The future of fitness:
mobile technology LIW 2011: Continuing professional development Marketing: Emma Sargent helps you find the hidden money in your list Comment: Joel Chapman explains why budget gyms have their place
Editor | Ashley Newman Editorial consultant | Tim Webster Communications manager | Stephen Buckley Editorial manager | Ruth Bushi Graphic designer | Leonardo Santiago Antunes Graphic designer | Dawn Turton Production manager | Vicki McGrath firstname.lastname@example.org
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Next issue released: 1 December 2011
Got a service systems failure?
f your frontline staff aren’t delivering the kind of service you are looking for, guess what? – it’s probably your fault. Poor customer service levels are nearly always a function of poor management. If your fitness staff aren’t making contact with your members as you would wish, it’s probably because you haven’t outlined what you want from them or you haven’t taught them how to deliver it. You may not have given them the tools to do what you want or maybe you aren’t measuring their performance. You might not have hired the right people in the first place and you probably aren’t modelling the behaviour you want. Usually, it’s a combination of all of the above. Same applies to your front desk. If your reception staff don’t answer the phones in a professional manner or meet, greet and farewell your members in a way that makes those members feel special, your service systems – if you have any – simply aren’t working. Management consultant Jim Clemmer puts it like this: “The basic problem is that people are visible, but the systems and organisation culture by which group and individual behaviour is shaped are largely invisible. So when something goes wrong, it’s easy to trace the problem back to whoever touched it last and lay the blame there.” Of course, the best systems in the world will struggle to cope with a member of staff who is just having a bad day but, the vast majority of the time, service breakdowns can be traced back to systems not people. “If you trace errors or service complaints back to the root cause, about 85% of the time the fault lays in the system, processes, structure or practices of the organisation. Only about 15% of the ricochets can be
traced back to someone who didn’t care or wasn’t conscientious enough,” says Clemmer. Much has been written about the failure of fitness staff to communicate with members, so let’s turn the spotlight on the front desk for a change. Assuming that you have hired the right people in the first place, have you actually taken the time to articulate exactly how you want every member to be treated as they enter and leave your facility? If you haven’t taught your reception staff to read the name that has just appeared on the screen in front of them and use it, why not? If you haven’t taught them to say goodbye to your members as they leave the facility, why not? And if you aren’t measuring their performance in these key areas, why not? All too often, the first question we ask when something goes wrong with our service is who was responsible? The question we should be asking is what, not who, went wrong. This result is a culture of fixing the blame rather than the problem. A culture of fear, covering your backside and finger pointing. If you really want to know why your service fails, try taking a long hard look in the mirror.
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IN s ’ t a h w OUT what’s
The court ruling that has thrown down the gauntlet on gym memberships could be changing the way the fitness industry does business – but for the better or worse? After the Office of Fair Trading took action against Ashbourne Management Services for enforcing long-term contracts, the prospect of gyms locking in members for one to three years in the future seems unlikely. According to PTA Global co-founder and membership sales expert Robert Cappuccio, the fear among operators is how an open-ended membership would impact on attrition. “Business consultant Thomas Plummer asserts that as the industry is struggling against an increasingly challenging market, we are simultaneously witnessing the emergence of 6,000-8,000 square foot personal training studios that are flourishing despite the absence of a long-term annual agreement,” says Cappuccio. “Not to mention the obvious fact that these studios charge a premium per session as opposed to a monthly fee.” We should be asking more questions about our consumers if we are to cope with the change. “As the consumer’s concern over finances proliferates, is the market becoming more sensitive to high price or merely low value?” Asks Cappuccio. “Perhaps the emergence of new business models in the periphery of our industry is indicative of the fact that our market may no longer want to buy what we sell.” Are membership agreements really what people want?
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29 07 Management
MBWA: The technology of the obvious?
The importance of being BOLD
11 Olympic opportunities
A stadium of four million
12 LIW 2011
Continuing professional development
15 Only connect 16 The future of fitness: Mobile technology 19 You are here 20 Changing your leisure management software 22 Marketing
The hidden money in your list
24 Equipment solutions
Wattbike, Total Gym
FitproBusiness Oct/Nov/Dec 2011
To Be or not to Be?
29 Case study
The business of Les Mills
Peak performance under pressure
Budget gyms have their place
Innovation plays a critical role in any firm’s success, including fitness companies. To create long-term value for our customers by launching new products and services, or rethinking established processes for getting work done – that is our objective and path to grow to 80 million consumers by 2020.” European Health & Fitness Association executive director Herman Rutgers. So, is doubling our consumer base (within Europe) from its current 40 million in the next nine years attainable? Robert Cappuccio points out (page 15) that it took 38 years for radio to reach 50 million users but less than a year for Facebook to reach 200 million. As is the nature of modern technology, the speed and scale at which new markets can be accessed has increased considerably, which is especially true since the development of mobile technology, as web-based specialist Stuart Dyson reports (pages 16-18). If we are then going to be “rethinking established processes”, we need to address service failure in management and systems, as Tim Webster (page 3) rightly comments. We therefore have an overview of some of the current software management systems (pages 20-21) and how to find the hidden money in their data (pages 22-23). I hope this inspires you to take your strategies forward by embracing these ever-changing technologies, as we head into 2012 and beyond.
Thank you to Leonardo Antunes for all his hard work on the design of Fitpro Business, from all your colleagues at FitPro. We wish him all the best in his new job.
FitproBusiness | 5
oined by Tom Peters and Nancy Austin, the term MBWA (Management By Walking About) usually involves managers getting out of their offices and, in our case, onto the gym floor or reception or wherever the action is. Peters calls MBWA “the technology of the obvious”. Having unwittingly overloaded our managers with so many key performance indicators and given them such a sales focus, the only time they emerge from their offices is when the club is burning down or it’s time to go home. We've bred a generation of managers who are more comfortable behind a computer than interacting with staff and members. This is largely because, in many instances, we no longer run clubs, we run facilities. And the management style that’s required to run a facility is very different from that needed to run a club. However, running facilities as opposed to clubs also leaves us significantly more vulnerable to competition. Then there’s the budget gym, the facility that doesn’t employ a manager at all as they’ve figured out that they don’t need one. They beat us on price because they don’t have an overhead called staff. Managers should therefore be spending a significant amount of their time getting to know what makes the people they’re managing tick. Peters believes that there are at least three things that should be occurring when one is managing by walking about: 1. Listen to what people are saying If you want to know how your club is doing, ask the people who know – that would be your frontline staff and members. It’s hard to do that from behind a desk. 2. Use MBWA to transmit the company’s values face to face Most businesses like to think they’re customer facing and pretty much all of them say their people are a primary asset. Therefore, a manager who seeks to personify said values by getting to know their staff and customers is off to a good start. 3. Be ready and able to give people onthe-spot help Most managers could take over from a receptionist if pushed but fewer would be capable of making much of a contribution in the gym, which is why they stay away from it. That being the case, spending time learning from one’s fitness staff and talking to one’s members in the gym is invaluable. fpb
of the obvious? MBWA is a term largely overlooked in leadership, but could be an invaluable method of personifying your company’s values.
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The importance of being Only exceptional companies can stand out from the masses in the modern media landscape. Shaun Smith shares their secrets.
