What Does A Socially Distanced Health Club Look Like?

Man in the gym, exercising his legs doing cardio training on bicycle wearing a mask - coronavirus concept

When clubs and gyms are reopened in the UK after lockdown restrictions lift, it’s no surprise that social distancing rules are going to drastically change the average gym session for both members and staff alike.

While social distancing is going to be an important change to gym life for the months to come, the question remains:

What does a successful socially distanced gym actually look like?

We’ve already seen lots of creative ideas thrown around, with certain gyms in the US actually sectioning off 2 metre workout areas draped in protective PPE covering. But for the average club owner, they need simple and effective methods to quickly make their gym safe and socially distanced, while keeping everything simple for their members and staff to quickly get into a routine and stay healthy.

So on the theme of keeping things simple, let’s run through what social distancing in a health club is actually going to look like on the day-to-day.

 

A Socially Distanced Club Means…

 

All Gym Equipment Will Be Spaced Out Across The Club

If you want to keep your members socially distanced during their workouts, that means you’re going to have to distance all of your workout equipment.

Sport Girl In Mask from Coronavirus doing Kettlebells PlankingOverall, clubs are going to have to minimise the equipment available on the gym floor because every member is going to need to be able to exercise in an area that allows them to distance from other gym users.

This will take some planning and a lot of heavy lifting in order to best use your space efficiently in order to have as wide of a variety of equipment available in your club, while also adequately spacing out your equipment around your facility.

All of this could account for you needing to cut your equipment down by at least 50%.

However, this is also an opportunity to maximise your space. If you have areas that you would usually use for classes, you could potentially use these as part of your main gym floor in order to keep as much of your equipment available for your members to use.

 

Increased Signage & One Way Systems Throught The Club

In light of your entire gym layout changing, this will require some new signage in order to help your members learn the new rules and guide themselves around the facility.

All of your efforts will be for nil if your members aren’t following the protocols to keep themselves and your club safe and healthy. And with minimal staff on the floor, you can’t have confused members asking for help from your already busy staff members.

Clear and simple to understand signage should decorate your club and you should be ready to update and change signage based on your member’s feedback or confusion.

One way systems may also be required for some clubs, depending on their layout, which will require further markings on the floor in order to clearly create a path for your members to work their way around your facility.

 

Cleaning Equipment & Sanitisers On Every Machine

Club members should be no stranger to wiping down equipment after a workout (well…most of them anyway). That process is going to continue, but is going to be enforced far more strictly.

Hand sanitiser should be found at the following locations:

 

1 – Every entrance and exit to the gymGym cleaning and disinfection. Infection prevention and control of epidemic. Staff using wipe and alcohol sanitizer spray to clean treadmill in gym. Anti Covid-19 precautions

2 – Next to every single piece of equipment, to be used before and after use

3 – Outside any locker or toilet facilities

 

Along with hand sanitiser, equipment should also have a complete cleaning facility, including paper towels and anti bacterial spray, which members should be requested to clean the equipment with after use…without fail!

Overall, your team should be visibly cleaning the facility throughout the day, which is partly for cleanliness and partly to demonstrate that you’re taking the situation seriously and keeping your members feeling comfortable and safe.

 

Limited or Zero Access To Showers / Saunas / Steam Rooms

While there is little evidence that Coronavirus is spread easier in environments like Showers and Saunas (we have information like this in our Coronavirus FAQ that clubs can send out to their members), the fact remains that they are high contact environments that are difficult to control.

Sign the pool is closed because of covid infection.Because of this, it is likely that clubs are going to have to completely close, or largely restrict access to certain areas of thier facility, such as showers, saunas, steam rooms and changing rooms.

In surveys that we’ve conducted with our gym Prime Fitness Redditch, we asked our own members their opinions on limiting access to locker rooms and our shower facilities. The good news is that a majority of our members were completely fine with this given the circumstances, although several mentioned they would not like this on a long term basis.

Regardless of your members’ response, it’s clear that in order to keep your members safe and make sure your gym is not a source of contamination, that you will likely have to close your changing facilities and saunas where you cannot guarantee social distancing.

However, the best practice with this is to use surveys in order to keep your members updated and get their feedback so that you can quickly respond and relieve any confusion or frustrations that your members may have.

 

Gym Sessions Booked By Appointment

Restricting the actual numer of members who can enter your facility at any one time is a major part of social distancing.

Afterall, it would be self defeating to half the equipment in your gym, only for a packed gym full of members to be impatiently waiting to use the limited equipment.

Having a system in place for your members to book appointments in order to use the gym is the best way to do this. If you have a class booking system in place, this will be best retrofitted to take bookings for the gym in general.

Ashbourne customers already have access to a specially built gym sessions booking system, as well as an automated system that creates a reservation list and gives members the ability to come to the gym earlier if there is a cancellation – all done automatically without the need for staff to keep track of it.

Once again, clear communication with your members is key here, so they understand how the process works, but also understand why the process is in place in order to ease the transition into a socially distanced club environment.

 

A Continuing Focus On Online Classes & Online Only Memberships

Video streaming Stay home.home fitness workout class live streaming online.Asian woman doing strength training cardio aerobic dance exercises watching videos on a smart tv in the living room at home.Based on our own findings, we’ve discovered that members over 50 are far more likely to be concerned about returning to gyms immediately after they reopen.

Why do we mention this?

Because the data shows that all members aren’t the same.

Club owners are going to have to be highly aware of the demographics of their gym and fit their reopen plan to them.

As a business, you’re also need to find a way to give a valuable service to your members who are inevitably going to become impatient with the fact that they can’t enter the gym whenever they want, with social distancing and session booking in place.

Between the issue of members potentially not wanting to return to the club straight away, and the restrictions place on those that are returning, there needs to be a huge focus on providing online classes, workouts and support to keep your members engaged with your gym.

But this isn’t a cause for concern, this can be a huge opportunity to deliver a wider service:

Any classes you run, you can now livestream.

