Take a new direction TRENDS: TAKING MARTIAL ARTS TO MAINSTREAM FITNESS Technology: IS Google+ better than facebook and twitter? Comment: Times are changing FOR the fitness INDUSTRY
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ommentary There’s a better way to do it … e used to think that solving the physical and psychological problems of an ageing population would provide the industry with a rich vein of new members, all looking to improve their quality of life. But, assuming that pharmacology or technology (or both) don’t get there first, I think older adults are far more likely to get their kicks from walking, cycling, swimming, etc., than they are from a gym. We used to think that the medical profession would advocate for us – and so they shall when we can demonstrate a uniform standard of professionalism that justifies their confidence – but until then, we’re on our own. We used to think that the corporate market was a no-brainer – build it and they will come – and so they did for a while. Now that’s a much tougher proposition. I suspect that the conventional vision of a gym will change in the next decade. Cardio and weight machines will occupy much less space, and the majority of the room will be taken up with mats, ViPR™, Swiss balls, Bosu balls, speed balls, medicine balls, punch bags, juggling sticks, climbing walls, basketball hoops, climbing ropes, Wii Fit, and anything else (that’s simple and fun) which gets invented in the meantime. There’ll be meditation rooms, cookery classes, learning centres, rehab rooms, video analysis rooms, and weight management centres operated by professionals in nutrition, exercise and behavioural change. Then there’ll be a whole bunch of online options that members can tap into to enhance their knowledge, expand their networks (Facebook, Twitter et al.), and enable them to exercise at home, at work, outdoors, on holiday, wherever, without missing a beat.
Talking of which, there will also be a ton of affordable technology that enables members to measure everything from heart rate patterns to calories consumed and feed it back to their mentors at Mission Control (that’s you). We used to talk about the club becoming the third place after home and work. That never actually happened except for a tiny minority of facilities, but that doesn’t mean to say that it can’t happen. Why shouldn’t people look to their health club as the place that takes care of their health – that’s physical, mental and spiritual health. Of course all of this sounds pretty far-fetched, but that’s only because our thinking is coloured by the fact that we’re on the inside looking out. If you are on the outside looking in (i.e., normal), it’s blindingly obvious. In the old days, business was conducted at a much more sedate pace. We launched a new club, a new machine, a new class; everyone jumped up and down with unbridled delight and things went along their merry way. Now the world moves much faster than we do and if we don’t innovate and respond to the ever-changing needs of the market, we will suffocate. For what it’s worth, my theory is this: There are lots of people who want to be fit (or at least want to have the benefits that fitness brings), the problem for us is that they don’t want it our way, they want it their way. Find out what their way is and there lies your success.
what’s I N what’s O UT
Participation in sports and fitness activities is expected to grow by only 4.4% over the next five years, according to Health Clubs & Leisure Centres, a market intelligence update by Key Note. The sector is expected to grow from £3.4bn to £3.55bn in 2015, with growth predicted to be strongest this year as the nation prepares itself for the Olympic and Paralympic Games in London. Expenditure on participation between 2006-2010 shrank by 8%, with the threat of a second recession meaning that wary consumers may be unwilling to commit to annual fees over the coming period as well. Key Note forecasts that budget gym membership will grow instead, boosted by cheaper monthly membership fees. ‘Pay-per-play’ facilities may also benefit, as these suit client schedules. Cost-free activities, such as jogging and cycling, are also anticipated to grow in popularity as consumers look for ever more ways to stretch their budgets along with their hamstrings.
Getting involved in the legacy
Investing in education
Begin with retention in mind
Future opportunities for the industry
16 18 19 20 22
Pay by phone strategies
An aptitude for apps
Club marketing trends
Case study: Studio 360 Fitness
Times are changing
The power of play
Text-to-buy services which speed up transaction times and capitalise on impulse buys are allowing retailers to sell products directly from offline advertising. Services such as ‘txt2buy’ let consumers respond to print ads by sending a secure text – any time and from anywhere. Retailers add a promotion code and SMS number to print, radio or TV advertising (customers need to follow a one-time registration process in responding), resulting in near-instant sales. txt2buy marketing and brand director Gordon Ellis-Brown says, “It is by far the most convenient way to close a sale, as consumers don’t need internet access to purchase. Any phone that can send SMS messages can buy using txt2buy, meaning it isn’t restricted to those with the latest smartphones, either”.
Spa offerings in the gym Wellness Niche markets The power of play
t has fast become apparent following the court ruling against Ashbourne Management Services that the long-term membership offering is no longer what will keep the industry thriving. I also suspect it is a debate that will continue to rumble on. To that effect, it may be time for the industry to cast its net wider and look to other, new markets to add value to the club offering – particularly if switching to a budget model either doesn’t appeal, or seems too much of a painful migration from the original vision of your club. However, to the credit of the low-cost operators, they have, according to PTA Global CEO Kevin Laferriere, “broadened the appeal of the gym by reducing a barrier to entry via affordable memberships” (page 38). Reducing barriers or moving the gym towards a one-stop shop for health does have an appeal to the wider market, particularly if this is to include health, wellness or spa offerings, as we explore on pages 18 and 19. Alternatively, looking towards more niche markets can have its advantages as two gym owners on pages 20-21 found out, or developing more fun concepts centred around play in the gym (pages 22-23). Harnessing technology is obviously a useful tool for engaging with new markets, so we’ve invited Lucy Johnson to give you an insight into the new social media platform introduced by Google (pages 28-29), along with developing your own app (pages 32-33) and using Klout to manage your influence over your consumers and therefore your club’s reputation (page 31). By looking into new markets, and the opportunities this Olympic year will bring, 2012 looks to be an exciting time for the industry.
›› Long-term brands and relationships are built on alignment. In an extract from Seth Godin’s blog, here are some thoughts on where it works – and where it doesn’t. perfect relationship: I want your company to help me, and your company wants to help me. We’re both focused on helping the same person.
Where it works The Walmart relationship: I want the cheapest possible prices. Walmart wants to (and works hard to) give me the cheapest possible prices. That’s why there’s little comeback about customer service or employee respect ... the goals are aligned. The Apple relationship: I want Apple to be cool. Apple wants to be cool. That’s why there’s little contention over pricing,
obsolescence or disappointing developers. The search engine relationship (when it’s working): I want to find what I’m looking for. You want me to find what I’m looking for, regardless of the short-term income possibilities. The Mercedes relationship: I want a prestige product which reliably delivers an expensive label that’s unattainable to many. Mercedes want to reliably and consistently charge a lot for a car that sends a message to everyone else. The farmer’s market relationship: I want to eat sustainable foods that make me feel
good. You want to grow sustainable foods that make me feel good. Compare these to the ultimately doomed relationships (if not doomed, then tense) in which goals aren’t aligned; relationships where the brand took advantage of an opening but then grows out of the initial deal and wants to change it.
Where it doesn’t work The Dell relationship: I want a cheap, boring, reliable computer. Dell wants to make more profit. The trendy designer relationship: I want the new thing no one else has yet. You want to be around for years. The search engine relationship (when it doesn’t work): I want to find what I’m looking for. You want to distract me, and take money to send me places I actually don’t want to go. The reluctant purchaser relationship: I don’t want to waste money on something I don’t want. You want to make a commission. The young actor relationship: I want the fresh-faced young movie star. You want a career that lasts more than a year.
The typical media relationship: I want to see the shows. The media wants to interrupt with ads. Alignment isn’t something you say – it’s something you do. Alignment is demonstrated when you make the tough calls, when you see if the thing that matters the most to you is also the thing that matters the most to the other person. The tension that comes from misalignment can work for a while, but it’s when alignment kicks in that the enterprise really scales. fpb
© Seth Godin 2011. All rights reserved. For more information, visit www.sethgodin.com
Do you agree? Do relations between brands and their customers have to be ‘tense’ if they are not properly aligned, or does alignment always equal great enterprise? Email your thoughts to firstname.lastname@example.org
Getting involved in the legacy ›› With previous Olympic legacies such as Sydney’s falling short of their promise, Team GB is inviting the fitness industry to get involved to avoid health legacy failings of the past.
he lack of previous research into health legacies – or research which has indeed revealed no significant changes in activity levels – of former host nations, has spurred Team GB and Paralympics GB to launch their own initiative to ensure this is not the case for this year’s Olympics. So, how do we excite a nation? Or, more importantly, create a legacy from a once-ina-lifetime opportunity? While chief commercial officer of the British Olympic Association (BOA) Hugh Chambers asserts that this would involve getting people to feel a sense of attachment to the Games, this is often difficult given the elite nature of Olympic-level sport. Therefore, ‘Our Greatest Team’, with the tagline ‘900 athletes, 60 million strong’, is Team GB’s invitation to not only support the 550 Olympic and 350 Paralympic athletes but to make individual pledges to get involved in sport or activity. The initiative aims to encourage people to make a pledge to go to the gym at least twice a week, complete a triathlon or switch off the TV and go walking. The fitness industry, therefore, will have a pivotal part to play in bringing these pledges to life. However, as so often the danger with such resolutions is that the motivation will fade shortly after. Therefore, Team GB is enlisting the help of the industry
Rather than relying on individuals registering their pledges, facilities are being asked to sign up and drive the changes to provide long-term change. Rather than simply relying on individuals registering their pledges, operators are also being asked to sign up and help drive these changes within their communities. In the words of BOA director of elite sport Sir Clive Woodward, “There are 26 Olympic sports and 20 Paralympic sports all requiring fitness – which you can deliver in your facility”.
