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5 strategies to market your fitness business

By Fitness business management archives and news, Fitness industry archives and news, Fitness marketing and social archives and news

How are you going to market your fitness business as you Get 2023 ready?

Between now and the end of the year we’re going to take a look at 5 areas to help you Get 2023 ready.  Follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Linkedin or Twitter to be sure you don’t miss our follow-up posts.

In our fourth blog post in the series, we looked at operating tactics to save time and maximise revenue.  In this post, we turn to thinking about promotion and how to think about marketing your business.

This post dovetails with a number in this series, especially Who are you targeting as new customers? What do they want from their fitness provider? and What incentives should you offer your current or target customers? Those posts include some internally focused marketing tactics for driving referrals.  Here we focus on what external, outward-facing tactics you can use to promote your business.

Fundamentally, to market your business successfully you need to deliver the right message at the right time to your target customer.  The first step to any marketing, therefore, is to ensure you’re clear on your messaging and brand.  What values do you want to convey?  How do you differentiate yourself from other fitness or wellness businesses?  Buyers want to see an authentic message, as much as possible, personalised to them.  Being clear on what benefits they’ll get from your services and placing that in context for them is often key in motivating, and indeed justifying the buying decision.  With your messaging clear you can move on to consider what marketing tactics are right for your business.

Focus on social proof

As you promote your business you’ll very likely need to offer credibility to your messaging.  The very best way to do this is with customer testimonials and social media support.

Think about how you can effectively collect a good number of testimonials with permission to use them (!).

It’s also worth trying to ensure your customers are following you on social media, and perhaps you can even incentivise them to do so – as you then have a more engaged audience to share content that you can post through your own channels.

Direct marketing

With everyone now so digitally focused and online for long periods of the day it’s tempting to overlook traditional marketing techniques.  However, it’s also important to remember that location is a hugely important factor in people’s decision to buy your services and, indeed post-pandemic with the shift to work from home, many will be spending even more time outside of city centres.

So thinking about direct channels, such as local listing magazines, coffee/supermarket bulletin boards and even leaflets in local businesses/health services can be a super way of generating awareness.

Local groups and associations

Building on local activity, it’s worth researching if there are any local groups that you may be able to join (which often have large and active Facebook groups too) or even sponsor to promote your business.  Examples would be business trade groups or sports clubs.  These can be a great way to both meet potential new customers but also a means to partner to cross-promote businesses while raising your local profile.

SEO

SEO, or search engine optimisation, is the way in which you can be discovered via searches made on online search engines such as Google.

If you have a website building a strong SEO presence (even if you know what you’re doing) can take some considerable time, especially if there’s competition for the key search terms that you’d want to rank for (e.g. ‘gyms near me’).  There are a number of Google-driven ranking website ‘good hygiene’ criteria you’d want to ensure are added, as well as adding relevant content regularly.  In short, it’s likely to be something that if you’re going to focus on, you may want some expert support with (even if that’s small tweaks/directional advice).

As a result, building, maintaining and actually getting leads via a website can be far more costly and longer process than people envisage.  That’s not to say it’s not the right option for many – you have to start somewhere, and if done right can be terrific, but for many, it might not represent a good short-run return on investment.

There are, however, ways in which you can still benefit from SEO without having to have a full-blown SEO-optimised website.  For example, it’s worth checking if your booking system gives you a unique web page that is SEO optimised as part of the deal.

Paid digital ads

Depending on your budget, you may wish to look at either paid Facebook or Google (PPC – pay-per-click) ads.  The former are display based on people’s stated/revealed interests and the latter based on entered search terms on Google (so can be a way to shortcut SEO optimisation).  Whilst setting these up can be intimidating, like most platforms, if you invest a little time in understanding the basics you can upskill to run them both without necessarily needing a local marketing agency to help.

The great thing about both is that you can run limited tests without having to over-commit.  If you’re not tech confident, you may want to look at whether a local marketing agency could help.

The reality is that the entailed time, set-up cost and likely need to experiment in the early days may mean this isn’t for every business, but if you’re a larger business, with a strong digital presence (with a good digital way of converting customers from leads to customers) then they’re definitely worth considering. 

That completes our Get 2023 ready series.  We hope you have found it informative.  Please do follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Linkedin or Twitter to keep up to date with new business management content, offers and news!

Ollie is the founder of Gymcatch, a booking and customer management software company with monthly pricing starting at £/$10 per month.

How to manage booking availability and cancellations

By Fitness business management archives and news, Fitness industry archives and news, Fitness marketing and social archives and news

Between now and the end of the year we’re going to take a look at 5 areas to help you Get 2023 ready.  Follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Linkedin or Twitter to be sure you don’t miss our follow-up posts.

In our third blog post in the series, we looked at how pricing tactics and how to think about using incentives to increase sign-ups, improve customer retention and motivate referrals.  In this post, we build on that topic to think about operational efficiency and specifically what booking availability and cancellation policy tactics you can employ to boost efficiency and revenue.