You can create extra revenue by providing an online only membership.

Post more free help and support to your members online to get them believing in your brand.

 

There Are Big Opportunities For Your Club Here…

Today’s obstacles can evolve into a better service for your members, if you plan your relaunch correctly.

The current restrictions can provide the inspiration to you to come up with smarter ways to increase your revenue.

A successful post-COVID club needs to implement social distancing changes quickly, while also using the new setup to maximise their revenue and demonstrate to their members that they care and are listening.

The socially distanced club is a strange new frontier, but if we pull together and plan ahead, we can leave lockdown with an industry that has greater reach to our customers, reaching far into the future when social distancing is a thing of the past.

If you want to talk to Ashbourne about helping you get your gym “social distance” ready, then get in touch with us and we can give you the support, software and tools you need to hit the ground running for your reopen date.

Coronavirus FAQ For Gyms And Health Clubs

Coronavirus FAQ For Clubs

When it comes to health clubs and coronavirus, there are so many questions coming from all sides. Many members are cautious about returning to their gym due to the numerous unknowns that COVID-19 is causing.

And on the other side, gym owners are also uncertain about many key COVID-19 facts, such as how easily it can spread in a gym and what is the best way to keep your club clean and free from the virus.

To help answer the most frequently asked questions, we’ve put together our very own Coronavirus FAQ For Clubs & Gyms, which we are giving away as blank template for you to download, rebrand with your own gym’s logo and then send out to your members to answer their questions and put their minds at ease about coronavirus.

We’ve answered all of the most common questions below, so feel free to download your free unbranded Coronavirus FAQ template here, so you can out your member’s minds at ease and get them back into your club and using your facility when indoor clubs open later in the year.

 

How Can We Keep The Gym Clean?

All gyms will need to be deep cleaned overnight and regularly throughout the day, using high-grade disinfectants that will kill the virus. It is impossible to keep any environment 100% clean, however it is possible to make environments ‘safe’ by undertaking appropriate cleaning measures. COVID-19 is easy to kill with most readily available cleaning products and with thorough hand washing with soap for 20 seconds or more.

 

Can You Catch COVID-19 From Sweat?

No, COVID-19 cannot be transmitted through sweat. However, don’t forget that wiping sweat from your face could lead to the virus being passed from your hands to your face. So it is important to regularly use hand sanitisers which are 60% alcohol or more and avoid touching your face as much as possible. Make sure there are hand sanitising stations throughout the gym, so they are easily accessible to your members.

 

Can Physical Activity Help Against COVID-19?

Being physically fit has a number of health benefits, including being highly protective against a range of illnesses. People with underlying health conditions, diabetes etc and those who are overweight are more at risk to being affected by COVID-19, so given that the virus is now considered to be ‘endemic’ within the community, it is more important than ever to maintain your fitness – which in turn will boost your immune system.

 

Are Gyms Higher Risk Than Other Enclosed Spaces?

Not at all. There is the same chance of getting COVID-19 in all indoor areas. What is important is that people follow social distancing, cleanliness and aerosolisation guidelines. The COVID-19 R rate (the rate the infection is spread by one person) is much higher indoors, including shops, households and workplaces. Although gyms fall into this same category, this can be mitigated through special measures and guidelines put in place.

 

Should I Wear A Mask To The Gym?

No, wearing a mask is not a requirement when attending the gym, unless it makes you or your members feel more comfortable. A mask protects people from droplet spread from an infected peron to another person, it does not protect the wearer and following social distancing is of greater importance.

 

Should I Wear Gloves To The Gym?

No, you do not need to wear gloves at the gym. Gloves should be reserved for those responsible for certain tasks such as caring for the sick, working in a hospital environment or by cleaning staff. Gloves can harbour a high viral load and could contaminate surfaces. Washing your hands is far more important.

 

Can I Get COVID-19 From The Air?

COVID-19 survives in droplets or possibly aerosols (very fine particles) and can be transmitted person to person via close contact. There is no evidence to suggest that COVID-19 can be transmitted through the air. Maintaining social distancing greatly reduces risk of spreading as the majority of droplets fall to the ground at this distance.

 

How Can I Help Reduce The Spread of Infection?

If you have any concerns that you may have contracted, or been in contact with anyone infected with COVID-19 – stay home. When you are in the gym, follow the simple guidelines, keep your distance, wash your hands and clean equipment before and after use. When speaking, stand beside one another and make sure to cough/sneeze into the inside of your elbow.

 

Is Using The Club Showers Safe?

Clothes are considered a low-risk source of infection from COVID-19 and washing at 60 degrees celcius or above kills the virus. However, they can become contaminated so should be handled with care and being sure to wash your hands thoroughly after touching. Do not hand wash clothes and be sure to change immediately after reaching home.
There is currently no evidence to support the suggestion that COVID-19 can be spread to humans through the use of showers, hot tubs, pools or spas. It is, therefore, safe to shower but once again ensuring that social distancing is followed. For the time being, members should be encouraged to arrived and leave in gym kit wherever possible.

Get Instant Feedback On Your Club With Our Free Member Survey Template

Member Survey Template Feature Image

It’s always been important to shape your club around the demands of your members. But with the complications caused by the COVID lockdown and the upcoming restrictions that social distancing will cause when your club reopens, it’s never been more important to keep open clear channels of communication with your members.

With the numerous changes coming your way, you need to be sure that your members are going to be on board with your social distancing measures and connecting with the message you’re putting out.

Using a member’s survey is the quickest and most straight forward way to get an accurate read on who is using your club and what they want from your facility.

 

Use Our Free Member Survey Template For Your Club

We’ve already done the hard part and created a free member survey template for your club, complete with all the instructions to walk your members through it.

The complete survey covers every aspect of your re-opening process:

 

  • Get detailed information on your members’ weekly gym usage
  • Gauge your members’ opinions on social distancing procedures
  • Get an accurate breakdown of your members’ demographics to help you target with the right message
  • Provide them with a special reward as an incentive for completing the survey

 

Everything is built with Google Forms, a completely free and simple way to build high quality and professional surveys.