8 | FitproBusiness
Marketing is a tax you pay for being unremarkable.” Robert Stephens, The Geek Squad. Marketers face enormous challenges today. Targeting, locating, communicating and maintaining any form of reliable relationship with customers or consumers has never been more difficult. Digital, mobile and web technology has transformed the media landscape into a bewildering array of possible channels, many of which are beyond the control of anyone but the consumer. And social media is being used to punish brands or force them to change everything from supply chain policies to marketing tactics, even – as in the case of Gap – an expensive logo change. Increasingly marketing-savvy and empowered consumers demand authenticity and consistency from their brands. And the ability for competition to copy, outsmart or outmanoeuvre each other means that consumers have plenty of choices about where to spend their hard-earned cash.
So, what’s so different about ‘Bold Brands’ and what lessons can we learn from the way they approach marketing? In two very important aspects, the Bold Brands are old fashioned: they stay extraordinarily close to their customers and they ensure that they brand everything they do so that customers give them the credit. However, in many more ways they take a dramatically different approach. For them, marketing is primarily a way of engaging and entertaining customers or consumers, not a way of persuading them to buy a product. They see marketing as an integral part of the customer experience – the marketing of the product and the product itself are one.
1. Communicate the brand promise and values to customers clearly and honestly. A key task of marketing is to get your proposition over to the market as powerfully as possible. Bold Brands are both bold and authentic in the way they do this. They don’t use weak or watered-down promises of quality, or bizarre and incomprehensible slogans. They use dramatic language that fixes clear expectations in customers’ minds. Whether it is designer label Burberry
‘Democratising Luxury’ or technology support company Geek Squad’s slightly pithier ‘We’ll save your ass’ (if your computer should crash), these brands are honest in their communication and engaging in their tone. 2. Actively involve customers in helping to create, improve and protect the brand. Bold Brands do not believe their products are so perfect that customers can’t improve them. Nor are they so frightened by competitors stealing their ideas that they won’t release anything until it’s foolproof. They see the involvement of their customers in the development of their products as a key part of marketing them. innocent drinks invites its customers into its offices to suggest ideas and improvements, as well as allowing them to recommend and create new recipes. The chairman of JCB changes the smallest details of his diggers – like the way the petrol cap rotates – because customers tell him it matters.
Bold Brands do not believe their products are so perfect that customers can’t improve them 3. Use innovative viral marketing techniques to reach target customers. Bold Brands use social media and their websites to create customer communities. innocent does this through the simple words and catchy phrases used on their packaging, which encourage people to ‘spread the word’ about the brand. Burberry uses 3D high-tech broadcasting of their runway shows in custom screening sites in major cities around the world. 4. Create active customer communities that support the brand. Communities of fans validate these brands. They help reinforce them, inform them and sometimes even forgive them when they get things wrong. The passion of Apple fans for giving feedback enabled the brand to overcome teething troubles with its 4th Generation iPhone that could have sunk lesser brands. 5. A chieve high levels of customer advocacy or 'fandom' to drive referral business. O2 specifically measures fandom; it
is how they judge whether they are genuinely delighting their customers. It’s a courageous move, as most companies would be happy with satisfied customers – some might even want them to be happy – but the Bold Brands focus on creating fans. 6. Recognise that your people are the most important element of the marketing mix. Bold companies are obsessed with the story they want to tell their people. They want their people to go to work to put on a performance, not just to perform a task. And they do all this at speed, like JCB’s obsession with the ‘urgency of now’: a clear example of a company that lives by the mantra of ad agency Bartle Bogle Hegarty’s chief executive Nigel Bogle: “Be quicker to embrace change.”
“It only works when it all works.” Ronan Dunne, O2. There has long been a basic belief in business that growing reputation and revenue (usually through sales and marketing) can be separated from protecting assets and profit (usually through operations and finance). However, Bold Brands believe that, not only is there a clear causal link between what you communicate, how you operate and how you protect your earnings, but that these factors are interdependent – you can’t get any one right unless you get them all right. The point that Robert Stephens is making when he calls marketing “a tax for being unremarkable” is that, if you focus your entire business on entertaining and engaging your customers, and you brand the experience they have, you don’t then need to waste additional marketing pounds on fancy or phoney campaigns trying desperately to persuade people that you are different or better. You will already have a growing legion of advocates telling everyone how remarkable you are – and accelerating that ‘word of mouth’ effect is the great opportunity that digital, mobile and social media offers. fpb
© Shaun Smith is the co-author of BOLD – how to be brave in business and win, published by Kogan Page. Based on two years of research, the book tells the story of 14 brands that are challenging the rules of business and delivering highly distinctive experiences. For more information, visit www.boldthebook.com and www.smithcoconsultancy.com FitproBusiness | 9
A stadium of four million IN SEPTEMBER, New Zealand plays host to the Rugby World Cup. Tim Webster reports on how this small country at the ‘bottom of the world’ has geared up for one of the world’s largest sporting events.
espite its rugby pedigree, the Land of the Long White Cloud was not a universally popular choice to host the Rugby World Cup (RWC) 2011. Although it has strong sentimental appeal, pragmatists think New Zealand doesn’t possess the infrastructure to stage an event of this magnitude, with 85,000 visitors expected to descend on this small country. On the other hand, former England international and now rugby columnist for The Daily Telegraph Paul Ackford believes that New Zealand is the ultimate host country: “From Whangarei at the tip of the North Island to Invercargill at the bottom of the South Island, the games will be staged in grounds packed with knowledgeable rugby folk. Will Carling once said that one of the most intelligent deliberations on rugby he had ever heard was delivered by a white-haired old granny in a New Zealand chemists. They know their stuff.” Most New Zealanders know that the RWC is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to showcase their country to the world. They are also keenly aware of its broader economic significance.
Most New Zealanders know that the RWC is a once-in-alifetime opportunity to showcase their country to the world. They are also keenly aware of its broader economic significance Activity
One of the big selling points of a global sporting event like this is the hope that it will inspire the natives to get into shape and participation in sport will rise accordingly.
Activity levels in New Zealand are already pretty high – half of all adults (52.1%) are physically active for at least 30 minutes on five or more days per week. But, anecdotally at least, there has been no discernable increase in rugby playing numbers leading up to the event and no obvious increase in general activity levels either. If those of us who work in the leisure sector think that a stellar sporting event like the Olympics is going to boost longterm participation in sport and activity, or any kind of participation for that matter, we are likely to be disappointed. That doesn’t mean to say that operators can’t create some internal energy around the RWC or the Olympics – in fact, that’s exactly what they should be doing. However, I suspect the window of opportunity doesn’t extend much beyond the period of time during which the event takes place. In the case of the Olympics, that’s not long.
