PerformX Live 2023 exceeded all expectations with 2 days full of education, workouts, networking and more. Here are our 9 hottest takeaways that you NEED to know about.

Unstoppable gym owners and fitness professionals showed up in force for the first big fitness event of 2023. Even with huge strike disruption!

Highly anticipated, PerformX Live 2023 mixed insightful talks, panels, and workshops, with workouts. As well as a showcase of the latest in technology, innovations and experiences that will drive our industry forward.

We had the pleasure of welcoming many of the industry’s finest to the Xplor Refuel Lounge. Across the two days – 17 and 18 March – you drank over 1,000 coffees, lovingly served by the Aroma Baristas team. Thanks to everyone who joined us for a coffee (or a beer thanks to our partners Independent Gyms UK & Ireland and Prime Time Lager)!

It was a busy event with so many fantastic things to see and people to meet. And for many the train strikes made getting to London an impossible task. So that you don’t miss a thing, we’ve put together our top 9 sizzling hot takeaways for gym owners and operators.

Hot take #1: It’s all about wellbeing

This was a recurring topic of conversation throughout the event. While traditionally the health & fitness industry has been very focused on physical activity, that’s changing fast.

PerformX Live played host to ukactive Sweat. This event for independent and boutique owners and operators, took over the PerformX stage for the first morning of PerformX.

The ukactive Sweat opening keynote was delivered by inspiring trainer, author, and presenter, Laura Hoggins. Laura covered the latest industry trends and highlighted the shift towards health and wellbeing over the last year.

This came up again in the Unlocking Your Competitive Edge Through Innovation, Sustainability, And Business Development panel. Also, part of the ukactive Sweat content stream. This panel was hosted by GGFit Founder and leading authority on retention, Guy Griffiths. On a mission to help people be healthier and happier by spreading the word on retention tactics that work, Guy was the perfect host for this session.

Guy was joined by 4 expert panellists: Joanna Seldon from Nuffield Health, Charlton Clarke from Les Mills UK, Toby Robins from the British Association for Sustainable Sport (BASIS), and Xplor’s own Dave Alstead.

The panel discussed the move in industry focus to wellbeing. Including the need to educate consumers to empower them to move, eat, and recover effectively. And how working closer with healthcare providers and clinicians presents a big opportunity. That is, so long as we can adequately prove our impact and demonstrate the social return on investment of working together.

The shift in focus towards wellbeing was also a topic discussed during The Mindset of a CEO session. Ollie Marchon and George Heaton took to the Main Stage on day 2 of PerformX for this must-see session.

Ollie Marchon is an ex-professional athlete, turned strength coach. And owner of the massively successful specialist small group training facility, and online training platform, MARCHON. George Heaton is one of the founders of Represent, a leading British luxury fashion label. During the event, Ollie and George dropped their new clothing line collaboration. Which was exclusively for the PerformX audience.

The uplifting pair were asked for their views on the future of fitness. Ollie talked about his athlete 2.0 concept. He explained that today’s consumers are more educated than ever and want to explore what they can do away from training in the gym. Consumers want to reduce stress and feel healthier, while learning to move well. This is a key reason for the rising popularity of functional fitness.

Both Ollie and George touched on the importance of recovery. And shared their personal approaches with advice for others. George explained the need to recover hard, he prioritises sleep, gets in a sauna session 4-5 times a week, and even naps on the weekend.

Ollie also protects his sleep, as well as paying attention to nutrition – both what he eats and when. He also recovers using hot and cold exposure, having invested in a home ice bath and sauna.

Learnings for gym owners & operators

  • Find ways to teach your members how to move, eat, and recover better
  • Partner with local healthcare providers and find ways to make an impact on patient care – both preventative and curative
  • Help your members take advantage of functional fitness training to ready them for movement in everyday life
  • Look at ways you could help members recover better. That could be through nutrition support. Or classes that focus on relaxation. Or adding features like ice baths and saunas to your facility

Hot take #2: Live & breathe your values

Ollie Marchon and George Heaton also provided some valuable advice on what’s made both their businesses so successful. They live their values and bring them into their businesses. It’s easy to succumb to the influence of social media. But it’s important to find your own path in business.

Be hyperaware of trends. And always consider what complements your brand and business before making changes. To really keep your business authentic to your values, you should pay attention to who you recruit. Hire the right people, who will build on your unique style and vision.