You can send out a single form to your entire facility and store all of their responses in one single dashboard, with the ability to look at individual member’s responses, or compare the feedback of your entire member base.

You can find our template here, complete with our entire list of questions, pre-written copy to explain everything to your members and a special gift idea to get members clicking into your survey and completing it in the first place.

 

How To Use Google Forms

Like most Google products, Google forms is designed to be user friendly, look sleek and most importantly, be incredibly reliable.

Here are your simple 3 steps to creating your own member survey using our template…

 

Step 1: Login to Google Forms & Create A Blank Form

Simply click this link to be taken straight to Google Forms. You might have to log in if you don’t already have a Google account.

You should then be taken to the “Template Gallery”. Select the “blank” template so you can have a blank canvas to start with.

Then open up our Member Survey Template.

 

Step 2: Copy The Questions & Layout From Our Template

All you need to do is simply copy and paste our questions, answers and introductions to each section of the survey over into your blank template. You’ll quickly learn how Google Forms works and how simple it is to create complex and engaging forms in just minutes.

If you run into any problems, then just check Google’s helpful tutorials on how to use Google Forms.

All of our questions will provide your health club with a great basis to get a well rounded sense of what your members want from your club and of course, you can edit and change as you go to suit your style and needs.

Feel free to run through our template survey as many times as you want in order to get a sense of how it works.

 

Step 3: Keep An Eye On Your Responses & Adapt Accordingly

As your responses are filled in, Google Forms will automatically pull all the information together into easy to read graphs and charts.

At a glance, you’ll quickly be able to see how your members feel about every issue or change facing your club.

And by adding in a few quality of life questions, you can even find out a few things that aren’t related to lockdown or COVID-19, which can greatly streamline how you run your club.

Prime Fitness Contant Google Forms Examples
At a glance, you get clear information that can drastically improve the way you communicate with your members

 

 

Why Member Surveys Are So Important

Many clubs are absolutely terrified of asking their members for feedback. On the face of it, it can seem like a bad idea, as many club owners fear that it creates an impression that they’re unsure of what they’re doing. An even more prominent myth is that contacting your members can actually drive them away, as they are more likely to become aware of their monthly spending with your facility if you remind them that they have a membership with you.

These couldn’t be further from the truth.

Members use your service because they like it and one of the most rewarding things you can do for your members is to look like you’re trying to make your fitness business suit their needs.

That has never been more important than now, when your members are going to be greatly affected by the social distancing rules you will have to bring into place for the second half of 2020.

 

This is just a short list of ways that our survey helped our own gym at Prime Fitness:

 

  • We discovered how quickly our members will be returning to the club
  • We discovered a majority of our members will be returning on the first day
  • We discovered people in higher age brackets were more cautious of returning to the gym
  • We discovered that most of our members were happy with temporary limits to their gym usage
  • We discovered how often our members actually use the gym per week
  • We discovered that we could close the changing rooms without upsetting most members
  • Our offer of a free 6 months membership to one lucky survey user increased our social media activity

 

And the most important thing we learned from the survey…

Every change we made from now on, we could quote the stats that our members are happy with the changes.

It makes it a lot easier to defend your actions, if your members have already agreed with them.

 

We hope you find the member survey template helpful and that it continues to give you the ability and freedom to truly get a sense of what your members want from your club, so you can be the club that your members never want to leave, through lockdown and beyond.

How To Successfully Relaunch Your Club After COVID-19 Lockdown – Free Webinar

How To Successfully Relaunch After Lockdown Webinar Thumbnail

In this free webinar, gym owner and manager, Grant Harrison will show you the steps you need to take in order to successfully relaunch your club after lockdown ends.

Using a tried and tested strategy employed by his own club, Prime Fitness Redditch, Grant and the team will walk you through their extensive checklist of things you need to be doing in order to successfully reopen your club after the COVID-19 lockdown. If your gym has been affected by the Coronavirus lockdowns, then you’ll learn how to:

  • Keep up your lead generation until you actually reopen, to keep attracting new members.
  • Conquer your relaunch marketing and let your network aware that you’re reopening.
  • Make sure your gym is prepared for social distancing so that your members feel comfortable enough to return sooner.
  • How to demonstrate all of this to your members through marketing and be seen as the club that cares.

Watch The Full Webinar Here: How To Relaunch Your Club After Lockdown

 


Get Your Complete List of Free Resources

In the webinar, we want to give you as many resources as possible to get through lockdown and successfully relaunch your club once the COVID-19 situation has passed.

Let’s not soften the blow, nothing about your club’s reopening will be simple. There will be challenges with getting your members back through the doors, or possibly even the possibility of a second lockdown.

However, we’re here to give you as much advice as possible to help your fitness business thrive and grow by taking action now and getting ready for the clubs and gyms reopening across the UK in July.

 

  1. Download the webinar slides here.
  2. Join the Gym Owner’s Forum here.
  3. Download your copy of Grant’s free e-book “100 Ways To Attract More Members To Your Club” here.
  4. Download the “Reopening Your Gym After Lockdown Checklist”.
  5. Use our “Member Feedback Survey Template”.

 

Get In Touch With Grant At Ashbourne

All of the techniques and systems we’ve mentioned in this webinar are possible to do by yourself.

However, they will take a lot of time, investment and manpower to manage and pull off.

The strength in Ashbourne Membership Management is that we have the infrastructure and help in place to get you started from today. We have a team to communicate with your members on your behalf, and our own proprietary software that can handle everything else: From controlling access to your club, to instantly creating promotions to share with your members.

Ashbourne Membership Management is here to help you every step of the way, so don’t hesitate to set up a chat if you want to make your club a success before it’s time to relaunch.

How To Save A Failing Gym [2/2]: Rebuilding A Healthy Gym

A few days ago, you joined us for the first part of a story about a gym on the brink of collapse.

