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UNITING THE WORLD OF FITNESS
Health Club Management

Health Club Management

News

The Emperor’s New Yoga Pants? The rise of the ‘Sweat Nomad’

There is absolutely room for both traditional, budget operators and premium, boutique offerings. Gyms and leisure centres that can’t differentiate between these markets, and sit somewhere in the middle, will struggle to survive in the long run
– Robin Karn, Harlands Group

Boutique gyms and the rising trend of the pay as you go (PAYG) model is fantastic for the hectic city lifestyle. Today’s gym users can test-drive gyms and classes like they do their morning smoothies. But is it a race to the bottom for the gym owner? Robin Karn, of Harlands Group, discusses the pros and cons of the PAYG model, and suggests how both boutique gym owners and traditional subscription gyms can prosper in the future by potentially working together.

Boutique gyms are springing up in most major UK cities, offering niche workouts (often a single type of class) and charging as much as £30 per session. Like all PAYG models, it definitely appeals to the segment of the market that doesn’t like to be tied down to a contract. The notion of being able to try a multitude of different classes until finding one that works, and the ability to be a ‘sweat nomad’ is also appealing. Location, time and activity can be chosen to suit your mood and commute.

However, just like the PAYG versus contract decision in other sectors, there are pros and cons for the customer. Signing up for a contract usually carries a financial advantage that’s cheaper in the long run (especially against £30 per class). Plus, it often carries additional benefits and deals in addition to enjoying ‘all you can eat’ work outs - at The Gym Group you can workout every day for only £14.99 per month.

The Guardian reported that 1 in 7 adults in the UK are members of a gym, an industry worth a staggering £4.9bn. An estimated 8m gym membership direct debits are processed every month in the UK alone, (25% of which are managed by Harlands, more than any other system or operator). You might think that without the use of formal contracts or direct debit payments boutique gyms would suffer from a lack of loyalty and sense of membership. In actuality, members of boutique studios enjoy the same strong sense of community and pride as belonging to a luxury gym. For example, Framers (members of Frame - one of the first boutique studios to thrive in London) have a deep affinity with the gym’s brand and the prestige of surviving its gruelling, expert-level sessions.

Disruption in any industry is inevitable and should be welcomed. Whilst boutique gyms will absolutely find a customer base, especially in cities where a transient population numbers in the millions, it isn’t going to kill off the traditional gym membership or recurring contracts. Airbnb is fantastic, and I’ve used it many times for short city breaks. However, I’m not going to boycott hotels and spas when the occasion is more appropriate. Choice is only ever a good thing for the consumer. And like fine cuisine, there is genuinely something for everyone. Boutique gyms have become the elite equivalent of a hipster coffee shop, or the cereal restaurant in Shoreditch charging £5 for a bowl of Lucky Charms. In the US, Planet Fitness famously offers ‘judgement free zones’ for patrons who feel intimidated in the weights room and even hosts a pizza night in the gym.

I believe that just like the airline industry, there is absolutely room for both traditional, budget operators and premium, boutique offerings. Gyms and leisure centres that can’t differentiate between these markets, and sit somewhere in the middle, will struggle to survive in the long run.

I also feel that eventually, boutique gyms will want to nurture the (commercial) loyalty and recurring income enjoyed by traditional subscription gyms. Of course, they won’t all be tying customers into 12-month contracts very often. But should one set-up a direct debit plan, they will enjoy a reduced fee (perhaps £25 per session rather than £30) and queue hopping privileges for the most popular classes, V1BE in Manchester are already doing this successfully and more will follow. It will become the equivalent of being a casual football fan versus a season ticket holder. Are you a genuine Framer, or a fair-weather Framer? Where’s your loyalty card?

Even in large cities, where the stream of new joiners feels endless and loyalty and retention is secondary to acquisition, boutique gyms will eventually come around to the concept of recurring payments. The fitness industry only needs to look at dominant PAYG/contract sectors such as Telco for the blueprint. In the mobile phone world, PAYG is considered a gateway product to the far more lucrative contract where the client is hooked-in and the barriers to switch are high. Framers will shudder at the thought. It’s everything a boutique gym is NOT about. But there is an opportunity to still hold to the antidisestablishmentarian and revolutionary ethos of the brand AND make it profitable for the gym and advantageous to the customer.

