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UNITING THE WORLD OF FITNESS
Health Club Management

Health Club Management

features

SIBEC review: Question time

SIBEC Europe in Madeira opened with an industry debate. Chaired by editor of Health Club Management Kate Cracknell, the discussion covered wearable tech and Sports Direct’s £5 memberships

By Kate Cracknell | Published in Health Club Management 2015 issue 1
L-R: Graham, HCM editor and panel chair Kate Cracknell, Leonie, Vesey and Wright
L-R: Graham, HCM editor and panel chair Kate Cracknell, Leonie, Vesey and Wright

MEET THE PANEL
Jim Graham (JG) COO The Gym Group
Sarah Leonie (SL) Group fitness manager, Places for People Leisure (PfPL)
Diane Vesey (DV) Director of European operations, Anytime Fitness
Dave Wright (DW) CEO, CFM and MYZONE

Kate Cracknell (KC): Sports Direct has announced that it will be offering gym memberships for £5 a month. What impact might this have on the rest of the market?
JG: It’s difficult to comment until we see whether £5 really is the new low-cost price floor, or if it’s a pre-sale marketing tactic. If Sports Direct really is offering memberships for £5, then the mid-market bracket has
been redefined again.

It’s impossible to make a profit charging £5 a month, so this would clearly be a loss leader to drive retail sales. A key challenge will be finding quality staff who are happy to work for a loss-leading product.

DW: This could redefine what we consider affordable fitness. A few years ago that space was occupied by Fitness First and LA fitness. In the US, Planet Fitness has 838 clubs and 4 million members enjoying memberships as low as US$5 a month. If anything, this Sports Direct play could be a fantastic marketing ploy from Mike Ashley, who is looking to make waves in the industry.

KC to SL: Would you consider competing on cost?
SL: Half of our centres now offer gym-only membership and can be reactive on price when low-cost competition opens up on the doorstep. That said, we recognise the need to differentiate our product from the budget clubs.

We’re family orientated and offer much more than just gym and classes. We operate with the wider view of being perfectly placed in the community and able to respond to the health agenda. Rather than go head to head, our plan is to differentiate and not just drop prices. We need to focus on our services and be confident in our strategy. We certainly won’t be throwing all that away to compete with a £5 membership.

DV: You could take the view that anything that gets more people engaged in exercise is a good thing. But I would question, for this price, what the member experience will be like, the service levels and so on.

Tara Dillon (floor): The whole sector needs to stop acting like a shop – we’re selling fitness on the cheap, but ultimately you get what you pay for and I don’t think it will work.

As a sector we’re diversifying, but we need to do more if we’re to expand from the 13 per cent of the population who currently go to the gym. We need to look at the health agenda and consider how we can truly make an impact. We need to grow up as a sector and take ourselves seriously.

SL: My concern is the quality of service people will receive in these budget clubs. If they haven’t been to a gym before and have never used equipment, and they join a gym for a short amount of time with no interaction, will we lose them forever?

JG: When I joined the sector, the one thing that really surprised me was the lack of understanding that we’re in the hospitality and service industry. We put relatively low-paid staff in front of customers, many of whom would rather not be buying the product, find it painful to consume and find the environment intimidating. It’s a complex emotional situation – and that means we need to work even harder to deliver good service.

Robin Gargrave (floor):A gym in a retail store with very low prices could certainly reduce cultural barriers to exercise and potentially engage the hard to reach inactive audience.

KC: With the likes of Apple entering the fitness tech market, and wearables getting smarter all the time, we’re set to see a massive growth in individuals tracking and monitoring their own health and fitness. How will the gym sector be impacted by this?
DW: I believe operators need to own the data of their members. Many clubs have no choice but to allow members to BYOD – ‘bring your own device’ – but that data then sits in the silos of the users’ personal accounts, invisible to the facility unless it invests in an integrated solution.

DV: The wearables sector has seen huge growth, with lots of diverse offerings all creating more awareness of physical activity levels and personal health, which is a positive thing. We’re embracing this technology and infusing it into our brand, which we believe will increase our value proposition. Our device of choice at the moment is the Fitbit, which we’re trialling, and we’re also working on integrating Map My Fitness into our customer app.

