What it really means

What are online payments and how to use them for your gym

What are online payments and how to use them for your gym
Written by GEORGE Published on 2020-08-19 8 minutes read

Online payments are one of the most popular trends in the fitness industry and with good reason. The e-commerce market is going through a historical growth at the moment, and more and more people are used to purchase products and services online and pay for them using their bank card in a fast and secure way.

Even if a gym is, by definition, a business based on direct, face-to-face interactions, that doesn't mean that members won't appreciate simpler ways to renew their membership.

Unlike an online shop that sells items, a gym needs a system that is custom-made for such a business. That's because you don't sell an actual item, but a service with a specific duration, connected to a particular individual. Therefore, it's not enough to just create a section on your website where people "Add to cart" the membership or service they want.

Usually, this system is connected to your management software with your member database, and it's integrated with an online payment processor. As you can imagine, you cannot ask your member to fill in their bank card details in just any online form that is not completely secure.

I know all these aspects might sound complicated, and they might discourage you from implementing such a system at your gym. But, I can assure you it is not complicated at all.

The secret is to choose the right system for your business that will help you and not create more problems. That is why I will do my best to explain what an online payment system means for a fitness center and why you need to implement it at your gym.

Why should you invest in an online payment system for your gym

Before I explain what this system means, I'd like to show you why you need online payments. There are three main reasons for which you should sell memberships and services online, at your gym.

First of all, to increase your retention rate. More precisely, to convince as many members as possible to renew their membership. Online payments mean that members can renew their membership at any moment, without depending on your gym (its working hours, queues at the front desk, etc.).

The second reason is to recruit new members. With online payments, the entire registration system can be moved online. Someone who is interested can fill in their contact information, choose the membership type they want, and pay for it online. The entire process is very straightforward and easy for customers, which means you have better chances to attract customers that are harder to convince.

The final main reason is more for your employees at the reception desk. Online payments can replace dozens of minutes of work for each new member, and the risk of human error is non-existent. That's because the online payment system replaces the entire renewal process and the new member registration process. And you must admit that usually, whenever the front desk if full, that's when most members want to purchase or renew their membership, right?

Depending on its configurations, members receive their invoice, member contract, and any other information they might need via email. If you have a member app with a digital member card, the only task your team must complete for a new member is to take their profile photo when they first visit the gym. As for members who renew their membership online, your employees don't have to do anything.

Of course, online payments have dozens of essential benefits, not just for your business revenue but also for your team's workload.

Sales campaigns will be extremely easy and efficient since all communication can promote a particular link where members can purchase the membership or service you are promoting. That way, you won't have to depend on the availability of your audience to visit your gym to make that purchase.

You can create onboarding and retention scenarios through which members receive notifications when their membership is about to expire and a link to renew it.

You can create false campaigns with massive discounts that are available only a few days or even hours. Members can take advantage of it easily because all they need is a device and an Internet connection. They don't have to got to the gym to take advantage of your promotional offer.

My teammate Mihai has published a more detailed article about the benefits of online payments right here

Online payments

What are online payments

Now that (hopefully), I convinced you of online payments' benefits for gyms and fitness centers, let me explain what exactly they entail.

In short, an online payment system allows members to access a link where they can choose the membership type they want. Then they are redirected to an online payment processing platform where they fill in their bank card information and completes the online payment.

The online payment processing platform takes the amount for that membership from the member's account and transfers it into the gym's account. At the same time, it tells the gym's system tat the payment has been processed correctly, and that said member can benefit from the service they have purchased.

Because the online payment system is directly integrated with the gym management software, the latter will allocate in the member profile. This membership was purchased and will register the payment in the database. That way, next time the member visits the gym and checks in, they will have an active membership, and they can access the gym without other validations.

Moreover, online payments require a space for members and potential clients to purchase said membership or service. That could be a dedicated section embedded into your gym's website or a mobile app. No matter what you choose, the members must log in using a set of unique data (email address and a password) that are already saved in the management software. Therefore, when a member logs in, the system will immediately identify them in the database.

Ideally, this space would also allow new customers to self-register and then purchase their membership online.

Members must log in using their email address to ensure that your database is not filled with dozens of member profiles belonging to the same individual, leading to many entanglements and headaches. 

What is the ideal process for online payments at a gym

To better understand how online payments work for a gym, let me explain the process for members at gyms that use the UPfit.cloud's online payment system.

