Embracing digital is a game-changer – even for independent gyms

It’s time to address weaknesses that could lead to failures. And amplify strengths to maximise gains across your business. How? By embracing digital technologies to save time, reduce costs, challenge complication, build competitive advantage, and delight members.

Digital. Digital transformation. Digitisation. Ever feel like these are overused buzzwords that only really apply to big businesses? You wouldn’t be alone.

But, setting buzzwords aside, embracing digital is now essential for all gym businesses. From independent startups to big name chains, it can be the key to surviving and thriving. Today. Tomorrow. And into the future.

You’re probably already using digital in some way. And the time has come to take complete advantage of the benefits digital offers.

Save time and money. Reduce complication. Build a competitive edge. React faster to opportunities. Plus, most importantly, meet and exceed member expectations with cutting-edge experiences.

Let’s get stuck in and look beyond the buzzwords!

Step into the future.

Keep ahead of the crowd and delight members. Invest in gym management software that gives you everything you need to succeed.

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Best of both worlds

People are at the heart of the fitness industry. It’s an industry built by people, for people. Passionate people who want to help others realise the benefits of getting fitter and living healthier, happier lives.

Running a people-centric business, it’s natural to be hesitant to embrace digital. It’s a change after all, disrupting established ways of doing business.

Yet, embracing digital will help you do better for people – both your members and your staff. Successful businesses are blending the best of the traditional ways of doing business and new technologies. Creating fitness experiences that are more personal than ever.

47% – Digital Experimenter

Fact

Digital maturity measures how well you can create value using digital technologies. Fitness operators currently have an average digital maturity score of 47%. So, we’re at ‘digital experimenter’ level.

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5 reasons to embrace digital

The good news is that digital technologies are now accessible to businesses of all sizes. Let’s take a look at the key reasons why you should embrace digital in 2024.

Reason 1: Improve efficiency

There’s lots to do when running a gym. By using tech to embrace gym automation, you’ll cut down on manual, time-consuming tasks, reduce errors, and improve productivity.

Reason 2: Gain competitive advantage

Digital technologies can help you understand member behaviour, streamline operations, and improve decision-making.

And this can give you competitive advantage over other gyms in your area. Especially if you’re located near to bigger chains who tend to be digitally advanced.

More sites = higher average digital maturity score

Fact

Bigger chains better use digital to achieve value than independents and smaller chains. ukactive found that digital maturity scores are higher on average for operators with more sites. Those with 1-5 sites scored 45% on average (digital experimenter level). Whereas, those with 51+ sites scored 64% on average (digitally established level).

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Reason 3: Reduce costs

Operating costs have grown over the past couple of years. So, reducing the cost of running your business can make a big impact on your bottom line. Embracing digital can help you streamline processes. Cutting the cost of manual work and improving productivity.

Operational savings

Fact

88% of operators say they made at least some operational savings through the use of digital.

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Reason 4: Increase agility

When you embrace digital tech, it’s easier to embrace change. The right solutions make it easier to adapt quickly to industry changes and member needs. So, you won’t get left behind.

Reason 5: Meet (and exceed) consumer expectations

Arguably this is the biggest reason to embrace digital tech. To meet evolved consumer expectations.

Members now expect seamless experiences across many channels – online and in-person. And personalised, tailored experiences. This has become the norm with many other types of businesses.

15.1% of UK population holds a gym membership

Fact

To attract and keep the other 85%, the experience of being a gym member must match up to consumer experiences with other types of subscriptions.

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Case study: Tesco

The experiences your members get with other businesses set expectations for their experience with you.

The grocery retail market is a fantastic example of how digital is being used to create an omnichannel experience – one that’s seamless and unified no matter which channel a consumer uses.

Tesco has used digital technologies to dominate the UK grocery retail market. The brand currently holds a 27.4% market share – it’s the biggest supermarket chain in the UK.

Tesco continues to innovate to create seamless omnichannel experiences:

  • Connects online and physical – availability has always been a top priority for the brand. When Tesco first offered online shopping, orders were fulfilled via instore picking. Pickers reported out of stock items, helping stores to restock faster. Beneficial for both those shopping online and instore!
  • Personalised customer experiences – Tesco Clubcard is one of the most iconic store card schemes and over 20 million Brits now have one. Tesco gets a wealth of data about shopper behaviour online and offline. Card holders get a smoother shopping experience and personalised recommendations. Plus access to exclusive price offers
  • Offers convenience and reduced barriers to sale – Tesco Clubcard makes the move to shopping online for the first time easier for instore shoppers. Straight away they can add items they’d often buy instore to their online shopping trolley. This reduces overwhelm, making it easier to find and buy items needed

Better health & fitness experiences

How can digital technologies power better member experiences? In all these ways and more:

  • Personalisation – one size does not fit all, that’s especially true when it comes to health and fitness. From marketing, to programming, to in-person interactions, digital technologies make it easier to give members a relevant experience. One that meets their needs and interests all the time
  • Speed – digital technologies can reduce the need to wait around in queues. From self-service bookings online to unmanned access control, members can do what they want to faster thanks to digital solutions
  • Convenience – traditionally a gym membership could only be use when visiting a club in-person. Thanks to digital technologies, a membership can now be something that’s available wherever a member goes. From on-demand classes to digital training programmes and workouts, make your brand the one of choice for every workout
  • Motivation – you and your team motivate members on to success. Digital tech can enhance your efforts. Celebrating milestones reached, sending timely reminders, and more
  • Connection – building a community in and around your club creates connection that can reduce attrition risk. Digital technologies can enhance community. Digital can let members connect; interacting with one another and sharing experiences

Digital is already here

Digital transformation and digital maturity may seem like something for big operators. Yet, even the smallest gyms and fitness clubs are likely already using digital in some way.