In the second part, we’re going to tell you how we solved those problems.

And not only that, we’re going to give you a completely FREE way to do the same at your own club.

Okay, it’s not completely free. The price is to read our story to the end.

And If you missed the first part, then you can quickly catch up by reading it here.


This Is How We Saved A Failing Gym…

 

At the end of the last part you might remember that we had identified dozens of problems with Prime Fitness upon discovering it had been abandoned.

But there were some key issues which were the most troubling:

  • The gym was insecure and was being used for free by a huge number of people
  • The gym was open 24/7 but was barely being used at night hours
  • The gym’s running costs were astronomical
  • The gym was far too large for purpose, which meant high business rates
  • The place was generally run down



That was a nice handful of issues to walk in on. At first it seemed like the whole project should be abandoned. It was clearly in disarray and we simply didn’t have the money in place to spend on improvements even if we’d wanted to.

However, the desire to try and bring it back was too great. Ashbourne is built on effectively managing gyms and clubs and this seemed like exactly the challenge which had sparked our love and got us into the business over 25 years ago.

So we broke it down into 3 areas that needed focusing on.

  1. We needed to lower the current outgoings
  2. We needed to raise further capital to fund the improvements
  3. Which meant we needed to grow our memberships

 

Focusing On The Positive

The good news was that the gym was incredible. It had some major selling points.

The gym was an amazing size and was clearly popular. Unfortunately, at present that translated to it being expensive and most of its users weren’t paying for it.

 

We just needed to access that potential in a way that no one else had.

 

Step 1: Negotiating Lease & Business Rates

 

We immediately discussed terms with the landlord on the lease and the energy suppliers. Many clubs won’t be aware of this, but the days of negotiation are not over.

You as the customer, have a lot of power and more often than not a landlord and energy suppliers need you as much as you need them, sometimes even moreso.

We cut our prices by thousands in just under a week, with words alone.

The sheer area of the gym was also posing a problem with our business rates. The place was simply too big. However, where there’s a will, there’s a way and it turns out that the very layout of your gym could be costing you thousands extra a year.

With no changes to the gym itself and by simply isolating certain areas, we once again cut our rates by a significant margin. You just have to do the research and learn how rates are actually calculated. It will surprise you how much money you can save.

Once the money had been saved, next we needed to increase our earnings to fund the gym and that meant we needed members.

 

Step 2: Cutting Our Costs & Bringing Members In

 

We cut the 24 hour open times!

There were some grumbles, but it was for the good of the business. It simply wasn’t worth it in the long run and that’s how we had to look at it.

A new biometric system was instantly put in place to only allow entrance with fingerprint.

As well as that, turnstiles and a fully manned reception (helped by the gym not being 24/7) were installed to completely block entry to everyone but our actual members.

Members began signing up in the dozens. It could have been a coincidence, but it’s clear that suddenly a lot of people had lost access to their favourite local gym and were now signing up as members for the first time.

We also increased prices, which didn’t affect the membership at all and instead just brought in more income. If your gym is worth the price, then people will pay it. It’s natural to want to race to the bottom, but you need to make a profit as a business and it’s a habit that needs breaking out of.

Of course, we also gave members back something for that extra price, even though it cost us nothing extra.

We gave access to free internet for the members. It was an internet connection that was already there but simply not made available to members. It cost us nothing and surprisingly, people at the gym didn’t use the internet enough to affect our speeds at all.

But the value to the member was there and that was all that mattered!


And we turned one of those previously pointless rooms into a simple cafe. It was easy to set up and gave members even more reason to spend money and time at the gym.


And then came the third part of our plan. Getting new members.

 

Step 3: Discovering New Members & Building Our Reach

 

We built a new website in-house from scratch.

We created trackable codes.

We began advertising on Facebook to the local area.

We hosted a simple promotion to remove our joining fee.

 

It took us 5 days to do all of that and we got 100 new members for our trouble!

 

And you might remember all of that rundown equipment?

Well, using the new savings and increased income from our targeted membership growth, we pulled in enough to update all of the gym’s equipment and began a total rebrand and redesign of the club, which is ongoing today.

And it was all done with zero investment! 

 

All of it was simply from the gym’s own income.

 

This Is How You Can Do The Same For Your Gym…

 

And now that you’ve read our story and seen what’s possible with your club, this is where we fulfill our end of the deal.

We are offering you a completely free phone consultation.

Using the knowledge we have learned and put into action at Prime Fitness, we want to:

 

  1. Talk to you about your club

  2. Show you how you can improve nearly every aspect of it

 

From how to improve your business rates, to retaining more members or even how to discover a whole new stream of members – we are here to help with exactly that!

Please get in touch with us here and we’ll be in touch to help you take your gym further.

How To Save A Failing Gym [1/2]: This Gym Was Dead! Until…

We have a story for you today. It’s about a gym on the brink of death and how we brought it back to life.

But more importantly, how we did it with:

 

  • No additional investment – Just using the existing cash flow of the gym itself
  • Negotiating with the right people – To save thousands of pounds a year
  • Used the existing gym analytics – To drastically increase the membership 

 

Across this 2 part story, we’ll not only help you predict the dangers of poor club management, but how you can learn from those mistakes and pull a fitness business back from the brink.

And if you stick with us to the end, we’ll help you avoid all of these pitfalls and save your gym!

Let’s start at the beginning, where we uncover the problems of a poorly run club.

 

How To Save A Failing Gym: The Problem

 

Prime Fitness in Redditch was a gym that had all the odds stacked against it. 

It had already been abandoned when we arrived. The owners had walked out, leaving the gym on automated mode. The gym was 24/7 and the systems we’d put in place had automated the place to such a degree that its members weren’t even aware it was unmanned.

Members had arrived, checked in and exercised without even realising the gym was on the verge of closure.

So how does a gym that’s running so seemlessly get to this point?

 

The issue? 

Mismanagement. 

 

A mixture of bad planning, lack of investment and a continued attitude to allow these problems to pile up had brought the club to breaking point. 