WIIFM? WIIFM – or What’s In It For Me? – is part of the scheme which promotes the involvement of facilities. Operators that
sign up will get a readymade marketing plan, along with free branding and web tools to link those individuals who make a pledge with the facility. And for every location that registers, they will also appear on a map, and be invited to make their own pledge – such as how many people they aim to get to join the campaign or how many activities are completed – which will go into a league table for the most active city. There will also be opportunities to reach more people, as this year’s Paralympics – which actually stands for ‘Parallel Olympics’ – will be the largest in history, with the hope that this will help break down the barriers to sports participation among those with disabilities. Then there are also initiatives to help motivate staff, as clubs can win places for their trainers to work in the athlete gyms at the Games, or for facilities to win equipment from the athlete’s village after the Games. It’s an attractive proposition when you consider that the likes of Usain Bolt would have taken the donated treadmill through its first paces. fpb
To register your facility or trainers with Our Greatest Team, visit www.technogym.com/london2012
education ›› Fitpro Business speaks to Virgin Active fitness training manager Nick Hudson about his experience of FitPro Convention and why he continues to invest in education. FPB: How long have you been attending FitPro Convention? NH: Since 2002. We took our largest team last year, around 120 staff, made up of a big mix of people: not just the trainers but group exercise instructors, fitness managers, members of head office and our kids’ offering managers. We take a broad look on the event, considering the whole breadth of the Convention calendar.
Our new staff get to see Michol Dalcourt live, performing the ViPR moves that he created
Michol Dalcourt in action at FitPro Convention
For session information visit www.fitpro.com/convention or to book email email@example.com or call +44 (0)20 8586 8636
FPB: What are your objectives in attending? NH: We want our fitness managers and trainers to see the cutting edge of the industry for their department, but equally the more serious business side, such as those sessions taken by Nic Jarvis and Bobby Cappuccio, as well as the more technical stuff by the likes of ViPR inventor Michol Dalcourt. We took a lot of staff in 2011 as we find that, every time we attend, we get a surprise that we weren’t expecting – such as a new presenter who I haven’t seen before who puts things in a different perspective; for example, John Berardi presented a couple of years ago and was a refreshing change from the usual ‘safe’ nutrition lecturers. FPB: How beneficial is the event to you and your team? NH: It’s very beneficial. We always enjoy it – as do those who haven’t been with us for very long, as they get to experience seeing a wide breadth of presenters. We’re almost spoiled for presenters, particularly for our newest staff as it’s a big thing for them. For example, we’ve had ViPR in our clubs for the past two years but, for the new people
who are joining, they get to see Michol Dalcourt live, performing the ViPR moves that he created. FPB: What is the main change you have seen in your staff who attend? NH: It’s hard to quantify of course, but I think you get to see a lot of things that are not taught on courses, or not taught well on courses. The major behaviour change is after seeing presenters like Nic Jarvis and Bobby Cappuccio – that is something big and hits home so powerfully for our teams; it’s certainly something they talk about for some time after the event. They talk about what they enjoyed and so more people hear about it and it grows every year. FPB: What other benefits do you get out of it other than education? NH: It is rare that management and staff have the opportunity to spend time together, as management typically have meetings together but PTs and group X instructors don’t generally get that opportunity. It’s good for them to socialise outside of work and also to meet instructors and trainers from other companies as well as meeting the lecturers and presenters face-to-face. FPB: Does it have a knock-on effect to your members? NH: What the trainers and instructors have learnt definitely does. It certainly helps that they come back to the club more motivated and with new skills to put into practice. It’s those who become more committed who make the difference. fpb
Successful negotiation ›› Tim Webster shares his tips for successful negotiation. Don’t lose out
Create a winning scenario
The key to a successful negotiation is to create a win-win situation, i.e., where both parties come out with what they want. Creating a losing scenario for the other guy may well give you some short-lived satisfaction but in the long run it will, more often than not, jump up and bite you.
Avoid aggression Learn the difference between being assertive and being aggressive. Being assertive means getting your point across while staying calm and demonstrating respect for the other party. Being aggressive usually means focusing on your own needs and bullying the other party in order to get them.
Aim high and be prepared to come down. In other words, build a little negotiating room into your starting position and assume the other person has done the same. But don’t let an experienced negotiator use the ground you have given as the starting point for the next phase of the negotiation: “I started at five you started at 10. You have very kindly agreed to drop to eight so let’s split the difference and settle on six and a half shall we?” You will end up on the losing side of a win-lose situation.
Listen A significant part of any successful negotiation involves the ability to listen. If there isn’t much listening going on, you can pretty much guarantee there’s even less understanding. Ask questions, find out as much as you can about what the other party wants, and your chances of getting what you want will increase exponentially.
Detach yourself Don’t get attached to the outcome. Last year we bought a house. We liked the place but we didn’t love it (we do now) and so we were prepared to walk away, and did a couple of times. We ended up paying considerably less than if we had been attached to it.
Concentrate on facts Try to strip out the emotion and concentrate on the facts. Much easier said than done at times, but in the vast majority of cases, the individual who can think clearly and remain detached from the situation is in a much stronger position than someone who lets his emotions cloud his judgment.
Don’t be intimidated We have a tendency to focus on our own worries and concerns but you can be sure that no matter how senior or powerful the other person may be, they will have their own issues. Nobody ever holds all the cards.
Be patient Focus Conventional wisdom says you shouldn’t give much away without getting something in return. That’s fine in principle but, in my experience, if you spend the whole time trying to even things up you’ll end up in a lose-lose situation. Focus on what is important to you, decide what you are prepared to give in return, and make the deal work from there.
Don’t let anyone rush you into making a decision. If you need time to think about a part of the deal, ask to be able to consider it or even consult on it before coming back to the table with the answer. fpb
Begin with retention in mind ›› Retention is usually only considered when attrition rates start to rise, but integrating these into new gym propositions should be the way forward, writes Guy Griffiths.
hen opening a new club, gym or studio, member retention is probably far from your mind. The business plan focuses on your unique selling points, marketing spend and sales projections. A clean new space with shiny equipment will keep members coming back for ever, right? If you also plan your retention strategy at this early stage, your business plan will be more accurate. Imagine the possibilities for your business if you have 100% retention after 12 months. You would be rewriting your business plan for growth rather than adapting it to stay open. Good member retention is a factor of many variables; you need the right staff, with the right attitude, effective systems, appropriate contracts and the right kind of members just for starters. Retention strategy is often broken down into three areas: initial journey, ongoing journey and then absenteeism.
ongoing journey. Be aware of how many members make it to four appointments and how you will act to help those who don’t.
Ongoing journey Now onto the bulk of your members. Firstly, identify those at risk of dropping out. There are several systems that help do this or you could develop your own to look at visit frequency, membership length and results, for example. Once you’ve identified who
Once a member has been absent for a few weeks, call, text, email or send them a taxi!
Initial journey The first few weeks or months of membership are key to retaining your members. Record initial interactions, whether they are inductions, check-ups, first reviews, etc. Make sure you and the member write down the reasons why they have joined and the progress they expect. If you have a record of all the first appointments, it should be simple to check how many of those members have had a second, third or fourth contact. Some more experienced members might not want appointment two or three, so consider making these optional. The fourth appointment could be the transition in your internal process where the member is no longer a new member but moves onto the
is at risk, you need to interact with them, ideally face to face or by phone to check their motivation and see if they need additional motivation or help to move towards their goals. Your goal is to try to stop them from going to the next stage.
Retention is hard to think about in the early lifecycle of a club – you hope everyone will join and stay forever. To quote motivational speaker Zig Ziglar, “Expect the best but prepare for the worst.” When people join, they don’t want to leave but, somewhere down the line, many will try to end their membership. If you help to change their minds, they’ll turn into your best promoters. fpb
Absenteeism Once a member has been absent for a few weeks, you have to use your best efforts to get them back. Call, text, email, use a mixture of communications or send them an energy drink, banana or taxi! Anything other than sitting and waiting for them to cancel.
Guy Griffiths works for GG Fit, an independent consultancy that helps clubs to focus on member retention by working with staff, systems and processes. www.ggfit.com or @ggfit on Twitter.