First, a member logs in the app or the online member account on the gym's website. Because they use their unique authentification data, the system identifies in the management software the said member's profile. Then they access a dedicated section where they can purchase memberships and services online and choose the membership type they want.
Then they select the start date for the membership. The system then makes sure that member doesn't have overlapping membership. If everything is in order, it redirects the member to the online payment processing platform, filling in their bank card information and finishing the payment.
The online payment processor confirms that the payment has been completed and transfers the money from the member's account to the gym's.

Because UPfit.cloud receives the payment confirmation from the online payment processor, it updates the member profile with the newly purchased membership and activates it on the date the member chose. The software also emails the member their invoice for the online payment and the member contract for the membership thy purchased. The contract doesn't require a signature because it uses the online system.

The member profile in the software is also updated with the invoice and contract generated for this transaction. That way, the next time the member visits the gym, they can simply check-in and your employees don't have to do anything else.

Instead of logging in, new members can quickly register online, filling in a form with their contact details. Based on that information, the software automatically creates for them a new member profile.



What resources do you need to start selling memberships online

First of all, you need an online payment system fully integrated with your management software. Otherwise, every time someone buys a membership online, you must update the system manually with that purchase. This system will be tough to keep up, and the risk of human error is very high. Memberships might also overlap since the system doesn't check what membership the member purchasing online currently has.

You will also need a merchant account on an online processing platform. This is mandatory because that processor handles the secure transfer of money from the client's account to yours.

You also must provide members with a space where they can purchase memberships and services online. That could be a member portal that can be accessed straight from your website or a dedicated mobile app. Both options have many other features for members, not just the option to purchase memberships online.

UPfit.cloud's online payment system is fully integrated with the management platform. It allows members to purchase memberships and services using the UPfit.today member app or the online member account that is easily embedded into your gym's website using a link. Both digital solutions allow new members to self-register online.

UPfit.cloud also provides a more affordable widget where members and new clients can simply purchase a membership online, without having access to other features.
No matter how a member purchases the membership online, they will receive via email the invoice and the member contract.

The setup of the entire online payment system is done by the UPfit team. As for the prices of the memberships and services sold online, they can be controlled from the management software, and users have the option to offer discounts for online payments.

How much an online payment system costs

The cost of an online payment system is dependent on the provider, and it might include several commissions. Since this is a complex system that connects several other platforms, the provider might also levy a setup fee.

There are plenty of online payment solutions on the market. Some are custom-made for fitness centers, and others are general solutions that are not created for a particular type of business, but that might have fewer features and integrations.

For the online payment system provided by UPfit.cloud, we require a monthly subscription and a small commission from online sales. However, we do our best to scrap the implementing fee, as our clients can start using the system as soon as possible, without being stalled by massive setup fees.

Moreover, most online payment processors don't require a fee for opening an account, only a commission on the transactions made through their platforms.

Therefore, most costs are depended on the sale volume. Only when you actually start selling memberships, you will have to pay the commission. Otherwise, the costs could be minimal.
A quick catch up...

Online payments are one of the most popular and useful digital tools for gyms and fitness centers. It provides members with easier ways to purchase services, but it also greatly simplifies your employees' workload.

An online payment system custom-made for gyms encourages members to renew their membership, and potential clients always have a way to self-register. All this without depending on the gym's working hours and, most importantly, without creating crowds at the front desk.

If the online payment system is fully integrated with the management software, the sales flow is simple and intuitive. Because the system will automatically perform the entire sale process and activate the membership. That way, your team at the reception desk won't have to complete a single task to activate a new membership, not even for new members.

The system provided by UPfit.cloud is integrated with several online payment processors, and it can be accessed by members from the UPfit.today mobile app, from the online member account, or from the dedicated widget.

No matter the method they choose, the entire process is automated and not dependent on the front desk activity.

Even if it seems complicated, an online payment system will give your members more flexibility, and therefore you can quickly gain their loyalty.


George works in the fitness industry for over 12 years, during which he combined his advanced IT skills with the ability to solve problems with ingenious tech solutions. As a result, he has become very familiar with the challenges that occur during gyms' daily tasks and their solutions. His experience always takes shape into practical features for our platform

Fitness Business Romania
Fitness Business Romania

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How to set up an online booking system for your gym
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Are you struggling to increase the number of new members joining your fitness center?

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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