Manage when booking opens

Many businesses create, and publish their schedule and create a simple structure whereby anyone can book in immediately, right up to the start time of a session.  Whilst this may be fine if capacity isn’t a constraint, we think it’s still a good idea to consider a more refined policy because of the messaging it can send your customer base…

For example, if you note that bookings for a session open X amount of time before it starts (e.g. 1 week), then you can create (whether it exists or not) a sense of demand/urgency for people to book their space because they may fear on missing out otherwise, as they know others are going to be looking out to grab it.  This additionally prevents customers from booking too far into the future, decreasing availability when there’s a reasonable chance their plans may yet change and be unable to fulfil the booking.

Manage when booking closes

Perhaps less obvious is the idea to set when booking closes for a session past the start time of a session. How many times has someone turned up last minute, or a customer brought someone new for an intro session where admin is done in a hurry?  By closing bookings for a session at a set time after the session finishes you can enable anyone that turned up late or failed to book on to still participate and yet still go back and pay what they owed whilst keeping your and their booking records up to date.

If you record your sessions and want to have a timetabled set of pre-records for sessions (rather than just keeping it in a static on-demand library), this tactic can also be really handy for securing some extra revenue, allowing customers to book the session/pre-record long after it’s finished.

Manage prioritised access

You can also consider whether you want to give certain customers priority access to being able to book before others.

This can be a great way to reward customers for making a purchase.  For example, perhaps a benefit of booking a course/block is that you’ll get a priority buying period on the next course/block that’s released.  This can create good ongoing commitment with an incentive to maintain their spot based on knowledge may not be able to get it back if they don’t recommit.  By making that repeat buying decision, it can also reinforce a feeling of accountability and desire to attend, something that in our experience can naturally wain with standard recurring memberships.

Another option with this feature would be to offer certain sessions as ‘Member’ only, creating further value differentiation as against pay-as-you-go or shorter-term commitment packages.

Enable digital payments

If you’re reading this post, it’s perhaps unlikely that this isn’t taken for granted, but we think it’s worth noting nonetheless!

Some businesses decide to take bookings without enabling any payments, saving some transaction fees in the process.  Whilst this can work ok for some, and indeed Gymcatch can support this too, our experience is that this often proves a false economy.  Remember this gives people that cancel free access to your sessions and the potential to cost you both the money they would have spent, but also the money that someone else who could have booked the space would spend.

You’ll also have to spend time checking bank accounts against attendance and chasing for payment where necessary.  Assuming your time is limited, you should put a cost to this activity in a week – in our experience, even something at less than minimum wage more than pays for the related transaction costs (and in Gymcatch’s case, the software costs too!).

Sensible wait lists

Ensuring you use a waitlist strategy that maximises revenue for your business is important. Historic first-in-line methods can prove counter-productive, as they entail that those who were on them have had the most time to make other plans.  Indeed, the time it takes those on them to confirm or reject the take-up of their place further reduces the time others have to reply.  Far more efficient is to release any spare spaces on an equitable first come first served basis.

Use reminders and calendar sync

Reminders can be a double-edged sword – for some, if they’ve made a booking and it’s on their calendar, a reminder is an unwelcome interruption.  That said, they can be helpful if your client base are busy and decided to disable that setting/haven’t put it in their calendars and we’d always offer a customer the ability to configure their notification settings, so in moderation, they can certainly be value add.

Set a cancellation policy

Setting a policy is a delicate balance between ensuring you give your customers an incentive to book early / flexibility in case their plans change and the fact that you’re running a business and need the certainty of revenue and attendance to successfully deliver your services.

Our data supports the view that offering some flexibility for customers is a good idea and, indeed, now the market norm.  We’d strongly recommend enabling a swap should be the means of ‘refund’ rather than cash. This ensures you don’t miss out on the revenue whilst giving your customers some additional flexibility.

Clearly stating the cancellation policy at booking is evidently a good idea, and ensures any disputes or issues are kept to an absolute minimum.

In terms of what timeframe you’d allow a credit back/swap to a different session, factors such as what number of attendees makes a session profitable, the notice period you think alternative customers would need to be able to fill the space and a headline assessment of your ideal customer’s typical schedule all feed into this equation.

Generally, we see 3 hours – 24 hours before a start time as the norm but do remember you can set different policies for different sessions if you wish.  For example, perhaps you might be more generous with your 5-6:30 pm sessions than in-school/middle-of-the-day sessions because you recognise that work/traffic variables may be more of a worry for your target customers.

In our experience, as long as you build some flexibility into your model and clearly communicate the policy, customers are thankful for whatever you choose so be sure to think carefully about your policy and ensure you don’t encourage behaviour that ultimately costs you money.

With your operating tactics optimised in our next blog post in the Get 2023 ready series, we’ll consider when and how you’re going to promote your business. Follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Linkedin or Twitter to see when it drops in the coming week!

Ollie is the founder of Gymcatch, a booking and customer management software company with monthly pricing starting at £/$10 per month.

What incentives should you offer to your customers?

By Fitness business management archives and news, Fitness industry archives and news, Fitness marketing and social archives and news

Between now and the end of the year we’re going to take a look at 5 areas to help you Get 2023 ready.  Follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Linkedin or Twitter to be sure you don’t miss our follow-up posts.

In our second blog post in the series, we looked at how to set a pricing strategy.  In this post, we build on that topic to think about pricing tactics and what incentives you may consider both to bring in new customers but also to increase spending and retention from your existing ones.