The complete group fitness system
›› Bringing science to sit-ups, the latest programme from group X leader Les Mills – CXWORX – brings personal training into the studio. fter achieving global dominance with pre-choreographed group fitness programmes such as BODYCOMBAT and BODYPUMP, Les Mills International (LMI) has looked to new formats for its latest group X release in CXWORX. Having established some of the world’s best known, most popular and most copied studio formats since the peak days of aerobics in the 80s, LMI devised a class that would plug into the second wave of small group training. CXWORX is the company’s first 30-minute class and, with its PT inspiration, reaches out to new markets looking for express or bolt-on classes, or those new to personal training (or, indeed, gym users new to the studio). Billed as ‘revolutionary core training’, CXWORX fuses core training, resistance work, functional fitness and group training, and is the result of scientific investigation. For existing Les Mills instructors and clubs, the lure lies in the authority of the programme’s design (the programme directors are Dan Cohen and Susan Trainor). For those new to the retention-busting suite of existing programmes, there’s an added access to new markets and the fusion of personal training opportunities with the social vibe of group X.
Scientific approach Results from research conducted by Dr Jinger Gottschall at Penn State University in 2011 showed that, when it comes to core conditioning, not all exercises were created equal. The integrated exercises in the programme – including wood chops, lunges, squats and floor exercises – load
the mechanisms that deliver athletic strength and movement control. This answers the suggestion that some core conditioning programmes don’t have enough functional carry-over to influence the way we stabilise our spine in life and during athletic activities.1 When we walk, muscles at the front, back and sides of our core co-ordinate their contraction to stabilise our trunk. This means that the dynamic exercises in the CXWORX programme which replicate this type of recruitment pattern provide us with the best type of functional strength. This has also been highlighted as a key component in reducing the incidence of injury.2 This is because the stabilising muscles work for sustained periods to support our alignment during daily tasks and athletic movements.
Programming Through targeted workshops, CXWORX features best-practice recommendations to give instructors the knowledge needed to manage group fitness programmes. A comprehensive range of free marketing resources supports the launch of each quarterly release as well as ‘bring a friend’ promotional material. The programme provides custom-built software that makes measuring and managing group fitness performance easy through simple tools to create effective timetables. CXWORX should be scheduled at least once every day, with the 30-minute format allowing for an ideal express class that can be added to any facility timetable and is perfectly suited for lunchtime slots or immediately after peak-time classes. Personal training enthusiasts seeking
the motivational benefits and results that come from group fitness will be the ideal market for CXWORX. fpb
For references, see www.fitpro.com/references
Betsy Mancine, group fitness manager, Fitness Revolution, Massachusetts, US Small group training (SGT) was limited at our club, so when Les Mills CXWORX came along, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to drive SGT and increase our revenue. We offered one free full-class demo and then members had the option of signing up for a month to add SGT to their membership. About 75% of people sign up for this package once they try CXWORX and our SGT classes are running at near capacity now. This class has acted as a springboard to get people into SGT and it’s drawing more attention as members see classes in action. The member feedback has been great. They really enjoy the personaltraining style and that they get more hands-on training.
To offer the latest revolution in core training get CXWORX™ by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or calling +44 (0)20 8586 8636.
for the industry
â€şâ€ş FIA CEO David Stalker discusses the opportunities for the industry in 2012, along with the issues that need to be addressed if we are to capitalise on these new markets.
irstly the good news: playing host to the biggest sporting event in the world next year is probably the greatest commercial and philanthropic opportunity we will ever have in our lifetime. I suspect that planning for this new market opportunity wasn’t top of many people’s agenda when we won the host nation title back in July 2005; however, I do suspect that it probably is now. From an industry perspective, it is an opportunity for us to crash through the 1214% market share glass ceiling evidenced in memberships, and demonstrate our relevance and value to the 50% of people who are not active enough to derive any health benefits. We also have the Department of Health promoting physical activity as a core element of their public health strategy, which according to health secretary Andrew Lansley is, “A radical plan to go further and faster in tackling today’s causes of premature death and illness and reduce health inequalities, with a public health service to make it happen … funding from the overall NHS budget will be ring-fenced for spending on public health – a recognition that prevention is better than cure. Early estimates suggest that current spend on areas that are likely to be the responsibility of Public Health England could be in the range of £4 billion.” This has also provided us with a green light to step outside the shadow of ‘12% fitness enthusiasts’ and enter a world where the emphasis is on prevention and the budgets are there for those who can prove that they could help the Government address their multi-billion pound problem. Let’s not also forget the Responsibility Deal as a catalyst which will allow us to sit at the top table with every single major food, drink, leisure and retail brand as an expert (as the ‘activity specialists’) and an equal. This has also included a number of pledges by the Physical Activity Network, including revised activity guidelines developed through the chief medical officer, promoting more active travel and activity in the workplace, along with tackling barriers to participation. And it gets better. Technology is evolving so fast that we now have mobile phone apps to help stimulate, motivate and excite exercisers and potential exercisers. There is also smart monitoring and analysis kit to tell us how successful (or unsuccessful)
we have been in adhering to our activity plans. Throw in an array of interactive multimedia technology and 2012 looks like the year that our industry will take a giant step forwards.
New markets, old problems? Although we do have the positive outlook which the 2012 Olympics/Paralympics and Government strategies have afforded us, there are still some issues that our sector needs to address, whether we choose to venture into these new markets or not. Namely, service and contracts. Despite a huge leap forwards in service since the days of the traditional golf or racquet club, can we really call ourselves a service-led sector? From the moment customers walk through our doors, are they faced by a smiling, welcoming, highly emphatic team? Is the service attentive, supportive and helpful – be it the membership sales team, the instructor team, the facilities/support team or even the management team? Even more compelling in terms of reaching out to new and untapped
According to Neil King, commercial director at Sports and Leisure Management, “The concept of membership contracts is quite old now. It stems from the old golf club mentality and was reinforced by sales trainers and business models of the 1980s.” However, for some, 12-month contracts are still more attractive than short-term ones. Creative Fitness Marketing CEO Dave Wright believes that contracts remain a viable option, as he says, “We need to focus on contracts being a good thing rather than a bad thing – if clubs support their clients all the way through and offer them engagement, then it’s worth their investment. If sold with integrity, contracts gain commitment and ensure people get results.” For me, the issue is not the length of the contract, but the intent behind it. If the 12-month contract is to tie someone into a guaranteed revenue stream and hope that they (a) do not use the service and/or (b) forget to cancel it, then I need say nothing more. But, if the contract underpins a more profound relationship between someone with hope and ambition and a specialist
Technology is evolving so fast that we now have apps to help stimulate, motivate and excite potential exercisers markets, is the question of whether we are welcoming to the inactive or those who don’t want to engage with us because we do not appear to offer anything relevant to them, particularly because our environment is perceived to be hostile or the service is deemed inappropriate. If we do not tick their boxes, then we need to amend our offers. Pay-as-you-go or flexible contracts are also a box we rarely tick but we have come to realise they should now, perhaps, be part of our offering to customers. Let us assume that every operator is honourable and has no intention of browbeating vulnerable consumers into entering a financial arrangement which they might regret at a later date, especially if their circumstances change. Are 12-month contracts designed for our benefit or for our users?
who can help them realise those ambitions, then the ball game changes. Think of the relationship between a lawyer and their client, where every act, every word, every thought is billable, and an architect who will quote for a job but will draft, redraft and keep redrafting until the client’s dream is realised. In the latter analogy, the value proposition is understood by both parties and the contract is no more than a formal agreement to work together. fpb
David Stalker is the CEO of the Fitness Industry Association. For more information about the work of the FIA, visit www.fia.org.uk
Specialist populations ›› With the Paralympics taking place in London next year, opening your club to specialist populations could be as rewarding as it is profitable. Fitpro Business looks at one of your greatest assets: personal training. d Kalkman was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease aged just 38. A doctor himself, he had seen many patients with the disease and knew that the main symptoms were stiffness, slowness and tremors. Ed has always been physically active – taking part in boxing and rowing when he was younger – but now exercise has taken on added importance. “In neurological conditions, if you don’t exercise then you regress into a state of incapacity,” says Ed. “I definitely feel a big difference when I exercise and when I don’t. I have always been dipping in and out of exercise as a way of self-treatment – from stretching at home, to going to the gym and cycle rides.”
and then back as you step. We also do a lot of sideways movements as they make for an extra challenge to your balance and core strength.”
Personalised approach However, it is also important for clubs and trainers to take a personalised approach to working with patients or exercise referrals. As Ed points out,
Rehabilitating in the gym It is only since working with a personal trainer, Mishan Aubeeluk, and with equipment at the gym, such as the functional training tool ViPR™, that Ed has seen vast improvements. “One of the big problems with Parkinson’s is that your posture is very poor and affects one side more than the other. The one-to-one attention and continuous nagging about my posture – and what I need to do and move to correct it – is extremely useful. Since training with Mishan, my walking has improved immensely and my balance is a lot better. “I had never seen ViPR before Mishan first exhausted me with it! It’s helped mobilise my shoulders and we use it a lot for balance, for instance in lunging forward and pushing ViPR away,
Training PTs to listen to clients and inform them about the role of personal training, their clients, style and background, is therefore a good way of developing a relationship before the member tries them out. Mishan, who is also a Pilates and Les Mills trainer, had experience in rehabilitation training, mostly working with people who have had knee or hip reconstruction, but had never trained anyone with Parkinson’s. Therefore, communication and personalisation have been vital in establishing a good working relationship.
