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UNITING THE WORLD OF FITNESS
Health Club Management

Health Club Management

features

Interview: Steve Gray

Nuffield Health wants to be the UK’s leading health and wellbeing provider by 2020. Its CEO tells Kate Cracknell why the recent acquisition of 35 Virgin Active health clubs was a big step in the right direction

By Kate Cracknell | Published in Health Club Management 2016 issue 8
Steve Gray / PHOTO: PAUL McLAUGHLIN
Steve Gray / PHOTO: PAUL McLAUGHLIN
We ultimately want a national footprint, with every Nuffield Health gym partnered with a Nuffield Health hospital - Steve Gray

T he thinking at Nuffield Health was already spot on when I first took up my role,” says CEO Steve Gray. “It was just the doing that needed to be better.”

Gray – who joined the charity in December 2015, from a background in consumer healthcare, to head up the entire hospital and fitness and wellbeing business – continues: “Fundamentally the organisation was in good shape. The direction of travel was right: the linking of preventative and curative healthcare, enabling people to take more proactive accountability for their own health and wellbeing, was the right strategy.

“The wellbeing side of the business – our fitness and wellbeing gyms – was also great. The team had done a fantastic job in building a consistent brand identity across the estate, which is difficult to do when you’ve grown through acquisition as we have.

“Our people are also fantastic, as is the way fitness is linked to other services to deliver total wellbeing. That side of our business has really dispelled a myth for me: I now believe, if you get your offer right and you treat your customers and members right, fitness is actually a very big – and growing – market.

“However, across the Nuffield Health business as a whole, the implementation of the strategy wasn’t quite there: we weren’t connecting everything as quickly or effectively as we should have been. We had two divisions – wellbeing and hospitals – and we were in danger of them operating in isolation from each other.

“In addition, although we had some really motivated and engaged people working in our hospitals, we didn’t have the same consistency in that division as we had in wellbeing. Yes, there’s a need for local flexibility, because there are local customer needs, but there still needs to be more brand consistency across our hospitals. That’s something we’re working on.

“We’ve therefore changed the structure of the business following a full strategic review in the first quarter of this year, and we now have just one executive board overseeing both divisions of our business. We’ve pushed things together at the top level, because we need to live for ourselves what it is we want our customers to experience: fully connected healthcare.

“It will, of course, take time for that to flow through the whole organisation, but it was an important first step to make sure our strategic decision-making was connected and pitched from the perspective of total health and wellbeing.”

A national ambition
What, then, is the vision for Nuffield Health moving forward? “We want to be the UK’s leading health and wellbeing provider by 2020,” says Gray. “We want to be the trusted partner that empowers individuals to choose, maintain and recover to the level of health and wellbeing that they desire.

“In order to move from where we are now to that position, we need to make some strategic additions in terms of both scale and depth – and the recent Virgin Active deal [Nuffield Health acquired 35 Virgin Active health clubs in June] is part of that.

“We ultimately want a national footprint, and the 35 Virgin Active clubs take us much closer to achieving that goal – we now have 112 fitness and wellbeing gyms, which makes us the second largest UK operator after Pure Gym.

“At the moment we still have some geographic gaps, but in the long run, every Nuffield Health gym will be partnered with a Nuffield Health hospital – connected not just geographically and operationally, but also through a seamless customer proposition. As a member of Nuffield Health, you’ll have access to all the different services and products we offer, all of which will be available in your area. It will take us a little while to get there, but we think by 2020 we’ll be in that position.

“In some areas of the UK we might need to build more hospitals, and we already have two new sites in the pipeline: one in Manchester and one in London, where we’re the confirmed preferred bidder to build a private hospital on the Barts site.

“In other areas we may need more gyms. I don’t have a precise number in terms of how many more we’ll need – we know the right number is more than we have now, but we don’t believe it’s that much more – but we’ll look at all options and opportunities and we believe we’ll have reached the right number by 2020.”

Strength in depth
Gray continues: “In the meantime, we also need to increase the depth of our proposition by adding more service lines. There are areas of health and wellbeing where we don’t do enough. We don’t do enough nutritional support, for example, or emotional wellbeing. We certainly don’t do enough online support. So there are some pieces missing in our jigsaw.

“A lot of people do fitness very well – we do fitness very well. But few people do emotional wellbeing or nutrition very well, and you really do need to bring all those three elements together to create a bespoke response for the individual. It might sound clichéd, but that sort of personalised, holistic approach is, I believe, the biggest opportunity in the health and fitness market at the moment. If you speak to me in a few months’ time, I think we’ll have some big news on that front.