Broadly these incentives fall into three types:

  • Incentives to try/join
  • Incentives to commit
  • Incentives to refer

Incentives to try/join

These incentives are well-known and would include ‘First class free’, ‘First month free’ or ‘Free PT consultation’ etc.

When thinking about these types of incentives it helps to think about three questions.

First, consider how long is needed to determine whether they’ll benefit from your services.  This also, of course, should take into account how long you’re asking your customer to commit. For example, if you’re requiring a yearly contract you may want to give a potential customer longer to decide than if you are offering pay-as-you-go classes.

Secondly, consider how long you think a customer needs to become an engaged customer. How long do they need to build a routine or habit that ensures you’ve converted them?

Thirdly, consider the cost to you of the offer.  Can you afford a strong take-up of the incentive?  The cost to set up and administer the offer should also be factored in.

It is also worth noting, that if you don’t feel a free or longer free period is justified, a discount can work just as well for many, especially in relation to more expensive services.  This approach can also place a higher perceived value on quality and demand which for less price-sensitive buyers may be desirable.

Incentives to commit

These incentives are more business model considerations and would include decisions around whether to offer memberships, courses/blocks and class packs etc.

The consideration here is how much you want to require or even incentivise a bigger upfront commitment as against short-run or even per-session payments.  For many smoothing and visibility of future income is desirable, but in an age where customers increasingly value flexibility, this can be a difficult balance to strike.

For some businesses with high demand or waitlists, the right decision here will be to not incentivise commitment at all, but rather just enable a regular full-priced (e.g. membership, or course/block) for customer convenience of buying or securing a space.

A second option where demand is strong or artificially creates that view is to incentivise commitment based on the access.  For example, you could give members or course buyers priority access to sessions, or an existing course buyer priority over a space on the next.  This can create an incentive to commit without costing you anything.

Where offering a price incentive to commit is desirable, matching that to your customers’ cash flow and own schedule is a good idea.  For example, if your customers generally have children, would it be a better fit to offer term-time blocks rather than year round memberships?  Or perhaps if you want to keep a premium pay-as-you-go pricing model just offering a small discount on class packs that expire based on a date from purchase may make more sense than a discounted membership.

Incentives to refer

Finally, we consider incentives you may wish to offer to customers or local partners for referring new customers.  These are often more costly than standalone free trial products, as it generally makes sense to also include your standard offer for the new customer.

Examples might be a free class pass when you bring a friend, a month’s free membership for a successful sign-up, a gift card on success or even straight cash.  Generally, it makes most financial sense to offer incentives where you can absorb your margin as part of the cost (i.e. it’s not an additional hard cash outgoing), but this of course is only the case if the incentive proves sufficiently motivating as against offering something more tangible like a gift card or cash.

Given their additional cost, we’d recommend carefully considering when and for how long these types of incentives are used, as well as meticulously tracking how successful they are.  The one big advantage they have is that it’s very likely that your existing customer base has good access to potential customers with a similar demographic and set of needs/preferences.  As such, whilst these incentives cost more, there’s every chance they’ll convert well and, indeed, may be less costly than other more outward-facing marketing initiatives.

Thinking more widely than your existing customer base for referrals can also be beneficial.  Perhaps there are local businesses with a large employee base, a service provider or even a coffee house/restaurant that has a client base that would match up well to your services who you could create a more bespoke offer for.  There’s every chance there are businesses that you may even be able to partner with to offer something in return to reduce or even remove the cost entirely.

With your pricing strategy and incentive tactics now thought through, in our next blog post, we’ll move to thinking about operational efficiency strategies, including cancellation policies. Follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Linkedin or Twitter to see when it drops in the coming week!

Ollie is the founder of Gymcatch, a booking and customer management software company with monthly pricing starting at £/$10 per month. 

How to price your fitness services

By Fitness business management archives and news, Fitness industry archives and news, Fitness marketing and social archives and news

How to price your fitness services.  What are your customers willing to pay for your services?  How long and what are they prepared to commit to?

Between now and the end of the year we’re going to take a look at 5 areas to help you Get 2023 ready.  Follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Linkedin or Twitter to be sure you don’t miss our follow-up posts.

In our first blog post in the series, we thought about how to define your target customer and how that should inform the services you offer.  In this post, we build on that topic to consider the evergreen topic of pricing. Here we focus on your pricing strategy, and in a follow-up post, we’ll get deeper into specific promotional tactics. 

Be aware of bias

Before we think about your business, it’s worth raising a couple of important human characteristics that invariably influence pricing.  The first is a psychological bias known as ‘loss aversion’.  This bias can unconsciously lead you to under-price your services.  The bias entails that we fear loss more than valuing potential gains, so as applied to pricing, it entails that it’s natural to take what you’ve charged to date, or what the competition charge, as a reference point, fear the worse with regards customers’ propensity to not pay or switch services, and undershoot what you could charge.  i.e. you fear the worse when considering a price change rather than accurately weighing that as against the potential upside.

Secondly, there’s an emotional element to pricing for many. One likely strength of your business is its sense of community and your relationships with your customers.  Many may be considered friends who you socialise with.  This can naturally lead to a desire to please/aversion to confrontation and impact your confidence in making price changes, especially in a scenario where you feel funds are tight.