We all know that large sporting tournaments have pretty much bankrupted some host cities, but there is always the reassuring thought that the infrastructure that was built to support the event will be put to good use by the community after the athletes have left. That may well be the case but it’s very hard to see how new stadiums like Eden Park, Auckland (65,000 capacity), AMI, Christchurch (40,000) and Forsyth Barr, Dunedin (40,000) will ever be much more than white elephants. No, the lasting legacy of RWC 2011 in New Zealand will not be its stadia nor will it be a more active nation, its legacy will be its authenticity as it returns to its most passionate followers. Notwithstanding some short-term thinking in the hospitality sector, New Zealand will show the rest of the world that you can run an extremely successful event by taking it back to its roots and I suspect that’s exactly what London will do, too. fpb FitproBusiness | 11
Continuing Professional Development LEiSURE industry WEEK returnS to Birmingham NEC on 20-22 September to offer a multitude of ground-breaking features from across the active leisure and fitness sector.
eisure Industry Week (LIW) offers inspirational and innovative business solutions and the benefit of broad educational content from a comprehensive mix of keynote presentations, seminars, workshops, forums and conferences. LIW 2011 will see the introduction of the Continuing Professional Development (CPD) masterclass arena and seminar theatre, both of which are powered by Skills Active, and sponsored by MYZONE and Quick Energy. These exciting new features will give visitors from the fitness industry the opportunity to collect CPD points by booking training sessions and seminars for a taster of the industryâ€™s latest training programmes and products. LIW is also soon to launch the new multi-platform app. The CPD masterclass, sponsored by MYZONE, includes training sessions from a range of industry-leading providers. Based on cutting edge research, this brand new format combines the best of personal training with the energy of group classes through choreographed routines, hitting many of the current top fitness trends. Also featured in the masterclass will be sessions from companies including: â€˘ Jordan Fitness, who will be outlining how to use unconventional equipment such as ropes, chains and sleds. They are also presenting a Powerbag training session, revealing why the Powerbag is considered to be one of the most functional pieces of training equipment on the market.
12 | FitproBusiness
• F IT2FITE, who are presenting Fighting Moves to Funky Grooves, a group exercise class which tailors fighting combinations to uplifting dance music. • Keiser, who will present M3 Power. This workshop will teach fitness trainers how to effectively instruct their students to use speed, resistance and intensity to power up their next indoor cycling class. • Premier Training, who will then present Dynamic Powerclubs, where personal trainer Ben McDonald will look at putting movement back into hybrid sets, while being true to the dynamic movements associated with Powerclubs. The CPD seminar theatre will also feature a broad selection of opportunities for fitness professionals to learn from some of the UK’s leading training experts. FitPro will deliver PTA Global – Understanding Why We Fail and How to Change It, delivered by international presenter Nic Jarvis. This session promises to question how and why the health and fitness industry can be growing in the midst of an obesity and lifestyle-related disease epidemic. Jarvis will ask, “Is it possible that, in our good intentions of telling a consumer what they need, we are missing what they want?” He will then go on to explain how
Is it possible that, in our good intentions of telling a consumer what they need, we are missing what they want? to discern the behavioural drivers that support an increase in ancillary revenue and retention for fitness professionals, as well as their members. Additional sessions in this seminar programme include the following: • STOTT PILATES Pilates for Everyone: Market to ALL Members. Vice president Carol Tricoche will provide instruction on determining how best to design and market Pilates offerings to meet the needs of individual membership. This interactive session will equip delegates with strategic marketing tools to attract specific target groups to their organisation. • Nordic Walking UK’s Creating an Outdoor Fitness Business. This session will teach visitors how to create, promote and develop an outdoor fitness business that appeals to a variety of markets. It will also provide an update on the Code of Practice for the delivery of outdoor health, exercise, health and safety, and the issues surrounding payment for the use of green space. Visitors will also be able to collect CPD
points by attending the REPs National Convention on Thursday 22 September. REPs National Convention will present its usual blend of informative and educational keynote presentations, along with 12 specific workshops including paradoxical obesity, speed training and Blast fx™. The day includes practical and lecture-based sessions and is an educational opportunity not to be missed. Further details on the programme and associated costs are available from the REPs website: www.exerciseregister.org In addition to providing useful and effective business opportunities, LIW is a meeting place for professionals from across the major brands and sectors in the fitness industry. This year’s event promises to be more focused and compelling than ever before, with plenty of brand new features offering a varied and inspiring visitor experience. fpb
For further information, to book a stand or to register for free, visit www.liw.co.uk. LIW is on Twitter (@L I W), LinkedIn and Facebook (facebook/leisure-industryweek). Join the conversation and receive regular show updates. Organisations interested in exhibiting should contact Jonathan Monks on +44 (0)20 7955 3972 or email@example.com
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14 | FitproBusiness
SCAN THE CODE TO WATCH LYNX'S ANGEL AMBUSH
If you’ve been awake for the past 18 months you’ll have noticed that the way we communicate, and therefore behave as customers, has been radically transformed, writes ROBERT Cappuccio.
ccording to author Erik Qualman in his book Socialnomics:
• R adio took 38 years to reach 50 million users • Television took just 13 years to reach the same number of people • The internet by comparison took four years to add 200 million users • Facebook attracted 200 million users in less than a single year • There are 2 million blogs, with more than half of bloggers posting or tweeting daily • A third of bloggers post opinions about brands • And … 78% of customers trust peer recommendations over adverts What this tells us is that social media is allpervasive right now, with brands looking for ever more ingenious ways to make an impact on a congested marketplace. There are clearly still extremes here: on the one hand, there’s the indignant insistence that Facebook is just for stalking exes and pretending to be a mafia boss. On the other, you’ve got big brands like Lynx projecting angels falling from heaven into London’s Victoria station and interacting with travellers via the wonder of ‘augmented reality’ (scan the Quick Response code above with your smartphone to see for yourself). Most of us sit somewhere in the middle, slowly latching on to Twitter feeds and Facebook fan pages. But there is more to social media than this. IHRSA reports that in a study of two identical medical practices, medical professionals who sent an SMS reminder three days prior to an appointment had a no-show rate of 14%. Those who didn’t send an SMS had a no-show rate 40% higher. Rob Lander, founder of technology company Fisikal, asserts that SMS communication is far more effective than e-mail, with 95% of messages opened
within five seconds of delivery. As I write, club facilities are implementing software and social media initiatives which allow us to connect in ways we never even dreamed were possible a decade ago. • Members can give feedback to a facility in real time as to what they like and dislike about their experience • Membership consultants, managers and trainers are notified immediately after a no-show so that a follow-up can be immediate • You can send training programmes, exercises and tips directly to members by email or smartphone, based on trainer/member conversations that take place in the facility • Current and potential members can engage with the business in the broader sense and its community of followers, fans and aficionados Hammer and Champy in their book Re-engineering The Corporation warn us that, “there is no longer any such notion as the customer; there is only this customer, the one with whom a seller is dealing with at the moment …” and that “the mass market has broken into pieces, some as small as an individual customer.”
Our customers want innovative solutions in real time and are no longer content to be the passive recipient but rather the co-designer in an individual experience. They want autonomy. Furthermore, they expect to be connected to other consumers and resources within, as well as beyond, the facility. What’s clear from blogging behaviour is that conversations about you and your brand happen on a daily basis – with or without you – and the outcome of these conversations affects how your brand performs. Social media has changed the face of marketing: customer interaction is about dialogue, not a one-sided monologue, and sales are no longer dependent on sales messages but a buy-in to a wider community zeitgeist of how your brand is perceived. So. What conversation will you start today? fpb
Robert Cappuccio is the co-founder of PTA Global (www.ptaglobal.com), an international personal trainer education company. Follow him at http://twitter.com/bobbycappuccio
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The future of fitness:
16 | FitproBusiness
bile technology Web-based member management expert Stuart Dyson defines the key trends in mobile technologies and explores their potential impact on the fitness industry.
icture this: A member checks into her club with a wave of her smartphone. An alert pops up to let her know her friends are there already and about to join a class. With a few taps she finds out about the class and views the teacher profile. Then, with one more tap, she books and pays for a place. Then there’s the gym instructor walking the floor. He gets a ‘ping’ on his smartphone. It’s an alert to tell him a new member is working out and therefore needs a little bit of extra attention. A quick glance displays the member’s picture, programme information and current adherence status. After helping the member out, the interaction is automatically recorded under trainer and club metrics. This isn’t science fiction, it’s the future of mobile technology and it’s coming sooner than you might think. It’s estimated that more than one billion mobile devices are in use worldwide and the number is growing. With over half of UK smartphone users routinely engaging in web browsing at least once a day, mobile internet access is predicted to take over from desktop internet use by 2014. After the explosion of the internet and the revolution in social networking, doing more on the move is an obvious next step. It’s clear, therefore, that the fitness industry needs to look at what opportunities these developments might bring.
