There's been a whopping spike in the number of low-cost chain gyms opening up across the UK.
41% from 2015 to 2016! That's huge, and with membership costs as low as £16.99 per month it's becoming increasingly difficult for independent gyms to compete. At least from a cost perspective.
What's appealing about them?
Low monthly membership aside, other factors include 24 hour access and no annual contract. It's been said that a large number of members who join the budget chain gym are first-timers who, as their confidence grows, move their way up the market.
So how can the independent gyms compete?
Well, human beings are social creatures so they need to create more of a sociable atmosphere where people feel part of a 'fitness community' which in turn will encourage their attendance. Let's be honest, if a gym lacks atmosphere it won't be fun to attend. So, whilst the initial motivation is there to join a gym and get stronger and fitter, that motivation can quickly deteriorate and attendance drops off. Take the typical January peak as an example.
Members who are paying that low £16.99 per month fee might even continue paying for many months after they've stopped going. They're thinking, "I won't cancel as it's so cheap, but I'll make sure I start back Monday".
But that Monday never comes and the large corporate entity continues taking the money with no real interest in whether the member attends or not.
This is where independent gyms are doing it so much better!
Typically, they take real pride in helping their members achieve their goals whether it's weight loss or getting stronger. They can share success stories of their members on social media, motivating others. They might offer a creche for parents, somewhere to have a coffee or protein shake once they've finished their workout and a PT is always on hand to offer assistance.
You don't see much, if any, of this from the budget chain gyms but people don't join a gym just because it's cheap, they join a gym to improve their fitness, lose weight and feel better about themselves.
Independent gyms can create a community, keeping their members motivated and on target to reach their goals, reminding them why they joined a gym in the first place.