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Health Club Management

Health Club Management

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UNITING THE WORLD OF FITNESS
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Health Club Management

Health Club Management

features

Technology Series: Technology trends

What do operators consider to be the future of technology in health clubs? Jon Nasta reports

By Jon Nasta, Retention Solutions | Published in Health Club Management 2013 issue 2

Last year, we asked some of the industry’s leading technology providers where they saw the future of technology in health clubs (see HCM Oct 12, p57). Now it’s the turn of the operators to share their thoughts on this topic.

So what can we expect to see in health clubs come 2023? That’s a tough question of course – were you able to predict, 10 years ago, what the scenario would look like today? Did you expect to see low-cost clubs opening their doors in 2013 with over 5,000 memberships sold during a six-week presale? Did you imagine some clubs would be getting 100 per cent of their members to join online? Did you envisage your members competing with members from other countries, in real time, while exercising? Or did you imagine that a 140-character messaging system would become one of your most effective CRM tools?

Crystal balls are never the most accurate tools, but we do know the next 10 years will be an era of unprecedented connectivity. Successful operators understand that we are in the relationships business. As people’s connections grow wider and more intimate, so will the frequency of their connectedness – and as such, operators’ understanding of just what kinds of relationships are possible will be stretched and revolutionised as much as any piece of technology.

When it comes to adapting and implementing new technology in our gyms, the biggest challenge remains the need to understand – and effectively communicate – what these technological advances bring to our customers’ hearts and minds. It will be this humanisation of the benefits that helps the traditional gym evolve and get more people, more active, more often – both within and beyond its four walls.

Phillip Mills,

CEO,

Les Mills International, New Zealand

Virtual trainer-led sessions can be a feeder to live group exercise classes, says Mills
Virtual trainer-led sessions can be a feeder to live group exercise classes, says Mills

Technology offers enormous opportunities; the challenge is in understanding what it is able to bring to the heart and mind of the customer. At the end of the day, it comes down to the fundamentals of motivating people to work out. In that sense, technology is a tool which can be deployed to create high motivation, high stimulation environments.

My latest club in Auckland, New Zealand, has a NZ$1m-worth of plasma screen mosaics pumping out music videos. In my view, AV entertainment will continue to be the most important technological opportunity for clubs to entertain and keep spaces energised.

Globally, convenience is key, and virtual workouts where participants are guided by on-screen instruction will become prevalent. Originally I was something of a cynic on non-instructor-led exercise, but having trialled a virtual product at Les Mills I am now a convert. Allowing members the convenience of receiving a group exercise experience at any time of the day is compelling. Our research has also revealed a correlation between members moving on to live group exercise classes after trying virtual workouts. In that sense, technology will act as a feeder to the live experience. For clubs, it’s a massive way to add value as facilities increasingly become 24/7 operations.

Social media has been a boon to the industry. It has given clubs the ability to deepen their relationships with members and become a part of people’s lives. Its importance will only grow and it’s imperative that clubs continue to evolve online as technology develops.

Apps will also play a deeper part in the exercise process. Personally, I feel it will be apps that create experiences, rather than results-focused apps, which prosper. Although results help motivate people, the apps that bring people together, forming communities and bonds that go deeper than shedding calories will have longevity.

In combination, online, smart and AV technologies can enhance the fitness experience, and clubs will need to work out how best to deploy these tools.

Rasmus Ingerslev,

CEO,

Fresh Fitness, Denmark

Rasmus Ingerslev
Rasmus Ingerslev

If I try to project forward and imagine myself as a health club member in 2023, I believe the three most remarkable changes compared to today will be: firstly, the services offered will be more flexible and not dependent on the four walls of the club; secondly, the services offered to me will be more individualised; and thirdly, training will have become more social again.

All of these changes will be technology-driven. In 2023, my club knows me better as they have done extensive data mining, which means they know my interests and goals, and have tracked my past performance and activity. I have also had a thorough preventive health check-up including DNA analysis, which means that my club knows my exact medical predispositions and which types of activity can prevent me from developing life-threatening diseases. Based on this data, I’m receiving individually-tailored suggestions about what I can do, when I can do it and who I can do it with – whether that’s PTs, other members with similar goals, or a virtual trainer via my mobile device.

I can do the classes I want, whenever I want, with the best instructors in the world – whether that’s with a live instructor in the club, by following a class streamed over the internet with a thousand other people, or by doing a pre-recorded class.

If I want to do an outdoor activity, I can easily team up with the gym-buddies I’ve been linked with by the club’s data-mining system. And If I just want to work out at home one day, I can easily get a recommendation on what to do – or just follow a programme or a class in my living room in front of my internet-connected smart TV.

