GET HCM
magazine
Sign up for the FREE digital edition of HCM magazine and also get the HCM ezine and breaking news email alerts.
Not right now, thanksclose this window
Questex/McLean Events (Spatec/SIBEC)
Questex/McLean Events (Spatec/SIBEC)
Questex/McLean Events (Spatec/SIBEC)
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
Health Club Management

Health Club Management

features

Promotional feature: Tech Potential

New tech is coming down the track which will change the gym experience and improve retention. We take a look at the potential of artificial intelligence and beacons

Published in Health Club Management 2018 issue 4
Members can wave their phone in front of a piece of kit and it will play a video on how to use it / shutterstock
Members can wave their phone in front of a piece of kit and it will play a video on how to use it / shutterstock
Most clubs are just starting to dabble with beacons, mostly using them as silent monitors to understand members’ movements, but the opportunity for more is massive - Matthew Schober, Gym Farm

The infrastructure of our industry’s membership management technology is inhibiting our ability to move forward,” claims global retention expert, Dr Paul Bedford. “More often than not it doesn’t interact with other technology, behaving like a walled garden, as software companies try to do it all themselves.”

He believes it’s a question of build or buy. “Large operators with their own software engineers are in a far better position to develop their own retention technology, such as US-brand Equinox, which has built into its mobile app an AI-led digital coach, that learns customers’ habits in order to help keep them engaged. Smaller operators can commission projects, but it’s fraught with challenges and there’s massive cost associated with keeping software up to date.

“It’s a rock and a hard place situation. To keep customers, membership management software companies (MMSC) create solutions themselves, but many are nowhere near as good as the best-in-class alternatives and it can be a challenge convincing them to integrate third-party solutions, particularly if they have their own competitor product.”

But fitness tech expert, Bryan O’Rourke, says it’s not the software providers’ fault: “There are some great MMSCs out there, but the market is complex, with many different business models. There’s no one-size-fits-all and every time someone wants to integrate a product, money has to be spent on an API.

“Added to that, consumers are exposed to technology in every aspect of their lives, so expectations outpace fitness business delivery models. The ones winning are those that move fast enough to meet consumer’s desire before others; those ‘genius’ health club brands that represent just 5 per cent of the market.”

1. Beacon technology
As demand increases from operators looking for data to better understand members, beacon technology is there to help. Beacons can detect where a customer is at any given moment, allowing operators to monitor their movements at the gym and also know what they do when they’re there. The system can also push timely messages to members.

Matthew Schober, COO of US beacon technology firm Gym Farm, says: “A year ago, MMSCs were very closed off, but they’re starting to feel the pressure. Based on the sheer size of our features and the speed at which we can build them, MMSCs realise they have to integrate with us. It’s almost a requirement to have these features built in – without them they’re behind.”

Bedford agrees: “Beacons are traditionally used for sales and in sports stadiums and shopping centres to get people to buy a hot dog or lure them into a shop, but they also offer a ‘right time, right place, right content’ opportunity for fitness providers.”

Equinox is ahead of the game, having already deployed beacons across test clubs to track users’ patterns throughout their member journey, but few other operators are using them.

“We’re sitting on some fabulous capabilities, but the market’s just not ready for it yet,” claims Schober. “Most clubs are starting to dabble with beacons, mostly using them as silent monitors to understand members’ movements, but the opportunity is massive.”

Insurance companies are a prime example, – incentives and rewards for good behaviour can be based on monitored activity, not just swiping in at the entrance.

“In many locations across the United States, English is the member’s second language, so there’s an automatic barrier when they walk into a facility,” adds Schober. Gym Farm supports 10 different languages and works as a fitness translator. “Members can wave their phone in front of a piece of kit and it will play a video on how to use it correctly. The purpose is to educate and inform – it gives members exposure to alternative equipment and the confidence to use it.”

Gym Farm’s technology integrates with equipment manufacturers (Precor and Life Fitness are the first) to automatically log members into their account as they approach the kit. It can be used to send push notifications to members in specific areas of the gym, to add workout data to health insurance records, to provide a digital personal trainer or even to order lunch as the member enters the café.

