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Making the Gym Work for Everyone


Giving a brand-new gym-goer the confidence to succeed at the gym is one of the greatest challenges a club operator will face. In addition to engaging trainers and thorough onboarding, there’s one area that’s very effective at getting new members plugged in: technology. And this is where EGYM makes a difference in the industry.

EGYM enables gym members of all skill levels to be successful. By delivering fitness programs across cardio and strength equipment to truly connect the fitness floor, EGYM helps clubs lead members through the guided, user-friendly and gamified workouts that will get them to their goals.

EGYM is a leader in technology solutions today, and it has grown significantly in recent years — most notably through its acquisition of Netpulse in March 2018.

That acquisition helped bring the brand to where it is today, and was the culmination of a shared vision between Philipp Roesch-Schlanderer, the CEO of EGYM of Germany, and John Ford, the CEO of EGYM North America. The brand has gotten to where it is today thanks to the vision and guidance of these two leaders.

Before moving to the U.S. and studying at Columbia University, Philipp Roesch-Schlanderer had never even set foot in a gym before.

“My friends told me to wear my Columbia T-shirt and go to the gym on campus at least once a week,” said Roesch-Schlanderer. “This is how I wound up seeing a gym from the inside for the first time in my life. What surprised me was so many different types of people go to gyms, which makes all the sense in the world — everyone should go to the gym.”

These weekly gym visits helped shape Roesch-Schlanderer’s perspective on what the average fitness consumer needs. “The more I went to the gym, the more I observed the broken experience members were having,” he recalled. “Uncertain what to do and how to do it, they end up hitting the quick-start button on a cardio machine and doing some random workout. It’s like getting into a car and telling your navigation to drive for 30 minutes, with no destination or direction — you waste time and end up nowhere.”

Based on what he saw from the inside of Columbia’s on-campus gym, Roesch-Schlanderer began formulating ways to create a more beneficial member experience in gyms everywhere.

“I started asking myself how ordinary people could be successful at the gym,” said Roesch-Schlanderer. “With technology simplifying every other aspect of life, it was the natural conclusion to leverage tech to personalize the gym experience.”

The idea for EGYM was born — a platform that gamifies and simplifies the fitness experience for all users. “The goal was to offer more guidance, and make workouts safer and more efficient for non-expert gym-goers,” said Roesch-Schlanderer. “I wanted to make the gym work for everyone.”

John Ford has been passionate about fitness technology since 2006, when he founded his first startup company: Virtual Active. “The company created virtual reality running, walking and cycling experiences we licensed to major cardio manufacturers,” he said. “If you’ve seen a treadmill or a bike with a video trail streaming on it, you’ve probably seen our product.”

In 2011, Virtual Active was acquired by Netpulse, which built apps for health clubs, and Ford took over as CEO of Netpulse.

Roughly five years later, Ford met Roesch-Schlanderer, learned about his vision for EGYM, and the rest is history. “I knew it was a good fit, and we ended up putting the companies together 18 months later,” he shared.

While Roesch-Schlanderer continued his role running EGYM’s operations in Germany, Ford worked to build up the brand’s presence in the U.S. market after the acquisition.

Increasing EGYM’s U.S. market share was a challenge, but it was one Ford welcomed. “I love unstructured challenges like building out a new team to develop traction in a new market,” he said. “There’s no playbook, because markets and industries are so different from one another. This allowed me to bring in great team members and work with them to creatively figure out the right moves in the U.S. market.”

According to Roesch-Schlanderer, one move that has significantly contributed to EGYM’s explosive growth has been prioritizing partnerships. By aligning itself with equipment manufacturers and management software solutions alike, EGYM’s products can meet any needs an operator has. “Given that we are a tech-first company with a strong sense of partnerships across the industry, we can provide unique solutions that help reach whatever return on investment the operator is looking for, whether it is via our smart gym equipment, digital products or everything combined,” he said.

At the heart of EGYM’s mission, however, is to simplify the gym experience for non-expert users.

“We have a really strong product that targets a very important problem: fitness for beginners,” said Ford. “Making fitness work well for beginners is a very difficult problem to solve and I believe our product has done so. Now it’s just a matter of demonstrating this to the market.”

EGYM’s dedication to solving this problem — making the gym work for everyone — stems from Roesch-Schlanderer’s passion for leveling the workout playing field, something he developed during those first weekly visits to the gym at Columbia University.

“What helped me immensely to persevere over the first couple of years was the people who run gyms and work in gyms are hugely passionate about what they do,” said Roesch-Schlanderer. “That is unique to our industry, and the energy of pushing for better results and member outcomes all the time inspires me.”

That energy to create positive outcomes for members is the foundation of what EGYM does, according to Roesch-Schlanderer. “Improving the way people exercise and stay healthy will impact the overall quality of life for everyday people,” he said. “I love technology and believe it plays a critical role in leveling the playing field for non-expert gym-goers. If the gym worked for everyone, it would have a significant impact on one of the world’s largest industries: healthcare.”

Moving forward, EGYM hopes to not only be a major player in fitness technology, but help the fitness industry as a whole cement its place as an essential component to the health and wellness of communities around the world.

“We want to finally connect wellness and fitness clubs to positive health outcomes, and change the perception and value of the entire fitness industry,” said Ford. “We believe gyms are a great place for people to improve their health, but only if they offer a product that works well for people who need the most guidance to improve their health.”

The focus will continue to be on simplifying the fitness experience for all members, regardless of skill or experience level. “We want to become the global leader at the intersection of exercise and health by delivering positive health outcomes for health seekers around the world,” said Roesch-Schlanderer. “How will we achieve this? By making the gym work for everyone.”

Lowering the barrier of entry for inexperienced exercisers will also benefit club operators. Regardless of skill level, an engaged member is a consistent participant, and EGYM specializes in making sure members stay engaged in their workouts.

“Our overall theme will always be to make sure the gym-goer stays motivated and on track to reach their workout goals,” said Roesch-Schlanderer. “After all, member success is gym success.”

Bobby Dyer

Bobby is the former assistant editor of Club Solutions Magazine.

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