Before the pandemic, 24/7 fitness clubs have started trending in the United States and western Europe.
Now that things have started to turn around towards normal, to the best these times have to offer, more and more fitness clubs are considering expanding their schedule until late at night or even 24 hours a day.
The main challenge is having a 24/7 gym without gigantic monthly fees.
Before we check the requirements of opening your fitness club 24 hours a day, let’s explore the benefits of such a program.
First of all, especially in the context of the pandemic and the crowd limitations, the fact that your members have a bigger time frame to arrive at the gym will help with overcrowding.
Of course, most of the members will come to the gym after business hours during the week, which means that between 5 pm and 8 pm, your club will still have the largest crowd. However, that number of members can drop if some of them can train later in the day.
On the other hand, you will be able to attract much easier people who wish to train, but their less usual daily schedule doesn’t allow them. That includes people who work evening shifts and may be willing to go to the gym during the night or those who wake up very early and would like to go to the gym first thing in the morning.
There are many people, with different schedules and preferences, for which a 24/7 working schedule would be really attractive.
The main disadvantage is, of course, the cost of keeping the club open 24/7. I’m not strictly talking about electricity, water, and the rest of the maintenance fees, but the staff also needs to be present in the gym 24/7.
A 24/7 schedule requires a minimum of 3 shifts with at least two employees at the reception desk. So even if during the night you only have one employee, that still means five employees at the reception desk alone.
Furthermore, it is difficult to find people willing to work night shifts, let alone people who will do a good job. And if you don’t want to spend your nights at the fitness club to ensure that everything works the way it’s supposed to, then it is essential to hire people you can trust.
There are different methods through which you can reduce those costs and obstacles by investing in digital solutions, such that your club members solve on their own most of their issues for which they usually would see the reception desk.
Here are the main digital solutions you need to be able to keep your fitness club open 24/7 or with extended opening hours without any struggles.
The most important aspect that you need to “take care of” when you want to have a 24/7 opened fitness club is the members’ access onto the premises, especially if you don’t want to employ an army of people for this.
Therefore, you need an access control system to check the people trying to access the gym.
The access control system implies the installation of automatic doors or turnstiles at the entrance, where the member scans their card. In addition, the access control system needs to be linked to the club’s active member database. Thus, when a member scans their card, the access control system knows whether that member has an active membership or not, therefore, granting or denying its access onto the premises.
In this way, the members’ entrance is done automatically without requiring an employee to be present at the reception desk to validate the members’ access.
Since you don’t have an employee at the front desk, at least for the duration of the night, you need to find a solution for the locker keys. It is not really recommended to leave the keys in the lockers because most will surely disappear.
A low-cost solution would be the use of locks. More specifically, each member brings their own lock.
Although it seems like the ideal solution, it’s not exactly the best system. For example, what happens if a new member comes for the first time to the gym and doesn’t know that they need to bring a lock, or if they simply forget it at home? Or how about if a member decides to “reserve” that locker and leaves the lock on upon leaving?
A more efficient and elegant solution is the electro-mechanical locks with a cipher. Each locker has such a lock, and the member picks a code with which they lock their locker. And if the locker is left locked upon leaving, these locks have a master key with which you can open any locker with no problem.
This way, the member chooses the desired locker and locks it personally, without it being necessary that someone hands him the key.
For a club member to be able to come to the gym at any time, he first needs an active membership.
One option would be that the potential client should come to the fitness club during the day, when there is someone at the reception, in order to acquire or renew their membership.
Another option is to implement an online sales system linked to the club’s membership database so that the client can create an online account, buy the membership instantly using a credit card and then have the membership activated automatically.
This way, the member doesn’t need to come to the gym anymore, simply to buy/renew the membership.
The same thing is valid for other services you want to sell as well, from sessions with personal trainers to massage sessions.
One of the cons of an access control system is the fact that you cannot check who uses the membership when they pass the turnstiles. To be more precise, if the person scanning the card is the membership owner or some friend.
One method of combating any possible fraud attempts is the installation of biometric scanning systems. Meaning that after the clients scan their membership card, they scan their fingerprint or retina, thus telling the access control system precisely who is trying to enter the gym.
The disadvantage of these systems is that many people do not wish to share their biometric data, and a scanning system can get very expensive. At the same time, you will need to find a method to collect this data from new members, meaning that an individual cannot create an online membership and enter the gym directly in a case where no employee is present at the reception desk.
From my point of view, it is simpler to use a member app with a digital membership. This way, the member downloads the fitness club’s app, logs in with their member account, and at the entrance, instead of scanning a physical card, they scan a QR code straight from the app.
Depending on the desired access control system, you can set the system to remember the unique id of the phone used for the check-in and warn you should the same membership be scanned on multiple devices. Therefore, you can easily figure out which members do not follow the rules.
Furthermore, the member app can have tons of other useful features, such as the option to renew the membership online, the schedule of the group classes with the possibility of making a reservation, and many others.
If your fitness club offers a variety of services for which you sell memberships with different levels of access, your access control system will be helpful here as well.
So, if you sell memberships with different access levels, you can also implement turnstiles or access gates in those areas.
By doing this, if a member does not have access to the group classes, for example, their digital card from the app will not grant them access to the class studio. The same goes for the swimming pool, jacuzzi, sauna, or any other similar services your fitness club has to offer.
Personal training sessions are the most profitable service for any fitness club, and if you wish to extend the working schedule, you shouldn’t give it up or restrict it.
You can implement a simple online system where the trainer and the member can quickly handle their training. Besides, you can offer the trainers the possibility of selling session packs straight to the members, which means that all your trainers will thus become sales agents, even highly motivated ones, if you offer them a percentage of the sales.
With a dedicated mobile app, the trainers can add PT packages for their clients, paying them online from the mobile app using a credit card.
Also, if they’ve never participated in any kind of PT session, the members can acquire such a pack online and select the trainer they want to train with before paying for the sessions, yet again online, of course.
The trainer schedules the session from his mobile app, and the member automatically receives a confirmation e-mail with the details of the session.
Therefore, nor the member nor the trainer depend anymore on the front desk employees.
Even if a fitness club is a business relying on human interaction, choose to focus on employing the best trainers and instructors, such that you offer exceptional services to your members.
You can minimize the number of employees for the reception desk by investing in a suitable access control system and related digital solutions. Not only will these allow you to keep your gym open more hours a day and thus have a more significant number of members, but also to surprise your clients with state-of-the-art services, thus putting you way ahead of your competition.
There is an easier way to get more members! Communicate efficiently with them through automated emails, provide them the option to purchase memberships online, delight them with a professional mobile app and member account, and surprise them with fast services at the reception desk.
With UPfit.cloud, everything is done quickly, and you can start seeing results in a matter of days. Find out the advantages of our platform in a 20-minute demo session.
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