PerformX Live 2024 exceeded all expectations with 2 days full of education-packed masterclasses, lively discussion panels, valuable networking, and more. Get the 9 hottest takeaways that you NEED to know about.

Gym owners and operators showed up in force for the first big fitness event of 2024. Billed as ‘unmissable’, PerformX Live 2024 was anything but ‘missable’!

The must-attend event included inspirational masterclasses from leading experts. And the chance to experience the latest innovations in equipment, tech, and training. Plus, loads of opportunities to network with like-minded peers.

We welcomed so many of those in attendance to the Xplor Space bar. Across the two days – 21 and 22 March – you drank almost 1,000 coffees served by our expert baristas. Thanks to everyone who joined us for a coffee (or a cocktail on Thursday afternoon!).

One thing’s for sure, it was a busy event with so much to see and so many people to meet. And we know not everyone could spare the time to get to London for the event. So, we’ve put together 9 sizzling hot takeaways for gym owners and operators.

Let’s get stuck in!

Photo from PerformX Live 2024 showing the Building Customer Experience: Lessons From Hospitality panel

#1: Keep learning

First up, a message that was repeated over and over again at many of the masterclasses and panel sessions. The importance of continuously learning.

And specifically, the value of following the best in another industry. Many fitness industry leaders and innovators emphasised the benefits of looking beyond what other fitness and wellbeing businesses are doing.

The agenda for the Main Stage kicked off with the Building Customer Experience: Lessons From Hospitality panel. This insightful discussion featured leaders from the hospitality industry. The perfect opportunity to learn from those outside the fitness industry!

During this panel, Emlyn Brown, Senior Vice President of Wellbeing at Accor Hotels, recommended that gyms and fitness clubs could look to hospitality leaders Ritz-Carlton. A brand that’s renowned for unrivalled customer service.

Take a lesson in customer service from Ritz-Carlton


This is a brand that’s raised the customer service game. Service extends to go as far as meeting even unexpressed needs. Staff are empowered to create unique, memorable, and personal experiences. Service is baked into the culture and brand at Ritz-Carlton.

Then, later on day 1, the importance of learning from other industries was emphasised again, during the Building Empires: Transformative Insights From Industry Titans panel.

Myzone Founder, Dave Wright, called on gym owners and operators looking to achieve serious growth to look beyond competitors to the best businesses in other industries.

“If you want to be the best in your industry, and improve your business by 10%, you follow the best in the industry. If you want to improve your business by 110%, you follow the best in another industry.”

Dave Wright, Founder of Myzone

Fitness industry thought leader and trouble-maker, Emma Barry, echoed this sentiment during the Decoding The Next Wave Of Fitness From The USA masterclass on day 2. Emma shared that she spends half her time looking outside of the industry to learn from more mature industries.

Emma highlighted food, fashion and hospitality as industries that have been around for hundreds of years. And that have adapted to a hybrid space.

“Think about food, it’s a great analogy. We might go to a nice restaurant. We might go to a supermarket. We might have stuff delivered. We might have it half delivered. We might have it delivered and cook it ourselves. That is what fitness is going to become.”

Emma Barry, CEO & Founder of Trouble Global
Photo from PerformX Live 2024 showing the Building Brand For Legacy panel

#2: Create a strong community

During this masterclass, Emma went on to share more trends from the USA that look set to impact the fitness industry here in the UK. And made it clear that a new narrative is emerging.

There’s no going back to pre-COVID, the world has moved on. Everyone has aged and with that Gen Z (born 1997 to 2010) are coming of age. By 2030, Gen Z will have significant spending power in the fitness industry. So, act now to cater to this.

And one way is by focusing on community. In the USA (and arguably in the UK too), fandom has become the new oil. Bringing in massive amounts of money, whether its football fans, Swifties, or even e-sports fans. Gen Z and other generations are willing to spend big to buy into their fandom.

It’s all about entertainment. You need to think about how you are entertaining your members and create an immersive experience that pulls them in. Fitness needs to be fun and more like a community.

“Think of the spectacle that conferences/events are turning into.

The friendship bracelets. The things you can buy. The swag. The way that they’re building community. A community that you’ll never leave.