Photography by Sport England
some diseases such as Parkinson’s can affect people in very different ways. “A friend who has Parkinson’s can still run whereas I couldn’t run for 500m. Because medication is given in the form of tablets, it means the levels in the blood can fluctuate, so the symptoms fluctuate as well. Rather than a trainer working with one individual and thinking they know what that person can and can’t do, it’s important they realise that what is possible one day may be impossible the next.”
Another benefit of training specialist populations is staff retention. Mishan admits that an element of the training is trial and error, and he has learnt to adjust to what suits his client best. This has also involved comparing notes with Ed’s physiotherapist to ensure he is on the best possible programme, which has renewed his interest in personal training. He adds, “It is definitely something that will keep me interested in personal training for longer, to be working with someone with different challenges and goals. It’s not just dealing with a client who wants to lose weight, so it keeps you fresh and gives you the desire to go and learn new things.” fpb
Personal trainers looking to work with specialist populations need to be qualified at Level 3. For more information on ViPR, email email@example.com
Spa offerings in the gym ›› As the concept of wellness becomes ever more prevalent within our busy, modern lives, a spa offering can combine relaxation and reward with a profitable business.
nce a club has a mature solid membership, there are few opportunities to increase spend levels. While the obvious areas are personal training, food and beverages, the addition of a spa and treatment rooms creates additional revenue streams with minimal investment, creating a secondary spend for members in treatment and retail revenue.
After a £250,000 investment for a conversion and fit out, the spa yielded £750,000 revenue for the club, in an area that was previously under used Additional revenue Typically, a single treatment room can generate between £50,000 and £75,000 plus, in addition to 25% in product sales. A large-scale model would then include five treatment rooms, manicure and pedicure, and relaxation areas – usually a Sensory Spa in Bannatyne’s health clubs would have this type of configuration. However, a spa can be introduced on a much smaller scale, set up within a small space, and the club will have areas such as pool changing areas, which can also be used for spa guests. Adding a
treatment facility can therefore be achieved in dead spaces such as basements, store rooms with no windows or redundant areas of the building, to provide an added return. For example, after a £250,000 investment for a conversion and fit out, the spa yielded £750,000 revenue for one such club, in an area that was previously under used.
One-stop shop Many gyms have a small rehabilitation area within the club and these can also be developed to encompass spa treatments during different times of the day. This provides customers with another reason to be a member, with a one-stop shop approach. The growth of the treatments market in leisure is therefore being made with clients moving from high street salon businesses to their leisure club, for convenience. As membership retention is key for many clubs, using spas as a perk can also be a useful addition to their retention strategy. For example, massages could be offered for free or at a reduced rate to promote membership. Nirvana Spa at Pulse 8 is one such model, using a points scheme to reward membership which can be redeemed on spa treatments and products. Member incentives such as these can provide value on membership without discounting and devaluing the overall brand and the club. Furthermore, promoting the idea of non-members using the facility for single treatments to catch their interest in the rest of the leisure offering is a good soft sales approach and data capture tool. fpb
Alistair Johnson is an expert in developing spa operations in clubs. He has many clients in the leisure sector and is recognised as a leading spa designer in the UK and Europe. www.spacreators.co.uk
Wellness ›› Although the concept of wellness is often mentioned in the same breath as health and fitness, the term still largely remains unclear. International wellness coach Fiona Cosgrove explains how it can fit into the club. o address the potential synergies between wellness coaching and the club environment we need first to explain that wellness coaching, as a service, is separate and distinct from fitness coaching – and therein lies a major opportunity. Dr Tim Anstiss, medical director at The Academy for Health Coaching Applied Well-being, says, “Over time, fitness instructors will evolve into health coaches. People may still need instructing in fitness but more important still is the art and science of guiding people towards sustained behaviour and lifestyle change, which will help them achieve their goals. “Fortunately, we know a lot about how to activate and empower people, how to tap into and strengthen a person’s internal motivation, and build their confidence about changing and staying changed. Of all the approaches I’ve looked at for helping people change, the most powerful by far is motivational interviewing – which is why we are being asked to deliver more and more of this training based in health and well-being coaching.”
What is wellness? In the club context, wellness encompasses areas such as fitness, nutrition, weight control, stress management and health-related behaviours, for example smoking cessation. The role of the coach is to facilitate change in one or more of these areas. There are three basic components to this process, which can be integrated into a club, or even alongside other ‘wellness’ offerings such as spa or health treatment areas. 1. Creating a vision The coach does this by helping the client to design a vision of where they would like to be in terms of their health and well-being – a picture of their ‘best self’ if you like. The
most important part of creating this vision is to make a list of reasons why the client wants to change. For example: ■ What will losing weight, getting fitter or handling stress do for them? ■ What else will it enable them to do? ■ What else could they change around them? ■ What will other people think, say and do? These questions help the client to develop a picture of their future and it creates a hint of possibilities far beyond the outcome they may have originally thought of. 2. Changing behaviours Together, the coach and client work out what behaviours the client is willing to adopt. The coach then helps the client to move through the various stages of change and will look at any obstacles that might get in the way and develop some strategies to overcome them. The coach will also help the client to identify their own strengths in order that they can be leveraged in the change process. 3. Formulating a plan The coach will then help the client to design a three-month plan that is broken down into weekly stages with appropriate goals. The client is accountable to their coach for what they do every week. But the coach also acts as a sounding board that enables the client to reflect on their progress, and to help them make any changes that are necessary. The client will also learn to identify certain thought patterns that work against them and substitute new, positive ways of thinking.
Future or fad? The assertion by Dr Anstiss of the move from fitness to health coaching has already begun in some clubs. Melanie Menzies, formerly health and fitness manager
Over time, fitness instructors will evolve into health coaches. More important still is the art of guiding people towards sustained behaviour change and now health and well-being manager of North Lanarkshire Leisure says, “We have 13 sites with a remit to oversee cardiac programmes, exercise referrals and smoking cessation. My post was also created with a move towards wellness, which I can definitely see a shift towards”. Although there is not one official qualification in wellness, Menzies adds that many wellness professionals are often qualified at REPs Level 4 in psychology or physiology, or in counselling. She also sees it as a good business approach by pooling together resources and has already seen the support of health boards as there is a sense that it relieves the pressure off them, adding: “I think there is such a narrow range of people who use our facilities as a lot of people feel disconnected with the gym, it’s not a natural part of life for them as it is to us, so if we can show them that it’s not just about sweaty muscle-bound fanatics we can appeal to more people”. fpb
Fiona Cosgrove is the director of Wellness Coaching Australia and a lecturer at RMIT University Melbourne. For more information, visit www.wellnesscoachingaustralia.com.au
Niche markets ›› Although martial arts may not be everyone’s cup of tea, it has fast become a global trend in fitness. Fitpro Business discusses the benefits of taking a niche sport to the mainstream.
ixed martial arts (MMA), a blend of combat sports such as wrestling, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and kick-boxing, is one of the fastest growing sports – even to rival that of boxing. Thanks to the success of the Ultimate Fighting Championships, or UFC, and the elite training regimes of its fighters, it has begun to attract a worldwide audience which has also transcended into fitness. MMA specialist and developer of Ultimate Fighting Fitness, MMA for fitness professionals, Richard Brewin, says, “With the ever increasing popularity of the sport more and more people want to train like their favourite fighters, so many traditional martial arts clubs are now offering MMA training. Not only do people want to learn the moves of these modern day warriors, but also follow their fitness and training regimes. The men and women who take part in this tough sport are some of the fittest athletes around, which people are starting to aspire to”. And it’s not just martial arts clubs that are picking up on the trend, as new leisure operators are beginning to follow suit. Stars Gym, which launched in June 2011, is one such club which has incorporated MMA into its fitness offering. Since opening, the independent gym has already attracted over 120 full-time members with nearly 100 more opting for pay-as-you-go usage. Director Richard Coates says, “The emphasis is on four strands of health and fitness: cardiovascular, strength and conditioning, well-being and fitness through martial arts. Our aim is to provide something that will suit everyone who walks through the door, so we split our marketing into segmented markets. Classes range from high-intensity martial arts sessions from Thai boxing world champion Mati Parks, and three-time ladies Muay Thai world champion Alexis Rufus, to prenatal and beginner yoga classes with highly respected instructors”. Combined with the latest technology such as integrated iPads on the wall where members can look up training tips online, the club also has a very different design and concept based around martial arts, which has made them a unique proposition in a crowded London market place. While catering for different markets is a strong selling point for Stars Gym, they have found getting the basics of good service right is still a principal part of their business. “Part of the
membership process involves each prospective member informing us why they decided to join. Members have revealed the reason has been the reception and encouragement they received from staff when they came to look around. We therefore make service a priority to ensure that this view continues once the member has signed up,” adds Coates. “We’ve found that industrial-scale facilities offering 24-hour availability with minimal contact with staff doesn’t foster a sense of sociability – a key motivator for many uncommitted exercisers – and providing access to exercise facilities does not guarantee their use. We therefore launched Stars Gym because we want the emphasis to be on the individual and the community that is created through the gym.” These sentiments are echoed across the pond, as senior vice president of US-based UFC GYM Adam Sedlack comments, “To me, success is measured by the customer and the community around your facilities. After opening our first location, we realised there was a demand to diversify our offerings to target not just the typical UFC fan, but women and youths as well”. Much like Stars Gym, as UFC continued to grow, Mark Mastrov and Jim Rowley, founders of New Evolution Ventures (NeV) and long-time UFC fans, saw the demand and the potential to offer the innovative training techniques of these athletes to the traditional fitness consumer. “Not only does mixed martial arts bring incredible physical benefits, it also adds an intense, empowering, yet fun aspect to working out, all of which are provided at each and every UFC GYM,” says Sedlack. However, this has not been without its challenges, as he adds, “The challenges we face are driven by the fact that the traditional fitness customer perceives UFC GYM as a fight club, although this couldn’t be further from the truth as we offer an array of programming for the entire family and every fitness level. We have close to a 50% male/female ratio and the average club houses 450 youth members under the age of 12”. Yet UFC GYM has become a great extension of the UFC brand, reaching not only the UFC fan, but every fitness enthusiast. “We are seeing people get into the best shape of their lives while their self-confidence improves, positive mental attitude changes, and overall outlook on life gets better as a result of what they are learning within the four walls of a UFC GYM.
