Budget Gym Charges Premium Prices

I have spent much of the last fifteen years standing in gyms talking to members about their expectations and realities of the health club experience. In the week leading up to Easter I was once again on the gym floor. Three days of interviewing in three sites across the country. While the interviewing had a specific focus much of the insight gained from members whilst they exercised had remained the same. To few interaction if any with the staff, little support on the development of exercise programmes and beginnings of a trend to get support from the internet rather than from a member of the fitness team.

On day one while interviewing one member I asked one of the standard questions I ask. When was the last time an instructor spoke to you? The response was somewhat alarming. You were. You were the last person to speak to me, the last time you were in the gym doing this stuff. They were right I had been in this particular gym four years ago and i had spent time interviewing members I was first surprised that they remembered me and this astonished that with a member who trains four mornings a week that not one member of staff had made any effort to speak to them.

Day two, 250 miles away from the site of day one I began again. I spent 12 hours on the gym floor and again and again members gave me the same answers that they had the day before and for the past six years. Today I also intended to interview staff regarding the recent changes within their facility and its effects on how the members experience had changed. Wow, bigger surprise toady, what staff? Only one member of staff had been allocated per shift. That doesn’t surprise me in small to medium size sites but this was a premium brand club. This single member of staff spent their entire shift sat behind gym reception except for the small period of time they spent spotting one of the personal trainers. Members gave me their phone numbers and said if you see one of the  a members of staff can you pass it on as I need to book a review.

I stopped for lunch an order food from the restaurant. The food arrived and I began to eat. Within a couple of minutes a member of the F&B team came over to check if everything was okay, the same way they do in all restaurants now days. This made me wonder, how come we can get restaurant staff to interact with customers but not fitness staff. With all their technical training it seems almost impossible in some gyms to be able to get a simple ‘do you need anything’  from fitness staff.

Day three was much the same a day one and two except this time in addition to speaking members and fitness staff I also managed some interviews with some personal trainers, which wasn’t that inspiring if I am honest.

When writing my report for the client my thoughts began to make comparisons between the three clubs I had visited for them and the budget sites I had visited the week before. While my client’s facilities were at the premium end of the market, their offer in the gym was no different from the budget gym. The gym was populated with state of the art equipment, limited fitness staff and if you required it personal training. The only difference it was hidden between a restaurant, spa and the other facilities you would get at a high end club, but for intents and purposes it was a budget gym.

Originally publish with the Leisure Database Company.

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