“I also believe there are an awful lot of services that are currently offered in a hospital environment that would actually be much better, and more conveniently, offered in a wellbeing site – from dealing with minor ailments to diagnostics. Alongside this, I think people’s acceptance of healthcare – who provides it, where and at what cost – is changing. People are becoming much more aware of the opportunities and the fact that you don’t always have to go to the hospital.

“Again, the 35 Virgin Active clubs we’ve just acquired present a great opportunity here, because they’re large sites with plenty of space to introduce more services.”

Connected care
The way Gray talks about his vision makes the linking of preventative and curative healthcare sound, if not easy, then at least achievable – so how might Nuffield Health be able to deliver this where so many other organisations, not least the NHS, have struggled?

“With our estate spanning hospitals and gyms, I believe we’re uniquely placed to do this: we have competitors in hospitals, in gyms and in healthcare services, but we don’t really have any single competitor in all three of those markets,” says Gray.

He continues: “There are two key prongs to our approach. The first marks an important shift in emphasis for us, namely that for a long time our strategy was about ‘integrated care’, whereas now we call it ‘connected care’. We make all our services very visible and accessible, but it’s down to the individual customer to make their own choices in terms of what they want to link together and how far along the care pathway they want to go with us.

“Digital will play a significant role in that, offering one single view of the customer – all their data from different interventions and programmes together in one place. This will be done for their benefit, so we can better serve them and connect their healthcare journey.

“The second prong is that our customer base gives us an advantage when it comes to investing in preventative healthcare. Most healthcare systems won’t invest in prevention because it’s too much of a leap of faith, but the majority of our customers are already very proactive about their health and wellbeing. We step in and support them in this; our charity status allows us to invest in the business wherever we think best to provide that support for our customers.

“Even in our hospitals, we have four times as many day case patients as we do in-patients; hospitals full of beds are a thing of the past. Our fastest growing customer group within our hospital environment is the direct self-paying consumer – they’re in and out in a day and they take ownership of that. They’re accountable for their health. We can then make sure that, once the operation is done, there’s a complete follow-up – a bespoke plan that moves the individual into the proactive world of managing their own fitness and wellbeing within our clubs.

“We have so many well trained people – physiotherapists, physiologists, nutritional therapists, GPs, personal trainers – that our aim is for our facilities to be seen as centres for excellence, delivering total health and wellbeing for the individual and offering a wealth of knowledge that customers will benefit from, whoever their original point of contact at Nuffield Health.”

With 2020 not far away and a busy agenda mapped out for those four years – national coverage, an even broader range of services, more creative thinking in terms of where services are delivered, and a more connected approach – the Nuffield Health story will certainly be one to watch.

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Nuffield is now the second largest UK gym operator
Nuffield is now the second largest UK gym operator
Gray: Nuffield will be the UK’s leading wellbeing provider / PHOTO: PAUL McLAUGHLIN
Gray: Nuffield will be the UK’s leading wellbeing provider / PHOTO: PAUL McLAUGHLIN
PT clients benefit from diverse in-house expertise shared between staff
PT clients benefit from diverse in-house expertise shared between staff
Fitness is a large and growing market, says Gray
Fitness is a large and growing market, says Gray
https://www.leisureopportunities.co.uk/images/265825_465798.jpg
NuffieldHealth will be the UK's leading wellness provider, says its CEO
Kate Cracknell, Editor, Health Club Management Steve Gray, CEO, Nuffield Health ,Nuffield Health, Steve Gray, Cracknell, Virgin Active, hospital, wellbeing
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REGUPOL is one of the leading suppliers of sports and safety flooring, anti-slip mats for ...
Supplier Showcases
Supplier showcase - Gympass
Catalogue Gallery
Click on a catalogue to view it online
Directory
Management software
Premier Software Solutions: Management software
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Uniforms
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Wearable technology solutions
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Property & Tenders
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Newport, Shropshire
Lilleshall Sports Academy
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Diary dates
21-24 Sep 2021
Messe Stuttgart, Germany
Diary dates
13-14 Oct 2021
Online,
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

Interview: Steve Gray

Nuffield Health wants to be the UK’s leading health and wellbeing provider by 2020. Its CEO tells Kate Cracknell why the recent acquisition of 35 Virgin Active health clubs was a big step in the right direction

By Kate Cracknell | Published in Health Club Management 2016 issue 8
Steve Gray / PHOTO: PAUL McLAUGHLIN
Steve Gray / PHOTO: PAUL McLAUGHLIN
We ultimately want a national footprint, with every Nuffield Health gym partnered with a Nuffield Health hospital - Steve Gray

T he thinking at Nuffield Health was already spot on when I first took up my role,” says CEO Steve Gray. “It was just the doing that needed to be better.”