The motto for running it until that point may as well have been:

See no evil. Hear no evil. Speak no evil. 

Issues were ignored on a mass scale, and when the ongoing leaks finally got too bad, the ship was abandoned.

 

The Reason Why Gyms Fail

Sadly this isn’t a special case. Hundreds of gyms close every year, often in their very early years and it’s more often than not because naive managers quickly come to find out the truth: that running a gym is hard. It needs constant attention, not only in terms of the upkeep of the equipment and overall quality of the gym, but also when it comes to managing growth and the processes that allow for that growth.

What can seem like small problems that can be made up for with a quick extra job here and there, or simply putting in more hours to handle any inefficiencies, can quickly derail over time. 

Everything can be under control and then something surprising comes up or a disagreement arises and everything can fall apart. Because if you’re not resolving old problems, then you’ve always got more to deal with, no matter how good you get at putting things off.

And you only have so much time in the world. And there’s only so many problems you can potentially deal with in a day. There isn’t always more time. It can and will run out.

 

The Key Problems We Found At The Club

We closely monitor all of our gyms, so it became obvious once it went quiet that something was going on at Prime Fitness.

We quickly arrived on the scene and got to work on finding out what had gone wrong.

From the outset it all seemed like a lost cause, but we wanted to properly investigate.

We found a laundry list of problems:

 

  • The equipment was rundown, sometimes flat out broken
  • The gym wasn’t regularly manned
  • The gym was open 24/7 (we’ll go into this problem in a bit)
  • Security was lax and members were sharing pin codes to enter the gym
  • The gym was huge, yet many areas were completely unused

 

And the problems only got worse when we looked into the outgoings. The cost of the lease was too high and the energy bills each month were astronomical. This was partly based on a lack of accurate budgeting, partly due to a lack of negotiation with any suppliers but mostly it came down to a complete lack of planning.

The first place we turned to was the management system, which had been tracking all the analytics, from costs, intake and most importantly, member usage.

The membership attendance was very high, which was fantastic.

So what was the problem?

It seemed to be only a few members who were attending, several times a day, every single day of the year.

So what was causing this? Was it just a select few potential Olympic athletes in the making?

 

The Problem With A Badly Managed 24/7 Gym

Surprisingly not. It was instead multiple people using the same pin code to enter the gym. Dozens of members were using a single account. And this was all because the gym was not being manned or managed well enough to spot a problem that we discovered within a few hours of arriving.

Ashbourne are very aware of the problem that pin codes cause and that’s why we don’t use them.

We always provide fingerprint scanners as the most secure form of entrance, to successfully verify every single individual member, making it effectively impossible for multiple people to use the same membership (unless they are the 1 in 64 million people who share a fingerprint – but surprisingly that doesn’t happen too often).

But once again, there had been no update or thought put into the entry systems, allowing these issues to perpetuate until word got around and people simply weren’t signing up. People in the area were hungry to use the gym, because it was still a large and well stocked gym, but there had simply been no plan in place to combat these issues at their source.

 

Potential customers were using the facilities for free, when they could’ve been paying members.

That same data also showed us further issues, the largest being that even though the gym was open 24/7, only 5 people were using it during the night hours.

Tens of thousands of pounds a year were being spent to give 24/7 access to a just handful of members.

All the data was there to solve this issue. For months and years, no one had taken the time to check these in-depth analytics which at a glance would’ve immediately shown these glaring issues.

Thousands could’ve been saved. Members could’ve been engaged and brought in.

In theory this was a great gym and now it was too late to be pulled back from the brink.

 

It was a textbook case of a business that had been given up on and was likely just going to fade closure.

 

Or was it…?

 

You can click here to learn the solutions of how we saved a failing gym in part 2…

The Future of The Gym Industry

It’s no secret that members continue to demand more from their clubs. The cold hard truth is that this demand for improvement is here to stay. And, as technology and your competition continue to evolve, your customers’ expectations are only going to become even higher.

If you’re going to prosper next year and beyond, you have to ensure that you always stay one step ahead of consumers’ expectations. This, naturally, raises the question; how can you keep up with the constant demand for better services & efficiencies?

Staying Ahead Of The Curve

Part of your success as a club comes down to your ability to give your members what they need before they know what they need. With the pace that technology is evolving and the fierce competition in the industry, it’s the clubs who can do this that will reap the rewards in the long run.

At Ashbourne, we have two main areas of focus as a business: improving the user experience of our software package and giving members and prospects an evolving solution to their problems.

2020 & Beyond The ongoing development & evolution of our software here at Ashbourne is critical to ensure that we give our customers (you) everything you need to thrive as a business It’s of paramount importance in ensuring that our platform continues to lead the way in this industry.

Ashbourne’s 24/7 Smart Chat Bot is nearing the final stages of completion. The bot has been developed to provide your members with real-time updates on their membership, engage with those who have cancelled and even help fill classes within your club. The Smart Chat Bot is unique in the fact it is not just a tool for maintaining high standards of customer service. Intelligent messaging allows the bot to reach out to members who have displayed certain characteristics and can effectively automate simple marketing processes. For example, a member who has failed to book their favourite class will receive an SMS prompt and will be booked on to the class through a simple reply. A multi-lingual tool, the Ashbourne 24/7 Smart Chat Bot will be available across Europe in 2020.

Prospect Marketing

Adaptable prospect marketing is another huge area of growth for Ashbourne. Using preselected promotions, it’s becoming easier than ever to deliver the offers & information that your potential customers want to see across email and social media marketing. Instead of guessing what your customer wants, you can use automation, A/B testing and social algorithms to deliver a seamless sales process which ultimately allows you to sign up new members in a more effective & efficient way.

Our Fitness App

And finally, we’re making vast improvements to our Fitness App. Members are using their mobile phones more & more to govern and implement their healthy lifestyles. We’re developing our app to reflect that, providing more ways for members to store their own health data and plan their gym time whilst on the go, all from one reliable, powerful and simple-to-use application.