We realised there was a demand to target not just the typical UFC fan, but women and youths as well
“Our initial business model didn’t focus on youth programming and ancillary sales such as retail or merchandise, so these are the areas where we’ve seen the most expansion. We’ve also leveraged the UFC brand appeal to increase our retail presence by offering authentic apparel, branded merchandise and a café. It’s these brand identifiers that build awareness in our communities and beyond,” says Sedlack. “My belief is that it’s not necessary to go after a certain ‘niche’ to be successful. You can take a great idea and make your operating system accessible to everyone. That’s how I feel about the UFC GYM and every company that has passionate leaders and team members that truly make up the brand.” fpb
Adam Sedlack’s six tips for starting in a niche market
Establish what you are going to be great at and do not compromise
Develop your brand association
Listen to your customers and your team
Learn the power of social media
Engage your community
Never have secrets and always be transparent
For more information on Ultimate Fighting Fitness, MMA for fitness professionals, contact firstname.lastname@example.org
The power of play ›› While the concept of play has long been adopted in fitness for children, the industry is now learning of the benefits for adults, writes Robert Cappuccio. he consulting group Deloitte asserts that only 48% of people in the UK exercise enough to meet the Government’s recommended exercise target of 150 minutes weekly. However, according to Deloitte, if the number of people that exercised could grow to figures approaching two-thirds of the population it could, in effect, reduce sick leave by 2,783,808 days per year. Deloitte partner Adrian Balcombe says that, “A population more motivated to exercise could boost revenues for health club and leisure centre operators, employers would see increased productivity through reduced absenteeism, and people would enjoy a healthier lifestyle with reduced risk of illness.” The reality is that many people simply will not exercise. However, they will spend more money at the pub over the course of 30 days than the cost of a modest health club membership. Why? Because the pub is fun and it makes them feel good. Visiting the pub three or more nights per week may not be goal achieving, but it is without question, tension relieving. The health club on the other hand, for most people, is anything but. The gym is perceived by many to be hard, time consuming and a strain on their self-esteem. Given an individual’s self-concept, the perception they have of exercise, its demands on the body and the demands they fear their trainer will place on them, is stressful. The solution, if we want to involve more people in exercise, is that we need to get serious about being frivolous. Many fitness professionals look down on the notion of fun and games in the fitness centre because they feel it’s a distraction from the hard work and discipline required
for the achievement of one’s fitness goals. In terms of our impact on society, not to mention the expansion of the fitness market, that approach is not working. In truth, what sabotages an individual’s fitness goals has more to do with who they believe they are not; not disciplined, not strong, not able to resist the temptation of the next cigarette/pint/helping of pudding, and the beat goes on. The incorporation of play and fun in the fitness centre may well be one element of creating an environment where members want to be; crossing the chasm between exercise being something they have to do, and toward something they get to do. The pragmatism of play goes beyond merely enhancing the allure of exercise. It can reduce stress and belly fat by lowering the stress hormone cortisol. It can mitigate pain through the release of endorphins. It boosts immunity and there’s evidence it can help prevent heart disease. Laughter through play also involves our pleasure centres in the brain, which means it elevates dopamine, which is involved in voluntary movement, motivation and attention – factors that are somewhat useful in a training programme. Fear is among the most prevalent reasons people refrain from making important life decisions; decisions on the life they lead, the work they do, who they share their lives with and decisions about their health. For many of our clients, especially the novice, fear is a seemingly insurmountable obstacle standing between them and the attainment of their fitness goals. However, play and laughter not only decreases the fear and anxiety associated with exercise, the effect of lowering stress hormones and activating the reward pathways in the brain can increase the likelihood of it becoming a repetitive behaviour pattern. Small group sessions involving play can also be a great way to enhance social bonding, and the more people out on the floor having a good time, the greater the social cues to others in the facility encouraging them to do the same. Exercise adherence is a pervasive problem in our industry. And while fun and games isn’t a replacement for sound exercise science and programming rationale, it’s a seamless integration. The greater the intensity, frequency and consistency at which fun is incorporated into an exercise programme, the greater the probability that a client will go from being an individual who almost succeeds to a life-long exerciser. fpb
Integrating play Hula hooping The fact that hula hoops are a staple of children’s activities is easily observed, but few instructors are aware of the opportunities hooping offers to adult fitness. In my classes, hula hoopers can range from four to 75 years of age. Hula hooping is a feel-good activity and a popular class for those who find conventional cardio exercises too serious or high impact. Incorporating basic aerobic moves while spinning the hoop provides the client with an excellent cardio workout while working on core strength. Hooping is also a good way to build stamina; starting with simple aerobic moves and hoop spins, then slowly progressing to more complex moves. Hooping can be easily adapted as a conditioning class. While the main focus is spinning the hoop around the waist and toning the abs, other moves, such as spinning the hoop in your hands above the head, will condition the arm muscles, especially the biceps. Sasha Kenney, Hoola Nation founder
Performance dance In a one-hour class, I spend 45 minutes teaching prepared choreography and increasing members’ heart rates to give a good workout, with the final 10 minutes of the session spent with them performing their hearts out. I usually start by setting the scene and getting the class into character, by telling the class that they are all backing dancers, for example. I teach the choreography based on blocks, so in an hour’s class I can comfortably get through 2 x 32 counts. In the performance section, this will translate into one verse and one chorus. Once I’ve taught the choreography, I divide the group into two so each side can perform to the other. This is a wonderful way to create a great vibe and energy in the class. I’ve often seen huge changes in personality among class members as they enjoy their moment on centre stage. As a way of creating marketing around the classes, I often film the performance to upload to my website or YouTube later. Nikki Riozzi, senior dance instructor
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
Wattbike roup cycling has been one of the few consistent offerings in gyms over the last 20 years. Improved equipment and new music may come and go, but the basis of a session remains the same; an instructor leading a group of riders, all of whom are performing the same session, at the same level, at the same time. The sport of cycling in the UK has seen an incredible turnaround â€“ where gaining a single Olympic medal of any colour used to be cause for big celebrations, now there is sheer disappointment at achieving anything other than the top step of the podium. In the 1990s, the organisation behind this success, British Cycling, realised
that a change was needed so began the process of developing new training methods, seeking out the best equipment, and bringing in exceptional levels of coaching expertise. A significant element of this change was the acknowledgment that a one-size-fits-all approach to training was failing to produce the results that were expected, or indeed required, so they set about focusing on training methods that were specific to the individual athlete. In 2000, Peter Keen, then performance director of British Cycling, recognised that the same methods of high-quality, individualised training could be used by any person seeking to make great gains in their own fitness and performance
levels while also reducing their training time. However, it required an indoor training bike with the authentic feel of riding a road bike, as well as one that could accurately monitor performance data. Born out of eight years of research and development with British Cycling, the Wattbike allows the individual to use the same modern training techniques used by elite athletes. The evolution of this partnership between British Cycling and Wattbike is the launch of Power Cycling, the health and fitness industryâ€™s key to tapping into the success and popularity of cycling, opening up opportunities to create a larger, more loyal membership.
ns What can Power Cycling bring to your gym? Power Cycling allows each individual in a class to exercise at their optimal intensity to produce the exact fitness improvement desired. Each member cycles according to their own personal training zones, based on power, heart rate and cadence, to ensure maximum performance gains.