The fact that the smartphone is so ubiquitous means that it’s easy to take one of the technological wonders of
our age for granted. Containing more computing power than all the computers that took us to the moon, the smartphone is just the start of the mobile revolution. Apple’s iPad has brought tablet computing to the mainstream, to the point where many people are starting to move away from PCs and laptops altogether. And current mobile technology combines wireless communications for phone calls and internet access, GPS that knows where you are, accelerometers that provide real-time information on whether you’re moving or still, plus the usual cameras, videos and media playback. These great new technologies are being harnessed in the thousands of applications that can be downloaded from places such as the Android and Apple app stores, for pennies. We’ve seen apps to measure heart rate, ‘battle’ friends in press-up competitions and we can watch videos of the latest exercise techniques. Now club operators are getting in on the act: US fitness chain Equinox has an app for its members to browse clubs, classes and trainer profiles – members can even book a studio cycling class through the app. This convergence is set to expand even further as more technologies are integrated or connected to smartphones. Biometrics will become more important as devices are used for routine payments and verification of identity becomes critical, with the smartphone becoming the membership card for all entry and cashless payments. Perfect for club access control. As well as using the built-in accelerometer as a pedometer, there
Containing more computing power than all the computers that took us to the moon, the smartphone is just the start of the mobile revolution will also be wireless connections for measuring heart rate, temperature, blood pressure and body composition. With the user’s permission, these can be ‘read’ by fitness machines for instant set-up and real-time adjustment of equipment depending on fitness levels and mood. The smart device will be able to push or pull information into ‘the cloud’ for a full and current picture of the user’s health and fitness status, which can be accessed by fitness trainers, rehab specialists and even doctors. FitproBusiness | 17
mingling the virtual and the real to provide compelling new ways for interaction (see Quick Response code on page 15). Imagine pointing a mobile device at your club: as well as seeing a picture of the club on your device, a virtual layer of useful information is automatically added on top. Potential customers can find out in seconds all they need to know about the facility and services: classes coming up in the next hour, links to staff profiles and member testimonials, with an offer to download a QR code for a free pass. Similarly, instructors just need to point their device at one of their club members to see their visit and programme information, along with interaction preferences at that time, from ‘come and have a chat’ to ‘I’d like to be left alone today’. This seamless mingling of the virtual and the real is set to be a major area of development for mobile applications.
Biometrics will become more important as devices become the membership card for all entry. Perfect for club access control M-commerce
Payments using mobile devices are also growing rapidly, with market researcher Gartner predicting the total value of mobile transactions set to reach £147bn by 2014. Along with being able to pay for something on your mobile via SMS, pretty soon most (if not all) mobile devices will be equipped with a chip for Near Field Communications (NFC). This will transform your mobile into an electronic wallet every time you place it near the appropriate receiver (think London Underground Oyster card in a mobile phone). No more membership cards, just wave your phone to gain access. Owe money? A wave of the phone deducts the amount and allows access again. The Olympics in 2012 is proving to be a big driver for payments via mobile devices in the UK, with recent partnerships between Visa and Samsung set to be the first of many. 18 | FitproBusiness
We all know it’s easier to get a child to do something through play – turns out it works with adults too. App developers have been quick to use the locationtracking capabilities of smartphones to bring gaming into the real world, to motivate people and change their behaviour. Welcome to ‘gamification’. One of the best known gaming sites at the moment is Foursquare, a locationbased service that uses game mechanics to encourage ‘check-ins’ to gain virtual ‘badges’ and real-life discounts. Gamification looks to be tailor-made for the health club industry with a whole range of possibilities for marketing, exercise adherence, attendance tracking and retention – all in the form of a game.
Better than the real thing?
What’s more, the real world is about to get even more interesting with the advent of augmented reality –
As we settle into our connected existence, the divide between networks, people and objects will start to blur to the point where we are ‘in’ the network all the time and are able to consume information and experiences wherever we are, regardless of location. This may have a profound impact on the meaning of the ‘health club’ and what members are buying, for example, being able to book into a class as a virtual participant and ‘taking part’ via a TV wall, without even stepping foot in the club. The challenge for clubs is to be able to provide not only locations but also content and experiences that can be consumed more or less anywhere. Soon the real world and the network will become one and the same. From your fitness equipment to your fridge, everyday real objects will be part of your network and can be active or passive participants in your connected life. For the older generation this may seem scary and confusing but, for those brought up in the connected world, getting fit without involving these types of networks and devices will seem as quaint as a hoop and stick does to us now. fpb Stuart Dyson is the founder and managing director of SDA Solutions, specialists in developing web-based member management solutions for health clubs around the world. Visit http://uk.linkedin.com/in/stuartdyson or www.sdasolutions.com
You are here Location-based mobile technology helps Fitness First drive revenue through increased membership.
y harnessing the power of mobile technology, Fitness First and O2’s ‘You Are Here’ campaign generated over 1,100 new members and almost £400,000 in revenue for the fitness chain. Location-based messages providing details of the nearest club and a free two-day pass were offered to O2 customers, which resulted in many signing up to four-month and 12-month
contracts. Of those new members, most fitted the 18 to 35-year-old smartphoneusing single Londoner demographic who enjoyed engaging through social media. Furthermore, this system allowed for other handsets to pick up the offers, not just smartphone users – and without the added hassle of logging in to retrieve the offer. You Are Here uses ‘geo-fences’ set
up around a particular location, such as the Fitness First gym, and as soon as a target customer enters the area they automatically receive an SMS or MMS with the offer. To redeem the offer, they simply show the message at the nearest Fitness First club. fpb
Source: O2 Media
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Changing your leisure manageme Fitpro Business looks at how new management software has helped the British Alpine Ski School expand their business, while Halo Leisure’s customer services manager Iain Hayes explains how their new system has helped boost retention.
British Alpine Ski School
Established in 1989 in the French resort of Les Gets, the British Alpine Ski School (BASS) pioneered the development of British ski schools in the Alps. It was the first British ski school to be set up in the country and paved the way for similar businesses to move into the market. Building a single-site business is a challenge in itself, but aiming to grow across a geographically dispersed region, and in multiple foreign countries, presents some unique hurdles, not least in the IT arena. BASS needed a system that would enable employees to access centrally managed data – irrespective of where they are based during the season – while creating a user-friendly interface for consumers when booking their holidays.
Back to front FileMaker is the database technology that underpins the whole of the BASS IT infrastructure – connecting the back office with the front-end online customer and employee interface. It delivers the functionality to enable customers 20 | FitproBusiness
to input details about their holiday arrangements, choose the lessons they want to book, outline their experience, pay online and track their arrangements all via the website. This data is then consolidated in a central FileMaker repository to deliver consistent and accurate responses to enquiries from remote BASS staff working across its resorts.
