Les Mills
Les Mills
Les Mills
Health Club Management

Health Club Management

Follow Health Club Management on Twitter Like Health Club Management on Facebook Join the discussion with Health Club Management on LinkedIn Follow Health Club Management on Instagram
UNITING THE WORLD OF FITNESS
Get the latest news, jobs and features in your inbox
Health Club Management

Health Club Management

features

People profile: Dirk Van Der FlierGym Plus Group: chair

As clubs with swimming pools and health and beauty facilities, the low cost model wasn’t going to work for us, but the clubs weren’t as high-end as David Lloyd clubs either. Our first intervention was to win over the staff and encourage them to act as though it was a high-end club

Published in Health Club Management 2019 issue 6
Dirk van der Flier
Dirk van der Flier

When did you first become involved with Gym Plus Group?
When the chain of eight clubs went into examinership in 2015, I was invited to come on board to try and turn the business around. Coming from the hotel industry and having previously been an active sportsman and rugby player, I approached the business from the customer’s point of view.

Gym Plus was an estate of mid-market clubs that had been a victim of the recession and the advent of low cost clubs. They had lost their identity, needed investment and were discounting in order to get memberships.

How did you go about turning the clubs around?
My first challenge was to find a model that could work. I teamed up with an old school friend, Sandra Dunne, who has years of operations experience, to determine how we could define the brand. It wasn’t the ‘what?’ that I was mainly interested in, it was more the ‘why?’ and the ‘how?’ I wanted to create a community and make the membership sticky.

As meaty clubs, with swimming pools and health and beauty facilities, the low cost model wasn’t going to work, but the clubs weren’t as high-end as David Lloyd clubs either. Our first intervention was to win over the staff and encourage them to act as though it was a high-end club.

We introduced four core values on which to base our culture and staff attitude: to be passionate, personal, proactive and positive. Over the past four years we’ve drilled this into the team, so they understand the member journey we’re trying to create from joining to the first visit and onwards, so people feel welcomed and supported in their goals.

Investments were made in improving facilities, back of house, in terms of equipment and aesthetically and we’ve also greatly increased the class programme. Added to this, we negotiated the business out of an existing franchise, which allowed us greater flexibility to develop.

The prices were raised to reflect the improved offering – memberships now range between €45 (£39, $50) and €59 (£51, $66) a month and people can choose whether to join one club, or have a flexible membership, allowing them to visit all eight. We work hard at customer engagement, as well as getting feedback.

Who are your members?
It is incredibly varied – we have the core following of 30- to 50-year-old professionals, but we also have a lot of families and older adults. Some of the clubs are in areas that attract a very corporate market. It can be interesting trying to encourage all the different types of members to merge together.

What has the impact been?
We’ve had a 50 per cent increase in membership over the past three years and reduced the attrition rate down to 4 to 5 per cent. We’re not quite there yet, but we’re getting there. We have about another two years to carry on implementing our changes and then we might look to expand.

What exciting trends are you seeing in the industry?
Technology is a big thing at the moment, but I wonder how long it will go on for. It has its place and I like my Garmin, but sometimes I like to go fishing and leave my phone at home, or leave technology behind, take my shoes off and walk in the sand.

I was speaking to someone the other day who said that he didn’t want to be told that he’d only had four hours of good sleep when he thought he had had a good night, so I think there might be a bit of a backlash and a return to nature.

The core membership of Gym Plus is 30- to 50-year-old professionals
The core membership of Gym Plus is 30- to 50-year-old professionals
Facilities have been invested in and improved over the past four years
Facilities have been invested in and improved over the past four years
http://www.leisureopportunities.com/images/imagesX/489918_193587.jpg
'Gym Plus was an estate of mid-market clubs that had been a victim of the recession and the advent of low-cost clubs. They had lost their identity.' – CEO Dirk Van Der Flier tells how he turned the brand around
Dirk van der Flier, Chair, Gym Plus Group,Dirk van der Flier, Gym Plus Group
People
HCM people