Power Cycling is not about how much you sweat, but about getting the most out of each turn of the pedals to ensure that individual goals are met in a fun and encouraging group environment. Power Cycling solves the problem of having a range of varying levels of fitness and cycling abilities in a class, and provides instructors and members with the ability to accurately track and monitor fitness gains. The Wattbike is an integral part of the Power Cycling experience, delivering real-time performance data with an unrivalled level of accuracy. During the class, a large screen displays all the members’ live performance data, including heart rate, cadence, power and speed via the Power Cycling software. The software also allows instructors to archive member data from all sessions and provides individuals with an illustrative history of their workouts. There’s nothing better than being able to deliver the good news to a member that their training has ultimately made them fitter and stronger, and have the proof to show them – that is great for member retention. And we’re not just talking about fitness gains from Power Cycling. One of the great features of the Wattbike is the ability to improve cycling technique via its unique Polar View, which illustrates where the
rider is losing power as they pedal. Given that Power Cycling also feels like riding a real bike, from riding position, to gearing and right through to the freewheel, you can deliver what is simply the best and most effective indoor cycle training experience for your members. Combine the individual performance gains, technique improvements, ability to
train in a group (and at a member’s own fitness level) on the best indoor training bike in the business, and you quickly see why Power Cycling is being billed as ‘The evolution of indoor cycling’. While Power Cycling is attractive to a wide range of people, your existing members will benefit from new indoor cycling activities and a structured training programme, which is sure to increase member retention. Furthermore, the opportunities for Power Cycling to attract new members to clubs are endless. The fast-growing cycling and triathlon communities have yet to find a place they can call home when it comes to indoor training, so Power Cycling is seen as a huge opportunity for health and fitness clubs to become the training and social hub for sporting clubs. British Cycling also knows a thing or two about cycling, having identified and nurtured the likes of Sir Chris Hoy, Victoria Pendleton and, most recently, Mark Cavendish to world and Olympic titles. They’ve endorsed the Wattbike since 2008 and are now backing Power Cycling as the solution to providing an authentic link between indoor and outdoor cycling. With over 1,500 affiliated clubs across the UK, there is an opportunity for health and fitness clubs to convert cyclists into members by offering a credible indoor
Cycling and triathlon communities have yet to find a place they can call home, so Power Cycling is seen as a huge opportunity to become the training and social hub cycling experience, a structured training programme through Power Cycling, and a clear pathway to participation with the support of British Cycling. Power Cycling also provides the opportunity to establish a cycling community within your club. Power Cycling instructors are encouraged to become British Cycling ride leaders, which means they’ll be able to organise and deliver not just the indoor cycle training classes, but also provide a link to outdoor cycling too, where performance and technique gains can be taken out onto the road. Your club then becomes the focal point and base for training throughout the year, all backed up by British Cycling’s extensive benefits and network of volunteers. With over 13 million people now regularly cycling across the UK, there is a huge opportunity for the health and fitness industry to benefit from the increased profile of the sport. As the 2012 Olympic Games approach, this profile will only increase as Team GB look to dominate the field, just as they did in Beijing, creating a new wave of interest in the sport. Discussions about the legacy from London 2012 are commonplace, but the groundwork from the industry needs to be laid now. As for a sport such as cycling, the surge in interest is already happening. Power Cycling is your key to unlocking the opportunities that lie ahead. › Website: http://wattbike.com/uk Contact: +44(0)1159 455 454 or email@example.com
Equipment solutions Human Trainer Most trainers will only ever scrape the surface of what’s possible on equipment in the gym, partly because they don’t undergo proper training but mostly because they fail to keep up to date with ongoing programming. Suspension training is one such concept where the buzz is riding high but the programming is sinking fast. An endless array of trainers doing the staple four or five exercises – single leg lunge, chest press, row, rear deltoid fly, plank tucks – it’s hardly sending the motivation level of clients through the roof week after a week. Adding a kettlebell or set of dumbells to the same exercises doesn’t count as revolutionary either. Physical Company’s new Human Trainer comes with a versatility not found in any other suspension gym. The reason being is that it features a dual anchor system, providing an even bodyweight distribution between the two straps, delivering a safer and more
reliable workout. Exercises such as chin-ups and pull-ups are now possible, and quicker transitions between exercises occur as the straps have five different anchor heights that don’t require changing at any time, unless you want to. The straps are also designed to be kept out of the way when performing exercises such as a chest press and chest fly, meaning no more neck friction. Everything is better with the benefit of hindsight. Look at newer versions of iPhones and iPads. Changes are made to upgrade, improve and build on. The Human Trainer has the benefit of tapping into the huge market for suspension fitness training but learning from the inherent drawbacks discovered by earlier competitors in the field. Programming matrices, ideas and a complete exercise library are delivered by comprehensive REPs-accredited one-day training and follow-up workshops. Online content is also available to keep the ideas flowing beyond the six-month mark.
The kit is only ever as good as your programming. Be creative, step outside the box and reap the benefits with more clients, more money and a reputation that has you standing out from the rest. For upcoming course dates on the Human Trainer with national master trainer George Anderson, contact Physical Company. fpb Website: www.physicalcompany.co.uk Contact: +44 (0)1494 769 222
Google+ ›› With many industries finally cottoning on to the use of Facebook and Twitter to enhance their business, there is now a new contender online in the form of Google+. Lucy Johnson explores its social networking potential.
ou may have noticed the buttons appearing all over the web. Slowly but surely, the Facebook ‘f’ and the blue Twitter bird have all been joined by a little ‘+1’. But what does it mean? The Google +1 button is probably the most visible aspect of Google’s new Google+ social networking platform. With its creators realising it can no longer function in its own self-imposed vacuum, Google has had to get with the social networking programme.
Better than Facebook and Twitter?
Google+ took only 24 days to soar to 20 million users. Twitter and Facebook both took around three years to reach the same number
Lucy Johnson is a former international fitness presenter and manager, who now teaches personal trainers and health clubs how to get more clients with better marketing. For more information, visit www.fullybookedformula.com
After an initial 90-day limited trial period, during which only a select invited few could build their Google+ account, the service has now been released to the public. Google+ took only 24 days to soar to 20 million users. According to breakingnewsworld.net, Twitter and Facebook both took around three years to reach the same number of users, taking 1,035 and 1,152 days respectively. So, what’s the point of yet another social networking site? Sure, Google doesn’t want to lose the battle between the social networking giants but, in a strategic move that rivals the heyday of Silicon Valley, Google+ is far more than merely a social networking site. Designed with all the features of Facebook and Twitter, it has the tools for users to easily manage friends without the restrictions of a ‘list’. It allows: online chat in groups (Facebook only allows single chats); the use of a mobile device to text and chat, a feature that supports not only Windows but Mac and Linux too; users to share their location; users to ‘like’ something using the now infamous ‘+1’ button. It also maintains privacy via
sophisticated privacy settings. Furthermore, the Google+ interfaces for Circles, Hangouts and Huddles are trendy without being juvenile.
Business implications By developing features that encourage users to engage in more meaningful interaction, Google+ may have discovered a way for businesses to fine-tune their target markets. Google is already a master at targeting online advertising to certain demographics. With Google+ adding social networking to the mix, advertisers with fewer marketing pounds to spend can further fine-tune their advertising campaigns and get more out of their marketing efforts. Google+ Circles are currently considered one of the most inviting features for businesses. From your Circles, you can market efficiently and consistently. The idea behind Google+ Circles is that you may not want to communicate with all of your friends each and every time you send out or read messages. For instance, you want to let a select few know that you’re testing a new fat loss method or class that is different from the one you already have on the market, but you don’t necessarily want your existing customers/ clients to know about the new product just yet. With Google+ Circles, you can choose who to keep in the loop and who to keep in the dark (for now). Google+ isn’t merely an online hangout: it’s a way for businesses and individuals to engage in what we could call ‘smart networking’. Google has always been an informational portal to the web. Combining the power of information with people information can ensure that Google and tools like Google+ and Google Places become a one-stop shop for everything on the web. fpb
Getting started Web
To set up your account, look for the “+ YOU” button located in the top left-hand corner of www.google.co.uk
You then need to set up your Circles. 1. Determine which categories you will need. Google+ provides users with a few pre-designed Circles. You will probably need more than what’s already there. Depending on who you want to communicate with, you may want to consider creating the following category Circles to start with. Notice how these target a specific group of people.
Once you have selected your categories, you can then drag and drop contacts into your circles.
2. Design your messages to target a specific group. In business, you certainly want to make sure that your message targets not just anyone and everyone, but exactly who you want it to target. To that end, you have the following options to consider when posting messages to your Circles … A. B. C. D.
Private message: visible only to the person/people you specify Public: available to anyone with access to Google+ Individual Circles: visible only to people you have added to a specific Circle Extended Circles: visible to the people in the Circle you’ve targeted and to the people in their Circles.
Test clients 2
Google+ components Circles: Circles are another name for friend groups. Although most social networking sites allow users to create a list of friends, only Google+ encourages users to categorise those friends. In other words, just as you have a circle of friends at work or at home, you can use the Google’s Circles feature to divvy up the people you know into manageable groups. From a business standpoint, this feature is invaluable. Use Circles to create groups categorised by clients, potential clients, lapsed clients, suppliers, peers and more. Hangouts: Hangouts are user-created video chats. Use your Circles groups to invite other Google+ users to chat about your business. Hangouts offer added flexibility because the people you invite can also invite some of their friends to the chat. A great way to take advantage of word-ofmouth marketing. Huddles: Just like Hangouts, Huddles are a way for Google+ users to network in real time. With Huddles, you invite other Google+ users in your Circles to chat via text messaging. With this feature, Google+ has basically given users the ability to create their own chat room anytime, anywhere.
