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UNITING THE WORLD OF FITNESS
Health Club Management

Health Club Management

features

Let the good times roll

Massive pivots, lean operations, phygital clubs, Emma Barry looks back over the lessons learned in 2020 and predicts a boom time in the roaring twenties...

Published in Health Club Handbook 2021 issue 1
We’re watching a technology revolution in real-time / Photo: Zahrina Robertson
We’re watching a technology revolution in real-time / Photo: Zahrina Robertson
Our job is to meet the market where the market is and create intoxicating solutions to motivate the unmotivated

What were the biggest lessons of 2020?
As any frisky start-up can attest, a forced accelerator will bring out the best and the worst. Some froze and closed. Others pivoted so hard it felt like a pirouette and revelled in a new world of limited resources with lashings of uncertainty.

New rules demanded a new playbook: we saw a new path to profit, a new clientele, new partners and new technology. Good studios retained their community: the relationship with members is still a massive advantage over Big Tech.

We’re watching a technology revolution in real-time. While it was already coming, 2020 was the tipping point. Depending on which tech-expert you subscribe to, the acceleration during this forced pause is somewhere in the magnitude of three to seven years, particularly in customer-facing efforts such as biometrics, gamification and more customisable software and CRM management.

There’s been a flurry of M&A activity, rollups, bankruptcies and partnerships: RSG and Gold’s, 1Rebel and Perks, Peloton and Precor and Beyonce, Box Union and Title Boxing Club, Equinox+ and Universal and Whoop and the who’s who of fitness trekking to the Middle East.

What did the industry do well?
We put our arms around our communities and hung on for dear life. We were transparent in our communication, Zoomed, social houred, binged, went online with schedules, trained remotely, educated, called people, entertained, took things outdoors, dropped or eliminated pricing to meet the market where it was.

There was triple digit growth of cycle, treadmill and rower sales. Bodyweight workouts lasted about a month in the US, boxers got sick of hitting air and lifting backpacks and pets got old pretty quick.

We took it outdoors – all reconnecting with the delight and mental health value of being outside, feet in the earth, hands in the sky. Nature has a funny way of balancing things out and ten hours of Zoom calls is enough to drive anyone outside.

How can we take these lessons forward?
Thanks to associations in most countries fighting the good fight, fitness is now inextricably linked to natural human function, mental health and productivity.

It’s a shame it took a pandemic to hurry this conversation. Our job is to meet the market where the market is and create intoxicating solutions to motivate the unmotivated, to address demographics other than the over-serviced millennial set. All touchpoints need to be re-examined: the brand, product and systems.

With skeleton staffing and seismic shifts in strategy, people have never been more important. Those still on the bus can’t just be salespeople, they must be growth salespeople. The marketers’ growth marketers. Expect channel shifts of top talent who come from adjacent industries who have accelerated businesses before.

Given that the delineation between work and home has evaporated, what will now be our second space? We know from extensive workplace surveying that our needs when we come together are not about actually doing work, but collaborating, team building, exercising, sharing, in-person interactions which can’t be done from home, entertaining and advancing the human creative condition.

What predictions do you have for the next year?
The future is phygital: marrying the best of online and offline elements to create a more satisfying customer experience. Think omni-channel, hybrid, ecosystem, digital, online/offline strategy – all indicators and disruptors of worlds colliding digitally and in real life. We can all become fitness nomads, carrying the brands we care about in our pockets. Bold strides have been made: biometrics, gamification and connected experiences, leaderboards, social networking. Big Tech is here and bringing its friends. All lifestyle players are dealing a hand in the race for market share.

There are real gains to be made in real estate. Trophy downtown regions are saturated with fit-for-purpose, sound-proofed properties with luxe finishes, ready to expand or backfill, as the property market is pressured with the downturn of foot traffic in downtown areas and shifts in corporate culture, with a demand for worker flexibility, working from home and to meet the new work-life balance.

With so many new and geared up players, expect a proliferation of models, including pricing, adjacent industry learnings and new thought and funding to exploit the offerings.