What are you doing to build a community that people will never leave, they do not want to break up with you?”

Emma Barry, CEO & Founder of Trouble Global

Community came up again during the Building Brand For Legacy panel hosted by FRIDAY&’s Sam Kitching and Jonny Rose with industry trailblazer’s George Veness of JAB Boxing Club, Molly Bryan of runlimited™ and Ben Taylor of Gravitate Sport.

These fitness business founders shared how community has been critical in building successful brands. Staying true to themselves as founders, the business owners have created experiences and products that the communities they represent want to be a part of.

Similarly, during the Bulletproof Gym Systems panel many of the gym owners on stage shared the importance of focusing on existing members and nurturing community.

Fitness centre owner, Abbi Hutchinson (Studio6), highlighted how important building a community based on genuine connections with members can be for growing your business.

“Sometimes people find it hard to buy from the seller, but think about the people who enjoy your service. No one shouts louder, than someone who is feeling good about themselves, and they’ll tell their friends etc.

So, if you look after the people in front of you, make sure you give them touchpoints not just in the 30 days when you’re trying to convert them from trail to member. But thereafter where they’re served… look at all the people in your business and say how do I fill your cup, how do I appeal to you, how do I take you to the next level.

Look after the people in front of you, actually listen to them as people, rather than just numbers… and then they’ll stay and feel seen.”

Abbi Hutchinson, Owner of Studio6

Panel host, Dan Aguilera (Fitness Business Profits), explained that people will leave your gym when they run out of future. And that doesn’t necessarily mean they stop seeing results.

Gavin Denning from GWD Performance uses community events to make sure people don’t run out of future.

“There are people who are on the cusp of leaving your facility right now. The community, in some cases, and what you’ve got planned ahead with social events and things like that, they keep those people in your facility.”

Gavin Denning, Owner of GWD Performance
Photo from PerformX Live 2024 showing the Building Empires panel

#3: Focus on consistency

Likewise, another key takeaway from PerformX Live 2024, and one that will help you attract and keep more members, is the need to create consistently high quality experiences.

Learning from the hospitality industry in the Building Customer Experience: Lessons From Hospitality panel, we heard how seriously this is taken.

The fitness industry is often criticised for focusing more on sales than retention. And so, neglecting customer experience. A transformation is needed. One similar to the one that hotels have undergone – from a place to stay to a living space.

Staff training is really important. Service needs to be rehearsed and practiced. And your business values should be brought to life through this training. Incentives can be used to help team members deliver the level of service you want to achieve.

“For our teams, touching on the training element, we’ve implemented steps of service. So, we know for consistency when you’re checking in your going to get that same level of service.

Each site does have its own personality, they’re own twang to it, but you know as soon as you walk into the doors of a Soho House your expecting that same level of expertise and service.”

Michaela Hurst, UK Head of Health & Wellness at Soho House

Michaela Hurst (Soho House) highlighted the value of mystery shopping in making sure service is consistent across every customer experience. Budget for training and mystery shopping.

“Training is definitely a super power. The repetition. The role play. And really teaching the language and then inspecting it.

My biggest frustration with delivering training is when I have meetings with operators and we spend so much money… on beautiful facilities, the latest kit, on high tech facilities. But, how much of the budget is allocated to training people? How much is put aside to train people? Because if you’ve not done that then you just end up with empty spaces full of nice kit.”

Jaclyn Hughes, Board Member of The UK Spa Association

The importance of member experience was also a topic discussed in the Building Empires: Transformative Insights From Industry Titans panel.

The panel shared that if you can execute well with a business that puts customers and people at the heart of what you do, you’ll be on track to success. For gyms, that means making people feel good about exercise.

Similarly, in the Bulletproof Gym Systems panel, Dan Aguilera (Fitness Business Profits) talked about a fitness facility audit.

This is a tool you can use to objectively review every touchpoint in your facility to look through the eyes of a member. Think about everything from smell to sound. Rate it from 1 to 10, then compare to somewhere high end (it doesn’t have to be a gym).

