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20 Jan 2018 Health Club Management Handbook

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Health Club Management Handbook - The age of independents

Who's who

The age of independents

Going green, old school, outdoors… We shine a light on some independent operators who are thinking outside of the box


Operator: 3-1-5 Health Club, Lancaster, UK
Supplier: Myzone

Independent operator 3-1-5 Health Club has teamed up with activity tracking system Myzone to make Lancaster and the Bay area one of the healthiest communities in the country, as part of three-year research project worth more than £1m.

Launched on National Fitness Day in September 2015, the Shake it Up campaign aims to transform the lives of 500 inactive local residents through exercise over the next three years. Participants receive a 50 per cent discount on membership at 3-1-5 Health Club, where they must commit to one exercise session a week.

As well as offering X-Force equipment, which uses negative resistance to give clients fast results, the club has introduced 60 small group training sessions catering specifically for campaign members. The participants also receive a free Myzone activity tracker to monitor their progress and to keep them motivated.

“One of the fitness industry’s key challenges is retaining customer interest and retaining members. By giving feedback and rewarding effort, Myzone supports and facilitates this,” says Ceri Smith, co-founder of 3-1-5 Health Club, which is initially funding the campaign.

“We’re using the technology to create challenges for our members, with prizes to reward effort, and to increase interaction between staff and members,” she says.

Participants’ Myzone data will be collated each quarter, along with measurements and psychological information, which will be validated by the University of Solent. After 12 months, the data will be presented to the local Clinical Commissioning Group, the NHS, MPs and ukactive.

“The Shake it Up campaign aims to put the knowledge and expertise of our sector in front of government and the NHS, to prove how health clubs can support the NHS in treating inactivity and its related conditions. We believe every club in the UK should roll this scheme out to their own local community,” says Smith.


Participants receive a free Myzone activity tracker, with data collated each quarter

Operator: Daley Fitness, London, UK
Supplier: Core Health and Fitness

Athletics legend Daley Thompson is channelling the same ambition that helped him win two Olympic gold medals, and dominate the sport of decathlon between 1979 and 1987, into a new high-end gym venture.

The first in a proposed chain of Daley Fitness clubs launched in west London in May 2015. The concept is a fun approach, combining the best in old school fitness along with the best modern training methods.

Core Health and Fitness – which markets Star Trac, StairMaster, Nautilus and Schwinn – was involved from the outset on a consultancy basis, helping Thompson and Daley Fitness CEO Gavin Sunshine scour the capital for sites. Eventually a dilapidated former bed store was secured.

Thompson wanted to create a premium offering at the same time as replicating the gym hall from his former school. The result features leather medicine balls, ropes and rings, a wall ladder and vaulting horse, along with the latest cardio equipment: a Star Trac BoxMaster, strength and CV equipment; Oartech Sliders; and Origin benches, racks and free weights. This is all backed up with wearable technology from Myzone.

Trainers help inject fun into the experience and introduce members to the ‘old meets new’ training approach. “I started off doing my fitness at school in a little space like our studio, where you jump over things and pull yourself up things,” says Thompson. “It should be all about sweating, having a good time and not over-complicating things.” “



Former Olympic decathlete Thompson says he’s putting the fun back into fitness

At Daley Fitness, you’ll find ‘old school’ equipment alongside new training methods

Operator: University of Nottingham, UK
Supplier: Life Fitness

In summer 2016, the University of Nottingham will see the completion of a new £40m sports complex that’s three times the size of the existing centre.
As part of its continued investment in sport, the university has also partnered with Life Fitness to create a challenging outdoor functional fitness trail, featuring nine Synrgy BlueSky training stations. 

The 1.7-mile active trail – the largest global installation of Synrgy BlueSky to date – extends across five University Park campus sites and has transformed areas to create new outdoor training spaces for students, staff and the local community. 

Life Fitness created 30-minute training tutorials, introducing users to energetic workout sessions featuring circuits, interval training and fun challenges. After gaining popularity with the university’s sports teams, a growing number of students are now enjoying free outdoor functional training.  