Of course, both of these natural tendencies exist for a reason, they serve us well in many situations, and ultimately you won’t (nor should you) try to ignore them completely but being aware of them can help in driving a more objective assessment of your businesses’ pricing strategy.

Keeping those tendencies in mind, we move to assess two important inputs to your pricing strategy; your business and your customers.

Your business

As you think about pricing your fitness services, you need to start by ensuring you understand the costs that need to be met by the output of your strategy – i.e. to understand your breakeven point.

Your monthly breakeven point should include your desired base income and all venue and marketing costs.  If you know you’ll be quieter in certain months of the year (and have required outgoings for those months) you should factor this into your thinking for busier periods.  A good exercise during this time is to assess your costs for any efficiencies that can be made. This will help you identify the common costs you can reduce (insert link). This is to say, you’d increase your income target in the busier months to make up for the quieter ones.

A second business-level consideration is cash flow. This is really about the timings for incoming and outgoing cash to your business and ensuring that they are aligned.  Generally, there’s a trade-off between offering longer-term (e.g. monthly memberships, courses/blocks) and shorter-term (e.g. pay as you go, class packs) commitment-based products. 

The former strategy gives greater visibility of revenue but the latter, as it’s normally priced at a premium, would be, all things equal, revenue maximising.  The extent to which you want to smooth cash flow versus relying on regular repetitive purchases feeds into how you price the different products you offer.  Of course, what your customers are able and willing to commit also feeds into this.  Quite often the right answer is a blend, but every business is different and should think through the value to them of each.

Your customers

With your breakeven point and cash flow needs to be established, we’d recommend experimenting with different pricing and customer purchasing numbers on paper or a basic spreadsheet.  From this, you can begin to get a feel for what range of pricing and demand meets your breakeven point and generate some ideas from which to evolve your thinking.

You can now look at your pricing ideas from your customers’ (and target customers’) perspective.  Assessing willingness to pay is difficult but using your customer profile from our first post in the series and reviewing, if applicable, how customer retention changed after a previous price change will all feed into your overall conclusion.  Trying to place them (generalised) on a 1-10 sensitivity scale may help.  If you think they are highly sensitive then you may also want to consider what the local competition is doing and pay some attention to that. This is not to say you match or undercut, more just be sure that the value you offer can be clearly communicated in comparison.

Once you’ve formed a view on price sensitivity you can overlay that against your range of high-low pricing and product commitment (long v short-term options) models to conclude what makes sense for your business.

Track and review

As you launch your new strategy, be sure to regularly review how it’s performing and consider whether the assumptions you’ve made throughout this process are holding true.

Having followed a logical process, you should feel confident in the strategy and launch.  That said, as the above has revealed, determining a sound pricing structure requires you to make reasonable assumptions across often inferred preferences, so ultimately you can’t be 100% certain on how a new offering or changes will land.  As such, how you communicate price changes is also important – our 5th blog post in this series will come back to the subject of messaging.  So, as you launch, stay close to your customers as you launch it and watch for feedback. 

‘Watch’ is the right word, because stated versus revealed preferences can be very different here.  For example, I might indicate that I’m upset about a price rise, but if I still pay/keep coming there’s perhaps a reality that I can’t be that upset about it.  Indeed, it may be that you’d weigh that type of feedback from customers more than others.

With your base pricing strategy now established, we’ll build on these considerations in our next post and look at how you can evolve your pricing tactics to add incentives for current and target customers.  Follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Linkedin or Twitter to see when it drops in the coming week!

Ollie is the founder of Gymcatch, a booking and customer management software company with monthly pricing starting at £/$10 per month.

5 key considerations for managing block bookings or courses

By Dance, Fitness business management archives and news, Fitness industry archives and news, Gym and studios, Pilates, Yoga

In this blog, we consider when to sell sessions in courses or blocks, how best to maximise their operational efficiency, and block-to-block customer retention.

Are courses or blocks right for your customer?

A common theme in our business management content is to start with your customer.  We make no apologies for this, when thinking about your business model you should always start with an assessment of your customer or target customer.

When reviewing whether a course/block of sessions is right for your customers it helps to consider a few headline questions:

  • Do you assess your client’s progress frequently or set short-term milestones?
  • Is there a scheduling reason that courses/blocks may suit your customer better than other models (i.e. pay-as-you-go/memberships)? For example, are you targeting parents that have more availability during school term time?  Or kids where it’s often vice versa?
  • Can your customers afford larger one-offs, or twice over-term payments?
  • Would a perceived lack of flexibility in scheduling put them off?
  • What, if any, service would customers want when you’re not running courses?

When considering these questions, it is perhaps not surprising that many of our business customers who operate this model do so because:

  • They focus on parents as a demographic, effectively dove-tailing with school terms
  • The structure is particularly popular with Pilates and yoga modalities
  • Other programs where clear end results over a period are a focus often use them, with many personal trainers offering either 1-2-1 or small group training courses/blocks.

Your decision-making process can, of course, also be supported by considering whether alternative business models would work better:

  • In instances where courses/blocks make the most sense, it’s often the case that a membership model might be perceived by your customers as too long-term, or a waste of money (as regular commitments mean it wouldn’t get used for much of the year)
  • Whilst pay-as-you-go can supplement course income, running that by itself may also be seen as lacking a desired certainty of attendance for customers and, indeed, income for you as the business owner.  