2. Artificial intelligence
Artificial Intelligence (AI) is another technology gearing up to aid retention in fitness. It could soon be creating personalised exercise programmes, simply using statistical analysis and the application of machine learning to data.

“Every two days we create as much data as we did from the beginning of time until 2003, but only a third is stored in traditional accounting format such as columns and rows, says Bedford. AI can unravel the other 70 per cent, quickly computing huge amounts of data from various formats – including images.”

CoachAi is a virtual coach using AI-driven behavioural psychology to help people turn exercise into a habit. It’s currently being piloted by three health club brands in Israel, including the country’s second largest chain, Space.

“We’ve identified the key psychological, social and logistical problems that cause dropouts and created an AI solution to address them,” says CEO, Shai Neiger.

“CoachAi has been shown to increase attendance by up to 96 per cent, by motivating people and reducing friction associated with going to the gym. We’ve tailored fun content, including video, to drive people through the difficult process of behaviour change. They can ask questions and the chatbot responds; creating a conversation which gives tailored advice. CoachAi learns how each individual communicates, so we create personalised solutions that stack the odds in their favour.”

Changing mindsets
Schober believes the revenue share provided by companies like Gym Farm will help member management companies open up to the idea of integration. He says: “The industry sees this as a breath of fresh air because everyone’s starting to work together; insurance companies send customers to clubs with better equipment, which helps our partners sell more connected equipment. This drives members into clubs, boosting the operator’s revenue. It’s a win-win, because by understanding the member journey, operators can show higher levels of care, via a personalised service.”

Operators with their hands tied, waiting for integration of these space-age capabilities, should look closely at what they already have, advises Bedford. “Existing CRM technology can be used to make a business more efficient, but also more impactful. The membership management software can generally do more than just sales, but operators often aren’t using products to their full potential. Retargeting is a good example.”

A retargeting pixel, which can be embedded into a web page, can ‘stalk’ customers during internet browsing with banner ads. But according to Bedford, it’s rarely used for anything other than sales. “It’s really easy to use this tactic to improve the customer experience too, helping the member to feel important.

Rather than always pushing sales messages, ask when they’re next coming in or if they need your help. Tell them what other members are doing that they might want to try or ask if they fancy a swim. Marketing teams are so used to thinking about selling they often don’t see the retention opportunity.”

However, O’Rourke believes it isn’t simply a case of asking, ‘what are the best products?’. He advises operators to spend time auditing how their business addresses the user experience and how they’re going to compete. “You can’t just keep layering on solutions to an existing business model without scrubbing down to the base boards sometimes. You can have a great product, but if you’re just putting that on top of the original system it won’t work.”

The retention guru

Dr Paul Bedford is one of the fitness industry’s authorities on the management of retention, attrition and the customer experience.

He’s author of a substantial study on retention and speaks regularly on the global conference circuit. Bedford runs the annual Retention Convention, where speakers Bryan O’Rourke, Matthew Schober and Shai Neiger will present this year. The convention takes place on 26 April 2018.