For example:

  • Online joining and bookings
  • Customer service via social media, messaging apps, and email
  • Collecting membership payments via Direct Debit
  • On-demand classes and workouts
  • Marketing via email, SMS, social media and search engines
  • Online fitness communities via social media and apps
  • Smart gym equipment that connects to wearables
  • Gamification via tech like MyZone

How to embrace digital

Already embracing digital technologies? Or just getting started? Either way, it’s worth taking time to build a bigger digital strategy. One that informs how you make use of tech.

“A strategy for digital that is integrated into an operator’s overall business strategy brings immense value. It aligns digital initiatives with business objectives, provides a competitive advantage, enhances customer engagement, drives operational efficiency, fosters agility, and promotes data-driven decision-making.”

David Gerrish, ukactiveDigital Futures 2023 Report

1. See how you measure up

Completing the Digital Futures survey is a great starting point. It’ll help you see how well you’re already using digital technologies. And arm you with personalised feedback to help you develop your digital strategy.

2. Decide what you want to achieve

There’s a lot you can achieve by embracing digital technologies. Avoid overwhelm and overload, by creating clear goals and objectives. Use these to guide your efforts.

For example, do you want to increase efficiency and save time? Or do you want to improve the experience your members get?

3. Review your current systems and processes

Ask yourself questions like:

  • What software are you using?
  • Do you have a customer relationship management system (CRM)?
  • What marketing tools are you using?
  • How are you managing member payments?
  • How are you handling access control?
  • Do you have a website?
  • How do members sign up?
  • Do you have a member app?
  • Is the gym equipment in your club compatible with digital technologies?
  • What tasks are you and your team completing manually on a regular basis (e.g., daily, weekly, monthly)?

The 2023 Digital Futures report found that:

  • 36% of operators collect data consistently without duplication
  • 32% of operators actively maintain an up-to-date customer database

Choose software that is an all-in-one solution that easily integrates with other technologies.

This will make it easier to manage your member data. Keeping it up-to-date and avoiding duplication. So, you power better member experiences and informed decision making too.

4. Select the right opportunities

Armed with this information, focus on introducing the technologies that will best help you achieve your goals. Change is an investment, one that can open up new opportunities for your business.

Organise training for your team in any new systems you introduce. This will help you build a more resilient and adaptable team.

5. Measure and track progress

Finally, make sure you set metric and key performance indicator targets for goals you’ve set. This will help you see how you’re progressing and the impact your investments are having.

When it comes to embracing digital technologies, one size doesn’t always fit all. So, keep testing and learning to see what changes are making the biggest positive impact on your business. Make changes as needed.

Secure success now & for the future

The right gym management software is essential to securing the success of your business now and for whatever the future holds. Software like Xplor Gym.

Xplor Gym keeps you ahead of the crowd with a fast, easy-to-use gym management solution. And as an all-in-one solution, Xplor Gym gives you exactly what you need. So, you can save time, engage members, and grow your business.

You’ll get a single view of each prospect and member with your CRM, membership payments, access control, sales & joining, bookings, and more, in one place.

Plus, create the member experience you want for your business with easy integrations. And the tools you need to create customised integrations now and in the future. So, you’ll never feel restricted.

When you embark on your digital journey with Xplor Gym, you get all the benefits of working with a big business. Reliable, robust tech. Continuous innovation. Support as you grow.

And, best of all, an experienced UK-based team that’s as passionate about your business as you are. Always there to help and cheer you on!

The wrap up…

Even the smallest of gyms and fitness clubs are looking beyond the buzzwords and embracing digital technologies. Successful businesses blend the best of new technologies and the best of traditional ways of operating. Always putting people at the centre.

Embracing digital brings serious benefits. Tech can improve efficiency, provide competitive advantages, reduce costs, and increase agility. And most importantly, it helps you meet and exceed member expectations.

Expectations have changed. Other industries have raised the bar. Creating seamless experiences that fuse together digital and in-person interactions.

Good news! You’re probably already using digital technologies in some way. To move to the next level, start by setting goals. And carefully introduce digital technologies to power your business forward into the future.

The right tech can help you address weaknesses that could lead to failures. While amplifying strengths to achieve lasting growth.

See how Xplor Gym can help you embrace the power of digital throughout your business. Book a demo now.

Article by Xplor Gym

First published: 12 February 2024

Last updated: 08 February 2024