Gray – who joined the charity in December 2015, from a background in consumer healthcare, to head up the entire hospital and fitness and wellbeing business – continues: “Fundamentally the organisation was in good shape. The direction of travel was right: the linking of preventative and curative healthcare, enabling people to take more proactive accountability for their own health and wellbeing, was the right strategy.

“The wellbeing side of the business – our fitness and wellbeing gyms – was also great. The team had done a fantastic job in building a consistent brand identity across the estate, which is difficult to do when you’ve grown through acquisition as we have.

“Our people are also fantastic, as is the way fitness is linked to other services to deliver total wellbeing. That side of our business has really dispelled a myth for me: I now believe, if you get your offer right and you treat your customers and members right, fitness is actually a very big – and growing – market.

“However, across the Nuffield Health business as a whole, the implementation of the strategy wasn’t quite there: we weren’t connecting everything as quickly or effectively as we should have been. We had two divisions – wellbeing and hospitals – and we were in danger of them operating in isolation from each other.

“In addition, although we had some really motivated and engaged people working in our hospitals, we didn’t have the same consistency in that division as we had in wellbeing. Yes, there’s a need for local flexibility, because there are local customer needs, but there still needs to be more brand consistency across our hospitals. That’s something we’re working on.

“We’ve therefore changed the structure of the business following a full strategic review in the first quarter of this year, and we now have just one executive board overseeing both divisions of our business. We’ve pushed things together at the top level, because we need to live for ourselves what it is we want our customers to experience: fully connected healthcare.

“It will, of course, take time for that to flow through the whole organisation, but it was an important first step to make sure our strategic decision-making was connected and pitched from the perspective of total health and wellbeing.”

A national ambition
What, then, is the vision for Nuffield Health moving forward? “We want to be the UK’s leading health and wellbeing provider by 2020,” says Gray. “We want to be the trusted partner that empowers individuals to choose, maintain and recover to the level of health and wellbeing that they desire.

“In order to move from where we are now to that position, we need to make some strategic additions in terms of both scale and depth – and the recent Virgin Active deal [Nuffield Health acquired 35 Virgin Active health clubs in June] is part of that.

“We ultimately want a national footprint, and the 35 Virgin Active clubs take us much closer to achieving that goal – we now have 112 fitness and wellbeing gyms, which makes us the second largest UK operator after Pure Gym.

“At the moment we still have some geographic gaps, but in the long run, every Nuffield Health gym will be partnered with a Nuffield Health hospital – connected not just geographically and operationally, but also through a seamless customer proposition. As a member of Nuffield Health, you’ll have access to all the different services and products we offer, all of which will be available in your area. It will take us a little while to get there, but we think by 2020 we’ll be in that position.

“In some areas of the UK we might need to build more hospitals, and we already have two new sites in the pipeline: one in Manchester and one in London, where we’re the confirmed preferred bidder to build a private hospital on the Barts site.

“In other areas we may need more gyms. I don’t have a precise number in terms of how many more we’ll need – we know the right number is more than we have now, but we don’t believe it’s that much more – but we’ll look at all options and opportunities and we believe we’ll have reached the right number by 2020.”

Strength in depth
Gray continues: “In the meantime, we also need to increase the depth of our proposition by adding more service lines. There are areas of health and wellbeing where we don’t do enough. We don’t do enough nutritional support, for example, or emotional wellbeing. We certainly don’t do enough online support. So there are some pieces missing in our jigsaw.

“A lot of people do fitness very well – we do fitness very well. But few people do emotional wellbeing or nutrition very well, and you really do need to bring all those three elements together to create a bespoke response for the individual. It might sound clichéd, but that sort of personalised, holistic approach is, I believe, the biggest opportunity in the health and fitness market at the moment. If you speak to me in a few months’ time, I think we’ll have some big news on that front.

“I also believe there are an awful lot of services that are currently offered in a hospital environment that would actually be much better, and more conveniently, offered in a wellbeing site – from dealing with minor ailments to diagnostics. Alongside this, I think people’s acceptance of healthcare – who provides it, where and at what cost – is changing. People are becoming much more aware of the opportunities and the fact that you don’t always have to go to the hospital.

“Again, the 35 Virgin Active clubs we’ve just acquired present a great opportunity here, because they’re large sites with plenty of space to introduce more services.”

Connected care
The way Gray talks about his vision makes the linking of preventative and curative healthcare sound, if not easy, then at least achievable – so how might Nuffield Health be able to deliver this where so many other organisations, not least the NHS, have struggled?

“With our estate spanning hospitals and gyms, I believe we’re uniquely placed to do this: we have competitors in hospitals, in gyms and in healthcare services, but we don’t really have any single competitor in all three of those markets,” says Gray.