If boutique gyms genuinely want to support choice and foster a sense of community, they may want to consider partnering with the more traditional gyms. You could find the perfect MMA studio with world-class Jiu Jitsu instructors, then want to switch your work-outs to a decent weight room with a jump in the steam room after your session. If your MMA studio partnered with the local leisure centre to give you this type of access, exclusively as a subscribed member, everyone wins.

Boutique gyms are fantastic for niche markets and are not the death of traditional gyms. There’s a massive opportunity to explore the benefits of recurring payments for gyms and gym-goers alike by continuing to deliver diversity and choice in the fitness industry.

Now I’m off for pizza night at Planet Fitness!

Boutique gyms and the PAYG model is fantastic for the hectic city lifestyle, but is it a race to the bottom for the gym owner?
HAF,LCT
imagesX/THUMB340917_873054_780615.jpg
Latest News
A young girl has died following an incident at the David Lloyd gym at Capability ...
Latest News
New fitness franchise, Circuit Society, has signed its first London location in Bayswater. The 3,000sq ...
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Active Nottingham, part of Nottingham City Council, has released a children’s book called Can We ...
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HCM Magazine
Sponsored
One of our values is innovation, and Biocircuit was a way to invest in our members with a new offer they wouldn’t have seen anywhere else
HCM Magazine
Tech
Each health club has its own unique challenges, but the right tech solution can make all the difference. In the first of a two-part series, specialists share how they’ve solved specific issues
HCM Magazine
Facilities
What to do when your changing rooms need a refresh, but your budget is stretched? These specialists share their top tips for easy upgrades that won’t break the bank
HCM Magazine
Supplier showcase
Pulse Fitness and Bolsover District Council have been collaborating for many years to deliver dedicated community activity spaces
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Insight
The Global Wellness Summit brought together public health and wellness experts in Boston recently. Jane Kitchen was there for HCM to see first-hand what this ‘New new era in health and wellness’ will look like for the sector
HCM Magazine
Editor's letter
Having a portfolio of more than 1,000 health club locations is the aim of ambitious operators, with this elite category growing fast, creating new dynamics in the market
HCM Magazine
Annual report
In April, Deloitte and Europe Active published the ninth edition of their yearly European Health and Fitness Market Report, as Karsten Hollasch explains
HCM Magazine
HCM magazine
Operators must be clear in their messaging so people find their way to a club they stick with. Try not to be all things to all people, and we can be successful at keeping them engaged
HCM magazine
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HCM People

Louis Rennocks

Co-founder, Grndhouse
We want Grndhouse to be everywhere: in gyms, hotels, on holidays, at home – it’s boutique fitness in your hand
Featured supplier news
Featured supplier news: Magicline celebrates UK market entry at Elevate
With a focus on globalisation, Magicline has officially launched its software in the UK. As Europe’s leading gym management software company, the company strives to provide the best tools for gym owners to be successful, win new members and elevate their businesses.
Featured supplier news
Featured supplier news: Virtuagym raises €3m investment to fuel innovation in health and fitness technology
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Featured operator news
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Video Gallery
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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: Technogym UK Ltd
Technogym offers a complete ecosystem of connected smart equipment, digital services, on-demand training experiences and ...
Catalogue Gallery
Click on a catalogue to view it online
Directory
trade associations
International SPA Association - iSPA: trade associations
Flooring
Total Vibration Solutions / TVS Sports Surfaces: Flooring
Fitness equipment
A Panatta Sport Srl: Fitness equipment
Lockers/interior design
Safe Space Lockers Ltd: Lockers/interior design
Salt therapy products
Himalayan Source: Salt therapy products
On demand
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Whole body cryotherapy
Art of Cryo: Whole body cryotherapy
Spa software
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Property & Tenders
Pendine Sands, Carmarthenshire
Carmarthenshire County Council
Property & Tenders
Runcorn
Halton Borough Council
Property & Tenders
Diary dates
15-16 Jun 2022
ExCeL London, London, United Kingdom
Diary dates
30-30 Jun 2022
The ICC, Birmingham, Birmingham , United Kingdom
Diary dates
12-13 Sep 2022
Wyndham Lake Buena Vista Disney Springs® Resort, Lake Buena Vista, United States
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