The future will be more personalised, more flexible and more social.

Jon Wright,

MD,

Xercise4Less, UK

Jon Wright
Jon Wright

The technology already exists to gather a staggering amount of data about our members. We can see if a member has paid their membership, what type of membership they have, their email address, home address, telephone number and how many times they have used our gym recently. With that information, we can target gym members with bespoke emails pertaining to their recent gym adherence, and we can run advertising and marketing campaigns based on the geographical regions of our members.

Going forward, we can expect to see new, niche social networks emerging to match particular interests. Could a fitness-specific social network captivate the masses in the same manner that Facebook, Twitter and YouTube have done in recent years? Such a network, catering for gym users, could allow gyms that subscribe to create a profile comprising gym photos, videos and apps to download. It could even become a quasi-mandatory part of being a gym member, in the same way that being an online user is now a must to receive full benefits of being a gym member today.

Of course, even the internet is adapting to meet the needs of a mobile user: we expect any prominent exercise network to be an app. Xercise4Less intends to produce an all-encompassing app with a booking system, running maps, exercise journals, calorie expenditure calculators. Meanwhile The Colonel – the character who represents our brand in marketing channels and YouTube videos – will remain at the forefront of engaging members in our latest technology, sharing health tips, exercise guidance and online videos with home exercisers.

Finally, what technology can we expect to see in the gym itself? By 2020, we look forward to seeing greater technology on the screens of cardiovascular equipment. How long will it be before gym members can virtually see themselves running through customised environments linked to Google Street View?

Could a fitness social network allow members to connect outside of the gym? / © dotshock/shutterstock.com
Could a fitness social network allow members to connect outside of the gym? / © dotshock/shutterstock.com

Bjorn Johansson,

CEO,

Top Quality Clubs, Sweden

Bjorn Johansson
Bjorn Johansson

The first ever website was launched in 1991, so the first 100 per cent internet generation – the digital natives – was also born in the 90s. This generation embraces advertising and information in a whole new way, which of course affects the operation of a successful gym. In 10 years’ time, this generation will begin to pass 30 years of age and technology will have a natural dominance in everyday life.

As a club operator, you always target new ways of making money in the areas of marketing, sales and customer loyalty. Technologies must be employed in the context in which they will have the most impact. As an example, most managers have too much faith in Facebook. This is a tool where you mainly interact with ‘super fans’ – those who already love you. It’s important to communicate with this audience, as they can be your best salespeople. But in the future, the web will provide far more efficient channels to energise your brand advocates than Facebook.

We know that, on average, the gym industry attracts about 15–20 per cent of the population, Where can we find all the others? They sit on the couch surfing the net. Will this situation decrease over the coming 10 years? No: it will of course increase so, with the help of technology, we need to use targeted marketing to reach the inactive individual and introduce our services.

Does your gym dominate on the internet? Probably not: the majority of health club operators do not have a strategy, knowledge or the right resources for optimal presence. What operator could have predicted that the most important people in his company would be web designers, usability experts, app developers, webinar teachers and social media content managers?

Many PTs and group exercise instructors have only a secondary role to play in the success of the gym of the future – even in the service area, technology is taking over. A high-service club is not only judged by staff-to-member interaction, but also on the possibilities that technology gives you. A definition of high customer service now also involves:

1) Accessibility: More or less everything should be available 24 hours a day.
2) DIY: A member needs to be able to do tasks via smartphone, computer and tablets, whether that’s related to bookings, programming, buying, cancellations, education or motivation.
3) Simplicity: Access should not only be available all the time, but just as important is the simplicity of the process. It needs to be extremely easy to become a customer, buy more services, cancel membership and so on.

As an operator, don’t follow the masses and do the same as everyone else. Evaluate every new technology and use the right element in the appropriate area. Make sure you’re using activities and tools that truly create revenue – then the possibilities will be endless.

Will tech developers be as important as gym instructors in the clubs of the future? / © Pablo Calvog/shutterstock.com
Will tech developers be as important as gym instructors in the clubs of the future? / © Pablo Calvog/shutterstock.com

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Jon Nasta is director of Retention Management EU, the specialist retention provider. Email [email protected]
Twitter @jonnasta

Sign up here to get HCM's weekly ezine and every issue of HCM magazine free on digital.
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What do operators consider to be the future of technology in health clubs? Jon Nasta reports
Phillip Mills, CEO, Les Mills International, New Zealand, Rasmus Ingerslev ,CEOFresh Fitness, Denmark, Jon Wright, MD, Xercise4Less, UK, Bjorn Johansson, CEO Top Quality Clubs, Sweden,TECHNOLOGY TRENDS
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features

Technology Series: Technology trends

What do operators consider to be the future of technology in health clubs? Jon Nasta reports

By Jon Nasta, Retention Solutions | Published in Health Club Management 2013 issue 2

Last year, we asked some of the industry’s leading technology providers where they saw the future of technology in health clubs (see HCM Oct 12, p57). Now it’s the turn of the operators to share their thoughts on this topic.

