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For years, the fitness club member experience has been one that starts and ends at the facility doors. It’s an insular model: hyper-focused on what happens inside the gym and completely removed from the life of members outside their occasional visits. And for a while, it’s worked.
But with the rapid advancement of mobile technology, demand for a new type of fitness experience has taken hold, and the traditional model of fitness clubs no longer passes muster.
In the last 4 years, the use of health and fitness mobile apps has grown more than 300%; at least 50% of North Americans have downloaded a health or fitness focused app, and current estimates show more than 160,000 fitness focused apps available for download.
What these numbers represent is a new approach to fitness, where users seek out a healthy lifestyle that perfectly integrates with their current schedules and responsibilities — a lifestyle they can attain through expert guidance and motivation, accessed anyplace, anytime.
Does this mean that brick and mortar fitness clubs are out of the game? Not at all. While these numbers and the growing trend of fitness technology may put fitness clubs on high alert, what these businesses should really take away from the stats is that there is a giant opportunity out there ready for fitness clubs to tap into, and there’s no reason why they can’t rethink the way technology fits into their business and start to enjoy its benefits.
To compete in this new landscape, fitness clubs need to find a way to turn what was once a 3-hours-a-week pastime into a lifestyle offering — and one that, above all, keeps members engaged.
This, of course, begins with fitness clubs adopting mobile technology and using it to create an always-open communication channel through which they can engage their members.
With, for example, a custom workout app, fitness clubs could send messages, share offers, provide updates, or seek feedback from their members at anytime — whether they are visiting a facility or not. They could contact members throughout their customer journey, celebrate their major milestones, answer questions or connect members with staff including personal trainers, nutritionists or other in-house specialists.
By engaging members through technology in this way, fitness clubs have the opportunity to not only communicate important information and start conversations with their members, but to spark changes in their member’s behavior — like how often they come into the facility, attend classes, renew their memberships, refer friends, or purchase personal training services.
It’s these kinds of behavioral changes that can translate into major benefits for the fitness club: driving increased profitability by moving the dial up on client retention, membership numbers, personal training sales revenue and customer lifetime value.
When you add on the benefit of big data, which the adoption of technology makes available to fitness clubs, you start to see the real potential of fitness technology. It’s not just creating opportunities for engagement; it’s allowing fitness clubs to measure their impact — and learn more about their members.
With a mobile and connected experience, fitness clubs can capture important information about who their members are, what they like and dislike, and what they do both in and out of the gym, then use this data to tweak their tactics, further enhance their services, and, overall, meet the wants and needs of their members like never before.