José Teixeira

SC Fitness, Portugal: head of customer experience
People often assume that those who pay more stay longer, but we don’t see this. What we see is that if you have PT you stay longer because you use more, not because you pay more
People
My vision, based on my own personal experience, would be for physical activity to become the norm – not something you have to make an effort to do, but something you just go ‘yeah, that’s part of my everyday life’
People
HCM people

Gita Sjahrir

Founder, R-FITNESS
We became the first boutique fitness brand in all of Southeast Asia to ever raise venture capital backing. This was positive for the industry as it signalled that the industry had growth potential
Features
feature
TVS Group is one of the leading suppliers of flooring and surfaces for gym, sports and play environments. We take a look at what's behind this company's success
Features
Supplier showcase

Precor and Matrix share their latest operator case studies
Features
Cryotherapy
Cryotherapy is hot right now, with more people attracted to its cited benefits, from reduced recovery time to improved sleep quality. Operators offering this chilly experience give us their advice
Features
Active ageing
The 2019 Moving Communities report highlighted that the silver pound could drive significant growth in public leisure. Operators are capitalising on this potential revenue stream, but uptake is slow. Utku Topraksevten investigates
Features
feature
A partnership between Pure Gym and BLK BOX is challenging the low-cost model
Features
Cycling
In last month’s issue we grilled operators about what makes the best indoor cycling class, and they agreed instructors play a crucial part in the overall class experience. Now we’re asking the experts on the frontline for their thoughts on what makes indoor cycling such a phenomenon
Features
Thought leaders
Equinox and SoulCycle became mired in controversy recently, when the CEO and majority shareholder of their parent company hosted a fundraiser for President Trump’s re-election. What's the way forward for these brands and what can we learn from this furore? Kath Hudson asks the thought leaders
Features
Latest News
Boutique fitness operator 1Rebel has partnered with Technogym to develop an at-home indoor cycling platform ...
Latest News
Sport England has published an update on its digital strategy, in which the grassroots organisation ...
Latest News
A new all-in-one digital platform will begin offering certified, trainer-led live group fitness classes in ...
Latest News
Peloton co-founder and CEO John Foley has admitted that he is baffled as to why ...
Latest News
Seattle-based studio Best Practice Architecture has created a new gym with innovative design touches and ...
Latest News
A study assessing the impact of physical inactivity on national economies has suggested that if ...
Latest News
Low-cost operator Basic-Fit is set to speed up its expansion plans across the European market. ...
Latest News
Xponential Fitness has signed a master franchise deal to open 100 Club Pilates studios in ...
Job search
POST YOUR JOB
Featured supplier news
Featured supplier: Wattbike Studio makes lasting impact on business at Holme Pierrepont
Since installing its new Wattbike indoor cycling studio last year, Holme Pierrepont Country Park, a Serco Leisure site that’s the home of the National Water Sports Centre, has seen a significant increase in cycle studio usage.
Featured supplier news
Featured supplier: Does your fitness studio contain the cure to 21st-century living?
What’s the secret ingredient that makes a live group fitness experience so powerful? And how can clubs unlock it?
Opinion
promotion
An ever-increasing number of Brits are engaging in sporting events, setting themselves goals and looking to increase their fitness levels....
Opinion: Dr Crionna Tobin on nutritional training for PTs and fitness experts
Company profiles
Company profile: TRX Training UK
TRX provides world-class functional training by offering quality equipment, effective workouts and world-class education capable ...
Company profiles
Company profile: EMD UK
EMD UK is the national governing body for group exercise. Funded by Sport England, EMD ...
Catalogue Gallery
Click on a catalogue to view it online
Directory
Locking solutions
Ojmar: Locking solutions
Lockers/interior design
Crown Sports Lockers: Lockers/interior design
Hydrotherapy / spa fragrances
Kemitron GmbH: Hydrotherapy / spa fragrances
Direct debit solutions
Harlands Group: Direct debit solutions
Wearable technology solutions
MyZone: Wearable technology solutions
Flooring
Total Vibration Solutions / TVS Sports Surfaces: Flooring
Spa software
ResortSuite: Spa software
Fitness equipment
Stages Cycling: Fitness equipment
Skincare
Comfort Zone - Davines S.p.A: Skincare
Member access schemes
Move GB: Member access schemes
Property & Tenders
Diary dates
21-22 Nov 2019
JW Marriott Miami Turnberry Resort, Aventura,
Diary dates
29 Nov 2019
The King’s Fund, London, United Kingdom
Diary dates
10-12 Dec 2019
tbc, Fort Lauderdale, United States
Diary dates
29-30 Jan 2020
Holiday Inn San Francisco-Golden Gateway, San Francisco, United States
Diary dates
23-25 Mar 2020
Hilton, Barcelona, Spain
Diary dates
10-27 Jun 2020
tbc, Pinggu, China
Diary dates
17-18 Jun 2020
ExCeL London, London, United Kingdom
Diary dates