The importance of creating a value proposition that you can live by was also a topic discussed during the Unlocking Your Competitive Edge Through Innovation, Sustainability, And Business Development panel. Toby Robins, Partnership Director at BASIS, highlighted that people want to buy from brands that share their values. And fitness businesses should use education to bring their values to life and inspire community support.

The importance of living and breathing your values was reiterated by Dave Alstead, Head of Strategic Account Management at Xplor. Dave shared that many of our most successful customers of all shapes and sizes, have a clear value proposition. And they operate according to it.

 Learnings for gym owners & operators

  • Create a clear value proposition for your business
  • Use your value proposition to guide every aspect of your business, including hiring
  • Find ways to showcase your values to engage and inspire your target community

Hot take #3: Help solve inactivity with emotional storytelling

The World Health Organisation (WHO) published its Global Status Report on Physical Activity 2022 in October last year. This report was the first to highlight the high cost of physical inactivity globally. If governments don’t take urgent action to encourage more physical activity, almost 500 million people across the world will develop noncommunicable diseases by 2030. Costing US$27 million a year.

The fitness & wellbeing industry is committed to helping the solve the inactivity crisis. And with this in mind industry legend, Dave Wright, the Creator & CEO of Myzone and member of the ukactive board of directors, asked an important question during The Ultimate Mindset Interview on day 2.

Dave interviewed entrepreneur, speaker, investor, and BBC Dragons Den star, Steven Bartlett. A massive draw for PerformX, this standing room only interview was inspiring and entertaining in equal measure thanks to Dave’s unique style. He asked Steven for his advice to the fitness industry on how we can get more people active to solve this crisis.

Steven shared that the answer would be in telling the story the right way to inspire people. He explained the need to tell a story with emotion to grab people’s attention rather than giving facts and figures alone. The industry needs to inspire people to feel something to avoid becoming ‘wallpaper’ that’s instinctively ignored.

Learnings for gym owners & operators

  • To help play your part in solving the inactivity crisis, while growing your business, consider how you use storytelling in your marketing
  • Inspire your community with stories of those who’ve benefited from becoming more active in a way that will evoke emotion

Hot take #4: Use Facebook Ads to grow

Want to grow your fitness business? Facebook Ads can help you build a steady flow of leads. Charlie Horton, Marketing Director at the Fitness Marketing Agency (FMA) took over the PerformX Stage in the afternoon of day 1 to share what’s working when it comes to advertising on Facebook.

FMA is the leading marketing agency for fitness business owners looking to grow. Charlie’s session was one of three from the agency – all were must attends for gym owners, aspiring gym owners, and personal trainers. As FMA are the experts in digital marketing for fitness, this session was invaluable.

Charlie shared that Facebook Ads are an effective way to capture contact details to create a steady flow of leads to follow up on. To really take advantage of these leads, you need the right sales follow up approach and a scalable system to follow up with leads fast.

The secret to generating leads via Facebook Ads (and elsewhere) is to quickly show prospects why they need your business. Charlie explained that it’s most effective to run many small campaigns and really tailor the messaging of your ad to the audience your targeting.

To resonate with your audience, an ad must be the total package – messaging and relatable imagery. It needs to give prospects the answer to their problem.

Learnings for gym owners & operators

  • Use Facebook Ads to build a steady stream of leads – and then effectively follow up with those leads to make sales
  • Run small, targeted campaigns to specific subsets of your audience. And make sure you tailor the ads accordingly. Both your copy and imagery. So, you show prospects what’s in it for them when they choose your business

Hot take #5: Mindset matters when opening a gym

During The Mindset of a CEO session, Ollie Marchon shared advice for any aspiring gym owners out in the audience. Advice to help new gym owners achieve the phenomenal success that MARCHON has achieved.

Ollie told any PTs and coaches in the audience that when you’re looking to open a gym or studio to create a space for your community, there’s no right or wrong way to do it. Everyone’s journey will be different. And the first step should come down to factors like your attitude to risk, network, previous experience in an out of the fitness industry, who and what you’re inspired by, and your self-confidence.

He shared that a key element in the success of your business will be your mindset. You need to have the mindset that your club will be successful and then put in the hard work to make it a success. Keep showing up and use the resources you have to make your club a success. Your mindset will determine how successfully you use the resources at your disposal.