Data therapy BASS had been using DataTherapy, a specialist FileMaker developer, for over a decade to support its previous data management solution. Despite the success of this system, it was in need of an update, so in the summer of 2007 BASS put together a new brief to update its IT infrastructure. The brief outlined a complete overhaul of the existing system to encompass the expansion of BASS into new regions and offer a more streamlined service to customers. BASS therefore commissioned DataTherapy to upgrade its existing data management solution in time for the 2007-2008 winter ski season.
Business priority The new FileMaker system allowed for a single view of customer bookings data to geographically dispersed locations throughout the Alps via a central server, so that the back office database could be combined with front-end usability. The development also helped to speed up customer booking and payment processes, with minimal training for employees. BASS managing director Hugh Monney said, “Growing the business has always been our priority. To ensure efficiency and synergy we needed a system that would give our employees in all the regions access to customer booking information. Our recent expansion has led us to need an overhaul of the system and DataTherapy helped us through the process by building a robust and scalable information management system using FileMaker.” Monney and his team have since successfully expanded the business in some of the most prestigious Alpine resorts, including Chamonix, Val d'Isere, Tignes and St Moritz.
a proven system. We were attracted to Legend’s software specifically because of its wide functionality and dedicated all-hours support – another impossibility for an in-house system. Our staff work from 6am until midnight, so if any technical issues arose outside normal office hours, we would be unable to fix them before they caused disruption to our customers. The software also provides us with free updates as and when necessary, whereas a bespoke system would have to be updated by us or involve additional technical support – not exactly a cost-effective option.
we run our business, but will instead simply allow us to speed the process up. Indeed, this is reflected in the way that our employees have been able to pick up the new technology and functionality very quickly and easily – whole areas of the software have been mastered in as little as 25 minutes. This means that our ability to extract information is far easier. We used to have to grapple with our own data records, such that generating a simple list of members would take as much as quarter of an hour or more, or making a simple booking could take several minutes. With Legend, we can see that all of this will be instant.
FPB: How does the new system work and what data does it help you to manage? IH: Legend’s software will provide multiple online self-service functions for our members and visitors. It will also allow employees at the front desk, in the leisure centre and in the back office to record and analyse their interactions with individual members, including classes booked and attended, payment schedules and frequency of use. We can then use this data to improve our customer service and to drive more targeted, effective and timely marketing and retention programmes.
FPB: How long will it take to be fully implemented across your sites and what benefits will you hope to gain? IH: Currently we are ahead of schedule and are hoping that the software will be live across all eight of our leisure centres within 12 weeks. Specifically, our improved management of data will allow us to boost our retention rates, establish and maintain a series of key performance indicators and even monitor and reduce our utilities consumption, all from a single software suite. fpb
FPB: What management system did you use previously and why did you decide to change? Iain Hayes: We elected to change our club management system because its functionality did not quite meet all of our latest goals. We wanted to be able to create and manage a central repository of all our critical data and then record and analyse data on interactions with members, monitor financial systems and billing, set gym programmes and set our own various key performance indicators. Overall, this new software is able to help us meet these goals in a far more holistic, intuitive and instant fashion than we have seen before. FPB: Why did you decide to deploy a club management system and not create a bespoke piece of software? IH: A bespoke software project would have been a tremendous task because of the complexity of functions the software would have had to incorporate, making it a far more time-consuming and expensive proposition than buying
FPB: Have you had any problems training staff with the new system? IH: Crucially, the software will not remove the human element in the way
Iain Hayes is customer services manager at Halo Leisure, a not-for-profit social enterprise and registered charity that operates leisure centres across Herefordshire on behalf of Herefordshire Council. For more information, visit www.haloleisure.co.uk FitproBusiness | 21
The hidden money in your list Emma Sargent explains why your member database is one of your biggest assets.
hen working with entrepreneurs and small business owners we tend to ask two simple questions. One: “Who has a database (list) of customers?” Usually, most hands will go up. Two: “Who communicates regularly with their list?” A few hands will go up. Yes, only a few hands ever go up. Why? Because most business owners seem to think that, once they have made a sale, the sales process is over. The truth is, it’s only just beginning.
If you have a database of customers and potential customers, you’re sitting on a gold mine. The gold is not in the list. The gold is in the relationship that you have with that list. Essentially, you will have three broad categories of people on your list: those who have never bought (prospects), those who have bought recently (members) and those who bought and are no longer buying (ex-members). You should be able to segment your list so that you can send targeted messages to each category. The more you can segment, the easier it is to build and maintain your relationships.
Customers past and present
The gold is not in the list. The gold is in the relationship that you have with that list
It is widely accepted that the cost of customer acquisition is about seven times more than the cost of retention. So, no, it is not OK to have a business where you lose customers as fast as you get them. And don’t forget to maintain your relationship with members once they have left you. Leaving doesn’t mean they’re never going to buy again (but they won’t if you don’t keep in touch). It must have happened to you: you used to go to a particular place. In fact, you went pretty regularly but then you stopped. Maybe you stopped for quite a while and then you went back. And you
Marketing went back because someone said, “Hey, we haven’t been to X for a while. Why don’t we try it again?” How much sooner might you have gone back if that place had kept in touch with you with targeted messages?
What are you doing to educate, motivate and inspire potential members? So many businesses focus on the sales process that they forget that the first piece of the sales process is to build a relationship with their prospects. These people haven’t even come onto your radar yet but you can bet your bottom dollar that, if they’re thinking of joining a club, they’re following what you do and how you communicate with heightened interest. Lots of potential customers take warming up. Just make sure you are front-of-mind when they are ready to buy.