Evgenia Koroleva Founder and Director at ONE LDN, shared the importance of instilling a customer-focused experience. And for owner operated clubs, that should come from the leader first, down through the team to the customer.

“What can we do as leaders, as people in an organisation, to instil the company culture that goes through your team into the client experience… so your customers want to come back to you day in, day out. And when they fill out a customer survey they say it’s the staff that keep them staying.”

Evgenia Koroleva Founder and Director at ONE LDN
Photo from PerformX Live 2024 showing the Bulletproof Gym Systems panel

#4: Educate to add value

Throughout the event, a reoccurring topic of discussion was how to increase industry penetration beyond the current 15% level to reach the other 85% of the UK population.

One way to work towards this is to focus on how we deliver value to members. The event headliner, Dr Jonathan Leary the CEO & Founder of Remedy Place, explained that by providing health and fitness education, gyms can add value.

This is one way to transform the industry. And a way to start is to showcase healthy behaviours that inspire members.

Leading by example to educate members was also discussed during the Bulletproof Gym Systems panel. Ross Colquhoun, Owner of The Training Club, shared that this is how he inspires members of his men’s gym.

“The gym is an expression of yourself, so living by example is the best kind of leadership in my experience. How you do everything matters. Know that everyone is always watching… I personally hold myself accountable and feel obligated to be in shape, on time and many other things.”

Ross Colquhoun, Owner of The Training Club
Photo of interview at PerformX Live 2024 with Rory McEntee, Brand & Marketing Director at Gymbox

#5: Get creative to disrupt

If you want to reach more people, including those who may be new to fitness, the right approach to gym marketing is essential. And if you want to stand out then you need to look at the Gymbox approach to marketing.

In an insightful interview delivered to a packed out room, Gymbox Brand & Marketing Director, Rory McEntee spoke about all things disruptive marketing.

As a brand, Gymbox doesn’t stand still, they’re consistently on the lookout for the next trend. And that extends into their marketing in a big way! As a London brand, it means delivering experiences to people that surprise and delight.

“It’s about being consistently inconsistent, particularly with our marketing, to surprise people.

We are a little bit marmite for some people, you either love Gymbox, or you hate Gymbox. And that’s ok because we don’t want to attract everybody.

The reality is some people will find what we do, and coming into the gym with a boxing ring in the middle, quite intimidating.”

Rory McEntee, Brand & Marketing Director at Gymbox

Having a very clear idea of who their target audience is lets Gymbox come up with creative campaigns that disrupt. Mindset is important in doing that. And so is looking at what’s happening outside of fitness to create new trends.

The brand doesn’t spend a lot of money on marketing. But, they’re very good at amplifying what they do spend.

And that means being reactive to quickly pick up on what’s going on culturally in their region and the UK overall. Then getting creative to quickly pull together impactful campaigns that reach the brand’s target audience.

“All you’ve got to do is have an idea and get it out there. In the world of social and digital, you can do that on a relatively cheap budget. Guerrilla marketing is more idea-led than budget-led.”

Rory McEntee, Brand & Marketing Director at Gymbox

Rory also spoke to the importance of continually investing in brand as a way to attract members over time. And to create value that allows you to avoid having to discount often.

“Make sure you’re investing a little bit of money and putting that money aside to keep the brand work going. It’s very easy to take that money and drop it back into paid media to get that short term result. But I really believe all your going to be doing is getting people onto this treadmill of discounting.”

Rory McEntee, Brand & Marketing Director at Gymbox
Photo of PerformX Live 2024 of the Decoding The Next Wave Of Fitness From The USA masterclass with Emma Barry

#6: Ask the right questions

Creating marketing and advertising campaigns that cut through the noise and appeal to your target membership base is essential. And we found out during the event that asking the right questions is vital if you want to really speak to your audience.

The importance of asking questions to your members and to mentors operating in other sectors was highlighted by Emma Barry during the Decoding The Next Wave Of Fitness From The USA masterclass.

It’ll allow you to stay curious and keep innovating to reach and keep more members.

“Here’s my advice – ask better questions. Always be asking for feedback.

Go and spend time with people in other sectors. Ask what would you do in my position? What do you see here? What do you see coming? Try stuff. You should always be piloting.”