As fitness sits in the broader ecosystem of what consumers do when they’re not working, there are many opportunities to partner with ancillary businesses, products and services to create new synergies.

Investors are looking for resilience, but also growth and for businesses to be highly relevant, scaleable and executionary in the new world. Expect profits on paper to be more firmly tested. Also expect big bets, as illustrated by the recent threeway between Beachbody, MYX and Forest Road or TSC expanding to relaunch as to Xplor.

Can we expect a boomtime once vaccinations are well advanced?
Was there a baby boom after the last world war? Yes. Precisely. The very thing we’re held from, draws us back. Every time we are restricted and forced to adopt a new perspective, we flourish. Add to that we’re social beasts, made abundantly clear by our pack mentality.

The better question is will our behaviours change? And the answer is yes. Peloton and friends changed everything pre-pandemic, proving one could maintain deep and meaningful relationships with a console which housed our trainers, our community and our programme. And in many ways, more potently because of the power of technology. Cue leaderboards, virtual shoutouts, biometric tracking, groups, challenges and social media.

Will the customer base of gyms change?
Yes. Those with a wake up call will also swipe in. More and more varied demographics will come, provided we make them feel welcome. The industry will enjoy an upswing of general activity with all these marketing dollars being pumped into our stratosphere and all the health and fitness apps and adjacent industries piling into our sector.

Despite being closed, good studios retained their communities / Photo: shutterstock/Monkey Business Images
Despite being closed, good studios retained their communities / Photo: shutterstock/Monkey Business Images
Humans are social beasts so group ex will retain its appeal / Photo: shutterstock/ommaphat chotirat
Humans are social beasts so group ex will retain its appeal / Photo: shutterstock/ommaphat chotirat
Big Tech is here and bringing its friends, says Barry / Photo: shutterstock/Monkey Business Images
Big Tech is here and bringing its friends, says Barry / Photo: shutterstock/Monkey Business Images
https://www.leisureopportunities.co.uk/images/2021/37113_577649.jpg
Thought leader, Emma Barry, talks about the changes which have happened and how to adapt and move forward in the roaring 20s, including intoxicating solutions to motivate the unmotivated and addressing a wider demographic
HCM magazine
In this issue, we’re focusing on sharing insights and thought leadership to highlight opportunities for the development of the sector in terms of both markets and offerings
HCM magazine
HCM People