News

The Emperor’s New Yoga Pants? The rise of the ‘Sweat Nomad’

There is absolutely room for both traditional, budget operators and premium, boutique offerings. Gyms and leisure centres that can’t differentiate between these markets, and sit somewhere in the middle, will struggle to survive in the long run
– Robin Karn, Harlands Group

Boutique gyms and the rising trend of the pay as you go (PAYG) model is fantastic for the hectic city lifestyle. Today’s gym users can test-drive gyms and classes like they do their morning smoothies. But is it a race to the bottom for the gym owner? Robin Karn, of Harlands Group, discusses the pros and cons of the PAYG model, and suggests how both boutique gym owners and traditional subscription gyms can prosper in the future by potentially working together.

Boutique gyms are springing up in most major UK cities, offering niche workouts (often a single type of class) and charging as much as £30 per session. Like all PAYG models, it definitely appeals to the segment of the market that doesn’t like to be tied down to a contract. The notion of being able to try a multitude of different classes until finding one that works, and the ability to be a ‘sweat nomad’ is also appealing. Location, time and activity can be chosen to suit your mood and commute.

However, just like the PAYG versus contract decision in other sectors, there are pros and cons for the customer. Signing up for a contract usually carries a financial advantage that’s cheaper in the long run (especially against £30 per class). Plus, it often carries additional benefits and deals in addition to enjoying ‘all you can eat’ work outs - at The Gym Group you can workout every day for only £14.99 per month.

The Guardian reported that 1 in 7 adults in the UK are members of a gym, an industry worth a staggering £4.9bn. An estimated 8m gym membership direct debits are processed every month in the UK alone, (25% of which are managed by Harlands, more than any other system or operator). You might think that without the use of formal contracts or direct debit payments boutique gyms would suffer from a lack of loyalty and sense of membership. In actuality, members of boutique studios enjoy the same strong sense of community and pride as belonging to a luxury gym. For example, Framers (members of Frame - one of the first boutique studios to thrive in London) have a deep affinity with the gym’s brand and the prestige of surviving its gruelling, expert-level sessions.

Disruption in any industry is inevitable and should be welcomed. Whilst boutique gyms will absolutely find a customer base, especially in cities where a transient population numbers in the millions, it isn’t going to kill off the traditional gym membership or recurring contracts. Airbnb is fantastic, and I’ve used it many times for short city breaks. However, I’m not going to boycott hotels and spas when the occasion is more appropriate. Choice is only ever a good thing for the consumer. And like fine cuisine, there is genuinely something for everyone. Boutique gyms have become the elite equivalent of a hipster coffee shop, or the cereal restaurant in Shoreditch charging £5 for a bowl of Lucky Charms. In the US, Planet Fitness famously offers ‘judgement free zones’ for patrons who feel intimidated in the weights room and even hosts a pizza night in the gym.

I believe that just like the airline industry, there is absolutely room for both traditional, budget operators and premium, boutique offerings. Gyms and leisure centres that can’t differentiate between these markets, and sit somewhere in the middle, will struggle to survive in the long run.

I also feel that eventually, boutique gyms will want to nurture the (commercial) loyalty and recurring income enjoyed by traditional subscription gyms. Of course, they won’t all be tying customers into 12-month contracts very often. But should one set-up a direct debit plan, they will enjoy a reduced fee (perhaps £25 per session rather than £30) and queue hopping privileges for the most popular classes, V1BE in Manchester are already doing this successfully and more will follow. It will become the equivalent of being a casual football fan versus a season ticket holder. Are you a genuine Framer, or a fair-weather Framer? Where’s your loyalty card?

