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Core Health & Fitness
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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

News

We want to be the Audi A4 of health clubs: Fitness First CEO Andrew Cosslett

Fitness First will inject £86m (US$130m, €110m) into the global health club chain this year, accelerating a transformation programme that CEO Andrew Cosslett says will make it the “Audi A4 of the health club sector.”

Fitness First has seen revenue increase by four per cent (year on year), while EBITDA is up 10 per cent at the clubs it has rebranded to occupy the “top end of the mainstream market.” As such, the chain’s latest investment, part of the £270m (US$408m, €346m) four-year transformation announced last year, is intended to complete the global rebranding programme by the end of 2015 – one year ahead of schedule.

Having witnessed the positive results, the group is eager to complete the turnaround as quickly as possible and strengthen its resurgence.

“We’re reversing five years of decline, so it’s a long way back up the hill,” Cosslett told Health Club Management.

“The UK business went positive a few months ago and we’re seeing the benefits of the rebrand begin to shine through. We’re moving upmarket, but it’s a gradual process based on member perceptions. We want to be the top end of the mainstream market – not super premium – but the Audi A4 or BMW 5 Series.”

The rebrand has been rooted in motivational science, looking at what encourages members to enjoy exercise and stay longer. This has entailed a comprehensive staff training programme, a retune of the gym space resulting in fewer machines and more interactive spaces, as well as what Cosslett describes as a “sense of arrival.”

Cosslett, who links the philosophy to his experience in the hospitality sector, has ripped out turnstiles, revamped welcome areas and now tests staff on their ability to learn members’ names as part of this new approach.

“The customer’s sense of arrival at a hotel is a big focus in the hospitality sector,” adds the former InterContinental Hotels Group chief executive. “In my mind, that doesn’t really exist in gyms at the moment – so we’ve worked hard to create a welcoming, engaging and secure environment for our members to be greeted in.”

This focus has been vital in attracting new members, Cosslett believes. The UK business projects a five per cent increase in membership in 2015 and a large portion of this is expected to be due to referrals, with Fitness First’s Net Promoter Score having jumped by 12 points in recent months.

Another way Cosslett hopes to drive membership is by embracing technology. The business is soon to begin testing a new digital platform which will enable members to track their progress and set goals based on a number of metrics. This will include the ability for members to calculate their biological age. The new platform – which will comprise a desktop hub and a mobile app – will connect members to their fitness plans inside and outside of the gym, as well as providing access to 1,000 workout videos and nutritional advice.

“Our next move is to make the whole fitness experience more personalised and social, using digital technology for the first time in 2015,” Cosslett concluded.

“We’ve seen the power of wearables and trackers to get new people into fitness and this move will bring a greater sense of social connection to our members’ experience – taking our expertise outside the walls of the gym to millions of consumers.”

To read an exclusive interview with Fitness First CEO Andrew Cosslett – from the March 2014 edition of Health Club Management magazine – click here.

Fitness First will inject £86m (US$130m, €110m) into the global health club chain this year, accelerating a transformation programme that CEO Andrew Cosslett says will make it the “Audi A4 of the health club sector.”
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827241_171446.jpg
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Fitness First has seen revenue increase by four per cent (year on year), while EBITDA is up 10 per cent at the clubs it has rebranded to occupy the “top end of the mainstream market.” As such, the chain’s latest investment, part of the £270m (US$408m, €346m) four-year transformation announced last year, is intended to complete the global rebranding programme by the end of 2015 – one year ahead of schedule.

Having witnessed the positive results, the group is eager to complete the turnaround as quickly as possible and strengthen its resurgence.

“We’re reversing five years of decline, so it’s a long way back up the hill,” Cosslett told Health Club Management.

“The UK business went positive a few months ago and we’re seeing the benefits of the rebrand begin to shine through. We’re moving upmarket, but it’s a gradual process based on member perceptions. We want to be the top end of the mainstream market – not super premium – but the Audi A4 or BMW 5 Series.”

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“We’ve seen the power of wearables and trackers to get new people into fitness and this move will bring a greater sense of social connection to our members’ experience – taking our expertise outside the walls of the gym to millions of consumers.”

To read an exclusive interview with Fitness First CEO Andrew Cosslett – from the March 2014 edition of Health Club Management magazine – click here.

Fitness First will inject £86m (US$130m, €110m) into the global health club chain this year, accelerating a transformation programme that CEO Andrew Cosslett says will make it the “Audi A4 of the health club sector.”
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827241_171446.jpg

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