Danielle Obe

Chair, The Black Swimming Association
Our vision is a future with ethnic diversity in aquatics
HCM magazine
Our competition need to fasten their seatbelts
HCM Magazine
Sponsored
Fitness professionals make great social prescribing linkworkers, as their consultation skills, ability to recognise cues when speaking to people and follow-up on actions are all called upon
HCM Magazine
Statistics
How have consumers responded to the end of lockdowns? Cesar Carvalho shares some bounceback numbers with HCM
HCM Magazine
HCM people
This partnership with F45 is an exciting business venture for me
HCM Magazine
Sponsored
Billed as the ‘2021 Experience Tour’, Egym has taken its connected gym floor experience on the road around the UK
HCM Magazine
Hybrid
The Gym Group has taken its digital hybrid strategy full circle, piloting in-gym workout pods and studios with its home workout delivery partner, Fiit. HCM talks to the team driving the project
HCM Magazine
Sponsored
Les Mills is launching a new digital network called Les Mills Connect to help clubs build back better and emerge from the pandemic with a stronger business
HCM Magazine
Running
Running booms when health clubs and gyms are closed. Could this enthusiasm result in treadmill training becoming the new spinning? Kath Hudson reports
HCM Magazine
Latest News
Matrix and Intelivideo have signed a strategic partnership, which will see Intelivideo's fitness content integrated ...
Latest News
Nadine Dorries, the recently appointed secretary of state for digital, culture, media and sport at ...
Latest News
Mindbody has announced it's buying ClassPass, the consumer wellness subscription service that enables people to ...
Latest News
Tanni Grey-Thompson has outlined her vision on how the physical activity sector can play "the ...
Latest News
The Global Health & Fitness Alliance (GHFA) has revealed the makeup of its inaugural nine-member ...
Latest News
The 40th Annual IHRSA International Convention & Trade Show (IHRSA 2021) begins today in Dallas, ...
Latest News
A new study has suggested that strength training can result in people losing around a ...
Latest News
Basic-Fit has officially opened its 1,000th club, with the launch of a new site in ...
Featured supplier news
Featured supplier news: Humanising the member app experience
FunXtion has upgraded its White Label Member App with a raft of new features to support its partners in scaling up and keeping up with rising member expectations.
Featured supplier news
Featured supplier news: Power Plate teams up with Myzone for a new exercise experience
Power Plate has teamed up with Myzone to provide its community with new class experiences and the opportunity to offer rewards based on effort, every time they move.
Featured operator news
Featured operator news: Everyone Active bolsters Everyone on Demand and enters second year with five new partnerships
Everyone Active has signed a number of new deals which will see the operator strengthen its digital product offering, Everyone on Demand.
Featured operator news
Featured operator news: Everyone Active generates £342m in social value
Award-winning leisure operator Everyone Active generated £342million in social value at its sites across the country in 2019/20.
Company profiles
Company profile: EMD UK
EMD UK is the national governing body for group exercise. Funded by Sport England, EMD ...
Company profiles
Company profile: Safe Space Lockers
Safe Space have over 25 years of experience in the UK leisure and fitness industry, ...
Catalogue Gallery
Click on a catalogue to view it online
Directory
Flooring
Total Vibration Solutions / TVS Sports Surfaces: Flooring
Uniforms
Service Sport: Uniforms
Whole body cryotherapy
Zimmer MedizinSysteme GmbH / icelab: Whole body cryotherapy
Independent service & maintenance
Servicesport UK Limited: Independent service & maintenance
Red Light Therapy
 Red Light Rising: Red Light Therapy
Lockers/interior design
Safe Space Lockers Ltd: Lockers/interior design
Hydrotherapy / spa fragrances
Kemitron GmbH: Hydrotherapy / spa fragrances
Management software
Premier Software Solutions: Management software
Wearable technology solutions
MyZone: Wearable technology solutions
Exercise equipment
Power Plate: Exercise equipment
Property & Tenders
Welwyn Garden City
Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council
Property & Tenders
Newport, Shropshire
Lilleshall Sports Academy
Property & Tenders
Diary dates
01-03 Feb 2022
Coventry Building Society Arena, Coventry, United Kingdom
Diary dates
07-10 Apr 2022
Exhibition Centre , Cologne, Germany
Diary dates
15-16 Jun 2022
ExCeL London, London, United Kingdom
Diary dates
01-07 Dec 2022
tbc, Dunedin, New Zealand
Diary dates

features

Let the good times roll

Massive pivots, lean operations, phygital clubs, Emma Barry looks back over the lessons learned in 2020 and predicts a boom time in the roaring twenties...

Published in Health Club Handbook 2021 issue 1
We’re watching a technology revolution in real-time / Photo: Zahrina Robertson
We’re watching a technology revolution in real-time / Photo: Zahrina Robertson
Our job is to meet the market where the market is and create intoxicating solutions to motivate the unmotivated

What were the biggest lessons of 2020?
As any frisky start-up can attest, a forced accelerator will bring out the best and the worst. Some froze and closed. Others pivoted so hard it felt like a pirouette and revelled in a new world of limited resources with lashings of uncertainty.

New rules demanded a new playbook: we saw a new path to profit, a new clientele, new partners and new technology. Good studios retained their community: the relationship with members is still a massive advantage over Big Tech.

We’re watching a technology revolution in real-time. While it was already coming, 2020 was the tipping point. Depending on which tech-expert you subscribe to, the acceleration during this forced pause is somewhere in the magnitude of three to seven years, particularly in customer-facing efforts such as biometrics, gamification and more customisable software and CRM management.

There’s been a flurry of M&A activity, rollups, bankruptcies and partnerships: RSG and Gold’s, 1Rebel and Perks, Peloton and Precor and Beyonce, Box Union and Title Boxing Club, Equinox+ and Universal and Whoop and the who’s who of fitness trekking to the Middle East.