How to think about retention

A reason we often hear for using memberships over courses is that the former encourages greater retention, as it doesn’t require a regular review / re-purchase. With this, it’s assumed that by surfacing the buying decision regularly you can increase the chances for the customer to cancel/not re-buy.

In our experience, and based on the data we see, this is not a valid assumption, and we believe it rests on some antiquated thinking.  Whilst memberships are absolutely a great model for many businesses, having a recurring, ongoing, payment does not in itself increase customer retention.  Customers are now, perhaps more so than ever, very aware of their outgoings and rights with regards to cancellation.  Just because a payment is automated does not mean that it is unknown or unnoticed.

In our experience, when businesses build a course-centric customer base the ongoing requirement to commit to the next course/block serves to increase retention.  This is because it introduces a ‘fear of missing out’.  This is to say that customers can be made aware that spaces are limited, the course is popular, and if they don’t recommit then they may lose their space with no guarantee they’ll get it back.  This in turn increases their propensity to turn up to sessions and make use of their allocated space.  It therefore actually serves to have a positive impact on accountability, far more so than with a membership where the available sessions are entirely optional/bookable.

In addition, you can increase the ‘fear of missing out’ by layering extra privileges on buyers of your past course/blocks.  For instance, you could offer a priority purchasing window for your next course/block that’s only accessible to those that bought the previous one.  This adds immediacy to the buying decision and, again, drives repeated attendance and accountability which will assist in retention (our industry-leading Priority Access feature can help here).

How to handle swaps and drop-ins?

One understandable gripe we repeatedly hear on our consults is the time it takes many to administer week-to-week swaps when courses/blocks are running.  Illness, transport, childcare, and holidays are common themes that can cause customers to miss scheduled sessions and want to swap into different courses/blocks’ weekly sessions.

Whatever you decide to set for your cancellation policy for sessions, if you’re offering a swap/credit, the process needs to be easy and manageable.  Ensure you find a system (e.g. Gymcatch) that can handle the customer canceling and rebooking of their spot (where there’s availability) across courses/blocks without having to contact you.

With regards to drop-ins, these can be a nice way to both enable swaps, but also boost income if your course isn’t full.  The main thing here is to ensure that you’re not opening up too many spots too early (i.e. too far before their start time).  It’s important to remember that for every drop-in you sell, that reduces your total course capacity (until that session is complete) by one.  So drop-ins at premium pricing are really best used either when they’re made available close to the start date of the session, or if there’s considerable excess capacity in the course.

What to do outside of course term time?

Where courses/blocks are run across school terms, we see two approaches to non-term time.  One approach is to leave the calendar clear.  This can give customers a break, and the flexibility to manage childcare without feeling like they’re missing out or, guilt for non-attendance.  This can also give the business owner some valuable time to refocus on pre-marketing the next courses/blocks and general admin that’s difficult to do during the period of delivery.  If you hire space and variable business costs, it can also mean that you don’t necessarily continue to incur in-term overheads.

The second option we see deployed successfully is for a more flexible set-up over the period.  This might be where you allow only pay as you go, or class pack / bundle-bought sessions.  This can be a great way to boost non-term time income and gives those that want to maintain their routine the ability to do so, all without in any way prejudicing those that can’t.

How to launch or migrate to a new booking system?

If your booking system doesn’t allow for all of the above, then there’s potentially a decision to be made to migrate to one that does.

If you are moving from pen and paper, then planning a launch in between courses/blocks is no doubt a good strategy and can ensure everything kicks off with minimum disruption.  If you’re not digitally confident look for 1-2-1 onboarding as part of the offer.  At Gymcatch, we pride ourselves on ensuring that all customers receive the onboarding support they need.

If you are migrating from a system that doesn’t provide these solutions, or that you’re over-paying for, then thinking about the following can be helpful:

  • When are you going to switch?  Again, in between courses/blocks can make a lot of sense, but equally the system may be able to import/add customers to existing courses/blocks, which may make for a gradual switchover while you’re still seeing customers regularly face-to-face to smooth the inevitable (if hopefully infrequent) questions that come up.
  • Can you import customer data and create their accounts for them?
  • Is it easy for customers to claim their accounts?

We hope you found the post useful.  If you would like to speak about the above and discuss your booking software needs and our £10 / $ 10 per month system, please book a free consultation here or if you’d like to give Gymcatch a go for free for 1 month, please get started here.

ASFA® and Gymcatch announce strategic partnership

By Fitness business management archives and news, Fitness industry archives and news

The American Sports and Fitness Association® is pleased to announce its new partnership with Gymcatch. By providing great value booking and customer management software for fitness and wellness businesses from $10 per month, ASFA® recognizes Gymcatch’s commitment to making participation easier for all.

As a leading Personal Trainer & Fitness Certification provider, ASFA® recognizes and appreciates the need for companies like Gymcatch who create easy-to-use, affordable tools that help our customers manage their businesses, enabling them to do more of what they do best: bring exercise to their community.  We are delighted to offer our community 20% off their first 12 months on the service with code ASFA20. You can find out more about the service and register here.

Additionally, we are excited to proudly display Gymcatch’s logo on ASFA’s Partner Page with other leaders in the industry such as MyCPR NOW™ – the leading online CPR and First Aid Certification provider, Human Kinetics – the leader in fitness texts and manuals provider, Berxi – a Berkshire Hathaway company and more than 100 gym chains and fitness institutions.