Retention Convention speakers
Retention Convention speakers
Sign up here to get HCM's weekly ezine and every issue of HCM magazine free on digital.
Gym Farm is bringing beacon technology to fitness
Gym Farm is bringing beacon technology to fitness
Coach Ai has been shown to increase attendance by up to 96 per cent
Coach Ai has been shown to increase attendance by up to 96 per cent
https://www.leisureopportunities.co.uk/images/664178_430070.jpg
New tech is coming down the track which will change the gym experience and improve retention
Dr Paul Bedford,retention, Artificial Intelligence (AI), Dr Paul Bedford,
HCM magazine
The sharp increase in energy prices has left some operators reeling, but there’s reason to be optimistic if we can learn from other sectors, while moving to a low carbon future
HCM magazine
After a hiatus due to the pandemic, LeisureDB has updated its State of the Fitness Industry Report for 2022, as David Minton reports
HCM magazine
Fuel the debate about issues and opportunities across the industry. We’d love to hear from you – [email protected]
HCM Magazine
Interview
Free gym access is offered to gyms in four areas and 11 leisure centres and our intentions are to expand throughout the UK
HCM Magazine
Everyone's talking about
Energy is top of the agenda for two major reasons – cost and decarbonisation. With these two on a collision course, our experts share their views
HCM Magazine
Event showcase
As Elevate returns to the market, we talk to director Lucy Findlay about how the event has come together
HCM Magazine
Sponsored
The body composition specialists are showing no signs of slowing down, with new leadership and launches for 2022
HCM Magazine
Research
Being physically active can heal damage caused by diabetes, enabling the activation of a natural system that grows new blood vessels, according to research in the US
HCM Magazine
Insight
The pandemic brought about our sector’s biggest ever collaboration on COVID safety data. Lizzie Broughton tells the story
HCM Magazine
Research
Bryce Hastings, head of research at Les Mills, explains the latest research into exercise motivation, giving tips on how to engage hard-to-reach members
HCM Magazine
Latest News
The best in the business from across the physical activity sector were honoured last night ...
Latest News
At UK Active’s Active Uprising event yesterday (30 June) in Birmingham, Hattie Jones, the head ...
Latest News
HCM understands researchers are moving closer to creating a pill to mimic some of the ...
Latest News
Establishing new data and insight services and strengthening relationships with both government and the NHS ...
Latest News
More than one in five (27 per cent) Americans belonged to a health club or ...
Latest News
Ultimate Performance (UP) – the private gym chain and PT business – has opened a ...
Latest News
Luxury hotel chain Mandarin Oriental has launched a new brand called Intelligent Movement to deliver ...
Latest News
Boutique fitness chain 1Rebel opens the doors to its tenth club today (Monday 27 June ...
Featured supplier news
Featured supplier news: It’s nearly time for Elevate 2022!
It’s now just days to go until your leading trade show for the fitness, physical activity and sports therapy industry kicks off in London!
Featured supplier news
Featured supplier news: Fitness industry to gather at Sibec Europe-UK in Portugal this September
Questex’s iconic event Sibec Europe-UK – known as Europe’s leading hosted buyer event for the fitness industry – will take place from 27-30 September at the Anantara Vilamoura Algarve Resort, in Portugal.
Featured operator news
Featured operator news: Everyone Active to launch new exercise classes to reduce gender gap
As part of their work to break down the barriers that deter women and girls from participating in sport and physical activity, Everyone Active has teamed up with EMD UK to launch new exercise classes linked to the This Girl Can campaign.
Featured operator news
Featured operator news: New £42m Moorways Sports Village to open on 21 May
Everyone Active will open Moorways Sports Village to the public on Saturday 21 May with a grand opening weekend – in time for the half term holidays.
Video Gallery
Mindbody, Inc
Total Vibration Solutions / Floors 4 Gyms / TVS Sports Surfaces
Sport Alliance GmbH
Company profiles
Company profile: Fisikal Limited
Fisikal helps fitness professionals, operators and education organisations improve efficiencies and service through its online ...
Company profiles
Company profile: Funxtion International BV
Funxtion is the only independent B2B company that offers a full ecosystem of customizable digital ...
Catalogue Gallery
Click on a catalogue to view it online
Directory
On demand
Fitness On Demand: On demand
Management software
Premier Software Solutions: Management software
Architects/designers
Zynk Design Consultants: Architects/designers
Spa software
SpaBooker: Spa software
Lockers/interior design
Safe Space Lockers Ltd: Lockers/interior design
Flooring
Total Vibration Solutions / TVS Sports Surfaces: Flooring
Skincare
Sothys: Skincare
Wearable technology solutions
MyZone: Wearable technology solutions
Salt therapy products
Himalayan Source: Salt therapy products
Fitness equipment
A Panatta Sport Srl: Fitness equipment
Property & Tenders
Pendine Sands, Carmarthenshire
Carmarthenshire County Council
Property & Tenders
Runcorn
Halton Borough Council
Property & Tenders
Diary dates
12-13 Sep 2022
Wyndham Lake Buena Vista Disney Springs® Resort, Lake Buena Vista, United States
Diary dates
21-21 Sep 2022
Various, London, United Kingdom
Diary dates
25-28 Oct 2022
Messe Stuttgart, Germany
Diary dates
25-28 Oct 2022
Ibiza, Ibiza, Spain
Diary dates
01-07 Dec 2022
tbc, Dunedin, New Zealand
Diary dates
17-18 Mar 2023
Tobacco Dock, London, United Kingdom
Diary dates