Emma Barry, CEO & Founder of Trouble Global

Asking the right questions will also help you sell more. In the Gym Sales Expertise masterclass,  Luke Robinson and Charlie Horton from Fitness Marketing Agency (FMA) shared tips to help owners and operators convert more leads into paying members.

Where members are not signing up online, this means understanding their wants and needs to guide them into deciding to join. And a phone call is often the most efficient and scalable way to do this.

Aim for a single phone call where you can. That’ll help avoid prospect indecision. Dig deep to understand each prospect’s goals. Use open questions to guide them into the joining decision.

Luke shared the 4 questions he looks to get answers for on every sales call he makes:

  1. What are your goals?
  2. Why are they important to you?
  3. What have you tried before?
  4. Why now?
Photo of PerformX Live 2024 of the AI: Friend Or Foe? masterclass with Ian Mullane

#7: More action, less hesitation

Another hot topic at this year’s event was technology. Now more than ever technology offers gym and fitness clubs the opportunity to create stickier experiences and really scale up.

In the Decoding The Next Wave Of Fitness From The USA masterclass, Emma Barry talked about the 4th industrial revolution that is now upon us. Tech is moving at an accelerated pace. So, as a gym owner or operator you need to keep up and work out what’s best for your business.

“Take a look at it, it’s a timing thing, now that it’s on everyone’s lips. I think now is the time, so we will be pulling technology from other businesses into ours. Whether it’s software platforms or whether it’s really taking motion capture and things like that to the next level. Those sorts of things.

So, my advice would be, get really familiar with it, work out where you are as a brand, and it doesn’t need to be AI, maybe it’s a simple automation that you need that means you can automate the mundane.”

Emma Barry, CEO & Founder of Trouble Global

Time is of the essence. PerformX Live 2024 attendees were treated to the ultimate artificial intelligence (AI) masterclass from Ian Mullane, Founder & CEO of Keepme.

During this informative session, Ian spoke about the opportunities that different types of AI can offer gyms and fitness clubs.

The session made it clear that AI is a friend and not a foe. It’s a tool that can help your business scale. And, if it’s embraced in time, it will create new roles and opportunities for fitness businesses.

“My belief is artificial intelligence will see our sector add roles not see roles go.

Here’s why, we have a penetration in the market place of 15%, give or take 1 or 2 percentage points. It never really changes to any great degree. For that to change you need a significant catalyst…

Artificial intelligence will be that catalyst.

Why? We’re going to be able to produce better products. We’re going to be able to personalise our offerings better to our consumers. We’re going to be able to increase accessibility to a wider audience. And we’re going to have the capability to be stronger when it comes to delivering the customers end goal and progress.”

Ian Mullane, Founder & CEO of Keepme

To bring the topic to life, Ian shared details of how GymNation, a growing chain in the Middle East, is using AI to scale and grow faster.

For example, the gym chain uses an AI powered voice capable assistant to follow up with leads. The assistant can do things like phone people back, answer questions and book visits. And in all sales performance has improved since the introduction.

Ian warned that the biggest danger AI poses to gym and fitness clubs is the industry not adopting it fast enough. And right now, private operators are falling behind public operators when it comes to adopting AI.

“My fear will be that the sector itself does not engage on it in a timely fashion. It’s track record in this area is not particularly stellar. The adoption of this type of technology will have pretty much immediate impact on most operators.”

Ian Mullane, Founder & CEO of Keepme
Photo of PerformX Live 2024 of the Mastering Your Money As A Gym Owner masterclass with Simon Kallu

#8: Know your numbers

For gym owners, it’s vital that you master your money and get to grips with financials if you want to build a successful business. This was a topic covered in depth at PerformX Live 2024.

“Master the money game. I think it’s important. A lot of people I see don’t know how much they’ve got in the bank. They live their life from a place of fiction, not fact. And you have to live in a place of fact right now to build a better future.”

Dan Aguilera, Owner & Founder of Fitness Business Profits

Simon Kallu, CEO & Founder of GrowFactor shared a wealth of valuable insights during his masterclass on mastering your money as a gym owner. Simon called on owners in the audience to ask themselves where they want to be financially.