›› A cunning use of statistics, or a meaningful way to engage with your clients? Ruth Bushi takes a look at Klout.
lout (http://klout.com), with its fashionably misspelled branding, is a relatively new contender to the online scene. It aims to track an individual’s social activity across multiple and distinct sites such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and even Wordpress, and identify influencers through a Klout score. The social aspect of the Klout score is clever in its own right: it serves to ‘validate’ users of social media and reward popularity. So in theory, the more online savvy you are, the higher your score. Whether the prestige of a high Klout score is something that users buy into remains to be seen, but corporate campaigns have been quick to jump into the breach. And, in the rapidly shifting online canvas, that’s understandable: being at the leading edge of a new trend is a regular occurrence yet rare opportunity for most brands.
The numbers The Klout score, a figure between 1 and 100, reflects your ability to drive the actions of others, and does so through three aspects:1 ■ True reach: How many people you influence ■ Amplification: How many people you influence; how many repost or respond to your messages ■ Network: The level of influence your influencers have By linking Klout to your social networks, you give permission for the service to access your chosen social accounts. The algorithm then looks at the activity of those accounts, such as the number of followers, posts, likes and so on, claiming to discount spam and dead links.
How much clout does Klout have? Klout has seemingly come out of nowhere to piggyback – rather cleverly – on existing
social media sites, and to cash in on notions of popularity and influence. Having launched in San Francisco in 2007, Klout already features in the social marketing campaigns of some very influential brands. On landing at www.facebook.com/audi, users are invited to calculate their own Klout score. The page has a back-end scale, set by the page owner, which allows users to receive a tailored response depending on their score. For those identified as influencers, with scores above a particular threshold, the pay-off includes freebies, offers and even a test drive opportunity. In October 2011, a “more accurate, transparent” scoring mechanism was revealed by Klout;2 but as many users found their scores inexplicably plunging, the backlash (through Twitter, of course) was swift and angry. While some have likened the Klout scoring mechanism to a daily horoscope in credibility and value, others in the US have placed more faith in it. Mathew Ingam, blogging about the new scoring mechanism at Giga.com, remarks that, “One of the most popular comments said that Klout was used by some companies for job searches, as well as employee performance reviews and other similar purposes, and that the company’s changes could affect people’s livelihoods”.3
What’s in it for you? If your business has a Facebook page, you may like to explore what the Klout app (developed by Involver) can do for you. Yet it’s not without its issues; FitPro endeavoured to use the Klout mechanism for a campaign to entice influencers of its annual FitPro Convention in late 2011, but technical problems with the app meant that we ended up creating our own campaign based on principles of influence and identifying influencers ourselves. Whether it’s Klout or your own
endeavour, the principle above all is a sound one, and mirrors the work of global brands such as Disney Pixar who match their clout with those of online influencers. In April 2011 they invited YouTuber Alex Day to the studio in Los Angeles ahead of the release of Cars 2, putting it in the stream of his Nerimon channel’s 12 million views. Now … that’s clout. fpb
For references, see www.fitpro.com/references
Ruth Bushi is publishing and social media manager for FitPro Ltd. www.fitpro.com
An aptitude for apps ›› The app industry is one of the fastest growing in the world: recent estimates put its worldwide value at over £10 million. Fitpro Business looks at two fitness apps that made it to the market.
xploring new methods of increasing your company profile and managing your existing business is crucial in today’s economy. You also need to be open-minded when it comes to the web, as this is the market to which people are turning. Indeed, the number of online platforms – iPhones, iPads, PCs, smartphones and kindles – is rising, a trend which shows no sign of abating. Personal trainer and creator of fitness app iP.T Dean Schaffer says, “The app industry is one of the fastest growing in the world and it’s an exciting time to develop your own app”. He created his own fitness app after finding a gap in the market and an opportunity to develop his own niche product, which he says is also vital in what is fast becoming a crowded market place. “My own decision to create an app was largely based on how suffocated I felt by paperwork – no matter how efficient the filing system, it was still far too much paperwork for me to manage effectively. The app I created is a database app called iP.T, which allows personal trainers and gym staff to manage all their client information, including their workout schedules, from one central and easily accessible hub.” Despite ours being a fast-paced industry, you must be prepared for the time taken in the design process, which can take several months from idea generation to final approval stage. As Schaffer says, “Developing your own app requires lots of research and is a lengthy process. I began by thoroughly developing my ideas and
produced a flowchart of how I wanted the app to appear – such as what would appear on each screen and what I wanted to include in the menu. From there I began working with a designer who helped me to visualise what I wanted the app to look like, how it would operate and how a user would navigate around it”. One of the most important aspects of the process is deciding on which platform to launch your app. You may have a personal preference but you should look into all popular platforms such as Android, BlackBerry, Windows and iPhone as each one is built differently, each with its own development cost. However, if you want to reach the masses you will have to consider launching an app on all four platforms. “The important thing to remember during the development stages is to keep it simple. If it’s easy to navigate, then chances are you’re onto a winner,” says Schaffer. “I approached an Apple conversant programmer who developed the app, as at this stage I was developing an iPad-only app. During the development process, it is vital that you are very thorough and ensure you use a solicitor to create
contracts, which all of your development team must sign. This is imperative so that you retain ownership and control of your own product. “An Apple developer will then need to test the app to ensure that it is suitable and meets all the appropriate guidelines before you submit the finished product to Apple. From this point, it generally takes between one to five weeks for approval before your app is ready to hit the App Store,” adds Schaffer. FitApp founder Rob Scriven agrees: “When approaching development companies, take time to shop around and be aware that going for the cheapest option isn’t always the best approach. Targeting companies that have already produced similar apps should make the process easier but always be sure to protect yourself and your information. I used a popular outsourcing website that enables you to reach thousands of companies worldwide and acts as a middleman protecting both parties”. Scriven, who developed FitApp to allow users to perform a series of fitness tests and track their progress in the comfort
of their own home or in conjunction with a PT, also advises, “If you are thinking of creating an app you should do your research and protect your idea. Once you’re ready to start the development process, make sure your developer understands your project fully and keep in regular contact. My project started off as a simple fitness app and has now evolved into a powerful fitness tool.” He also asserts that the best way to make your app a success is to come up with an original concept. “Any good app must start with a unique idea. Before you start spending your marketing budget on developing your idea, you must ask yourself whether there is a need for it. Be aware that the market is flooded with thousands of apps, all with useful features which may do the same job.” fpb
Tips for App creation
ow well do you know your clients – or more H specifically – what they are looking for in a mobile application? Take the time to do some research to identify your target audience’s needs and wants. Try and think of something that doesn’t already exist to get an edge over other apps.
Consider what devices you will get your app made for: Android, iPhone, Blackberry or all of the above – as the most successful apps cater for all devices. Remember you’re designing for touch interaction.
The primary focus should be ease of use, so that anyone can look at it and quickly understand how to use it.
Make sure people will want to keep using it, every day if possible.
Include handy tips or a Twitter integration so that people can gain information from you.
Do you really need a ready-installed app? Could a web app be more suitable for your business? It is much cheaper and your clients could save it to their home screen.
Useful websites: http://blog.mobileroadie.com/2010/01/web-apps-vs-native-apps/ http://mashable.com/2010/07/07/designing-mobile-apps/ (See www.fitpro.com/references for more)
Top sites for creating your App online: http://www.swebapps.com http://appbreeder.com/ http://www.zoho.com/creator/lp/custom-web-application-development.html http://seattleclouds.com
Club marketing trends ›› Adrian Marks explores the nine club marketing trends that can provide explosive business growth.
lthough the simplicity of club marketing hasn’t changed much in the last 25 years, the way in which customers and prospects engage with your fitness business has altered dramatically – no more so than in the last three years. Your potential members can now choose how they receive your marketing messages and, with most online media, they even have the ability to switch them on and off at will. This will gather pace over the next 12 months as the triumvirate of internet marketing, mobile media and social networking entwines itself further into our daily activities. Current club marketing trends, and those for the foreseeable future, are centred on these three areas.
Research suggests a shift in purchasing habits towards low cost or premium pricing. You need to move your club pricing away from this middle ground – and fast
1 Get them to ‘opt in’ Fortunately, at the moment your club benefits from being – for the most part – a membership-based business, giving you a head start over the many industries trying to build an opt-in, ‘me too’ culture. Members are the ultimate in ‘permission-based’ marketing. With the ever-increasing deluge of daily marketing messages, ensuring you build a list of advocates who agree and are happy and expectant to receive your marketing, sales and retention messages is essential.
2 Create good-quality connections The initial rush over the last 24 months via Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter to get as many ‘friends’, ‘followers’ and ‘likes’ as possible will be replaced by a more focused approach. This will be to create good-quality connections with people who are loyal, interested and happy to advocate your business. Nurturing and educating these advocates will reap far greater rewards than if you stick with the current trend of just trying to increase the numbers.
3 Get filming Web video will play a major part in online marketing strategies over the next 12 months. Using web video for inductions, club tours and even PT instruction programmes will keep people on your website longer as they watch (rather than read), helping your club to stand out from every other website.