So what can we expect to see in health clubs come 2023? That’s a tough question of course – were you able to predict, 10 years ago, what the scenario would look like today? Did you expect to see low-cost clubs opening their doors in 2013 with over 5,000 memberships sold during a six-week presale? Did you imagine some clubs would be getting 100 per cent of their members to join online? Did you envisage your members competing with members from other countries, in real time, while exercising? Or did you imagine that a 140-character messaging system would become one of your most effective CRM tools?

Crystal balls are never the most accurate tools, but we do know the next 10 years will be an era of unprecedented connectivity. Successful operators understand that we are in the relationships business. As people’s connections grow wider and more intimate, so will the frequency of their connectedness – and as such, operators’ understanding of just what kinds of relationships are possible will be stretched and revolutionised as much as any piece of technology.

When it comes to adapting and implementing new technology in our gyms, the biggest challenge remains the need to understand – and effectively communicate – what these technological advances bring to our customers’ hearts and minds. It will be this humanisation of the benefits that helps the traditional gym evolve and get more people, more active, more often – both within and beyond its four walls.

Phillip Mills,

CEO,

Les Mills International, New Zealand

Virtual trainer-led sessions can be a feeder to live group exercise classes, says Mills
Virtual trainer-led sessions can be a feeder to live group exercise classes, says Mills

Technology offers enormous opportunities; the challenge is in understanding what it is able to bring to the heart and mind of the customer. At the end of the day, it comes down to the fundamentals of motivating people to work out. In that sense, technology is a tool which can be deployed to create high motivation, high stimulation environments.

My latest club in Auckland, New Zealand, has a NZ$1m-worth of plasma screen mosaics pumping out music videos. In my view, AV entertainment will continue to be the most important technological opportunity for clubs to entertain and keep spaces energised.

Globally, convenience is key, and virtual workouts where participants are guided by on-screen instruction will become prevalent. Originally I was something of a cynic on non-instructor-led exercise, but having trialled a virtual product at Les Mills I am now a convert. Allowing members the convenience of receiving a group exercise experience at any time of the day is compelling. Our research has also revealed a correlation between members moving on to live group exercise classes after trying virtual workouts. In that sense, technology will act as a feeder to the live experience. For clubs, it’s a massive way to add value as facilities increasingly become 24/7 operations.

Social media has been a boon to the industry. It has given clubs the ability to deepen their relationships with members and become a part of people’s lives. Its importance will only grow and it’s imperative that clubs continue to evolve online as technology develops.

Apps will also play a deeper part in the exercise process. Personally, I feel it will be apps that create experiences, rather than results-focused apps, which prosper. Although results help motivate people, the apps that bring people together, forming communities and bonds that go deeper than shedding calories will have longevity.

In combination, online, smart and AV technologies can enhance the fitness experience, and clubs will need to work out how best to deploy these tools.

Rasmus Ingerslev,

CEO,

Fresh Fitness, Denmark

Rasmus Ingerslev
Rasmus Ingerslev

If I try to project forward and imagine myself as a health club member in 2023, I believe the three most remarkable changes compared to today will be: firstly, the services offered will be more flexible and not dependent on the four walls of the club; secondly, the services offered to me will be more individualised; and thirdly, training will have become more social again.

All of these changes will be technology-driven. In 2023, my club knows me better as they have done extensive data mining, which means they know my interests and goals, and have tracked my past performance and activity. I have also had a thorough preventive health check-up including DNA analysis, which means that my club knows my exact medical predispositions and which types of activity can prevent me from developing life-threatening diseases. Based on this data, I’m receiving individually-tailored suggestions about what I can do, when I can do it and who I can do it with – whether that’s PTs, other members with similar goals, or a virtual trainer via my mobile device.

I can do the classes I want, whenever I want, with the best instructors in the world – whether that’s with a live instructor in the club, by following a class streamed over the internet with a thousand other people, or by doing a pre-recorded class.

If I want to do an outdoor activity, I can easily team up with the gym-buddies I’ve been linked with by the club’s data-mining system. And If I just want to work out at home one day, I can easily get a recommendation on what to do – or just follow a programme or a class in my living room in front of my internet-connected smart TV.