KC: As these wearables get smarter, is there still a role for the club?
DV: You can’t beat social interaction at the club level. We don’t sell fitness – we sell motivation.

SL: We’re looking at the wider health agenda and public health’s constant need for data. These devices can be powerful tools to help us manage, monitor and track. Data is certainly key to cementing our relationships with GPs and the wider health community.

KC: How close is wearable tech to really going mainstream, providing the sort of data that makes it an invaluable part of daily life?
DW: The ability to measure and record complete types of health data – glucose levels, cholesterol, blood pressure and so on – is there in various formats, but it will be at least five to seven years before that data is captured in a device that’s a totally frictionless, palatable and commercial proposition for the consumer.

KC: Is wearable tech something every health club must embrace?
JG: We’re not yet rushing into the digital space just yet. When we do, we will be platform agnostic and let members choose their own wearable devices and apps. The real question for me is that, although people love measuring stuff and sharing it on social media, how can we help them use their data to improve their fitness? I’m not sure we’ll ever get to take the expertise of the personal trainer out of the loop.

That said, while we have 100 per cent accurate data on usage of our gyms, we have a big gap in terms of knowing what individual members do when they’re working out. That blind spot reduces our ability to craft the most engaging proposition. In the future, the network-enabled gym will help us close that gap, and that’s a critical element of the tech roadmap for any fitness businesses. But the technology isn’t quite where we need it to be yet.