Even in large cities, where the stream of new joiners feels endless and loyalty and retention is secondary to acquisition, boutique gyms will eventually come around to the concept of recurring payments. The fitness industry only needs to look at dominant PAYG/contract sectors such as Telco for the blueprint. In the mobile phone world, PAYG is considered a gateway product to the far more lucrative contract where the client is hooked-in and the barriers to switch are high. Framers will shudder at the thought. It’s everything a boutique gym is NOT about. But there is an opportunity to still hold to the antidisestablishmentarian and revolutionary ethos of the brand AND make it profitable for the gym and advantageous to the customer.

If boutique gyms genuinely want to support choice and foster a sense of community, they may want to consider partnering with the more traditional gyms. You could find the perfect MMA studio with world-class Jiu Jitsu instructors, then want to switch your work-outs to a decent weight room with a jump in the steam room after your session. If your MMA studio partnered with the local leisure centre to give you this type of access, exclusively as a subscribed member, everyone wins.

Boutique gyms are fantastic for niche markets and are not the death of traditional gyms. There’s a massive opportunity to explore the benefits of recurring payments for gyms and gym-goers alike by continuing to deliver diversity and choice in the fitness industry.

Now I’m off for pizza night at Planet Fitness!

Boutique gyms and the PAYG model is fantastic for the hectic city lifestyle, but is it a race to the bottom for the gym owner?
HAF,LCT
imagesX/THUMB340917_873054_780615.jpg

News

A young girl has died following an incident at the David Lloyd gym at Capability
New fitness franchise, Circuit Society, has signed its first London location in Bayswater. The 3,000sq
Active Nottingham, part of Nottingham City Council, has released a children’s book called Can We
The new £42m Moorways Sports Village will open its doors to the public on Saturday
Fitness industry veteran Harm Tegelaars has returned to the fitness industry by joining the board
Planet Fitness saw its Q1 2022 revenue increase by 66.9 per cent (to US$186.7m) on
Fitness On Demand
Fitness On Demand
With a focus on globalisation, Magicline has officially launched its software in the UK. As
Sport England and UK Active have signed a five-year partnership agreement which will see the
Planet Fitness is offering high-school students free access to any of its 2,200 locations in
How can organisations, including health club and leisure businesses, decarbonise, generate clean energy and harness
Being physically active can counter the damage of diabetes by enabling the activation of a
Altis, an artificial intelligence-based personal trainer solution, has secured more than US$3m worth of financing,
Members of the United States Congress and Washington DC staff are competing against each other
Innovatise UK Ltd
Innovatise UK Ltd
Health clubs across the UK are facing huge rises in business energy bills which are
1Rebel has acquired two Core Collective clubs as part of a pre-pack administration deal, along
Basic-Fit opened a record number of 72 clubs in the first quarter of 2022. Fifty-five
Deborah Szekely, philanthropist, social activist, teacher and entrepreneur, has been inducted into the Wellness Hall
Multi-brand fitness chain Urban Gym Group (UGG) has raised €16m in capital. The funds will
Those looking to have a dip in Berlin's famous heated outdoor pools this summer will
Global design practice Perkins & Will has unveiled plans for a net-zero operational carbon community
ukactive
ukactive
The health and fitness industry is eagerly awaiting the return of Elevate, which will take
Fitness tech firm Egym has acquired French corporate fitness and wellbeing business Gymlilb for what
Core Health & Fitness has acquired Digital fitness content provider, Wexer Holding, for an undisclosed
Elevate
Elevate
1 - 20 of 12,205
HCM Magazine
Sponsored
One of our values is innovation, and Biocircuit was a way to invest in our members with a new offer they wouldn’t have seen anywhere else
HCM Magazine
Tech
Each health club has its own unique challenges, but the right tech solution can make all the difference. In the first of a two-part series, specialists share how they’ve solved specific issues
HCM Magazine
Facilities
What to do when your changing rooms need a refresh, but your budget is stretched? These specialists share their top tips for easy upgrades that won’t break the bank
HCM Magazine
Supplier showcase
Pulse Fitness and Bolsover District Council have been collaborating for many years to deliver dedicated community activity spaces
HCM Magazine
Insight
The Global Wellness Summit brought together public health and wellness experts in Boston recently. Jane Kitchen was there for HCM to see first-hand what this ‘New new era in health and wellness’ will look like for the sector
HCM Magazine
Editor's letter
Having a portfolio of more than 1,000 health club locations is the aim of ambitious operators, with this elite category growing fast, creating new dynamics in the market
HCM Magazine
Annual report
In April, Deloitte and Europe Active published the ninth edition of their yearly European Health and Fitness Market Report, as Karsten Hollasch explains
HCM Magazine
HCM magazine
Operators must be clear in their messaging so people find their way to a club they stick with. Try not to be all things to all people, and we can be successful at keeping them engaged
HCM magazine
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
HCM People