features

Promotional feature: Tech Potential

New tech is coming down the track which will change the gym experience and improve retention. We take a look at the potential of artificial intelligence and beacons

Published in Health Club Management 2018 issue 4
Members can wave their phone in front of a piece of kit and it will play a video on how to use it / shutterstock
Members can wave their phone in front of a piece of kit and it will play a video on how to use it / shutterstock
Most clubs are just starting to dabble with beacons, mostly using them as silent monitors to understand members’ movements, but the opportunity for more is massive - Matthew Schober, Gym Farm

The infrastructure of our industry’s membership management technology is inhibiting our ability to move forward,” claims global retention expert, Dr Paul Bedford. “More often than not it doesn’t interact with other technology, behaving like a walled garden, as software companies try to do it all themselves.”

He believes it’s a question of build or buy. “Large operators with their own software engineers are in a far better position to develop their own retention technology, such as US-brand Equinox, which has built into its mobile app an AI-led digital coach, that learns customers’ habits in order to help keep them engaged. Smaller operators can commission projects, but it’s fraught with challenges and there’s massive cost associated with keeping software up to date.

“It’s a rock and a hard place situation. To keep customers, membership management software companies (MMSC) create solutions themselves, but many are nowhere near as good as the best-in-class alternatives and it can be a challenge convincing them to integrate third-party solutions, particularly if they have their own competitor product.”

But fitness tech expert, Bryan O’Rourke, says it’s not the software providers’ fault: “There are some great MMSCs out there, but the market is complex, with many different business models. There’s no one-size-fits-all and every time someone wants to integrate a product, money has to be spent on an API.

“Added to that, consumers are exposed to technology in every aspect of their lives, so expectations outpace fitness business delivery models. The ones winning are those that move fast enough to meet consumer’s desire before others; those ‘genius’ health club brands that represent just 5 per cent of the market.”

1. Beacon technology
As demand increases from operators looking for data to better understand members, beacon technology is there to help. Beacons can detect where a customer is at any given moment, allowing operators to monitor their movements at the gym and also know what they do when they’re there. The system can also push timely messages to members.

Matthew Schober, COO of US beacon technology firm Gym Farm, says: “A year ago, MMSCs were very closed off, but they’re starting to feel the pressure. Based on the sheer size of our features and the speed at which we can build them, MMSCs realise they have to integrate with us. It’s almost a requirement to have these features built in – without them they’re behind.”

Bedford agrees: “Beacons are traditionally used for sales and in sports stadiums and shopping centres to get people to buy a hot dog or lure them into a shop, but they also offer a ‘right time, right place, right content’ opportunity for fitness providers.”

Equinox is ahead of the game, having already deployed beacons across test clubs to track users’ patterns throughout their member journey, but few other operators are using them.

“We’re sitting on some fabulous capabilities, but the market’s just not ready for it yet,” claims Schober. “Most clubs are starting to dabble with beacons, mostly using them as silent monitors to understand members’ movements, but the opportunity is massive.”

Insurance companies are a prime example, – incentives and rewards for good behaviour can be based on monitored activity, not just swiping in at the entrance.

“In many locations across the United States, English is the member’s second language, so there’s an automatic barrier when they walk into a facility,” adds Schober. Gym Farm supports 10 different languages and works as a fitness translator. “Members can wave their phone in front of a piece of kit and it will play a video on how to use it correctly. The purpose is to educate and inform – it gives members exposure to alternative equipment and the confidence to use it.”