Sign up here to get HCM's weekly ezine and every issue of HCM magazine free on digital.
Should clubs own their members’ data or allow them to bring their own devices into the gym? / photo: www.shutterstock.com
Should clubs own their members’ data or allow them to bring their own devices into the gym? / photo: www.shutterstock.com
https://www.leisureopportunities.co.uk/images/622908_37129.jpg
This year’s SIBEC Europe event opened with a lively discussion forum covering wearable technology and Sports Direct Fitness’ £5 membership announcement
Jim Graham, Sarah Leonie, Diane Vesey, Dave Wright, Kate Cracknell, ,Wearable technology, Sports Direct Fitness, £5 membership, Jim Graham, Sarah Leonie, Diane Vesey, Dave Wright, Kate Cracknell, SIBEC
HCM magazine
Florence Nightingale played an important role in the fitness industry and if she were still with us, she’d certainly be campaigning for fitness trainers to be fully involved in combating the effects of lockdown, says Muir Gray
HCM magazine
TVS Group installs a new world class facilities at the University of Kent in partnership with Robbins
HCM magazine
Premier Gym + Fitness, based in Newton Abbot, Devon, has opened its doors to the public thanks to the help and support of Pulse Fitness
HCM Magazine
Flooring
As we wrap up 2021, flooring suppliers share their most exciting projects and launches from the past year
HCM Magazine
Sponsored
Fitronics’ new member journey software is supporting the University of Oxford in improving its services for users
HCM Magazine
Research
Exercise has been found to power up the body’s production of endocannabinoids and reduce chronic inflammation, explains Tom Walker
HCM Magazine
Sponsored
Leisure operators should embrace activity to engage members says Jenny Patrickson, managing director of Active IQ
HCM Magazine
Promotion
Fitness First Germany has upgraded its members’ gym floor training experience with the rollout of Funxtion’s Multiscreen Virtual Player
HCM Magazine
HCM People
We were fortunate to be approached by Sheikh Mohammed – a Qatari entrepreneur – to develop the club
HCM Magazine
Interview
‘People are choosing bricks and mortar, and they’re coming back faster than we’ve ever seen.’ The CEO of Planet Fitness speaks to Kate Cracknell
HCM Magazine
Latest News
Planet Fitness has signed an agreement to acquire Sunshine Fitness – an operator of 114 ...
Latest News
People living in London have been advised to avoid or reduce strenuous exercise today (Friday ...
Latest News
A marketing partnership between fitness marketplace Hussle and fast-food giant McDonald's resulted in a significant ...
Latest News
The UK government should encourage – and make it easier – for doctors and other ...
Latest News
Mark Sesnan, co-founder and CEO of GLL, has been awarded an OBE in the New ...
Latest News
4 Global – a partner in the Moving Communities initiative – has completed an initial public ...
Latest News
Myzone has secured a US$17.2m worth of investment from growth capital investor BGF – a ...
Latest News
The Cleveland Clinic’s chief wellness officer Michael Roizen predicts longevity will become the next major ...
Featured supplier news
Featured supplier news: Quoox lowers the barrier-to-entry for its flagship CRM system
Known for its innovation and for providing one of the most comprehensive gym and fitness facility software management products on the market, Quoox is causing a stir with its new pricing model.
Featured supplier news
Featured supplier news: Connected Health & Fitness Summit scheduled for March 2022
Covid-19 has accelerated digital transformation within the fitness industry, and there isn’t a fitness brand or business that hasn’t been forced to adapt or pivot to digital.
Featured operator news
Featured operator news: Double Olympic Champion Rebecca Adlington breaks ground ahead of new Rainham Leisure Centre
Everyone Active has got the New Year off to a flying start as it begins work on the brand new Rainham Leisure Centre.
Featured operator news
Featured operator news: Innovative experience TAGactive launched at Everyone Active
Everyone Active opened its first TAGactive Arena at Lammas Leisure Centre on Bank Holiday Monday, January 3.
Company profiles
Company profile: Technogym UK Ltd
Technogym offers a complete ecosystem of connected smart equipment, digital services, on-demand training experiences and ...
Company profiles
Company profile: Pulse Fitness
With an award-winning portfolio of over 450 pieces of cutting-edge, premium fitness equipment, Pulse Fitness ...
Catalogue Gallery
Click on a catalogue to view it online
Directory
Wearable technology solutions
MyZone: Wearable technology solutions
Skincare
Sothys: Skincare
Flooring
Total Vibration Solutions / TVS Sports Surfaces: Flooring
trade associations
International SPA Association - iSPA: trade associations
Salt therapy products
Himalayan Source: Salt therapy products
Whole body cryotherapy
Zimmer MedizinSysteme GmbH / icelab: Whole body cryotherapy
Spa software
SpaBooker: Spa software
Architects/designers
Zynk Design Consultants: Architects/designers
Management software
Premier Software Solutions: Management software
Lockers/interior design
Safe Space Lockers Ltd: Lockers/interior design
Property & Tenders
Bilborough, Nottingham
Bilborough College
Property & Tenders
Welwyn Garden City
Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council
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

SIBEC review: Question time

SIBEC Europe in Madeira opened with an industry debate. Chaired by editor of Health Club Management Kate Cracknell, the discussion covered wearable tech and Sports Direct’s £5 memberships

By Kate Cracknell | Published in Health Club Management 2015 issue 1
L-R: Graham, HCM editor and panel chair Kate Cracknell, Leonie, Vesey and Wright
L-R: Graham, HCM editor and panel chair Kate Cracknell, Leonie, Vesey and Wright

MEET THE PANEL
Jim Graham (JG) COO The Gym Group
Sarah Leonie (SL) Group fitness manager, Places for People Leisure (PfPL)
Diane Vesey (DV) Director of European operations, Anytime Fitness
Dave Wright (DW) CEO, CFM and MYZONE

Kate Cracknell (KC): Sports Direct has announced that it will be offering gym memberships for £5 a month. What impact might this have on the rest of the market?
JG: It’s difficult to comment until we see whether £5 really is the new low-cost price floor, or if it’s a pre-sale marketing tactic. If Sports Direct really is offering memberships for £5, then the mid-market bracket has
been redefined again.

It’s impossible to make a profit charging £5 a month, so this would clearly be a loss leader to drive retail sales. A key challenge will be finding quality staff who are happy to work for a loss-leading product.