Louis Rennocks

Co-founder, Grndhouse
We want Grndhouse to be everywhere: in gyms, hotels, on holidays, at home – it’s boutique fitness in your hand
HCM magazine
The pandemic brought about our sector’s biggest ever collaboration on COVID safety data. Lizzie Broughton tells the story
HCM magazine
In the wake of the pandemic, is the time ripe to change the language around the role of exercise professionals, and gain greater trust from the healthcare sector?
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HCM People

Jon Wright

Founder and CEO, Feel Electric
We’ve set ourselves the initial goal of developing 100 Feel Electric sites, using a cluster model
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As HCM passed its 300th edition milestone, readers shared their thoughts and feelings on HCM’s contribution to the industry in a very special postbag
HCM magazine
Fuel the debate about issues and opportunities across the industry. We’d love to hear from you – [email protected]
HCM magazine
HCM People

Gunnar Peterson

Chief of athletics, F45
Choose consistent over perfect. That’s the long game. It’s never too late to pivot to that mindset
HCM magazine
Featured supplier news
Featured supplier news: Magicline celebrates UK market entry at Elevate
With a focus on globalisation, Magicline has officially launched its software in the UK. As Europe’s leading gym management software company, the company strives to provide the best tools for gym owners to be successful, win new members and elevate their businesses.
Featured supplier news
Featured supplier news: Virtuagym raises €3m investment to fuel innovation in health and fitness technology
Global fitness technology provider Virtuagym has raised a new €3m investment from Icecat, an Amsterdam-based technology company which invests in innovative technology organisations.
Featured operator news
Featured operator news: New partnership delivers swimming support to children with disabilities
A new partnership has been launched to provide inclusive swimming for children with mobility, visual and hearing disabilities.
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.
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: Technogym UK Ltd
Technogym offers a complete ecosystem of connected smart equipment, digital services, on-demand training experiences and ...
Catalogue Gallery
Click on a catalogue to view it online
Directory
trade associations
International SPA Association - iSPA: trade associations
Flooring
Total Vibration Solutions / TVS Sports Surfaces: Flooring
Fitness equipment
A Panatta Sport Srl: Fitness equipment
Lockers/interior design
Safe Space Lockers Ltd: Lockers/interior design
Salt therapy products
Himalayan Source: Salt therapy products
On demand
Fitness On Demand: On demand
Whole body cryotherapy
Art of Cryo: Whole body cryotherapy
Spa software
SpaBooker: Spa software
Management software
Premier Software Solutions: Management software
Skincare
Comfort Zone - Davines S.p.A: Skincare
Property & Tenders
Pendine Sands, Carmarthenshire
Carmarthenshire County Council
Property & Tenders
Runcorn
Halton Borough Council
Property & Tenders
Diary dates
15-16 Jun 2022
ExCeL London, London, United Kingdom
Diary dates
30-30 Jun 2022
The ICC, Birmingham, Birmingham , United Kingdom
Diary dates
12-13 Sep 2022
Wyndham Lake Buena Vista Disney Springs® Resort, Lake Buena Vista, United States
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
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