Gym Farm’s technology integrates with equipment manufacturers (Precor and Life Fitness are the first) to automatically log members into their account as they approach the kit. It can be used to send push notifications to members in specific areas of the gym, to add workout data to health insurance records, to provide a digital personal trainer or even to order lunch as the member enters the café.

2. Artificial intelligence
Artificial Intelligence (AI) is another technology gearing up to aid retention in fitness. It could soon be creating personalised exercise programmes, simply using statistical analysis and the application of machine learning to data.

“Every two days we create as much data as we did from the beginning of time until 2003, but only a third is stored in traditional accounting format such as columns and rows, says Bedford. AI can unravel the other 70 per cent, quickly computing huge amounts of data from various formats – including images.”

CoachAi is a virtual coach using AI-driven behavioural psychology to help people turn exercise into a habit. It’s currently being piloted by three health club brands in Israel, including the country’s second largest chain, Space.

“We’ve identified the key psychological, social and logistical problems that cause dropouts and created an AI solution to address them,” says CEO, Shai Neiger.

“CoachAi has been shown to increase attendance by up to 96 per cent, by motivating people and reducing friction associated with going to the gym. We’ve tailored fun content, including video, to drive people through the difficult process of behaviour change. They can ask questions and the chatbot responds; creating a conversation which gives tailored advice. CoachAi learns how each individual communicates, so we create personalised solutions that stack the odds in their favour.”

Changing mindsets
Schober believes the revenue share provided by companies like Gym Farm will help member management companies open up to the idea of integration. He says: “The industry sees this as a breath of fresh air because everyone’s starting to work together; insurance companies send customers to clubs with better equipment, which helps our partners sell more connected equipment. This drives members into clubs, boosting the operator’s revenue. It’s a win-win, because by understanding the member journey, operators can show higher levels of care, via a personalised service.”

Operators with their hands tied, waiting for integration of these space-age capabilities, should look closely at what they already have, advises Bedford. “Existing CRM technology can be used to make a business more efficient, but also more impactful. The membership management software can generally do more than just sales, but operators often aren’t using products to their full potential. Retargeting is a good example.”

A retargeting pixel, which can be embedded into a web page, can ‘stalk’ customers during internet browsing with banner ads. But according to Bedford, it’s rarely used for anything other than sales. “It’s really easy to use this tactic to improve the customer experience too, helping the member to feel important.

Rather than always pushing sales messages, ask when they’re next coming in or if they need your help. Tell them what other members are doing that they might want to try or ask if they fancy a swim. Marketing teams are so used to thinking about selling they often don’t see the retention opportunity.”

However, O’Rourke believes it isn’t simply a case of asking, ‘what are the best products?’. He advises operators to spend time auditing how their business addresses the user experience and how they’re going to compete. “You can’t just keep layering on solutions to an existing business model without scrubbing down to the base boards sometimes. You can have a great product, but if you’re just putting that on top of the original system it won’t work.”

The retention guru

Dr Paul Bedford is one of the fitness industry’s authorities on the management of retention, attrition and the customer experience.

He’s author of a substantial study on retention and speaks regularly on the global conference circuit. Bedford runs the annual Retention Convention, where speakers Bryan O’Rourke, Matthew Schober and Shai Neiger will present this year. The convention takes place on 26 April 2018.