So, how can you improve retention and boost the spending of your past, present and potential customers? Here are a few ideas. 1. Let them know that their idea to buy from you was a good one Within 48 hours of buying anything substantial, the buyer needs to be reminded that they have made the right decision – to ward off buyer’s remorse. Anyone who has bought a Mini Cooper will tell you this is exactly what Mini HQ does with a quite brilliant marketing letter. It tells you everything that is marvellous about your Mini, makes you feel part of a club and also introduces you, the proud new owner, to a whole range of other offerings. 2. Communicate with them regularly From there on in, you need to adopt some form of regular communication – such as a newsletter – that keeps your customers in touch. Let them know how important they are to you. The internet has given us the gift of easy and inexpensive communication and organisations that place a huge value on client retention are using it to build loyalty. It’s so easy to keep in touch through regular online newsletters (don’t underestimate the power of offline newsletters either) and email reminders, celebrating anniversaries, publicising offers, asking for feedback and so on. If you aren’t doing this, you are already behind the game. One objection we often meet is
that people don’t like to be bothered with this sort of thing. That’s simply a very convenient excuse for not doing anything. Our experience, and that of a huge number of businesses that we are in touch with, is that people do like being contacted; it all depends on how you do it. Just make sure you fill your newsletter with great content: stories of success, ideas to make what you offer interesting and so on. Customers of accountants don’t just want to hear about accountancy and members of gyms don’t just want to hear about exercise. You can include news about your local community and anything else your customers might be interested in. 3. Make it personal Take the opportunity to stamp your personality on your communication. Several of our clients have been amazed at the positive feedback they have received when they have increased the ‘personality’ in their newsletters. We know from our own experience that our customers engage most with personal stories – a story about revising for the battle of Bosworth with our 11-yearold was our biggest hit (and, yes, our newsletter was going to a business audience). 4. Educate, motivate and inspire them People love to learn (when they choose to) and they will want to learn more about what they need to do to stay fit and healthy, so tell them. That said, your members are bombarded by information every day, so their attention span is short – very short – so repetition is the name of the game. They’ll have forgotten most of what they were told and they’ll walk past posters without a second glance. You have to tell them what’s going on and you have to keep on telling them, regularly. 5. Offer them a premium product or service If offered a premium product or service, 20% of your members will buy it. If you don’t have one, try it. You could even create a premium offering at a price that you think won't attract anybody and see what happens. fpb
Emma Sargent is co-founder of The Extraordinary Coaching Company. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org FitproBusiness | 23
EQUIPMENT SOLUTIONS Wattbike
Exercise bikes have always been a key part of every gym and fitness studio but have never given the feel of riding an actual bike or provided any accurate performance data to allow high-quality training or monitoring of fitness. In 2008, an exercise bike that did just that was launched. The Wattbike was born out of a partnership with British Cycling to create an indoor bike that was suitable for their
top Olympians, development squads and talent identification, as well as for use in gyms, schools and homes around the country. Three years on, the second generation Wattbike has been released, built by Giant Bicycles, the world’s largest bicycle manufacturer. Accurately measuring the force that the rider is producing, the Wattbike records 39 different cycling parameters 100 times per second, providing all of the data that professional cyclists require to be at the top of their sport. For the first time, the Wattbike now provides that level of accurate performance data to fitness enthusiasts. Key cycling performance parameters (power, cadence, heart rate, speed, pedalling technique) are displayed through the onboard computer, while further parameters can be viewed when connected to a PC running the free scientific software. Website: http://wattbike.com/uk Contact: +44(0)1159 45 54 54 or email@example.com
The Wattbike really comes into its own in a group environment, with each member of the class working together but at their own distinct training levels. Data can also be displayed on a big screen at the front of the class using the Wattbike’s own group activity software, showing heart rate, power, cadence, speed and calories for each individual so that everyone can make sure they are working in the right training zones. Group cycle training is also available for instructors, created with FitPro to ensure that each instructor delivers the bestquality sessions for their participants. Wattbike will be launching their group cycling programme at Leisure Industry Week in September 2011. 24 | FitproBusiness
Individual and small group training Accuracy and technique The perfect training tool for personal trainers. Each session can be tailored specifically to the individual’s training needs and monitored to ensure the individual is getting the maximum benefit from every pedal turn they do. The trainer can even download all the session data as a report, to show the rate of improvement to the member.
The key to getting the most out of the Wattbike is attaining the right level of intensity for each training session. To help, Wattbike have produced a training guide with several fitness tests to quickly gauge an individual’s fitness level and set their training intensities accordingly.
The scientific accuracy of the Wattbike means that it can be used by all levels of fitness enthusiast, cyclist and triathlete to improve their fitness. However, unlike any other indoor bike, the Wattbike also includes the unique ‘Polar View’ which allows the rider to monitor how they are delivering power as they pedal. This is not only helping the world’s top riders to improve, but also club members who can make huge improvements to how they pedal in only a few sessions on the Wattbike. Those improvements mean that the rider is able to go faster, use less energy or simply get more enjoyment from their cycling.
Total Gym Four million unit sales down the line and Total Gym® still provides an amazing business opportunity for facilities, with its functional bodyweight cable training machine with moving glideboard, designed to test strength, proprioception, balance and stability. Forward-thinking fitness managers are helping club owners and purchasing directors understand how their current floor space dedicated to fixed, isolation pin-loaded equipment offers little or no ROI and no differentiation from their competitors. People need to find training interesting if they are going to join long term. While you can’t argue with the idea that strength training is vital, training on pin-loaded equipment has become unfashionable
and expensive. An adductor machine for example has only one purpose, whereas the Total Gym GTS has over 120 exercises available and a myriad of programming solutions for any fitness level for almost the same price. At this year’s Leisure Industry Week (20-22 September), Total Gym are launching the next evolution in their product range. The 2011 models are lighter with increased functionality, making them the ultimate tool for mixed-use spaces and functional team training zones in clubs. GRAVITY programming on the Total Gym equipment is a complete solution for providing effective, fun and flexible group training to members. Offering GRAVITY as a chargeable class in addition
to membership provides an instant ROI that most other equipment outlay cannot achieve. The fact that trainers can instantly get involved with team training provides a win-win scenario for clubs, trainers and clients. Total Gym and GRAVITY programming comes with a unique system – GRAVITY Clubhouse – ensuring trainers are kept fresh with programming ideas and brand loyalty. It’s a complete turnkey business approach that clubs should look into to keep abreast of this growing trend. fpb Website: www.gravityuk.net Contact: 0845 602 74 85
FitproBusiness | 25
? e B To Be or not to
Contemporary wisdom would have it that there’s no such thing as a free lunch, but is that really the case? David Albutt of Leisure-net looks at Birmingham City Council’s ‘Be’ programme.
irmingham City Council serves a population of around 1.1 million residents, 750,000 of whom are adults. The Council offers facilities at more than 50 leisure centres, including 15 swimming pools and 29 gyms. The constituency has high levels of poverty, with nearly half of households having an annual income under £15,000. Minority communities equate to 62% of the population and there is significant attrition. There are also high levels of childhood obesity and, thus, an anticipated explosion in adult obesity down the line. 26 | FitproBusiness
The ‘Gym for Free’ pilot scheme began in Ladywood in February 2008 as services were under-used by local residents and there were low levels of involvement in sporting activities.
Anne Goodall, Birmingham City Council’s health and fitness manager, says that the level of physical activity among Birmingham residents before the scheme was well below the national average, with only 17.2% of residents being active for the recommended 3 x 30 minutes a week. “Results from this first phase of Gym
for Free were very encouraging,” says Goodall. “Within six months, membership increased from 95 to 7,000: 42% were women, 19% Pakistani, 16% Bangladeshi. In short, the new customers reflected local demographics.” This level of success encouraged the Council to roll out the scheme across the city from September 2009.
Gym for Free was rebranded as ‘Be active’ and a new partnership board, comprising three Primary Care Trusts (PCTs) and other key stakeholders from across the
city, was set up. With strong links to economic development, the scheme was partly funded by Working Neighbourhoods. A million people are now entitled to use the scheme and, to date, 300,000 people have registered. Participation has increased from 17.2%, to 18.5%, to the latest figure of 19.5%. Further funding has been provided from the Future Jobs Fund – helping to employ 30 Be active trainees – and lifestyle advice is now offered in the city’s leisure centres. In addition to this, GP surgeries show a promotional DVD to increase awareness of the scheme in their area. An extended offer across the city now provides a range of additional activities to citizens above and beyond the gym, swimming and fitness classes, including t'ai chi, mother and baby activities and family sports sessions.
As well as increasing participation in physical activity, the scheme has created 38 full-time equivalent jobs and been recognised with numerous awards, including a Guardian Award and the World Leisure Organisation Innovation Award. But the real success of the scheme lies with the participants. There is an excellent spread across the age ranges, 60% are from BME (Black Minority Ethnic) communities and about half are female. Fifty percent of participants are overweight or obese, 50% have raised blood pressure, 25% are smokers and 20% describe their health as poor. In
addition, 20% suffer from extreme or moderate anxiety and depression. And, perhaps most importantly, 74.3% of users were not previously a member of a leisure centre, gym or swimming pool.