Learnings for (aspiring) gym owners & operators

  • When starting a gym, fitness club or studio, there’s no one size fits all approach to success. Determine your first step by looking at the resources available to you – external and personal
  • Adopt a mindset that you’ll be successful. And then put in the work to get there. Keep showing up

Hot take #6: Tech can help engage members

Want to increase member engagement? Technology can help. This was a topic covered in the Technology & Gamification CEOs panel that took place as part of ukactive Sweat on day 1. The panel brought together an outstanding group of technology leaders including David Stalker from Myzone, Andy Hall from Brand Xchange, and David Birch from Endurance Zone.

Tech topics covered included how clubs should use the wealth of data at their fingertips today to create personalised, engaging experiences for members. Such experiences can be the key to getting members to visit more frequently.

Use tech, like gym management software, that makes it easier to turn your data into personalised experiences. Deliver the basics well while using tech to achieve unparalleled levels of operational excellence.

Still in its early days, gamification can boost engagement too. An easy entry point into gamification for gyms and fitness clubs are fitness challenges. Engage members at all levels of their fitness and wellbeing journeys with gamified challenges. Then provide relevant, appealing rewards to build community and supercharge engagement.

Learnings for gym owners & operators

  • The wealth of data at your disposal can be used to create personalised, engaging experiences – tech will help you achieve this
  • Use gamified challenges, and appealing rewards, to build community and engage members

Hot take #7: Desire for meaningful connections is an opportunity

During Dave Wright’s Ultimate Mindset Interview with Steven Bartlett, Steven spoke to the importance of meaningful connections in today’s highly digital world. The Campaign to End Loneliness shared findings from ONS data showing that 3.3 million people in Britain were chronically lonely between December 2021 and February 2022.

Steven shared that more people than ever have no one they could rely on in a crisis. Yet connection is an essential need. Fitness businesses who can create strong communities and forge meaningful connections amongst members will be able to take advantage of the opportunity this presents.

Learnings for gym owners & operators

  • Find ways to foster lasting connections between your members, and create a strong community feel. You’ll be able to harness the business opportunity this presents too

Hot take #8: Fear of failure never goes away

You’d think that with the success that the likes of George Heaton and Ollie Marchon have achieved the fear of failure would go away. That’s not the case as the pair discussed during The Mindset of a CEO session.

George and Ollie were asked how they deal with the fear of rejection that comes with living so publicly and running businesses. Ollie shared that you must be of the mindset that you’ve experienced rejection before. So, you can grow from it and deal with it more effectively.

Use it as a catalyst for growth. Not everyone has to like you, your business won’t be right for everyone. George added that you need to keep fearing the next thing and using that to progress forward. Fear gets bigger as the stakes do, so you need to learn to harness it.

Ollie also explained that while you need a level of savage to succeed in the industry, you need to be careful not to get caught up. Balance ambition against the need to protect yourself from burnout.

Recognise you can put your foot on the pedal and go faster, but you can also slow down. Keep your head where your feet are, stay in your own lane, and don’t compare yourself to others.

Learnings for gym owners & operators

  • Use fear of failure and rejection to fuel your progress. Balance ambition with the need to avoid burnout
  • You can’t appeal to everyone, keep focused on your target audience

Hot take #9: Delegating is key to moving from start-up to scale-up

Want to move from start-up to scale-up? During The Ultimate Mindset Interview, Dave Wright asked Steven Bartlett his advice for any fitness business owners looking to do just that.

Steven shared that as his businesses have grown, the key has been to find the right people. Consider what you are exceptional at. Then delegate everything else to others who can do those jobs better than you.

As a business owner you need to be able to trust those in your team if you want to succeed without getting in your own way. Steven also shared the importance of loving work during this session and his 4 principles for doing this:

  1. Have a sense of forward motion – you need to feel like you’re progressing
  2. Have a sense of challenge – you need the right level of challenge
  3. Have the right people around you – surround yourself with those you enjoy working with
  4. Have a goal that’s subjectively worthwhile to you

 Learnings for gym owners & operators

  • You need the right team around you to move from start-up to scale-up
  • Learn to trust your team, delegate, and hire people who can do a better job than you could in key areas of your business

Bring on PerformX Live 2024!

Those are our top 9 sizzling hot takeaways from PerformX Live 2023 for gym owners and operators. Did we miss anything?

We’ve left this year’s event feeling more inspired and motivated about our industry. We’re refreshed and revitalised for the year ahead and we hope you are too. We can’t wait to do it all again in 2024!

See our fitness club management software in action – book a demo today.

Article by Xplor Gym

First published: 23 March 2023

Last updated: 02 February 2024