These advancements in design & functionality are designed to drive improvements in user experience and of course deliver value to your members which is key to helping you maximise retention and increase your profitability as a club.

To find out more about our software developments get in touch by phone on 01564 741 837 or send an email to [email protected].

Here’s How A “Join Gym Online” Option Will Grow Your Fitness Business

Online card payment

Having a “join gym online” option for your members is one of the simplest ways that you can instantly grow your fitness business by earning more income and severely reducing your admin and staff costs.

Those sound like big promises, but in our 20 years managing gyms and health clubs, nothing shifts the performance of a health club more than the introduction of online gym sign up.

A “join gym online” option is simply the most efficient, convenient and fastest way to turn prospects into paying members. But you’re a business owner and you want better reasons than “it’s convenient” before you invest in an online sign up system.

So stick with us and we’ll give you 4 practical, honest, tried and tested reasons why providing a “join gym online” option for your customers will help grow your fitness business.

 

The Only 4 Things You’ll Ever Need To Know About Online Gym Sign Up

 

1. Online Gym Sign Up Is Perfect For New Gym Goers

Gym membership spend in the UK is up 44% in the last year and with so many gym rookies taking their first steps into the gym, there’s no better time to make your gym as accessible to them as possible.

As you can imagine, customers who are new to the gym life aren’t the most confident. One of the best ways to combat those initial nerves, is to make their sign up process as simple as possible.

Online gym sign up is one of the best ways to achieve this. By offering an “online gym join” option to your gym, it means that new customers can sign up in the comfort of their own home, without feeling awkward about going into a gym and having to ask someone to set up their account.

It’s a small thing, but the more comfortable you can make your members, the more likely they are to take that initial plunge into the mysterious world of the gym and sign up with you.

 

2. Online Gym Sign Up Allows For Immediate Purchases & Up-sells

There’s a reason why online shopping has grown exponentially and overtaken high street shopping since it’s inception.

money-card-business-credit-cardIt’s not only convenient, but it also allows customers to make instant decisions on signing up.

That magical moment that a prospective member has the inspiration that they want to change their life, get healthier and sign up for a gym, is your most powerful point of sale.

And being able to do an online gym sign up is the perfect method to convert customers at this point. A member can decide they want to get healthy, discover your gym and sign up there and then.

Now think of the alternative.

You member decides they want to get healthy. They excitedly go online and discover your gym. It’s perfect. But there’s no online sign up, so they’ll head in tomorrow after work to join. They have a tough day at work and end up heading straight home. They’re too tired tonight. Maybe they’ll go tomorrow. Rinse and repeat.

However, if your member had signed up there and then, they’d be more likely to actually turn up because now they’re a member. They’re paying for that gym membership and now they’re compelled to use it and actually start improving their health.

In short, online gym sign up is the quickest way to not only secure a member, but make sure that they actually use and enjoy the service that they’re paying for.

 

3. Online Gym Sign Up Saves Your Staff Time

paper with time written on it burningThis point should be relatively self explanatory, but if you remove your staff from the membership sign up process, then you immediately free up your staffs’ time.

And this means that your staff have more time in the day to get on with more important things. That means they have more time to focus on customer service, training and gym maintenance – which in turn means your customers will have a better service and are more likely to stay with your gym for longer.

If you’ve ever felt like there aren’t enough hours in the day, then automating your membership sign up process with a “join gym online” option is a cheap, quick and reliable way to achieve just that.

 

4. Joining A Gym Online Makes It Easier To Set Up Direct Debits

Every gym is different and there are many things that work for some health clubs which doesn’t translate to success for others.

But a universal fact across all businesses in the fitness industry is that direct debits increase your member retention, plain and simple.

thinking customer on laptopWe’ve got lots to say about direct debits, in fact it was the first service that Ashbourne Membership Management offered to gyms and health clubs over 20 years ago. But the simple reason is that direct debits simply just work!

If you implement a direct debit payment as your default method of payment when members sign up online, then it’s the perfect entry point to get members on the direct debit service.

It’s becoming something of an industry norm at this point, so members are happy to sign up for a direct debit online, which in turn means they’re likely to pay their membership, stay with you for longer and save you from a world of admin keeping track of any rogue payments.

 

Don’t Miss Out On The Potential of Online Gym Sign Up

While we’ve only given you 4 top reasons why an online gym sign up option is key to a successful modern health club, there are dozens more reasons why it’s a terrible idea to not have an “online gym join” option for your new members.

With over 20 years in the fitness industry, managing memberships and the day-to-day admin for gyms and health clubs, Ashbourne have seen online gym sign up totally revolutionise the fitness industry and the potential that it has to make a fitness business successful.

Don’t miss out on your chance to take your gym or leisure club to the next level. You can get in touch with us today and we’ll offer you a completely free demo of how you can set up online gym sign up at your own gym and start discovering the potential in your fitness business.

How To Future Proof Your Fitness Business And Keep Up With Your Members’ Demands

robot smiling

As the owner of a fitness business, it’s no secret that customers are demanding more and more from their services. Whatever your feelings on the matter, the cold hard truth is that this demand is not only here to stay, but it’s only going to increase as the technology and services that consumers use everyday continue to streamline their lives and increase their expectations further.

It’s a self perpetuating cycle where you must always stay one step ahead of the consumer’s expectations, which will then set their expectations even higher. That’s why it’s never been more important to future proof your fitness business and make sure you’re ahead of the current consumer demand trends.

So now that we have that fact out of the way, the real questions are:

What are the current demand trends that are emerging in the health and fitness industry from consumers?

And how can you future proof your fitness business to keep up with that consumer demand?

 

How The Fitness Industry Has Changed In 20 Years

As a gym owner, the decisions you make in your fitness business can no longer simply be to cover the bases. 