The future will be more personalised, more flexible and more social.

Jon Wright,

MD,

Xercise4Less, UK

Jon Wright
Jon Wright

The technology already exists to gather a staggering amount of data about our members. We can see if a member has paid their membership, what type of membership they have, their email address, home address, telephone number and how many times they have used our gym recently. With that information, we can target gym members with bespoke emails pertaining to their recent gym adherence, and we can run advertising and marketing campaigns based on the geographical regions of our members.

Going forward, we can expect to see new, niche social networks emerging to match particular interests. Could a fitness-specific social network captivate the masses in the same manner that Facebook, Twitter and YouTube have done in recent years? Such a network, catering for gym users, could allow gyms that subscribe to create a profile comprising gym photos, videos and apps to download. It could even become a quasi-mandatory part of being a gym member, in the same way that being an online user is now a must to receive full benefits of being a gym member today.

Of course, even the internet is adapting to meet the needs of a mobile user: we expect any prominent exercise network to be an app. Xercise4Less intends to produce an all-encompassing app with a booking system, running maps, exercise journals, calorie expenditure calculators. Meanwhile The Colonel – the character who represents our brand in marketing channels and YouTube videos – will remain at the forefront of engaging members in our latest technology, sharing health tips, exercise guidance and online videos with home exercisers.

Finally, what technology can we expect to see in the gym itself? By 2020, we look forward to seeing greater technology on the screens of cardiovascular equipment. How long will it be before gym members can virtually see themselves running through customised environments linked to Google Street View?

Could a fitness social network allow members to connect outside of the gym? / © dotshock/shutterstock.com
Could a fitness social network allow members to connect outside of the gym? / © dotshock/shutterstock.com

Bjorn Johansson,

CEO,

Top Quality Clubs, Sweden

Bjorn Johansson
Bjorn Johansson

The first ever website was launched in 1991, so the first 100 per cent internet generation – the digital natives – was also born in the 90s. This generation embraces advertising and information in a whole new way, which of course affects the operation of a successful gym. In 10 years’ time, this generation will begin to pass 30 years of age and technology will have a natural dominance in everyday life.

As a club operator, you always target new ways of making money in the areas of marketing, sales and customer loyalty. Technologies must be employed in the context in which they will have the most impact. As an example, most managers have too much faith in Facebook. This is a tool where you mainly interact with ‘super fans’ – those who already love you. It’s important to communicate with this audience, as they can be your best salespeople. But in the future, the web will provide far more efficient channels to energise your brand advocates than Facebook.

We know that, on average, the gym industry attracts about 15–20 per cent of the population, Where can we find all the others? They sit on the couch surfing the net. Will this situation decrease over the coming 10 years? No: it will of course increase so, with the help of technology, we need to use targeted marketing to reach the inactive individual and introduce our services.

Does your gym dominate on the internet? Probably not: the majority of health club operators do not have a strategy, knowledge or the right resources for optimal presence. What operator could have predicted that the most important people in his company would be web designers, usability experts, app developers, webinar teachers and social media content managers?

Many PTs and group exercise instructors have only a secondary role to play in the success of the gym of the future – even in the service area, technology is taking over. A high-service club is not only judged by staff-to-member interaction, but also on the possibilities that technology gives you. A definition of high customer service now also involves:

1) Accessibility: More or less everything should be available 24 hours a day.
2) DIY: A member needs to be able to do tasks via smartphone, computer and tablets, whether that’s related to bookings, programming, buying, cancellations, education or motivation.
3) Simplicity: Access should not only be available all the time, but just as important is the simplicity of the process. It needs to be extremely easy to become a customer, buy more services, cancel membership and so on.

As an operator, don’t follow the masses and do the same as everyone else. Evaluate every new technology and use the right element in the appropriate area. Make sure you’re using activities and tools that truly create revenue – then the possibilities will be endless.

Will tech developers be as important as gym instructors in the clubs of the future? / © Pablo Calvog/shutterstock.com
Will tech developers be as important as gym instructors in the clubs of the future? / © Pablo Calvog/shutterstock.com

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Jon Nasta is director of Retention Management EU, the specialist retention provider. Email [email protected]
Twitter @jonnasta