“The university’s ambition is to increase participation in sport at all levels, from encouraging children to experience a range of new pastimes, to the enhancement of elite performance at a national and international level,” says Samantha Bell-Minogue, the university’s assistant director of sport participation. “Since launching the active trail, there has been notable activity happening across campus. It has provided an alternative, free method of training for our whole community and we hope to engage many more people over the coming months as people become aware of the new trail and become confident in using it.”


The challenging outdoor fitness trail offers nine Synrgy BlueSky training stations

The training area has proved popular among the university’s sports teams

Operator: Beach Fit, Lancing, UK
Supplier: SportsArt

When opening his second seafront gym in Sussex in June 2015, environmental issues were at the top of Paul Crane’s agenda. As a result, he chose an equipment supplier that allows human energy to be harvested as electricity: SportsArt.

Located directly on the beach at Lancing, the 1,600sq ft Beach Fit club is part of a development to breathe new life back into an abandoned building and create activity on a neglected stretch of coastline.

The refurbishment has been led by the owners of the building – the Hole family – with everything finished to a high standard. The project includes an unusual mix of residential and commercial elements: on the ground floor, alongside the gym, there’s a café/restaurant, while upstairs there are three new apartments.

Green credentials were a high priority from the word go, with eco-architects Zed Factory acting as consultants. Air source heat pumps and solar panels provide heating and hot water. Meanwhile the south-facing façade is glazed, so the solar heat gain can contribute to heating during winter months; in the summer, overheating can be controlled by the solar PV canopy, which is translucent to allow filtered blue light through. The ventilation system is also able recover the heat from outgoing air.

SportsArt supplied the strength and cardiovascular equipment from its Eco Powr range, which turns energy created from people working out into utility grade electricity, by using technology similar to that used in solar panels and wind turbines.

“We’re able to offer our members a truly unique gym experience – one that combines excellent customer service with eco powered gym equipment and fantastic sea views,” says Crane. “SportsArt and Beach Fit are good partners, as we share a vision of becoming more environmentally responsible businesses.”


Paul Crane says Beach Fit offers members a truly unique gym environment

The Eco Powr range turns human energy, generated by exercisers, into electricity

The 1,600sq ft club is located directly on the beach

Operator: Njinga cycling centre, London, UK
Supplier: Wattbike

Njinga cycle training and performance centre was launched in January 2015 by husband and wife team Togo Keynes and Leigh Rogers, who set out to create an environment where cyclists could become more confident and efficient on their bikes, at the same time as having fun.

Located in Richmond, south-west London, the club combines a mix of accredited coaches and 13 Wattbikes to offer expert tuition for both beginner cyclists and intermediate level riders who want to improve their technique, such as climbing hills more efficiently or cycling in a way to reduce fatigue. In addition, the club helps members achieve weight loss and fitness goals by providing nutritional knowledge to help them improve their eating habits.

Keynes was drawn to Wattbike because of its Polar View pedalling technique analysis, believing this feature would help his clients become more efficient on the bike. The power cycling software and individual rider data have also proved useful features within a group cycling setting.

“We were determined to make our cyclists stronger and more confident and, after extensive research, we chose Wattbike for its detailed rider analysis and pedal technique feedback,” says Keynes. “We use the bikes to teach pedalling technique and to conduct submaximal and maximal ramp tests to generate training zones, which are then used to teach riders how to train smarter.”

The club also offers one-to-one coached sessions, group class cycling using Spivi group cycling software, and workshops in Richmond Park – putting what customers have learnt on the Wattbikes into practice on real bikes.

The cycling club donates 5 per cent of its profits to Re-Cycle, a UK charity that is changing lives in Africa by shipping unwanted bikes to those less fortunate.



Cyclists can practise their new skills during outdoor workshops

The club aims to make cyclists stronger and more confident

Originally published in Health Club Handbook 2016 issue 1

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