 

Thinking of scaling up your fitness business online?

By Fitness industry archives and news

Launching an online fitness business is a super effective way to scale up your operation quickly and reach out to more clients. However, this can be a daunting prospect for most as they can feel a little overwhelmed trying to catch up with this ever more popular online revenue stream.

Many fitness professionals are still attached to costly group-ex format licence fees that do not allow them to invest in their own online tech stack. Others may lack the know-how or confidence to run online fitness classes as an effective business proposition. And many don’t have the flexibility to choose how or where they teach as their current programme’s limitations.

Technology today means you can download an app to help you structure your classes and deliver a killer workout from anywhere in the world, whether that is live, virtually or on-demand.

“Creating premium digital content takes time and can be very expensive. We are on mission at SH1FT to make digital first solutions for fitness instructors looking to launch or expand their business online. SH1FT instructors are fully supported to create their digital presence and teach where, when and how they want,” says Will Brereton, Founder of SH1FT.

 

How to use tech to improve your fitness services

With the environment now stabilizing, fitness instructors are breathing a welcomed sigh of relief as they have had to adapt to so many changes fast in the past few years. There is a number, however, perhaps the most engaged online or who have been running that online experience for longer, who are now looking at how they can use tech to access data to improve their services and take their business to the next level. 

In his latest podcast, Will says “your customers expect to be able to use your products your services in a variety of ways, both offline and digital. So we know that digital fitness is here to stay, and that it will form part of what your consumers are looking for.”

However, if you’re one of the many instructors that’s found maintaining momentum with your digital teaching difficult, you are in good company.

SH1FT is working with Gymcatch to provide group instructors with the tools they need to take bookings, payments and manage their business in the most cost-effective way.

What is SH1FT?

SH1FT is the brainchild of Will Brereton who wanted to build a global community of Group Fitness Instructors that strive to create ‘fitness for life’ so that their class goers can feel great at any age, with anybody. SH1FT is founded on three main values:

TRAIN SMARTER, NOT HARDER: Hard work doesn’t have to be hard on your body. We use smart, safe and simple progressions to ensure that all levels of fitness can be catered for in a single group.
FITNESS FOR LIFE, NOT JUST FOR SUMMER: We believe fitness is about feeling great in your own skin…for the long term!
FOR ANYBODY, WITH ANY BODY: We create workouts that are non-intimidating, simple and inclusive (not to mention fun!).

SH1FT has created a collection of Group Fitness formats that Instructors use to teach live, online, and blended classes. Each workout is taught using their own market-leading App which automates the boring stuff (saving huge amounts of time and money) and gives Instructors an easy and fast way to customise workouts that are unique to them. Instructors are empowered to deliver engaging, personalised fitness classes where, when, and how they want – with zero restrictions.

The top destinations for an active holiday

By Fitness industry archives and news

For many of us, international travel is a means to escape, wind-down and de-stress by the beach (maybe with a good book in hand, or a cocktail or two). But there are other ways to recharge and return home revitalised.

Getting active is a fun and easy way to boost mental and physical wellbeing, so why not incorporate it into your next holiday? Sporting holidays are a great way to improve — or learn — a new skill, leave with a sense of achievement, and perhaps more adventurous holiday snaps to share with family and friends. 

We looked at how well equipped the 50 top world holiday destinations are for hiking, cycling, skiing, water sports and yoga. We then considered weekly budgets and the number of tourists to find the most accessible and affordable ‘active holidays’ for your next big trip abroad.

The world champions

The study reveals that Australia is the top destination for an active holiday, scoring in the top 10 for all the sports other than skiing. Australia offers the most hiking trails per tourist, with 9653 different hiking routes on offer (or 1,095 routes per 1 million tourists). With beautiful coasts, rugged outback, mountain ranges and tropical rainforests, there’s a diverse range of landscapes to explore on foot. Australia is also the 4th best destination for water sports, the 8th best for yoga and the 10th best for cycling. 

You may know Brazil as the world’s football capital, but the Latin country is a haven for sport lovers of all kinds. Coming 2nd in the study, Brazil scored particularly well for cycling; with the 4th most routes per tourist. The country came 11th for water sports, and 12th for yoga retreats and number of hiking trails, although — like Australia — the tropical destination is no skiing hotspot. 

Norway came 3rd in the list. An alternative to the ski-season favourites, France and Switzerland, Norway offers the third best skiing option for international travellers when considering the length of ski slopes on offer. 

Completing the top five were Switzerland in 4th place (which came top for skiing options per tourist) and the United States in 5th position (which came just behind Australia for hiking trails per tourist).

Best countries for cyclists

When ignoring data per tourist, it’s no surprise that Germany, Italy and France have the most listed cycling route options. But looking at the number on offer per tourist, there are plenty of alternative and attractive destinations to explore by pedal-power.

Even when taking in the amount of visitors per year, Germany is the ultimate cycling destination, with at least 1,500,000 routes listed. In second place — a trip promised to make you sweat — is Switzerland (although there are plenty of easier lake-side routes for beginners). In third place Poland offers the third most routes per tourist, thanks to a large recent investment in biking infrastructure. Cyclists can expect forest and river-bank trails, mountain trails and newly built city cycling lanes — check out the GreenVelo route to get started. 