features

People profile: Dirk Van Der FlierGym Plus Group: chair

As clubs with swimming pools and health and beauty facilities, the low cost model wasn’t going to work for us, but the clubs weren’t as high-end as David Lloyd clubs either. Our first intervention was to win over the staff and encourage them to act as though it was a high-end club

Published in Health Club Management 2019 issue 6
Dirk van der Flier
Dirk van der Flier

When did you first become involved with Gym Plus Group?
When the chain of eight clubs went into examinership in 2015, I was invited to come on board to try and turn the business around. Coming from the hotel industry and having previously been an active sportsman and rugby player, I approached the business from the customer’s point of view.

Gym Plus was an estate of mid-market clubs that had been a victim of the recession and the advent of low cost clubs. They had lost their identity, needed investment and were discounting in order to get memberships.

How did you go about turning the clubs around?
My first challenge was to find a model that could work. I teamed up with an old school friend, Sandra Dunne, who has years of operations experience, to determine how we could define the brand. It wasn’t the ‘what?’ that I was mainly interested in, it was more the ‘why?’ and the ‘how?’ I wanted to create a community and make the membership sticky.

As meaty clubs, with swimming pools and health and beauty facilities, the low cost model wasn’t going to work, but the clubs weren’t as high-end as David Lloyd clubs either. Our first intervention was to win over the staff and encourage them to act as though it was a high-end club.

We introduced four core values on which to base our culture and staff attitude: to be passionate, personal, proactive and positive. Over the past four years we’ve drilled this into the team, so they understand the member journey we’re trying to create from joining to the first visit and onwards, so people feel welcomed and supported in their goals.

Investments were made in improving facilities, back of house, in terms of equipment and aesthetically and we’ve also greatly increased the class programme. Added to this, we negotiated the business out of an existing franchise, which allowed us greater flexibility to develop.

The prices were raised to reflect the improved offering – memberships now range between €45 (£39, $50) and €59 (£51, $66) a month and people can choose whether to join one club, or have a flexible membership, allowing them to visit all eight. We work hard at customer engagement, as well as getting feedback.

Who are your members?
It is incredibly varied – we have the core following of 30- to 50-year-old professionals, but we also have a lot of families and older adults. Some of the clubs are in areas that attract a very corporate market. It can be interesting trying to encourage all the different types of members to merge together.

What has the impact been?
We’ve had a 50 per cent increase in membership over the past three years and reduced the attrition rate down to 4 to 5 per cent. We’re not quite there yet, but we’re getting there. We have about another two years to carry on implementing our changes and then we might look to expand.

What exciting trends are you seeing in the industry?
Technology is a big thing at the moment, but I wonder how long it will go on for. It has its place and I like my Garmin, but sometimes I like to go fishing and leave my phone at home, or leave technology behind, take my shoes off and walk in the sand.

I was speaking to someone the other day who said that he didn’t want to be told that he’d only had four hours of good sleep when he thought he had had a good night, so I think there might be a bit of a backlash and a return to nature.

