22 Sep 2021 HCM Handbook
 

HOME
VIEW DIGITAL EDITION
CONTENTS
PROFILES
BUY HANDBOOK
JOBS
NEWS
PRODUCTS
ADVERTISE
CONTACT US
Sign up for FREE ezine
Current issue
HCM Handbook
Current issue

View this issue online
Buy print edition
Download PDF

Previous issues
Health club Handbook
2020 issue

View issue contents
View this issue online
Download PDF
Health club Handbook
2019 issue

View issue contents
View this issue online
Download PDF
Health club Handbook
2018 issue

View issue contents
View this issue online
Download PDF
Health club Handbook
2017 issue

View issue contents
View this issue online
Download PDF
Health club Handbook
2016 issue

View issue contents
View this issue online
Download PDF
Health club Handbook
2015 issue

View issue contents
View this issue online
Download PDF
Health club Handbook
2014 issue

View issue contents
View this issue online
Download PDF
Health club Handbook
2013 issue

View issue contents
View this issue online
Download PDF
Health club Handbook
2012 issue

View issue contents
View this issue online
Health club Handbook
2011 issue

View issue contents
View this issue online
Health club Handbook
2010 issue

View issue contents
View this issue online
Health club Handbook
2009 issue

View issue contents
View this issue online
Health Club Management Handbook - Indie kids

Research round-up

Indie kids


Independent gyms in the UK have fared better during the pandemic than larger corporate operators in holding on to their members, according to research

Agile and with strong communities, independent operators have shown resilience during COVID-19 shutterstock/Liderina
One of the ways independents engaged members was to lend out kit for free from the gym during lockdowns shutterstock/David Pereiras

Thanks to being small and agile and able to adapt and pivot quickly to deliver what their members needed during lockdown, independents have outperformed the sector during the past year, according to research by 4global, ukactive and GGFit, called the Independent Fitness Clubs Benchmarking Report.

The study found that net member movement was generally positive during key times in 2020 for independent clubs, in spite of being negative for the wider sector. Membership levels bounced back significantly better in terms of visit throughput and active member percentage.

The report is based on a study from July to December 2020, using data from 627 independent clubs, representing a total of 289,000 members, 3.9 million visits to independent gyms and revenue of £32m.

The percentage of active members was lower in July and November 2020, when compared to 2019 levels, due to clubs being in lockdown for most of the time during these months. But by December 2020 the level of active members recovered to within 1 per cent of 2019 numbers, showing a healthy appetite for returning to the gym.

Interestingly, independent clubs achieved much higher joiner rates than the rest of the industry during these six months – sometimes by a factor of three. The report suggests this was due to a combination of re-engagement campaigns, re-joiners, and the ‘local’ business effect of independents reaching out to their communities during the pandemic and gaining more engagement.

Utku Toprakseven, partner at 4global, said: “This report represents the first collaborative dive into the independent gyms collective data and is an exciting opportunity to assess the value of the rich diversity delivered to members across this sector of the health and fitness industry.

“We very much look forward to working with even more independent operators and system providers in the coming months, with the aim of deepening our collective understanding of the critical impact that independent gyms have to the wider health and physical activity agenda.”

“We know independent fitness businesses have been hit hard by the pandemic, but with the support of their members they’ve proven to be agile and adaptable to change, which is clearly demonstrated in this report,” said Huw Edwards, CEO of ukactive.

“It is our hope that we can continue to support the growth of independents across the physical activity sector by sharing our insight and data, and working together with our members to drive change.”

Read the report: HCMHandbook.com/independentrecovery

Case Study: Nick Whitcombe
Industry campaigner and owner of Body Tech Fitness in Liverpool
Nick Whitcombe, Body Tech Fitness

Despite multiple competitors opening nearby, our members have been loyal for many years and the strength of our community is truly beautiful. So when the first lockdown was announced, we chose to support them through the physical and mental challenge of isolation by lending out equipment at no charge and no deposit: this included all of our dumbbells, plates, Olympic bars, fixed bars, accessories, squat racks, bikes, rowers and ergs. This totalled more than £70,000 worth of equipment and every item was returned cleaned and undamaged.

We started a WhatsApp group for those who wanted to stay connected. More than 60 per cent of our members continued to pay through every lockdown, with some even asking to take out a second membership to support us.

When the industry was forced to close in the initial Tier 3 legislation in October 2020, we refused to close our doors until the evidence for this decision was provided. During this period a member set up a crowdfunder which reached £52,00 in five days. Having won the battle – when the government gave in to campaigning to reverse its decision – we donated the monies to mental health charities.

Lockdown seems to have strengthened our member community, with most now having a new level of appreciation for something which they once took for granted. Currently at capacity, we are now holding a waiting list. We are truly grateful, for our community.

Nick Whitcombe gained global media coverage for campaigning to keep gyms open during restrictions / photo: nick whitcombe
Case study: Andy Dick
Owner of Zone Fitness, Weymouth
Andy Dick, Zone Fitness

During the initial lockdown we requested members freeze their membership for £5.00 per month to help support the club to re-open in the same position, with the same staff, classes and quality. The majority did this, but a good number also continued paying the full amount throughout.

Of our 1,800 members, 1,013 paid £5.00; 27 cancelled in April 2020 and the rest paid full fees. The freeze continued until the end of August and those who’d supported us were given full access to the gym in August to thank them for their support.

As we knew Lockdown 2 would be short and payment had already been taken, we offered compensation vouchers to use the gym for free. We used the same process in the third lockdown.

To keep members engaged when closed, we offered discounts for Les Mills On Demand classes, created a Facebook community group so members and staff could interact, created a Strava zone fitness running group and sent monthly emails.

We lost fewer members than other local gyms and since reopening we’re seeing our members return at a high rate and extremely happy to be back, with a good uptake of new 12-month memberships.


Originally published in Health Club Handbook 2021 edition

Published by Leisure Media Tel: +44 (0)1462 431385 | Contact us | About us | Advertise | © 2021 Cybertrek Ltd