He continues: “There are two key prongs to our approach. The first marks an important shift in emphasis for us, namely that for a long time our strategy was about ‘integrated care’, whereas now we call it ‘connected care’. We make all our services very visible and accessible, but it’s down to the individual customer to make their own choices in terms of what they want to link together and how far along the care pathway they want to go with us.

“Digital will play a significant role in that, offering one single view of the customer – all their data from different interventions and programmes together in one place. This will be done for their benefit, so we can better serve them and connect their healthcare journey.

“The second prong is that our customer base gives us an advantage when it comes to investing in preventative healthcare. Most healthcare systems won’t invest in prevention because it’s too much of a leap of faith, but the majority of our customers are already very proactive about their health and wellbeing. We step in and support them in this; our charity status allows us to invest in the business wherever we think best to provide that support for our customers.

“Even in our hospitals, we have four times as many day case patients as we do in-patients; hospitals full of beds are a thing of the past. Our fastest growing customer group within our hospital environment is the direct self-paying consumer – they’re in and out in a day and they take ownership of that. They’re accountable for their health. We can then make sure that, once the operation is done, there’s a complete follow-up – a bespoke plan that moves the individual into the proactive world of managing their own fitness and wellbeing within our clubs.

“We have so many well trained people – physiotherapists, physiologists, nutritional therapists, GPs, personal trainers – that our aim is for our facilities to be seen as centres for excellence, delivering total health and wellbeing for the individual and offering a wealth of knowledge that customers will benefit from, whoever their original point of contact at Nuffield Health.”

With 2020 not far away and a busy agenda mapped out for those four years – national coverage, an even broader range of services, more creative thinking in terms of where services are delivered, and a more connected approach – the Nuffield Health story will certainly be one to watch.

Sign up here to get HCM's weekly ezine and every issue of HCM magazine free on digital.
Nuffield is now the second largest UK gym operator
Nuffield is now the second largest UK gym operator
Gray: Nuffield will be the UK’s leading wellbeing provider / PHOTO: PAUL McLAUGHLIN
Gray: Nuffield will be the UK’s leading wellbeing provider / PHOTO: PAUL McLAUGHLIN
PT clients benefit from diverse in-house expertise shared between staff
PT clients benefit from diverse in-house expertise shared between staff
Fitness is a large and growing market, says Gray
Fitness is a large and growing market, says Gray
https://www.leisureopportunities.co.uk/images/265825_465798.jpg
NuffieldHealth will be the UK's leading wellness provider, says its CEO
Kate Cracknell, Editor, Health Club Management Steve Gray, CEO, Nuffield Health ,Nuffield Health, Steve Gray, Cracknell, Virgin Active, hospital, wellbeing
Latest News
People should concentrate on exercise and staying fit – rather than dieting and weight loss ...
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Swim England has warned that 2,000 swimming pools could be lost forever unless the government ...
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Sports Minister, Nigel Huddleston, has joined gym-goers this morning to kick-off the annual National Fitness ...
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Featured supplier news: Technogym awarded “Supplier of the year” at ukactive awards 2021
The best in class of the physical activity sector have been revealed at the ukactive Awards 2021.
Featured supplier news
Featured supplier news: Will your business last without digital transformation?
During the pandemic, a digital transformation took off faster than anyone could have predicted with meetings in person cancelled and millions working from home.
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: fibodo Limited
fibodo is the digital solution helping people lead healthier and happier lives. From grassroots individual ...
Company profiles
Company profile: REGUPOL BSW GmbH
REGUPOL is one of the leading suppliers of sports and safety flooring, anti-slip mats for ...
Supplier Showcases
Supplier showcase - Gympass
Catalogue Gallery
Click on a catalogue to view it online
Directory
Management software
Premier Software Solutions: Management software
Salt therapy products
Himalayan Source: Salt therapy products
Exercise equipment
Power Plate: Exercise equipment
Uniforms
Service Sport: Uniforms
Wearable technology solutions
MyZone: Wearable technology solutions
Spa software
SpaBooker: Spa software
Hydrotherapy / spa fragrances
Kemitron GmbH: Hydrotherapy / spa fragrances
Lockers/interior design
Safe Space Lockers Ltd: Lockers/interior design
Flooring
Total Vibration Solutions / TVS Sports Surfaces: Flooring
Independent service & maintenance
Servicesport UK Limited: Independent service & maintenance
Property & Tenders
Welwyn Garden City
Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council
Property & Tenders
Newport, Shropshire
Lilleshall Sports Academy
Property & Tenders
Diary dates
21-24 Sep 2021
Messe Stuttgart, Germany
Diary dates
13-14 Oct 2021
Online,
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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