The most ski slopes per tourist 

It’s no surprise that looking at the sheer length of ski slopes on offer, the United States and France both have over 10,000 KM of ski runs to race down. But if you don’t want to be squeezed into a ski-chalet, Switzerland, Austria and Norway offer more slopes to ski on per tourist. Switzerland is also the second most expensive destination on our list, so if you’ve wanted to try your hand at skiing but have been put off by the price, then Austria and Norway are excellent places to begin. 

Yogi paradise

But not everyone wants an adrenaline rush on holiday. To reap the mental benefits of physical activity in a more chilled environment, why not do as celebrities and influencers do and try a yoga retreat? India is the home of yoga, and our data only fortifies its title as the ultimate yoga destination. With a whopping 797 yoga retreats — by far the most per tourist too — choosing the perfect retreat will be a stress-free experience. 

With the tenets of Buddhism and Hinduism being central to its culture, Indonesia is a worthy runner-up. Whether you’re into eco-yoga, hot-yoga or something more luxurious, there’s something for every type of Yogi in Bali and beyond. 

But you don’t need to travel across the world to downward dog. Portugal has over 221 listed yoga retreats and offers some livelier options which combine sports like surfing and yoga. 

Top places for water sports

Again, it’s no surprise that bigger nations, like the United States, win on sheer volume of facilities. But per tourist, Egypt, Vietnam and Indonesia are refreshing options for a water sports holiday. 

Egypt topped the list and has been gaining interest with water sports enthusiasts over the last few years. The coral reef in Sharm el-Sheikh is considered to be one of the best diving spots in the world, and elsewhere, visitors can expect to snorkel alongside turtles and dolphins. 

Vietnam and Indonesia, in 2nd and 3rd position, are both great destinations for adrenaline junkies. These south-east Asian spots are great places to try kitesurfing, parasailing or water-skiing, with Vietnam offering slightly more choice per visitor. 

Which destinations are most popular?

But where are Brits searching for their active holidays the most? By using Google Search Trends analytics, we can see that, likely due to travel restrictions, most Brits have been searching for active holidays in the UK and Europe. 

The most searched European destination for an active holiday is Greece. Greece is an obvious choice for a sea-soaked Mediterranean adventure, but it is also the 7th best country in the world for choice of Yoga retreats.

Croatia was the next most searched for destination (and is the 6th best world destination for water sports facilities), and France, famous for cycling and skiing, was the 3rd most searched for spot. 

Considering the recent anxiety around travel, it’s clear that European destinations are currently more appealing. Rather than heading to Greece or Croatia, our research suggests the top sporting destinations in Europe are Norway, Switzerland and Germany.

After a difficult few years, we all deserve a break. We hope this study inspires you to plan your ultimate, active holiday and push yourself out of your comfort zone. Swap your flip-flops for trainers, your book for a bike, and explore the world one adventure at a time. 

Map fitness ranking

Pilates tops the list of the most in-demand exercise

By Fitness industry archives and news, Pilates

Top wellness and fitness trend

Pilates is the exercise discipline that showed the most resilience throughout the ups and downs of the Covid pandemic. Our research shows that the public stuck with, or turned to, Pilates when other exercise disciplines were experiencing tougher trading conditions.

Formed by Joseph and Clara Pilates in the 1920’s when they opened Body Conditioning Gym in New York City, Pilates has evolved through the years while sticking to its original philosophy and principles.

Today over 12 million people enjoy the benefits of Pilates, establishing itself as the top wellness and fitness trend in the UK throughout the pandemic, performing even more robustly than Yoga.

“We have seen a surge for low impact classes. People are increasingly focused on wellness and Pilates offers a great blend of flexibility and strength training,” says Ollie Bailey, CEO at Gymcatch.

The popularity of Pilates

When assessing the popularity of Pilates the main factor was consumer attitudes to the discipline. Pilates enthusiasts, more than in other areas of fitness and wellness, considered Pilates to be an essential part of their routines, rather than a hobby.

Moreover, in a period where people were particularly keen to avoid using health services, we saw consistent feedback that the low-impact, low injury risk reputation of the discipline saw consumers turn to Pilates rather than disciplines that they perceived as riskier.

Finally, Pilates has proved to be a more convenient form of exercise during the past year, as lower intensity and simpler forms of Pilates were perfectly suited to participation at home.

“Pilates has evolved, and demand has increased due to the pandemic with more people looking for mind-body health and overall wellbeing. Thirty minutes a day can be enough to get real results, so it fits into the workday well,” says Joanne Cobbe from JPilates.

Pilates in numbers

Lower impact exercise saw a 2556% increase in bookings between January and July 2021 on Gymcatch. Pilates alone has seen a 25% increase from 2020 to 2021, despite the incredibly challenging backdrop. In the UK Pilates is a truly national discipline with participation levels slightly higher in London and southern counties but distributed throughout the country with almost half of English counties searching for a Pilates exercise class.

Fitness map display


Virtual Pilates classes are here to stay

Many consumers have fully adjusted to online classes and are now seeking the perfect blend of face- to-face and virtual sessions. But this does not mean that face-to-face delivery is going anywhere. The majority of consumers have returned to in-person delivery and in most cases virtual sessions appear to be supplementing, rather than replacing the in person experience.

