As industry professionals, we are regularly in and out of clubs, searching out innovation ideas and to keep a track on the competition’s offering. What we miss sometimes, is the vast majority [say your next-door neighbours] likely don’t have our knowledge or experience of what’s really different.
What does innovation really mean to the gym member and is that what they are looking for? Steve Shaw, Head of UK + Ireland for PAVIGYM, suggests that it’s less about “innovation”, it’s the challenge of keeping people interested instead.
”Innovation” can be anything that makes people exercise more than they had tried before. Say it’s a bike with integrated TV: “I did an extra 10-15 minutes on the bike today as I was watching the end of the football.” That might be innovation enough to some consumers. Take a member who has not done group exercise before but kind of likes this bike in the gym. They might previously have been put off by the thought of an indoor cycling class, but they tried it and followed some technology. They viewed it differently and decided they should come back.
At the base level, general consumers see fitness as treadmills, weights and a studio with wood flooring. So for our PRAMA customers, to start, we designed the product to be deliberately different from that. Immediately, visually of course it looks very different. At David Lloyd Bushey, you can see the PRAMA studio from outside of the room. People draw their attention to what is different. At our most recent instructor training, we had ten members stand looking in at what we were doing. As an attraction tool: it conjures up a different perception of what fitness might look like in the future.
Digital businesses focus on engaging with individuals for longer. Check out how clever Netflix is: the auto-play of the next episode. How many of us sit to watch one episode of our latest series and end up watching nine. The principle is the same for social media, YouTube. It’s the same in our business; the longer customers spend time with us, the more it becomes part of what they do. A more solid relationship develops between you and them and between them and exercise.
Once you scratch beneath the surface, broadly speaking, investments are made in our industry to join more members, retain more members and have them live well. If we can show differentiation and engage with members in different ways we’ll always be ready to move them forward to something else. This is where product and programming choices become so important and need to stay developmental.
“Don’t take my word for it, get the neighbours round for a Netflix marathon and ask them what they think.”