Spending reviews will clearly put pressure on the programme but Goodall is confident that Be active has a future. “The scheme is funded by the three PCTs going forward into next year. The budget will be half of what it was for the last phase of the pilot, as area-based grant funding and direct funding from the Department for Culture Media and Sport has now finished. This will affect the scheme but there is determination to carry on the work.” The revised scheme will be run on a commissioning model, where free activity hours will be provided at different times across the city. The activity hours have been commissioned by the PCTs on the basis of health deprivation in the different parts of the city and the hours will be used accordingly. The scheme will still be free to everyone in Birmingham. The Be active scheme is also being taken outdoors, with a range of free physical activity sessions in local parks, and there will be free sessions at community centres and other local venues. In the meantime, there is a search for new funding, such as commissioning through GP Consortia, Health and Well-being Boards and through private finance, via a pilot Social Impact Bond. fpb More information on the Council is available at www.birmingham.gov.uk or, to view the ‘Be active’ scheme, visit www.birmingham.gov.uk/beactive FitproBusiness | 27
The business of Les Mills Colne Valley Leisure Centre in West Yorkshire used Les Mills classes in 2010 to TRANSFORM THEIR group fitness OFFERING. Operations manager Stephen Knight explains how the classes boosted the bottom line of the centre.
FitproBusiness | 29
ust months after opening in 2009, we experienced the customary New Year fitness rush and found that the gym was almost full at peak times. We were flying in terms of membership growth and far exceeding our business plan, but the gym couldn’t hold many more members during busier times. We were attracting lots of prospective members but, during tours of the centre, some were asking if they’d be able to use the equipment in the gym when they saw how busy it was. Although it calmed down after the initial New Year rush, I knew the problem would get worse as our membership grew. There was no way we could make the gym any bigger; our relatively small studio was already heavily used for a range of activities and our classes were full. We needed something recognisable and popular enough for our members to choose in favour of the gym – this was when I thought of Les Mills. I attended a group fitness management (GFM) training module run by FitPro in autumn 2008. I picked up a lot of useful tips on how to manage a GF programme, but what really captured my imagination was a video clip of classes being delivered in giant Les Mills studios. Discussing it with my fitness manager, we both agreed that what we’d seen on the video clip was the way to do it. I discussed my concerns with our head of development and told her I wanted to launch BODYPUMP. Luckily, there was
still money available and she agreed to invest some of it in our first Les Mills programme and buy some items to help enhance the classes.
Launching the first programme
I had about three months to put things in place to launch in January 2010. We gave half a dozen new instructors module training and I found an experienced BODYPUMP instructor to mentor our new instructors. When it came to instructor assessment videos, I paid for someone to do the filming and transfer the footage onto a disc for the instructors to post to FitPro. Doing this allowed the instructors to concentrate on instructing. The club purchased a portable stage system and installed some feature lighting and the best sound system we could afford. We bought 40 BODYPUMP sets initially, although I hoped we’d need to buy more fairly soon. I was right – we soon increased this to 55 and will shortly be taking this up to 80 sets. I wanted us to team-teach our classes longer term, not just when new instructors were learning or in launch classes. This plan worked very well, as the numbers in our evening classes are high enough for two instructors. There are many benefits to having two instructors on stage and we’ve had lots of positive comments.
BODYPUMP fixed our gym overcrowding issue by diverting members away from the
It was when we added BODYBALANCE and BODYCOMBAT to our class programme that we really started to see what a strong group fitness programme can do to pull in new members gym at peak times. It was also a fantastic selling point to new members. However, it was when we added BODYBALANCE and BODYCOMBAT to our class programme that we really started to see what a strong group fitness programme can do to pull in new members. Over a three-month period, during which we increased our offering to three Les Mills programmes, the membership grew at a time of year when we’d budgeted for minimal growth. Before introducing Les Mills, we were averaging 340 attendances per week from 23 classes, but now we’re on approximately 715 per week from 26 classes. Bringing in Les Mills and moving to the bigger classes in the sports hall has taken our average attendance up to around 28 per class, so it’s almost doubled. Our average class attendance for just the Les Mills classes is 44 per class, with BODYCOMBAT our star performer with an average of 80 participants per class.
We’re very pleased with our attendance figures and some of the other outcomes: our member satisfaction survey 30 | FitproBusiness
showed that 91% would recommend our membership to others and we’ve collected lots of positive comments. A couple of hours after our BODYCOMBAT launch class, I logged onto our Facebook page and found participants had been posting messages to each other talking about how amazing the class had been. I quickly copied all the comments to my hard drive and every so often I look back through them to remind myself why all the effort is worthwhile. It’s priceless when you know your members are telling their friends about how good your classes are.
It’s difficult to put an exact figure on the increased income from Les Mills, but there's a lot of evidence to suggest that, without it, we'd be a lot further back in terms of our membership total. A conservative estimate would be 300 extra members, which equates to over £70,000 of additional income per year. Our total membership has grown by 40% since we launched our first Les Mills classes in January 2010. For a relatively small facility like ours, these are fantastic figures.
every time they went? This is what we’re trying to do at Colne Valley and I don’t think we’re far off.
One thing that’s great about buying into a worldwide brand like Les Mills is there are so many experiences in the Les Mills community that can be shared. With the internet, Facebook and the Les Mills forum pages we know where to go if we’re short of ideas for launches or ways to improve our classes. The marketing materials are great and I know there are other marketing support options available if required. We’ve not needed that much so far, as word of mouth is doing a pretty good
job for us, but it’s good to know it’s there if needed. I attended FitPro Convention for the first time last year, where I participated in a couple of the Les Mills classes. BODYCOMBAT was on my shortlist before I went but I walked away from the session with my mind made up that BODYCOMBAT was coming to Colne Valley. It’s great to see the master trainers delivering the classes but I do think the public needs to experience this too. Imagine how many more people would come to classes if that was what they got
We launched BODYATTACK in February and have been getting between 60 and 80 participants in each class. In the future, I’d love to add RPM to the programme too, alongside an increase in the number of bikes available for classes. Other than this, we will be finetuning our current timetable and will probably add classes from our existing programmes. We are also looking to enhance the quality of the classes even further, with better feature lighting, some décor improvements and an upgraded sound system. At Colne Valley, we love punching above our weight, and what better place to practise this than in a BODYCOMBAT class? fpb For more information about getting Les Mills in your club email firstname.lastname@example.org or call +44 (0)20 8586 8636 FitproBusiness | 31
Move It for success The Escape Fitness stand is set to continue to steal the show at Leisure Industry Week, with 2011 featuring money-making tips and business-boosting fitness tools.
t Leisure Industry Week (LIW) 2009, Escape Fitness impressed with their new and exclusive Reebok women’s range and fuelled everyone’s thirst for fitness with their functional, yet versatile, equipment. In 2010, they showed you all their best functional fitness moves, demolished out-of-date workout routines with their revolutionary vibrant training ideas, and featured demonstrations by renowned fitness visionaries Tommy Matthews and Steve Barrett. This year, their plans are bigger than ever before and are guaranteed to make everyone at LIW 2011 'Move It'. At LIW 2010, the Escape Functional Fitness Zone and TRX stand proved how fun and effective fitness can be. They also demonstrated how group fitness can open up potential earnings for personal trainers, and that equipment can be versatile, motivational and multi-functional. Delegates enjoyed the top-notch education and advice that Escape is renowned for. And who could forget the ultimate challenges and being taken back in time with the incredible Reebok Step? Every year, Escape’s passion for fun fitness and boosting business takes them to new heights. All LIW 2011 visitors can expect new 'Move It' spaces, training ideas, profitable programme advice, exciting demonstrations and tougher challenges. And whatever you do, don’t miss their revolutionary new product launches, such as the introduction of the TRX Rip Trainer. The dedicated Escape team will be there to educate, innovate and reveal some big surprises, aiming to get you all motivated to 'Move It'. fpb
To find out more about what Escape has on offer, call 0800 458 5558, or keep up with the Escape Team on Tour at www.facebook.com/escapefitness FitproBusiness | 33
Whether working in business or sport, psychology can play a huge role in determining success, writes Renzie Hanham.