The core membership of Gym Plus is 30- to 50-year-old professionals
The core membership of Gym Plus is 30- to 50-year-old professionals
Facilities have been invested in and improved over the past four years
Facilities have been invested in and improved over the past four years
http://www.leisureopportunities.com/images/imagesX/489918_193587.jpg
'Gym Plus was an estate of mid-market clubs that had been a victim of the recession and the advent of low-cost clubs. They had lost their identity.' – CEO Dirk Van Der Flier tells how he turned the brand around
Dirk van der Flier, Chair, Gym Plus Group,Dirk van der Flier, Gym Plus Group
Latest News
Boutique fitness operator 1Rebel has partnered with Technogym to develop an at-home indoor cycling platform ...
Latest News
Sport England has published an update on its digital strategy, in which the grassroots organisation ...
Latest News
A new all-in-one digital platform will begin offering certified, trainer-led live group fitness classes in ...
Latest News
Peloton co-founder and CEO John Foley has admitted that he is baffled as to why ...
Latest News
Seattle-based studio Best Practice Architecture has created a new gym with innovative design touches and ...
Latest News
A study assessing the impact of physical inactivity on national economies has suggested that if ...
Latest News
Low-cost operator Basic-Fit is set to speed up its expansion plans across the European market. ...
Latest News
Xponential Fitness has signed a master franchise deal to open 100 Club Pilates studios in ...
Latest News
Any amount of regular running can dramatically reduce the risk of death, according to a ...
Latest News
David Lloyd Clubs has revealed plans to spin off its HIIT-based group exercise format Blaze ...
Latest News
Swim England has called on the government and healthcare professionals to "maximise the benefits" of ...
Job search
POST YOUR JOB
Featured supplier news
Featured supplier: Wattbike Studio makes lasting impact on business at Holme Pierrepont
Since installing its new Wattbike indoor cycling studio last year, Holme Pierrepont Country Park, a Serco Leisure site that’s the home of the National Water Sports Centre, has seen a significant increase in cycle studio usage.
Featured supplier news
Featured supplier: Does your fitness studio contain the cure to 21st-century living?
What’s the secret ingredient that makes a live group fitness experience so powerful? And how can clubs unlock it?
Opinion
promotion
An ever-increasing number of Brits are engaging in sporting events, setting themselves goals and looking to increase their fitness levels....
Opinion: Dr Crionna Tobin on nutritional training for PTs and fitness experts
Company profiles
Company profile: TRX Training UK
TRX provides world-class functional training by offering quality equipment, effective workouts and world-class education capable ...
Company profiles
Company profile: EMD UK
EMD UK is the national governing body for group exercise. Funded by Sport England, EMD ...
Catalogue Gallery
Click on a catalogue to view it online
Directory
Locking solutions
Ojmar: Locking solutions
Lockers/interior design
Crown Sports Lockers: Lockers/interior design
Hydrotherapy / spa fragrances
Kemitron GmbH: Hydrotherapy / spa fragrances
Direct debit solutions
Harlands Group: Direct debit solutions
Wearable technology solutions
MyZone: Wearable technology solutions
Flooring
Total Vibration Solutions / TVS Sports Surfaces: Flooring
Spa software
ResortSuite: Spa software
Fitness equipment
Stages Cycling: Fitness equipment
Skincare
Comfort Zone - Davines S.p.A: Skincare
Member access schemes
Move GB: Member access schemes
Property & Tenders
Diary dates
21-22 Nov 2019
JW Marriott Miami Turnberry Resort, Aventura,
Diary dates
29 Nov 2019
The King’s Fund, London, United Kingdom
Diary dates
10-12 Dec 2019
tbc, Fort Lauderdale, United States
Diary dates
29-30 Jan 2020
Holiday Inn San Francisco-Golden Gateway, San Francisco, United States
Diary dates
23-25 Mar 2020
Hilton, Barcelona, Spain
Diary dates
10-27 Jun 2020
tbc, Pinggu, China
Diary dates
17-18 Jun 2020
ExCeL London, London, United Kingdom
Diary dates
Search news, features & products:
Find a supplier:
Les Mills
Les Mills