4 Information marketing is king Never before has information marketing been so important. With more clubs, gyms and centres having little to differentiate themselves in terms of service, facilities and equipment, this year will be a year where those who cultivate their position as the definitive source for information, advice and counsel will gain the most rewards. Position yourself as an expert. One premium health club chain for example now has a 12-step education programme that all members go through in their first few weeks of membership. They have also created an intensive online education resource in relation to nutritional advice, training and fitness guidance, which stretches to over 400 web pages. This online resource allows
individuals to record and track their calorie intake and weight loss/gains.
5 Get out of the middle Research suggests a permanent shift in UK purchasing habits towards low cost or premium pricing. The trend, started by the economic downturn, will continue as these behavioural changes become imbedded in our daily lifestyle and, ultimately, our choices. You either need to move your club pricing away from this middle ground or differentiate yourself quite dramatically – and fast.
6 The only way is ethics According to the July 2011 GoodBrand Insight Report Series, highly ethical consumers make up 19% of the UK population and this group is growing in size and growing rapidly. They have a strong interest in how a business behaves in relation to such areas as society, its customers and its local community. These highly ethical consumers are also highly affluent (over 66% are ABC1s) and are prepared to pay to match their ethical views – the dramatic sales growth of premium-priced brands such as innocent drinks are testament to this. The perception of how you interact with your community, customers and suppliers will play a big part in deciding how you ‘get out of the middle’ (see point 5).
7 Don’t miss out on the gold rush Email marketing is still the most cost-effective way of acquiring and retaining members, customers and clients. For those members opting in to receive emails, 2011 has seen an increase in open rates, responses and purchases. However, new research shows that consumers will accept no more than two to three relevant messages from any industry, sector or group, so getting there first will be half the battle. The reason for this resurrection is the advancement of the software involved in the sending, monitoring and reporting of email messages. Software can now adjust the frequency of sending, segment recipients so targeting is more
effective, and filter and cleanse databases more easily. Costs have also dropped dramatically. Your goal should be to capture the email address of every single person who contacts you or walks into your club, and then cultivate a relationship with them through email, direct mail and 1-2-1 communications.
8 Go web centric A massive 87% of all consumer purchase enquiries now start on the web – and the vast majority of those are either through Google or Facebook. This trend will continue to grow. Every element of your marketing (both on and offline) should therefore be focused on driving your prospects to an online resource (i.e., your website). Facebook, Twitter, display ads, LinkedIn, voucher sites, email, Pay Per Click, search marketing and mobile media will become all the more prevalent over the coming year. They should all be used as part of your web-centric approach to drive potential members to your website. Done correctly, your website becomes the sales funnel for your whole business.
9 Don’t live without e-commerce This is an area where the club and fitness industry lags behind nearly every other consumer-based industry. Buying memberships online seemed an alien concept to the industry a few years ago but the arrival of budget clubs has changed all that. They provide a clear indication that consumers are happy to purchase memberships and personal training online. Not providing a ‘Buy now’ button will cost your club or fitness business hundreds of members every year. Other marketing trends such as Facebook advertising, Google remarketing and mobile apps are worth investing some time and money in, but concentrating the majority of your efforts on the nine key trends above will provide unprecedented returns for those who get it right. ›
Adrian Marks is managing partner at enjoy!, the UK’s biggest fitness marketing agency, and founder of the SME business growth website www.AdrianMarks.com
Studio 360 Fitness ›› Fitpro Business speaks to Karl Renata, managing director of the recently opened Studio 360 Fitness, to see if key marketing trends outlined by Adrian Marks are being considered by new gym propositions.
tudio 360 Fitness in Billericay, Essex is primarily a membershipbased gym, offering a standard monthly membership fee of £49.99 for unlimited use of the facilities and classes. They also work on a rolling 30-day contract basis, believing that their members will want to be members each month, rather than because they are tied into a lengthy contract, and offer pay-as-you-go options for those wanting more flexibility. FPB: How much of your initial strategy included web-based marketing? KR: Our marketing strategy was to target local businesses, residents and commuters as all are within walking distance of the facility. We used social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter to advertise our new facility and spread the word. We posted regularly, updating members and followers on how building works were progressing and encouraged them to come to the site for a tour. We also carried out a Facebook advertising campaign which specifically targeted the Billericay area. FPB: Do you use video content? KR: We have posted photos of the facility and classes, but in the near future we will be adding video to our website, Facebook and YouTube. We will use them to show the facilities and all classes on offer. FPB: How frequently do you use email marketing? KR: The only email marketing campaign we have launched so far is to those email addresses that were obtained during our launch competition. The email consists of a special offer to entice the recipient to the club with the goal of converting that into a membership.
FPB: Do you offer expert advice through your website or emails? KR: We answer individual questions via email from members and non-members, but do not have a web-based programme specifically for this. In the future we may look to have a form of online personal training, perhaps with payment for each video or a monthly subscription. FPB: Can customers buy their memberships online and how do you drive people to your website? KR: Currently customers cannot buy memberships online but once the brand and our website is more established, we will look into the prospect of online sign-ups. We drive people to our website by including our address on all marketing and promotional information, as well as newspaper adverts and billboards we have had displayed locally. We have registered with Google Places so we appear in a Google search of gyms in Billericay. In the future we may turn to website optimisation
to increase our profile on Google and other search engines. FPB: Do you consider Studio 360 to be an ethical or ‘green’ gym? KR: We believe we are a community-based gym and strive to make our gym a club where people interact with other members and staff, and become friends with the people they meet here. When designing the gym we thought about being environmentally efficient and this factor did play a part in the equipment we chose. The only pieces of equipment in the gym that require electricity are our treadmills. In addition, all our lighting is energy saving and the lighting in the changing rooms is on a timer so switches off when not in use. In the future we aim to become more environmentally friendly by increasing our recycling percentage, decreasing wastage and perhaps looking to more efficient energy sources such as solar power. fpb
Maximise your marketing and pitch your products directly to Fitpro Business readers: 路 Key decision-makers 路 Club managers 路 Fitness professionals To place your advert, email firstname.lastname@example.org or phone +44 (0)20 8586 8649
Times are changing he conundrum with health club memberships has always been that we’re offering a service that everyone can benefit from but very few want long term. Most individuals enter into a membership at a point of heightened emotion; they start on a programme and then over time stop using it as their emotional driver dwindles. In turn, the ebb and flow of membership revenues poses a difficult challenge for club operators who have fixed operational costs associated with running a consistent business. It’s extremely challenging to forecast cost, facility investments and appropriate customer service levels when your cash flows aren’t consistent. Long-term contracts were a mechanism to solve this issue. However, for all the benefit contracts brought in terms of steady cash flow, they’ve since become the largest negative aspect associated with health clubs. That the issue of contracts has escalated to a point where it is no longer acceptable business practice from a legal standpoint is less a matter of legal constraint and more indicative of the consensus of the consumer. However, it offers us an opportunity to reposition the membership experience from a more meaningful customer perspective. Although the resulting shift to shorterterm membership plans is a painful migration for some club companies, it has been done successfully (see www.active4less.com) and will ultimately pay off long-term dividends. The shorter plans accomplish two important things in a consumer’s health club experience. The first is improved member satisfaction. Clubs under the auspices of short-term membership plans gravitate towards a strong customercentric service plan. Keeping the member happy is essential when they’re no longer committing to you, so you have to commit to them. The second is empowerment. It’s the age of the informed consumer. They want to be validated and empowered to make
›› Moving away from long-term contracts and instead into expanded markets makes it an exciting time for the industry, writes Kevin Laferriere.
decisions, the most important of which is to come and go as they please along with spending their money as they determine. The other resulting factor is that club operators are now aggressively looking for new channels of business to offset losses. Differentiation and increasing programme offerings are critical evolutions in this highly competitive environment. Diversification in services appeals to a wider demographic of future potential customers. In addition, it creates new buying opportunities for existing members. It is an exciting time for the industry. The financial climate and era of the informed consumer is forcing a greater pace of change. And the majority of the change is centred on the consumer. Historically, our industry has placed a lot of its focus on facilities, equipment and new member sales techniques. Now that the spotlight has swung to the customer, the market place needs to do a better job of understanding their needs, support mechanisms and limiting factors – especially if it is to attract more users. A prime example is the budget operators who have broadened the appeal of the gym by reducing a barrier to entry via affordable memberships. For those operators who are not shifting to the low-cost model, the expansion of new customer centres, such as including senior programming, spas and cafés within the club, will undoubtedly entice more non-traditional exercisers to get involved. The explosion of new programming and education also helps to keep the industry fresh, fun and cast a larger consumer web. fpb
Kevin Laferriere was previously president of Lifestyle Family Fitness, ranked as a top 10 health club chain by IHRSA, and co-owner of several Gold’s gyms. He is now CEO at PTA Global (www.ptaglobal.com).
For the benefit contracts brought in terms of steady cash flow, they’ve become the largest negative associated with health clubs
If you’d like to express your own views on the industry, email email@example.com