Following the end of the national lockdown in the UK in April 2021 we’ve seen a steady recovery of in person delivery. In May 25% of classes were still online only. During June and July 2021 85% of classes were delivered in-personGymcatch expects about 10% of pilates participation to permanently switch to virtual.

“People still want access to On-Demand content or have the option to attend a live-streamed class. By doing both, Pilates instructors can offer more value and more convenience for their clients while adding revenue, new streams and resilience to their businesses,” says Ollie Bailey, CEO at Gymcatch.

Fitness trends in 2021: Group fitness helped Brits through the pandemic

By Fitness industry archives and news

In March 2020 our everyday lives changed drastically, with most Brits being stripped of their favourite fitness routines. The pandemic made us homebound, but how did the fitness industry adapt to this new way of living, and where do we stand now? We’ve analysed the bookings made through our app and search volumes to help you understand how the pandemic changed the fitness landscape.

 

LOW IMPACT TRAINING GAINED THE MOST POPULARITY


Low Impact Training (LIT) for older adults was the highest relative gainer during the pandemic. LIT classes saw a 2556% relative increase in bookings between January and July 2021 compared to the number of bookings from the same period of time the year before, reaching the highest number of bookings in March 2021 with exercises such as Active Aging and Paracise to the fore.

Besides LIT, gymnastics, and martial arts classes also saw big increases in bookings in 2021, with classes being held virtually from January till April, and then in person after the easing of the lockdown measures.

Perhaps surprisingly, the gymnastics lovers were eager to carry on exercising during the pandemic as the sport had the second highest relative increase with bookings for classes going up by 308% during the first half of the 2021 when compared to 2020. Martial arts also bounced back strongly in 2021, with Karate, Jiu Jitsu, and Kung Fu bookings seeing a 203% like-for-like increase on the Gymcatch platform between January and July 2021, placing martial arts classes in third place.

DANCE AND RHYTHM: THE MOST POPULAR WORKOUT CATEGORY OVERALL


Fun dance and rhythm related exercise classes such as Zumba, Pole, Clubbercise, and Boogie Bounce accounted for a third of all exercise classes booked through the Gymcatch apps in 2021, dubbing the category the most popular form of exercise for the third year running.

The classes gained even more relative popularity over the pandemic as 20% of all our booked classes in 2019 were dance and rhythm related, whereas during the pandemic the category saw a 10% increase and accounted for 30% of all classes in 2021.

Being one of the Brits’s all time favourite exercises, boxing has remained as the second most popular exercise for the past 3 years. Between 2020 and 2021 the third most popular exercise has changed from Aerobics to now highly popular Low Impact Training.

MENTAL HEALTH VALUED MORE IN LOCKDOWN


Lockdown periods have taken their toll on mental health, with feelings of uncertainty increasing anxiety. Therefore it comes as no surprise that 5% of all classes booked through Gymcatch in 2021 accounted for emerging wellness classes.

To help manage negative emotions, Brits have been actively looking to book online Meditation classes and Thrive Approach which promotes children’s positive mental health by helping parents to understand their child’s mental state also gained popularity.

The highest number of these type of wellness class bookings were recorded between March and July 2020, and January and April 2021 when the UK was still under national lockdown. Like-for-like, they were 50% more popular in April 2021 than there were in April 2020, indicating that people had looked for ways to maintain and improve their mental health to get through the uncertain times.

Lockdown undoubtedly caused a rise in virtual workouts and socially distanced outdoor activities, and following the end of the national lockdown in April 2021, this trend continued, with people still hesitant to attend in-person classes. In May 25% of classes were still online only, reducing to 15% in June and July 2021.

PERSONAL TRAINER DEMAND IN 2021


Personal trainers were in demand after the UK’s gyms reopened in April 2021. The number of personal training sessions booked through the Gymcatch app saw a 70% spike in April compared to the demand just a month earlier in March. All in all there were 10% more personal training sessions booked between January and July 2021 than there were during the same months in 2020.

PRE AND POST NATAL CLASSES: 2021 SAW A RISE IN BOOKINGS


In 2020, Pre and Post Natal classes accounted for a smaller share of the overall class bookings than they did pre-pandemic in 2019. However, in 2021 the number of bookings saw an uptrend and the classes made up 3% of all places booked using the Gymcatch apps. The number of Pre and Post Natal class bookings increased by 135% between January and July 2021 compared to the same period of time the year before in 2020.

THE MOST SEARCHED FOR EXERCISES IN THE UK


The Brits seem to disagree on their favourite exercises, as most of the English were looking up for local Pilates classes with the Scottish showing more interest in yoga and core workouts over the past 3 years. Like the Scottish, the Welsh were on a journey of a balanced lifestyle with yoga being the most searched for exercise. In Northern Ireland people were keen to work on their abs with most searches being for core exercises.

Even the English were divided over their favourite exercise; the South preferring Pilates, whereas the North preferred Yoga and Gymnastics. Overall, the most searched for exercises were Pilates, Yoga, and Martial Arts.

Things might not be as they used to be quite yet, but for what it’s worth at least gyms are open now, and most exercise classes are running as they were before the pandemic, providing many with a much needed sense of routine and community.