What did the industry do well?
We put our arms around our communities and hung on for dear life. We were transparent in our communication, Zoomed, social houred, binged, went online with schedules, trained remotely, educated, called people, entertained, took things outdoors, dropped or eliminated pricing to meet the market where it was.

There was triple digit growth of cycle, treadmill and rower sales. Bodyweight workouts lasted about a month in the US, boxers got sick of hitting air and lifting backpacks and pets got old pretty quick.

We took it outdoors – all reconnecting with the delight and mental health value of being outside, feet in the earth, hands in the sky. Nature has a funny way of balancing things out and ten hours of Zoom calls is enough to drive anyone outside.

How can we take these lessons forward?
Thanks to associations in most countries fighting the good fight, fitness is now inextricably linked to natural human function, mental health and productivity.

It’s a shame it took a pandemic to hurry this conversation. Our job is to meet the market where the market is and create intoxicating solutions to motivate the unmotivated, to address demographics other than the over-serviced millennial set. All touchpoints need to be re-examined: the brand, product and systems.

With skeleton staffing and seismic shifts in strategy, people have never been more important. Those still on the bus can’t just be salespeople, they must be growth salespeople. The marketers’ growth marketers. Expect channel shifts of top talent who come from adjacent industries who have accelerated businesses before.

Given that the delineation between work and home has evaporated, what will now be our second space? We know from extensive workplace surveying that our needs when we come together are not about actually doing work, but collaborating, team building, exercising, sharing, in-person interactions which can’t be done from home, entertaining and advancing the human creative condition.

What predictions do you have for the next year?
The future is phygital: marrying the best of online and offline elements to create a more satisfying customer experience. Think omni-channel, hybrid, ecosystem, digital, online/offline strategy – all indicators and disruptors of worlds colliding digitally and in real life. We can all become fitness nomads, carrying the brands we care about in our pockets. Bold strides have been made: biometrics, gamification and connected experiences, leaderboards, social networking. Big Tech is here and bringing its friends. All lifestyle players are dealing a hand in the race for market share.

There are real gains to be made in real estate. Trophy downtown regions are saturated with fit-for-purpose, sound-proofed properties with luxe finishes, ready to expand or backfill, as the property market is pressured with the downturn of foot traffic in downtown areas and shifts in corporate culture, with a demand for worker flexibility, working from home and to meet the new work-life balance.

With so many new and geared up players, expect a proliferation of models, including pricing, adjacent industry learnings and new thought and funding to exploit the offerings.

As fitness sits in the broader ecosystem of what consumers do when they’re not working, there are many opportunities to partner with ancillary businesses, products and services to create new synergies.

Investors are looking for resilience, but also growth and for businesses to be highly relevant, scaleable and executionary in the new world. Expect profits on paper to be more firmly tested. Also expect big bets, as illustrated by the recent threeway between Beachbody, MYX and Forest Road or TSC expanding to relaunch as to Xplor.

Can we expect a boomtime once vaccinations are well advanced?
Was there a baby boom after the last world war? Yes. Precisely. The very thing we’re held from, draws us back. Every time we are restricted and forced to adopt a new perspective, we flourish. Add to that we’re social beasts, made abundantly clear by our pack mentality.

The better question is will our behaviours change? And the answer is yes. Peloton and friends changed everything pre-pandemic, proving one could maintain deep and meaningful relationships with a console which housed our trainers, our community and our programme. And in many ways, more potently because of the power of technology. Cue leaderboards, virtual shoutouts, biometric tracking, groups, challenges and social media.

Will the customer base of gyms change?
Yes. Those with a wake up call will also swipe in. More and more varied demographics will come, provided we make them feel welcome. The industry will enjoy an upswing of general activity with all these marketing dollars being pumped into our stratosphere and all the health and fitness apps and adjacent industries piling into our sector.