DW: This could redefine what we consider affordable fitness. A few years ago that space was occupied by Fitness First and LA fitness. In the US, Planet Fitness has 838 clubs and 4 million members enjoying memberships as low as US$5 a month. If anything, this Sports Direct play could be a fantastic marketing ploy from Mike Ashley, who is looking to make waves in the industry.

KC to SL: Would you consider competing on cost?
SL: Half of our centres now offer gym-only membership and can be reactive on price when low-cost competition opens up on the doorstep. That said, we recognise the need to differentiate our product from the budget clubs.

We’re family orientated and offer much more than just gym and classes. We operate with the wider view of being perfectly placed in the community and able to respond to the health agenda. Rather than go head to head, our plan is to differentiate and not just drop prices. We need to focus on our services and be confident in our strategy. We certainly won’t be throwing all that away to compete with a £5 membership.

DV: You could take the view that anything that gets more people engaged in exercise is a good thing. But I would question, for this price, what the member experience will be like, the service levels and so on.

Tara Dillon (floor): The whole sector needs to stop acting like a shop – we’re selling fitness on the cheap, but ultimately you get what you pay for and I don’t think it will work.

As a sector we’re diversifying, but we need to do more if we’re to expand from the 13 per cent of the population who currently go to the gym. We need to look at the health agenda and consider how we can truly make an impact. We need to grow up as a sector and take ourselves seriously.

SL: My concern is the quality of service people will receive in these budget clubs. If they haven’t been to a gym before and have never used equipment, and they join a gym for a short amount of time with no interaction, will we lose them forever?

JG: When I joined the sector, the one thing that really surprised me was the lack of understanding that we’re in the hospitality and service industry. We put relatively low-paid staff in front of customers, many of whom would rather not be buying the product, find it painful to consume and find the environment intimidating. It’s a complex emotional situation – and that means we need to work even harder to deliver good service.

Robin Gargrave (floor):A gym in a retail store with very low prices could certainly reduce cultural barriers to exercise and potentially engage the hard to reach inactive audience.

KC: With the likes of Apple entering the fitness tech market, and wearables getting smarter all the time, we’re set to see a massive growth in individuals tracking and monitoring their own health and fitness. How will the gym sector be impacted by this?
DW: I believe operators need to own the data of their members. Many clubs have no choice but to allow members to BYOD – ‘bring your own device’ – but that data then sits in the silos of the users’ personal accounts, invisible to the facility unless it invests in an integrated solution.

DV: The wearables sector has seen huge growth, with lots of diverse offerings all creating more awareness of physical activity levels and personal health, which is a positive thing. We’re embracing this technology and infusing it into our brand, which we believe will increase our value proposition. Our device of choice at the moment is the Fitbit, which we’re trialling, and we’re also working on integrating Map My Fitness into our customer app.

KC: As these wearables get smarter, is there still a role for the club?
DV: You can’t beat social interaction at the club level. We don’t sell fitness – we sell motivation.

SL: We’re looking at the wider health agenda and public health’s constant need for data. These devices can be powerful tools to help us manage, monitor and track. Data is certainly key to cementing our relationships with GPs and the wider health community.

KC: How close is wearable tech to really going mainstream, providing the sort of data that makes it an invaluable part of daily life?
DW: The ability to measure and record complete types of health data – glucose levels, cholesterol, blood pressure and so on – is there in various formats, but it will be at least five to seven years before that data is captured in a device that’s a totally frictionless, palatable and commercial proposition for the consumer.

KC: Is wearable tech something every health club must embrace?
JG: We’re not yet rushing into the digital space just yet. When we do, we will be platform agnostic and let members choose their own wearable devices and apps. The real question for me is that, although people love measuring stuff and sharing it on social media, how can we help them use their data to improve their fitness? I’m not sure we’ll ever get to take the expertise of the personal trainer out of the loop.

That said, while we have 100 per cent accurate data on usage of our gyms, we have a big gap in terms of knowing what individual members do when they’re working out. That blind spot reduces our ability to craft the most engaging proposition. In the future, the network-enabled gym will help us close that gap, and that’s a critical element of the tech roadmap for any fitness businesses. But the technology isn’t quite where we need it to be yet.