As an owner, it’s important to understand your financial performance and use that performance to drive strategy. Setting long-term goals is vital. And this should be complemented by short-term goals to keep you accountable and on track.

If you’re regularly measuring the right metrics, you’ll be able to adjust your strategy as needed. So, you stay on track to achieve what you want to achieve.

Remember, you’re not alone when it comes to mastering your money and understanding financial performance.

If you’re serious about creating a successful business. One that lets you to achieve your goals. You need to have the right team on your side.

For owners, that often means working with an external team of qualified experts to make sure your money works for you.

“You need to set financial goals that are relevant to your business and every business is different. So, one of the things is set up the right account codes to suit your business and set up the right bespoke performance reports…

Have someone else do your bookkeeping each week… the bookkeeper should be from the same team as the accountant.. and a tax advisor.. and a CFO.”

Simon Kallu, CEO & Founder of GrowFactor
Photo from PerformX Live 2024 showing the Bulletproof Gym Systems panel

#9: Think outside the box

Finally, it was clear from the panels and masterclasses at this year’s event that gym owners and operators need to think outside the box. This is key to adapting to ever changing trends and demands. And to building a thriving business.

Look to other industries for inspiration, advice, and collaborations. Embrace emerging tech to scale your business. Find new ways to weave your way into consumer trends that wouldn’t necessarily hit gyms.

One way to think outside the box is to get creative in finding new ways to attract revenue into your business. Make the most of every opportunity that might present itself.

An amazing example of this is ONE LDN who realised that working with fitness professionals and influencers to provide a space for filming can both bring in revenue and help market the club.

“We really think about how do we optimise every square foot and how do we deliver cash from every single square foot… we do membership and class based systems with everything inclusive. So, where else can we drive revenue from?

We’re very fortunate that we’ve built a facility that many fitness professionals and influencers trust. 20% of my paying members are fitness professionals… it’s been incredible for marketing… the other thing they do is film. They film ads, they film for themselves – we charge them for it… We’ve built an incredible revenue stream for filming.”

Evgenia Koroleva Founder and Director at ONE LDN

The wrap up…

Wow! There you have it! The top 9 sizzling hot takeaways for gym owners and operators from PerformX Live 2024:

  1. Keep learning – if you want to achieve serious growth, study what the best businesses and brands in other industries are doing. Apply your learnings to your business
  2. Create a strong community – this is key to attracting and keeping members now and even more so in the future. Create immersive experiences that members can’t stand to miss out on
  3. Focus on consistency – to deliver the kind of experiences that persuade members to stay, consistency is key. Adequate staff training is essential to offering exceptional experiences
  4. Educate to add value – a key role of fitness industry leaders is to inspire and educate members to drive lasting change. Start with leading by example
  5. Get creative to disrupt – to really stand out you need to get creative with your marketing. Think about your audience, how you can cut through the noise, and amplify your efforts
  6. Ask the right questions – appealing to more prospects and signing up more members means asking the right questions. Listen more and act on what you hear to persuade people that they need your services
  7. More action, less hesitation – when it comes to embracing technology, the time is now for fitness clubs. Start finding simple ways to take advantage of tech to automate mundane processes and scale your business
  8. Know your numbers – the sooner you can master your money and use financial performance to set your strategy, the further along you’ll be to achieving your overall goals. Look for the right team of qualified experts to help you get the right financial set up for your individual needs
  9. Think outside the box – the key to success for many gyms and fitness clubs will come from thinking outside the box. Build on traditional operating models and find new ways to bring in revenue

We’ve just scratch the surface of all there was to uncover at this year’s event. Did we miss anything you’d include?

Bring on PerformX Live 2025!

We’ve left this year’s event feeling more inspired and motivated about our industry than ever. We’re excited for the year ahead and we hope you are too. We can’t wait to do it all again in 2025!

Step into the future with gym management software from Xplor Gym. Our experts are ready and waiting to show you what’s possible for your gym business. Book a demo.

Article by Xplor Gym

First published: 26 March 2024

Last updated: 26 March 2024