Despite being closed, good studios retained their communities / Photo: shutterstock/Monkey Business Images
Despite being closed, good studios retained their communities / Photo: shutterstock/Monkey Business Images
Humans are social beasts so group ex will retain its appeal / Photo: shutterstock/ommaphat chotirat
Humans are social beasts so group ex will retain its appeal / Photo: shutterstock/ommaphat chotirat
Big Tech is here and bringing its friends, says Barry / Photo: shutterstock/Monkey Business Images
Big Tech is here and bringing its friends, says Barry / Photo: shutterstock/Monkey Business Images
https://www.leisureopportunities.co.uk/images/2021/37113_577649.jpg
Thought leader, Emma Barry, talks about the changes which have happened and how to adapt and move forward in the roaring 20s, including intoxicating solutions to motivate the unmotivated and addressing a wider demographic
Latest News
Matrix and Intelivideo have signed a strategic partnership, which will see Intelivideo's fitness content integrated ...
Latest News
Nadine Dorries, the recently appointed secretary of state for digital, culture, media and sport at ...
Latest News
Mindbody has announced it's buying ClassPass, the consumer wellness subscription service that enables people to ...
Latest News
Tanni Grey-Thompson has outlined her vision on how the physical activity sector can play "the ...
Latest News
The Global Health & Fitness Alliance (GHFA) has revealed the makeup of its inaugural nine-member ...
Latest News
The 40th Annual IHRSA International Convention & Trade Show (IHRSA 2021) begins today in Dallas, ...
Latest News
A new study has suggested that strength training can result in people losing around a ...
Latest News
Basic-Fit has officially opened its 1,000th club, with the launch of a new site in ...
Latest News
Health club operator Life Time Group has become a publicly traded company again, after it ...
Latest News
Creating workout experiences will be the main theme of this year's Retention Convention, which will ...
Latest News
Marg Mayne will stand down as CEO of Mytime Active next year, after more than ...
Featured supplier news
Featured supplier news: Humanising the member app experience
FunXtion has upgraded its White Label Member App with a raft of new features to support its partners in scaling up and keeping up with rising member expectations.
Featured supplier news
Featured supplier news: Power Plate teams up with Myzone for a new exercise experience
Power Plate has teamed up with Myzone to provide its community with new class experiences and the opportunity to offer rewards based on effort, every time they move.
Featured operator news
Featured operator news: Everyone Active bolsters Everyone on Demand and enters second year with five new partnerships
Everyone Active has signed a number of new deals which will see the operator strengthen its digital product offering, Everyone on Demand.
Featured operator news
Featured operator news: Everyone Active generates £342m in social value
Award-winning leisure operator Everyone Active generated £342million in social value at its sites across the country in 2019/20.
Company profiles
Company profile: EMD UK
EMD UK is the national governing body for group exercise. Funded by Sport England, EMD ...
Company profiles
Company profile: Safe Space Lockers
Safe Space have over 25 years of experience in the UK leisure and fitness industry, ...
Catalogue Gallery
Click on a catalogue to view it online
Directory
Flooring
Total Vibration Solutions / TVS Sports Surfaces: Flooring
Uniforms
Service Sport: Uniforms
Whole body cryotherapy
Zimmer MedizinSysteme GmbH / icelab: Whole body cryotherapy
Independent service & maintenance
Servicesport UK Limited: Independent service & maintenance
Red Light Therapy
 Red Light Rising: Red Light Therapy
Lockers/interior design
Safe Space Lockers Ltd: Lockers/interior design
Hydrotherapy / spa fragrances
Kemitron GmbH: Hydrotherapy / spa fragrances
Management software
Premier Software Solutions: Management software
Wearable technology solutions
MyZone: Wearable technology solutions
Exercise equipment
Power Plate: Exercise equipment
Property & Tenders
Welwyn Garden City
Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council
Property & Tenders
Newport, Shropshire
Lilleshall Sports Academy
Property & Tenders
Diary dates
01-03 Feb 2022
Coventry Building Society Arena, Coventry, United Kingdom
Diary dates
07-10 Apr 2022
Exhibition Centre , Cologne, Germany
Diary dates
15-16 Jun 2022
ExCeL London, London, United Kingdom
Diary dates
01-07 Dec 2022
tbc, Dunedin, New Zealand
Diary dates
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