Crossfit Gym MobileAshbourne Membership Management is proof of that trend in the health and fitness industry. 20 years ago, Ashbourne started as a service which handled direct debits and debt collection. It was set up as a way to improve the method by which gyms could retain more members and collect their memberships more reliably, with less admin on the gym’s end.

A nice, simple and convenient proposition for everyone involved.

Today, Ashbourne Membership Management is a fully fledged, multi-module, integrated service offering everything from member’s apps, turnstile installation, club check-in software, prospect management, online joining, class booking systems, staff scheduling and of course, that same direct debit service as well.

And while this might feel like all of the above is now finally enough for your average gym, it’s that particular error of underestimating customer demands and market trends which has spelled doom for so many gyms and health clubs.

We’ve seen it time and time again when gym owners fail to understand what it means to future proof your fitness business.

That’s why more and more, our focus has turned to business and product development. It’s a fundamental aspect of our continued success in the fitness industry and we’ve learnt this lesson not only from the successful gyms that we continue to manage, but equally from the now non-existent gyms who simply didn’t take their members’ demands seriously.

20 years ago we ourselves and gym owners alike thrived in a fitness business where:

 

Online joining was just an additional convenience.

24 hour gym access was often too expensive to be viable.

Direct debits were not a necessity.

Extra resources were a pointless extra.

And the smartphone only existed as a concept, with no apps to speak of.

 

Times change, the customer changes, but one thing stays the same: You must adapt or die.

So what are the next frontiers that gym owners need to be aware of when it becomes time to future your fitness business?

 

Be Aware of The Trends Your Customers Will Demand

We spend a lot of time watching the market and trying to get ahead of the services that we believe customers will soon demand from their local fitness business.

Improving your services solely for a better and more modern customer service experience is possibly the most important aspect to future proofing your fitness business.

That’s why our current focus is always on improving the user experience, giving members and prospects instant solutions to their problems. But there are 3 key areas in particular that have our focus for the time being.

fitness app gymTo start with, 24/7 smart chat bot support is a major advancement in the customer service experience. Bots allow for round the clock support, adaptable prospect marketing, instant missed payment reminders and automated class management – all without the need of human oversight.

To follow that, adaptable prospect marketing is a huge area of growth. Using pre-selected promotions, it’s becoming easier than ever to deliver the deals that potential customers want to see across your email and social marketing. Instead of guessing what your customer wants, you can use automation, A/B testing and social algorithms to deliver the customer’s perfect sales pitch right to them and have them sign up there and then.

And finally, an all in one fitness app is now one of the best marketing/user tools you can have at your disposal. Members are using their mobiles more and more to govern and implement their healthy lifestyles. Our app needs to reflect that, giving them more ways to store their own health data and plan their gym time while on the go, all from one reliable, powerful and simple to use application.

 

But Is Future Proofing Your Fitness Business Worth it?

money and calculatorOn the face of it, these advancements can be brushed off as cosmetic or indulgent ways for your customers to get in touch, these improvements to the user experience often goes hand in hand with profitability as well. 

Many experience improvements like a bot and adaptable marketing instantly allow you to automate the entire gym process, saving you time and money throughout every stage of a member’s journey through your health club, from point of sale to general enquiries.

The more you invest in streamlining and improving the ways your member can communicate and interact with you, the more opportunities there are to save money and grow your business. The industry has seen the potential in automation through the sudden surge of 24 hour gyms. It was only a dream for smaller gyms 20 years ago when staff costs were taken into account. But now, it’s almost an expectation and it’s developments in things like automation which have made it possible.

 

Future Proof Your Fitness Business & Be Part of The Next 20 Years

And who knows where we’ll be in another 20 years. Virtual reality classes? Full biometric integration with your fitness app? Your daily workout in pill form?

Whatever it is, the important thing is that you’re ready for it. But we’re confident that with imagination and a continued finger on the pulse of the industry, that we can stay ahead of the curve and be on the cutting edge of what the consumer needs, before even they know they need it.

And it’s a future that we’d love to see you be a part of.

If you want to know more about our chat bot, or the range of new features that we continue to develop across all of our club membership management services, then don’t hesitate to get in touch with us today and one of our team will be on hand to help you realise the potential of your fitness business.

This Is How You Retain Gym Members In 18 Simple Steps

tug of war body building

Having a strategy in place to retain gym members is the only true way to keep your fitness business healthy and growing.

On average it can cost 7x more to convert a new member than to retain existing gym members. Focusing on accumulating new members instead of aiming to retain your current gym members is the business equivalent of having a leaky bucket.

Would you rather plug the holes in the bucket, or constantly just keep filling it with water in the hope you can keep it topped up?

Topping up instead of fixing the underlying problem simply causes excess stress and pressure on your marketing and staff. A long term customer who spends a year at your gym is worth 12 members who only spend a month. It’s for this reason why a focus on membership retention is so important.

 

This Is How You Retain Gym Members in 18 Simple Steps

So instead of chasing after the next new customer, let’s take the stress away by giving you tried, tested and practical ways for how to retain gym members and grow your fitness business.

 

1) Survey your existing members and find out what they want from your gym

feedback boxLet’s start at the root source of the problem. People don’t just leave their gym membership for no reason.

There’s always a reason and most of the time, it’s the gym’s fault. So let’s find out what those problems are without any guess work or assumption. It’s completely acceptable to ask your members what they want from their gym.

It’s a win-win, as they get better service and you improve your membership retention. So whether you send out an email with an attached form, or catch your members at the door, create a survey asking your members what you can do better. You might be surprised by the results and discover problems you never even knew existed that are easy to solve.

 

2) Give your members a “road map” to keep them focused

While gym memberships are a great way to get healthy, the one big downfall is that they don’t get you healthy and fit without some work on the member’s end.

If your member lacks motivation, then you can have the best gym in the world, but they won’t want to use it. The best way to keep a member out of this head space is to give them direction.

Create road maps and training programs that your members can access as part of their membership. The more clear and realistic goals you give your members, the higher your membership retention will be.