Retention Convention speakers
Retention Convention speakers
Sign up here to get HCM's weekly ezine and every issue of HCM magazine free on digital.
Gym Farm is bringing beacon technology to fitness
Gym Farm is bringing beacon technology to fitness
Coach Ai has been shown to increase attendance by up to 96 per cent
Coach Ai has been shown to increase attendance by up to 96 per cent
https://www.leisureopportunities.co.uk/images/664178_430070.jpg
New tech is coming down the track which will change the gym experience and improve retention
Dr Paul Bedford,retention, Artificial Intelligence (AI), Dr Paul Bedford,
Latest News
The best in the business from across the physical activity sector were honoured last night ...
Latest News
At UK Active’s Active Uprising event yesterday (30 June) in Birmingham, Hattie Jones, the head ...
Latest News
HCM understands researchers are moving closer to creating a pill to mimic some of the ...
Latest News
Establishing new data and insight services and strengthening relationships with both government and the NHS ...
Latest News
More than one in five (27 per cent) Americans belonged to a health club or ...
Latest News
Ultimate Performance (UP) – the private gym chain and PT business – has opened a ...
Latest News
Luxury hotel chain Mandarin Oriental has launched a new brand called Intelligent Movement to deliver ...
Latest News
Boutique fitness chain 1Rebel opens the doors to its tenth club today (Monday 27 June ...
Latest News
A new report by Deloitte, outlining the social and economic value of the global health ...
Latest News
Barry’s has entered the world of retail, opening a studio in the new Flannels flagship ...
Latest News
The London 2012 Olympic legacy investment designed to improve physical education at primary schools has ...
Featured supplier news
Featured supplier news: It’s nearly time for Elevate 2022!
It’s now just days to go until your leading trade show for the fitness, physical activity and sports therapy industry kicks off in London!
Featured supplier news
Featured supplier news: Fitness industry to gather at Sibec Europe-UK in Portugal this September
Questex’s iconic event Sibec Europe-UK – known as Europe’s leading hosted buyer event for the fitness industry – will take place from 27-30 September at the Anantara Vilamoura Algarve Resort, in Portugal.
Featured operator news
Featured operator news: Everyone Active to launch new exercise classes to reduce gender gap
As part of their work to break down the barriers that deter women and girls from participating in sport and physical activity, Everyone Active has teamed up with EMD UK to launch new exercise classes linked to the This Girl Can campaign.
Featured operator news
Featured operator news: New £42m Moorways Sports Village to open on 21 May
Everyone Active will open Moorways Sports Village to the public on Saturday 21 May with a grand opening weekend – in time for the half term holidays.
Video Gallery
Mindbody, Inc
Total Vibration Solutions / Floors 4 Gyms / TVS Sports Surfaces
Sport Alliance GmbH
Company profiles
Company profile: Fisikal Limited
Fisikal helps fitness professionals, operators and education organisations improve efficiencies and service through its online ...
Company profiles
Company profile: Funxtion International BV
Funxtion is the only independent B2B company that offers a full ecosystem of customizable digital ...
Catalogue Gallery
Click on a catalogue to view it online
Directory
On demand
Fitness On Demand: On demand
Management software
Premier Software Solutions: Management software
Architects/designers
Zynk Design Consultants: Architects/designers
Spa software
SpaBooker: Spa software
Lockers/interior design
Safe Space Lockers Ltd: Lockers/interior design
Flooring
Total Vibration Solutions / TVS Sports Surfaces: Flooring
Skincare
Sothys: Skincare
Wearable technology solutions
MyZone: Wearable technology solutions
Salt therapy products
Himalayan Source: Salt therapy products
Fitness equipment
A Panatta Sport Srl: Fitness equipment
Property & Tenders
Pendine Sands, Carmarthenshire
Carmarthenshire County Council
Property & Tenders
Runcorn
Halton Borough Council
Property & Tenders
Diary dates
12-13 Sep 2022
Wyndham Lake Buena Vista Disney Springs® Resort, Lake Buena Vista, United States
Diary dates
21-21 Sep 2022
Various, London, United Kingdom
Diary dates
25-28 Oct 2022
Messe Stuttgart, Germany
Diary dates
25-28 Oct 2022
Ibiza, Ibiza, Spain
Diary dates
01-07 Dec 2022
tbc, Dunedin, New Zealand
Diary dates
17-18 Mar 2023
Tobacco Dock, London, United Kingdom
Diary dates
Search news, features & products:
Find a supplier:
Questex/McLean Events (Spatec/SIBEC)
Questex/McLean Events (Spatec/SIBEC)
Partner sites