy prices have substantially risen. And two, that not only will those prices not go down, but they are also most likely, under current government policy, only going to rise.


With that being said, the last two months have seen stunning reversals by the UK Conservative Party (including the reversal of a prime minister), so it is possible that compared to the time of reading, the situation may change.

As it stands, our understanding is that the rather ‘half-measure’ cap in energy prices that has been put in place for businesses will expire in April and that ‘a more targeted alternative’ will come into place.

In a move reassuring to no-one, the specifics of that scaled-back and ‘more targeted’ scheme have not been shared.


As predicted by the head of the British Chamber of Commerce earlier in the year, we are already seeing businesses, both within and outside the fitness industry starting to reduce hours. In a few extreme examples, closing entirely. 

As such, we thought it best to be proactive and look at a selection of measures that businesses can take to mitigate the damage that the energy price crisis is currently inflicting on many industries. We have made sure to keep in mind what independent gym and fitness club owners can do about the rising energy prices during this coming winter and beyond. 



Click To Skip Ahead!

1. Utilise what government support is available

2. Reach out to your energy provider

3. Review your choice of energy supplier

4. Contact your bank

4. Reduce your consumption


1. Utilise What Government Support Is Available

Despite being the ‘party of business’, the Conservatives have never been too keen on the state directly financing businesses (unless they are banks). Now former Prime Minister Liz Truss’ response to the crisis involved an energy package that capped energy bills for businesses at the same price per unit as consumers for two years. This was later revised to six months by now Chancellor Jeremy Hunt. Alongside this measure, we have also heard talk of the capping of business rates and, we should also expect VAT and business rates to be reduced, all of which have yet to be finalised.


Thankfully there are multiple government schemes including a grant scheme and the offer of bespoke loans which businesses should absolutely take advantage of.


And while you wouldn’t believe it from government rhetoric, there are also incentives on offer for businesses that are able to show that they have lowered their carbon emission and a variety of other factors.

While we might discuss these another day and how they can be applied to independent gym and fitness clubs owners.

For now we would guide you towards the official government advice on this:


Environmental taxes, reliefs and schemes for businesses: Climate Change Levy – GOV.UK (


2. Reach Out To Your Energy Provider

Much like the government, energy providers are keenly aware of what is happening, and know that while these energy prices are currently resulting in record profits, they also threaten to wipe out many of their customers. 

As such, we have seen many energy suppliers offering initiatives and grants that encourage and reward energy efficiency. Most of the time, these can be taken in conjunction with the government schemes. This reinforces the need to keep track of any and all improvements that a gym owner may make to their facility. Often a portion of this can be recuperated. 


In addition, ‘business hardship funds’ have existed for a long time within many energy companies. These are, for apparent reasons, coming into the limelight now in a back way. While a business will need to prove that they qualify for this type of relief, it can be of vital importance to small businesses.


Business rates relief: Hardship relief – GOV.UK (


We are planning to do a more indepth article about business rates in the future but for now the above should help guide gym and fitness club owners down the right path. 


Finally, though it will not save or add additional money to a business portfolio, the option of setting up a payment plan exists. Energy companies are receiving significant pressure from governmental and non-governmental sources to enact these at the moment and they can often be a generous lifeline. As such, we believe every facility within the fitness industry struggling should look into energy payment plans for their gym or fitness club. 


3. Review Your Choice of Energy Supplier

If you are not happy with the support offered by your current energy supplier, the next step is to shop around. Each energy supplier is different and will offer different levels of business support. We recommend doing research on any energy supplier with an appealing energy package to see what experience other business owners had with them. We would recommend looking for other business owners within the fitness industry first, followed by other businesses that use a similar level of electricity to a gym or fitness club. 


Comparison websites can be useful here for getting an idea of which energy supplier will offer the best rates, but it is important to keep in mind that that isn’t the whole picture.

If they offer effective energy efficiency grants, business hardship schemes and other business supports, it might be preferable to pay a little extra on your bill to be properly supported through these trying times. 


4. Contact Your Bank 

Every major bank provides some form of financial advice for businesses. Santander, Lloyds, Natwest, HSBC and Barclays all spend a significant amount of money investing in their business departments. In better times, we can just forget that these services exist but they exist for a reason.