 

3) Have a great introduction and on-boarding process

Part of giving your members a great road map is getting things off to a good start.

Make sure you have an effective system in place that lets new members learn the basics and know what they need to do to get the most from your gym. A great on-boarding process is vital for retaining gym members.

 

4) Let your members pause their membership

If you stop members from being able to pause their membership, then they’re going to cancel it.

A paused membership is temporary.

A cancelled membership is forever.

Simple as that!

 

5) Allow your members to downgrade or change their membership

It’s always better to keep someone at your gym because they want to be there and not because they’re being held there through an agreement.

People’s gym requirements change all the time, so try to offer flexibility in their membership. If members want to upgrade, then fantastic. But even members that want to downgrade and stay with you are still more valuable than a cancelled member, or a member who can’t wait to leave.

 

6) Keep an eye on members who are losing motivation

losing motivation runner tiredThis requires a bit of extra attention on your part, but it can be worth it.

One of the key reasons for losing membership retention is that a member loses focus and motivation.

Even if you give them a great road map, that doesn’t mean that they will use it.

So be on the lookout for members who are starting to flag. You can even install a turnstile system that will keep track of when members come to the gym, so you can track how much your members are using their gym membership and send them a helpful email or approach them to help keep them on track.

 

7) Let your members know the exciting things going on at your club

You want your members to always feel like there’s something going on at your gym. Always another event, class or resource to help them improve their fitness and give them the best gym experience.

So keep your members updated about what’s happening at your gym. If you can keep your members interested in what you have to offer for the next month, that’s another month for you to retain gym members.

 

8) Give your members tools, templates, tips… Be a part of their healthy lifestyle

Giving your members a way to manage their healthy lifestyle is just as important as their training.

So try to offer as many extras as you can with their gym membership. From diets, to scheduling their fitness and workout plans – give them access to resources that go beyond their time at the gym and give the gym membership even more value to your members.

 

9) Give your members a fitness app

This is the next step up from templates and tools, but the modern gym goer loves using fitness and health apps to keep track of their healthy lifestyle on the go.

By providing an app as part of your gym membership, you give your members not just extra value, but also the convenience to use all your amazing health tips, techniques and tools on their mobile device, all in one place.

One of Ashbourne’s services gives your members access to your own personalised app, which we’ve already built for you. You can find out more about it here!

 

10) Celebrate your members achievements in an open forum

You know what’s better than just giving your members fitness goals?

Giving them recognition for those goals!

If you have social media for your fitness business, or even just a cork board on the wall of your gym, then make your members feel special by recognising their greatness. Create a member of the month award, or even keep track of your members’ personal bests. It’s amazing what this kind of recognition does to help build a community, give your members a bit of extra competition to keep them motivated and help you retain gym members for longer.

 

11) Premium products will help your retain gym members

Your members are always aiming to improve their health and fitness, so you need to keep up with what they need.

Look at your current membership tiers and try to design a premium product that your most dedicated members can upgrade to.

It won’t ever be your best selling product, but it allows for you to make extra money and also give your members a greater incentive to stay at your gym and not go looking for a gym that can offer them more of what they need.

 

12) Keep everything nice and simple for your members

Providing your members with professional tools, road maps and extras is great, but an equally important lesson to learn is to not overwhelm them.

If you give your members too much to focus on or take in, it’ll quickly kill their motivation.

So while coming up with amazing ideas for extra help to give to your members, also think about how you can break that down, to deliver your members extras in the best way possible.

 

13) Schedule classes and training so everyone has the chance to join

People’s lives run on very different clocks and you can never be sure when a member will be available to use their gym membership.

There’s nothing worse for a member than feeling like they’re not able to get the most from their membership and are being shortchanged by classes that are taking place during hours that they’re working.

So make sure to vary when you host classes to be sure all of your members can get the most from their gym membership.

 

14) Consider longer opening hours to help your membership retention

In the same vein, people will be far more likely to retain gym memberships if they have flexibility for when they can visit their gym. 24/7 gyms have become much more popular in recent years, so one of the best ways to improve membership retention is by giving your members that competitive choice for when they visit.

One of the cheapest ways to make your gym open longer or even for 24 hours is by installing a turnstile which restricts non-members from entering the gym, so you can stay open longer while keeping your running costs lower. Installing turnstiles and the software to automate your gym is cheaper than you think and Ashbourne can help you get up and running.

 

15) Try online classes as part of their membership

If you can’t host classes at hours to suit all your members, then you could try hosting online classes.

Not only is this great for your marketing, as you can give prospective members sneak peaks at your fitness and coaching services, but it also gives your members even more ways to enjoy your health & fitness services when the gym is unavailable to them, once again, increasing the value of their membership.

 

16) Have automated follow-ups for failed payments or expiring credit cards

One of the best way to retain gym members is by actually having them pay for their gym membership.

Failed payments and expired cards are responsible for a huge number of cancellations.

It’s not only inconvenient for you to miss payments from your members, but it’s also a hassle for them as they have to once again give you all of their card details, usually when they’ve arrived at the gym and are ready to go.

To give your members the easiest time possible, set up a CRM that tracks your members payments and then email them automatically to let them know that their card is about to expire and needs to be topped up, to avoid any nasty surprises for your members. Ashbourne Membership Management can even handle all of this for you!

 

17) Get your members paying by direct debit

Direct debit is the easiest and cheapest way to make sure that your members pay on time, with a method that is convenient to both them and your business.

At Ashbourne we love direct debits and we’ve been focusing on helping gyms set up direct debit payments for over 20 years. Ashbourne’s service includes handling all direct debit admin and debt collection, so gyms can focus on other important things. It’s one of the most sure ways to increase membership retention than any suggestion on this list.

 

18) Always follow up with an “exit survey” for members you do lose

Much like how you should survey your members while they’re at the gym, try to implement an exit survey for your members when they cancel.

If a member is leaving, they’re far more likely to be open about why they’ve cancelled their membership, giving you better information and data on how to retain gym members in the future.