What underpins performance (and thus winning or losing) is the ability to control where we place our attention
don’t expect anyone would dispute the notion that the mind has an integral role to play in the quality of one’s performance. You would think then that training one’s brain to achieve optimum results would be a process that athletes and businesspeople would spend time developing. Not so. For most of those who do involve themselves in psychological matters, the primary motivation is to improve their chances of success. Athletes tend to define success in terms of winning and losing and so do businesspeople – albeit in a different context. Winning and losing is the end result of a process. If the process is performed well, then the chances of winning increase. If the process is performed poorly, then a good performance is unlikely. What underpins performance (and thus winning or losing) is the ability to control where we place our attention. If our attention is directed consciously towards the process, then we become focused on and may even feel as if 34 | FitproBusiness
we are at one with the process. Some people call this being 'in the zone'.
The mental conditioning process begins with the desire to become involved in an activity, followed by a commitment to do the necessary work. The equation is simple: desire + commitment = action. If you wish to succeed (whatever that means to you) it is helpful to know that you are on a journey and, while you may have nominated a destination, the journey itself is the vehicle that enables you to reach your end point.
Structure allows you to have a feeling of being in control of that journey, particularly if something diverts you along the way. When we feel pressure, our attention is taken away from the process and diverted onto outcomes. We call this paradigm either being in the red (diverting from task) or in the
blue (being on task). The more your attention is divided between the two, the less likely you are to engage in the process and therefore to perform the task at hand successfully. When you have a sound structure in place – and a significant conditioning process has occurred – you will find the blue zone (staying on task) easier to access and therefore you will be less likely to buckle under pressure.
Building blocks 1. Alignment
Alignment has to do with the purpose that connects you with your goals, values and outcomes. Alignment occurs when these three things are in sync. If you don’t have alignment, there is a high probability that you will sabotage your efforts.
2. Resources In any great undertaking, it is not enough for one to depend simply on oneself. The more serious the athlete or businessperson, the more comprehensive their resource base
needs to be. The important point here is that it is imperative to have clarity around the roles, rules and responsibilities of the individuals involved in your resource group.
3. Skills New skills are best learned in a relaxed, non-threatening environment until a degree of familiarity with the task is reached. If too little time is spent refining your skills, then your technique will deteriorate under pressure. Same in sport and business. Eventually you will need to step out of your comfort zone and begin to perform with more intensity. Ultimately, the aim is to perform with intensity and under pressure, while being able to cope with diversions.
promising business careers. One important aspect to mention is that every time we step up to a higher level, we may have to revisit the mental conditioning process. At each level there is a need to serve our apprenticeship and pay our dues.
5. Balance When you feel threatened, your thinking will often go into defensive mode. You are likely to become selective and distorted, which leads to poor decision-making and over-reaction characterised by irrational or all-or-nothing behaviour. Having others involved can minimise the impact of perceived negative events and assist you in adapting to challenging situations.
Having achieved early success, many people move up to the next level, only to find that they are not equipped to deal with the added demands. Numerous athletes have floundered at this point and so too have many
Our lives are not a flat line and we move up and down in terms of our mental strength. By forecasting potential high-risk situations, we can develop strategies for coping in advance, so that when they do occur,
we feel some measure of control over them. Knowing what most of your what-ifs might be is hugely helpful in terms of staying on task when potential diversions occur.
7. Diverting Things can be going to plan, then a drama diverts your attention from the task at hand. When said drama occurs this leads to a judgement and, as a consequence, we often have an emotional response. In order to combat this, we suggest that athletes (and managers) keep a â€˜thought-feeltrigger-filterâ€™ diary, which enables them to become more aware of their own internal processes and discover the hidden beliefs, assumptions and fears they may have adopted as truths. Once we recognise these patterns, we have a greater ability to regain control of our attention. fpb Renzie Hanham works with high-performance teams around the world and with www.gazing.com. He can be contacted at email@example.com FitproBusiness | 35
Budget gyms have their place Joel Chapman, commercial director of social enterprise and leisure trust Tone, discusses the emergence of budget gyms and WHY YOU SHOULDN'T panic if one opens in your town.
udget gyms are big news at the moment and rightly so – they’re successfully encouraging more people to exercise, which is beneficial in many ways. Yet what many ‘traditional’ operators should remember is that budget gyms offer a very different service. Although they provide competition for gyms, they rarely compete on classes, added value programmes, racquet sports, climbing walls, swimming, community activities, family activities or any of the other elements that make up a successful leisure facility. Budget gyms are typically sited in areas with dense populations, yet the lure of cheap memberships means that they pull from a wide geographical area. Tone experienced this last year with Ivybridge Leisure Centre, which is situated around 10 miles from Plymouth. While many people live in the small town of Ivybridge, they work in Plymouth and, when a new budget gym opened in the city, we noticed the effects. However, we have a steady stream of customers migrating back to us and what follows is a summary of our learning points from this experience.
Sell your service
In true budget gyms, there are no fitness instructors, the occasional PT and usually only a ‘caretaker’ manager. While this might be great for those who are experienced at exercising and don’t require much support, it certainly isn’t for everyone. So, if you’re proud of the expertise of your staff and the level of service they provide, then shout about it. Let potential customers know how your staff can help and encourage word-of-mouth recommendations from happy customers or testimonials via social networking 36 | FitproBusiness
sites. Encourage your staff to get out and about in communities, both real and virtual, and engage with people – they are your point of difference from budget gyms and can be excellent ambassadors for your services.
Classes, classes, classes
We offer around 150 classes per week across our 11 centres; they’re an interesting and sociable way of exercising. Yet when you add pay-as-you-go class fees at your local centre onto the membership fee of a budget gym a few miles away, the cost of a full centre membership might prove better value. It’s not just about price; it’s about best value for individual customers.
Capitalise on increased awareness
Budget gyms are often marketed heavily across a large area. So, even if you’re not very close to it, you might still find that they’re targeting your area with promotions. This can be beneficial though, as any marketing activity raises the profile of getting fit and active. Our experience is that if people are looking for a gym, they will often visit two or three centres before they decide which one to join. So, if your facility meets their needs, you may be able to reap some of the rewards of the budget gym’s marketing activity.
We’re all different
For some, budget gyms are fantastic as they provide cheap, no-frills opportunities to exercise. Most other operators cannot compete on price and shouldn’t try – it’s about knowing what we each do best and concentrating on doing those things even better. As well as our variety of services and staff, another point of difference for Tone as a social enterprise is our engagement
Although budget facilities provide competition for gyms, they rarely compete on classes, added value programmes, swimming or any of the other elements that make up a successful leisure facility with groups in our communities with the greatest need. This type of community outreach work falls way outside the remit of budget gyms and is yet another example of the sheer breadth of work done by leisure organisations throughout the country. One size doesn’t fit all and there’s a place in the market for all good operators. fpb
For more information, visit www.toneleisure.co.uk
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