Whether you are a long or short term customer with your bank, they should be more than willing to offer business support. This advice and support can manifest in a variety of ways, it may overlap with some of the above, being able to recommend areas to save, energy suppliers that have been useful to their other client businesses and more. Banks represent a concentration of business expertise and support to gyms and fitness club owners and should be utilised as such. 



5. Reduce Consumption

And finally, the most direct solution. While we never want to impact the members that use our gyms and fitness clubs, given the circumstances it may be necessary to scale back energy usage. Some energy usage can be reduced without compromising the operational effectiveness of a gym or fitness club. 


Lowering the thermostat/resting temperature:

As obvious as it is effective. Lowering the thermostat a few degrees can quickly add up to large savings. It is important for any gym or fitness club to communicate this (and any measure that is undertaken) to their membership ahead of time.

Even if it is a temperature change that will be mostly imperceptible, your membership will appreciate being forewarned and that a gym is taking measures to lower costs. 


Using energy-efficient equipment and LED bulbs:

As discussed earlier, one of the many tools in the fight against energy costs will be energy-efficient electronics. Gyms and fitness clubs should make careful note of every energy-saving appliance they purchase to demonstrate the measures that have been taken to make the business more environmentally friendly and energy efficient. If this can be demonstrated, significant price reductions and business assistance could be unlocked.


Automatic sensors to endure that empty rooms do not have their lights turned on unnecessarily: 

Just as above, this is another measure that will not only save a significant amount of money after a gym or fitness club has installed them but can also be used to demonstrate energy efficiency.

Turn off powered exercise equipment/PCs/Sauna/ when not in use:

By turning off these systems when they are not in use, consumption can be reduced.

A more extreme variant of this measure would be to limit the amount of time that these systems are operational. This can be especially effective with any facility that uses heated water, such as a sauna, spa, or especially a swimming pool.

While an extreme measure, if communicated responsibly we have seen that gym and fitness club members are understanding of the hardships currently facing the industry. 

Energy Audit:

An energy audit can highlight some of the above measures and recommend where more complex energy-saving measures such as solar panels and insulation can be placed.

Both of these measures are expensive but very effective. Insulation will allow for the thermostat to be run lower, though it is important that the current ventilation also be taken into account.

Solar panels can provide massive savings on energy for a business if a gym or fitness club is able to accommodate them. 


Here at Ashbourne, we’ve been working with gyms and fitness clubs, growing their business and helping them reach their potential for over 25 years. While our primary domain is membership management, we’ve learned plenty along the way. Interested in seeing if we can help enhance the reach and potential of your Gym? Please do not hesitate to contact our team today here



Feeling the Strain: The Fitness Industry is Facing Energy Bill Increases of up to 150% Even With the Government’s Energy Price Cap

Cost of living increase for businesses

Cost of living increase for businesses header


While it feels like dire tidings across the entire economic sphere ever since September’s ‘mini-budget’, a leading industry association within the fitness industry has warned that Gyms, fitness clubs and leisure centres might be in for an especially painful winter. 


The prominent industry association ukactive, an organisation that promotes the interests of gyms, fitness clubs and leisure centres across the UK has issued a statement to both the government and the fitness industry that we believe should be heeded. In the wake of the government’s price cap, ukactive issued a warning that the fitness sector might be looking at a spike well above that of the national average for businesses, possibly as high as 150%.


Given the decision by the government to cap prices at the point that they have, it is still estimated that the combined cost of both electricity and gas for gyms, fitness clubs and leisure facilities will increase by over 100% compared to 2019. This is because the cap isn’t on paying a set amount but per unit. 


Operators of large facilities, and specifically those that deal with large amounts of heated water, such as facilities with swimming pools, saunas or Jacuzzis, have been warned of increases up to or above 150%.


As such, ukactive has cautioned that due to government action and policy, the financial cost of energy bills for the whole sector will come to consume over 100% of what it did in 2019. Given that that amount was over £500 million in 2019, this means that over £1 billion, potentially even one and a quarter billion pounds will exit the fitness industry to pay for their energy costs. We have covered these developments and potential measures being taken by the industry here: Energy Costs, Powercuts and the fitness Industry – Google Docs 


The CEO of ukactive, Huw Edwards (not that one), stated in his warning that: “The government should be extremely concerned about both the health and economic impact of the energy crisis on fitness and leisure operators.” And went on to say that “Rising energy costs will have a disproportionate impact on our sector, particularly larger, energy-intensive gyms and leisure centres with swimming pools, which are now at major risk of closure”. 