Sign up here to get HCM's weekly ezine and every issue of HCM magazine free on digital.
Should clubs own their members’ data or allow them to bring their own devices into the gym? / photo: www.shutterstock.com
Should clubs own their members’ data or allow them to bring their own devices into the gym? / photo: www.shutterstock.com
https://www.leisureopportunities.co.uk/images/622908_37129.jpg
This year’s SIBEC Europe event opened with a lively discussion forum covering wearable technology and Sports Direct Fitness’ £5 membership announcement
Jim Graham, Sarah Leonie, Diane Vesey, Dave Wright, Kate Cracknell, ,Wearable technology, Sports Direct Fitness, £5 membership, Jim Graham, Sarah Leonie, Diane Vesey, Dave Wright, Kate Cracknell, SIBEC
Latest News
Planet Fitness has signed an agreement to acquire Sunshine Fitness – an operator of 114 ...
Latest News
People living in London have been advised to avoid or reduce strenuous exercise today (Friday ...
Latest News
A marketing partnership between fitness marketplace Hussle and fast-food giant McDonald's resulted in a significant ...
Latest News
The UK government should encourage – and make it easier – for doctors and other ...
Latest News
Mark Sesnan, co-founder and CEO of GLL, has been awarded an OBE in the New ...
Latest News
4 Global – a partner in the Moving Communities initiative – has completed an initial public ...
Latest News
Myzone has secured a US$17.2m worth of investment from growth capital investor BGF – a ...
Latest News
The Cleveland Clinic’s chief wellness officer Michael Roizen predicts longevity will become the next major ...
Latest News
Physically active people are 50 per cent more likely to develop higher levels of antibodies ...
Latest News
United Fitness Brands (UFB) has added London-based operator Triyoga to its portfolio. Triyoga, which operates ...
Latest News
Wearable technology, outdoor exercise activities and strength training are among the trends expected to shape ...
Featured supplier news
Featured supplier news: Quoox lowers the barrier-to-entry for its flagship CRM system
Known for its innovation and for providing one of the most comprehensive gym and fitness facility software management products on the market, Quoox is causing a stir with its new pricing model.
Featured supplier news
Featured supplier news: Connected Health & Fitness Summit scheduled for March 2022
Covid-19 has accelerated digital transformation within the fitness industry, and there isn’t a fitness brand or business that hasn’t been forced to adapt or pivot to digital.
Featured operator news
Featured operator news: Double Olympic Champion Rebecca Adlington breaks ground ahead of new Rainham Leisure Centre
Everyone Active has got the New Year off to a flying start as it begins work on the brand new Rainham Leisure Centre.
Featured operator news
Featured operator news: Innovative experience TAGactive launched at Everyone Active
Everyone Active opened its first TAGactive Arena at Lammas Leisure Centre on Bank Holiday Monday, January 3.
Company profiles
Company profile: Technogym UK Ltd
Technogym offers a complete ecosystem of connected smart equipment, digital services, on-demand training experiences and ...
Company profiles
Company profile: Pulse Fitness
With an award-winning portfolio of over 450 pieces of cutting-edge, premium fitness equipment, Pulse Fitness ...
Catalogue Gallery
Click on a catalogue to view it online
Directory
Wearable technology solutions
MyZone: Wearable technology solutions
Skincare
Sothys: Skincare
Flooring
Total Vibration Solutions / TVS Sports Surfaces: Flooring
trade associations
International SPA Association - iSPA: trade associations
Salt therapy products
Himalayan Source: Salt therapy products
Whole body cryotherapy
Zimmer MedizinSysteme GmbH / icelab: Whole body cryotherapy
Spa software
SpaBooker: Spa software
Architects/designers
Zynk Design Consultants: Architects/designers
Management software
Premier Software Solutions: Management software
Lockers/interior design
Safe Space Lockers Ltd: Lockers/interior design
Property & Tenders
Bilborough, Nottingham
Bilborough College
Property & Tenders
Welwyn Garden City
Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council
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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