Technology has changed consumers. Will your gym flounder or flourish?

In today’s digital-by-default society, consumers expect to complete many tasks online – from ordering a takeaway to booking a doctor’s appointment. The rise of apps, such as Uber and Amazon, have also created the expectation of “always-on” access to products or services.

However, Sport England found that booking a holiday, taxi or concert ticket is easier than arranging an exercise class online.  So even though consumers have long-since moved on and moved online, some gym owners and personal trainers lag behind in adopting the technology that enables them to make their lives easier and provides a superior service to their clients.

Our recent research supports this. It found that many gym owners and personal trainers waste valuable time on archaic and time-consuming processes.  For example, only a quarter of fitness professionals allowed their clients to connect with them online.

This also expands to the promotion of fitness services.  58% of gym owners still rely on local newspaper advertising to grow their membership. Meanwhile, only a third of gym owners use social media advertising to promote their gyms.

Whether gym owners realise it or not, these approaches are affecting their bottom line, the earning potential of their PTs, consumer satisfaction levels, and the UK’s health and wellbeing.

So, what can gym owners or personal trainers do to better meet consumers’ needs?  The fitness sector needs to bulk up its technology offering.  And the results can transform consumer engagement and provide substantial benefits to PTs and their gym team.


Booking and admin processes

Time is money, so tools that reduce hours spent on admin and increase revenue are a great way to maximise productivity, as well as provide a professional booking journey for their clients.

We found that the average personal trainer spends 3.8 hours every week on admin processes – equating to over £8,000 in lost annual income. One likely reason for this is that 29% of PTs still use pen and paper to manage their bookings. 

But in order to be profitable, PTs must have the tools to work efficiently. That means reducing admin time and spending it doing what they love. Platforms like fibodo help in this respect, as the technology automates the client’s booking journey and completes admin in a streamlined and timely way.


Promotion: building clients and membership 

The fitness industry has become increasingly competitive in recent years, as the quantity of low-cost gyms multiplies across the UK. The number of Energie Fitness gyms, for example, has grown considerably.

Likewise, consumer appetite for personal trainers is growing. This is being driven by a multitude of factors, from higher awareness and interest in health and fitness to the expanding role of lifestyle medicine in the NHS.

And there is still headroom for growth. The 2019 State of the UK Fitness Industry Report highlights that the penetration rate currently sits at just 15.6% – so marketing and promotion could help to considerably increase membership figures and boost business. But only if done right.

Our research found that 51% of personal trainers promote themselves on social media. This is perhaps because they are likely to already be communicating with clients via this platform and share stories of success, but surely this is also an opportunity to generate sales too.

However, amongst gym owners, traditional methods of marketing are still the norm. Local paper advertising and leaflet drops are used by 58% and 55% of gym owners, respectively, with a quarter still relying on posters to advertise their facilities to prospective new customers. Given that gym membership is being driven by millennials – who are naturally more likely to engage with brands digitally – gym owners who embrace technology could significantly enhance growth potential.

There exists a unique opportunity for a closer relationship between the PT and the gym owner on social media. Gym owners can amplify their presence on social media by empowering their personal trainers and turning them into ‘influencers’.

Each PT can then engage their own audiences on social media and promote the gym to their followers.  For example, a gym with 10 PTs sharing posts enable the gym to communicate with, on average, 22,810 more people.

Gym owners should therefore pay close attention to that fact, start empowering their PTs and digitally engage consumers.


Fitness forward

Undoubtedly, the fitness sector is falling behind other industries when it comes to benefitting from technology, and engaging consumers in the way they want to be engaged. This is hampering PTs, which has a knock-on effect for gym owners running profitable businesses.

If gym owners can harness the power of technology, through platforms such as online booking and social media, there is a significant opportunity to grow. One that they should take full advantage of.