While it is clear that this situation is unprecedented, it is one that this government is monitoring intensely, and one that is affecting nearly every business within the UK. The fitness industry has shown time and time again, most recently with the Covid-19 pandemic, that it is versatile, resilient and innovative. It is also an industry that thrives on communication, and as such we will be focusing on measures, like the one linked above, to endure this autumn, winter and beyond. 

Cost of Living: Energy Costs, Power Cuts and the Fitness Industry


Cost of Living: Energy Costs, Power Cuts and the Fitness Industry


With great economic turmoil not only on the horizon but in our midsts, we thought it was a good time to look at the context that has caused these events and what the fitness industry is doing, and can do, to endure these trying times.


With costs skyrocketing, even after a lackluster government interaction, quite a few gym franchises and gym owners have reported they are scaling back the amount of electricity their facilities consume. This is being achieved in a variety of ways, from lowering the temperature of swimming pools and gyms, reducing operating times and turning off Jacuzzis and spa rooms. 


It is important to stress that all of these actions are being taken irrespective of the flagship government measures aimed at capping runaway energy prices. Even though it was announced that they would be ‘capping’ prices for six months from the 1st of October, as it is not a solid cap this still means that gyms and fitness clubs are facing a substantial rise. 

Many gyms use large amounts of energy to keep their saunas, pools and jacuzzis warm throughout their opening hours.


We are seeing examples of many gyms cutting back throughout the fitness industry, from small independents to even some of the biggest chains. 

Better Gyms, well known for operating over 250 council-owned gyms and fitness facilities were one of the first to announce measures to tackle ever-rising prices.



While it is being decided on a case-by-case basis, all 258 gyms within their operation are looking at scaling back costs. So far this has included lowering the temperature of their swimming pools by a degree celsius but leading figures within Better Gym and their parent company Greenwich Leisure Limited said that they are looking at further cuts.


Several possible measures have been floated including turning off more facilities overnight and limiting the opening time for energy-intensive services.


They stressed they would be constantly monitoring customer feedback on these measures.

An important thing to keep in mind. While saving money is paramount at a time like this, it should not come at the expense of customer satisfaction.

It is important to ensure any changes are communicated clearly and compassionately.

Customers are aware of the economic situation and will appreciate money-saving measures that are taken if they are done transparently and responsibly. 

An example of this feedback in action is the Bannatyne’s group and its chain of health and fitness clubs. They tried to implement similar temperature reduction measures as Better Gyms, but their customers were dissatisfied and so this measure was reverted in short order.

It is important that this process, if made in any gym, is a dialogue between customer and business. 


Better Gyms aren’t the only gym and fitness chain that is scaling back their services. The national titan, Nuffield Health have announced that they will be turning off all of their 72 jacuzzis until at least the spring. 


While this is an extreme solution, it will ultimately save their operation a significant amount of money over the autumn, winter and potentially beyond. While it will most likely cause more customer dissatisfaction than lowering the temperature of pools by 1 degree, it will also save significantly more. 


The example presented by Nuffield health also has value to smaller gym and fitness clubs.

A spokesperson for Nuffield gave their reasoning behind this action. They confirmed that turning off their jacuzzi facilities nationwide would allow them to save enough of their operational funds to keep their swimming pools and steam rooms functioning over winter.


This is the sort of thinking that can be applied to either one gym or many. Shutting down less popular and more costly facilities can be the key to keeping others running through this period of record high prices.


Just like with Better Gyms, the Nuffield group have not ruled out that more cost saving measures might be necessary this winter. 

It has now been confirmed that the energy price cap in its current form will only last for six months. While it has prevented the situation from getting worse, most businesses have already seen their energy costs doubled. Given that we’ve been told that these energy prices are likely not going to shoot down again anytime soon, it is important that we in the fitness industry prepare measures that are sustainable, responsible and with the outlook that they may last for a long time. 

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

Confused Brain

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

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

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


What Are The Rules For My Gym In Tier 1?

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


The Government Guidance:


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


Ashbourne’s Take On The Guidance:


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


What Are The Rules For My Gym In Tier 2?

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

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


The Government Guidance:


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


Ashbourne’s Take On The Guidance:


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


What Are The Rules For My Gym In Tier 3?

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

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


The Government Guidance:


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


Ashbourne’s Take On The Guidance:


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


How To Make The Most From Your Club?

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


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


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



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

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

Best regards,

The Ashbourne Team