Sign up here to get HCM's weekly ezine and every issue of HCM magazine free on digital.
https://www.leisureopportunities.co.uk/images/HCM2013_2tech.gif
What do operators consider to be the future of technology in health clubs? Jon Nasta reports
Phillip Mills, CEO, Les Mills International, New Zealand, Rasmus Ingerslev ,CEOFresh Fitness, Denmark, Jon Wright, MD, Xercise4Less, UK, Bjorn Johansson, CEO Top Quality Clubs, Sweden,TECHNOLOGY TRENDS
Latest News
Mid Ulster District Council (MUDC) in Northern Ireland has won a landmark VAT case, which ...
Latest News
The government has pledged to invest £100m in supporting public leisure centres this winter, as ...
Latest News
Gyms in Liverpool,UK, have been given the go-ahead to reopen, following a dramatic week of ...
Latest News
Be Military Fit (BMF) has completed a restructuring project, designed to transform the outdoor fitness ...
Latest News
Rod Hill, former president of TRIB3 and director general of Anytime Fitness Iberia, has signed ...
Latest News
Persistent and rising levels of lifestyle disease across the world have exacerbated the effects of ...
Latest News
Customer experience software provider, AskNicely, has announced it will host a new virtual event called ...
Latest News
In breaking news, HCM understands the UK government has removed gyms and fitness facilities from ...
Latest News
Globally, gyms have, on average, seen nearly 70 per cent of their pre-lockdown members return ...
Latest News
A UK government U-turn – just announced – will see gyms and leisure centres staying open ...
Latest News
"Dozens" of gyms in Liverpool, UK, have defied the government and stayed open for business ...
Opinion
promotion
Our world has changed since March and together, we are learning and adapting to how this sector can continue to thrive in this COVID conscious world.
Opinion: Why fitness clubs and facilities need to evolve in a COVID-conscious world
Opinion
promotion
In a post-Covid world, member experience is more important than ever before. Your customers’ expectations have been heightened as the coronavirus continues to dominate our everyday lives.
Opinion: Why member experience is more important now than ever before
Featured supplier news
Featured supplier: CAWS unveils new programme designed to help trainers work with guests recovering from COVID-19
Educational company, CAWS, has launched a new programme to help educate trainers on how to support members recovering from COVID-19.
Featured supplier news
Featured supplier: Power Plate kicks off campaign to support fitness industry deliver health and wellness in one solution
Power Plate, the global leader in whole-body vibration training equipment, is encouraging its community to stay fighting fit this winter with a campaign intended to encourage comfort and confidence, as well as boosting health and wellness.
Video Gallery
Freemotion FUSION Team Training
FreeMotion Fitness
The High-Intensity Cardio-Strength Training. Read more
More videos:
Company profiles
Company profile: Keiser UK Ltd
Keiser began its history of visionary sports science leadership over 40 years ago, rejecting the ...
Company profiles
Company profile: Life Fitness
Through our Life Fitness Solutions Partners, we can deliver design and build services, finance solutions, ...
Catalogue Gallery
Click on a catalogue to view it online
Directory
Direct debit solutions
Harlands Group: Direct debit solutions
Gym flooring
REGUPOL/Berleburger Schaumstoffwerk (BSW): Gym flooring
Locking solutions
Monster Padlocks: Locking solutions
Whole body cryotherapy
Art of Cryo: Whole body cryotherapy
Red Light Therapy
 Red Light Rising: Red Light Therapy
Flooring
Total Vibration Solutions / TVS Sports Surfaces: Flooring
Independent service & maintenance
Servicesport UK Limited: Independent service & maintenance
Wearable technology solutions
MyZone: Wearable technology solutions
Skincare
Comfort Zone - Davines S.p.A: Skincare
Lockers/interior design
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Property & Tenders
11 - 25 Union St, London SE1 1SD
Bankside Open Spaces Trust
Property & Tenders
Waltham Abbey, Essex
Lee Valley Regional Park Authority
Property & Tenders
Diary dates
03-06 Nov 2020
Online,
Diary dates
12 Nov 2020
Virtual, United States
Diary dates
17 Nov 2020
Loughborough University, Loughborough, United Kingdom
Diary dates
27-28 Nov 2020
Athena, Leicester, United Kingdom
Diary dates
03-03 Dec 2020
Virtual,
Diary dates
08-09 Dec 2020
Raffles City Convention Centre, Singapore, Singapore
Diary dates
02-04 Feb 2021
Ericsson Exhibition Hall, Ricoh Arena, Coventry, United Kingdom
Diary dates
23-26 Feb 2021
IFEMA, Madrid, Spain
Diary dates
03-04 Mar 2021
NEC, Birmingham, United Kingdom
Diary dates
03-06 Jun 2021
Expo Centre & Riviera di Rimini, Italy
Diary dates
16-17 Jun 2021
ExCeL London, London, United Kingdom
Diary dates
01-07 Dec 2022
tbc, Dunedin, New Zealand
Diary dates
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