ExCel London was the place to be for fitness industry professionals last week as Elevate 2023 took over one of their giant halls.

This year’s event brought together the UK’s leading fitness industry experts from both suppliers and operators. Speaker topics and exhibitor solutions included blending gym and home exercise routines, personalised experiences, and how to add value beyond your traditional fitness offering.

So, let’s dive right in and explore some key themes from this packed two-day event.

Blending gym-based and home fitness experiences

HCM Magazine listed ‘Hybrid Models’ as one of the top fitness trends of 2022-23, and the importance of finding a balance between gym-based workouts and home exercise routines was prominent at Elevate.

This isn’t a new trend – it’s grown quickly since Covid times – but both suppliers and operators continued to emphasise the need to embrace both options to meet member expectations of being available wherever was most convenient to them.

Members want access to high-quality equipment, expert guidance, and a motivating atmosphere while at the gym; and flexibility to continue their routines any time at home.

Many member management software platforms at the expo – which historically would have focused solely on managing member journeys through your physical facility – are now incorporating live-streaming, on-demand content, and virtual personal training sessions.

Maintaining the appeal of in-person workouts

Embracing a blended approach to home and in-person fitness gives your members what they want, but it doesn’t come without risk. What if they decide their home workout routine is so good they don’t need you anymore?

That’s why fitness operators are putting more and more focus on creating in-person experiences that can’t be replicated at home. 

Community itself is a great benefit of in-person experiences – Elevate perfectly showcases the enduring power of face-to-face interactions – but technology plays an equally prominent role here.

Our immersive Les Mills studio at the Mariner Centre and first-of-its-kind immersive Fiit studio for The Gym Group are both great examples of transforming space into experiences that are truly differentiated from anything you could do at home. These give members reasons to continue using their facilities alongside their home exercise routines.

Technology integrations like feature lighting, full-wall projections, and booming audio really capture attention and get people talking.

Premium content that’s only available in-person is another way to differentiate the gym experience. You could add Earth+Sky’s cinema-quality wellness classes to an automated unstaffed studio, giving members access to content not available anywhere else.

Personalisation

Fitness operators are reacting to the ever-increasing personalisation of B2C app and subscription services. When Netflix and Spotify can make recommendations based on your history and their interpretation of your personal tastes, it’s only natural that this sophisticated customisation influences our expectations in other parts of our life.

Devices and platforms collecting performance data, like MyZone, are common at the best fitness studios, and many cardio machines allow you to login to track your progress and receive workout recommendations. The popularity of Peloton bikes for home exercise has only served to increase expectations on gym cardio equipment as well.

What feels like a more recent development is more suppliers adding an element of personalisation to their strength equipment. EGYM’s Smart Strength range of machines, for example, include digital displays and personalised workouts. They have setting specifically for beginners as well programmes designed for advanced training plans.

For some fitness operators personalisation will come from their 121 interactions with members, but there is always the possibility to add to this using technology in smart ways.

Member retention is still the holy grail

Acquiring new members is great, but retaining and motivating them remains a top priority for operators across the fitness industry. With that goal in mind, many operators are looking for creative ways to add value beyond their traditional facilities and classes.

This includes finding ways to make your venue somewhere members want to spend more time. For example, David Lloyd have introduced workspaces at some of their clubs that members can use as a remote workplace. They can sit in this dedicated space after a game of tennis and do work on their laptops, dial into videocalls, or meet with other members. 

As David Lloyd’s technology integration partner we helped them bring this concept to life. Ensuring reliable WiFi connectivity for members and adding accessible teleconferencing solutions are just a couple of the integrations we can add to motivate your members to stay longer.

The secret to creating great fitness experiences

With the great variety of speakers and suppliers on display, Elevate was a great reminder that there’s no magic silver bullet approach to creating a great fitness experience. In reality, it’s many different things, done consistently well over a long period of time.

It’s smart personalisation. It’s integrating technologies that are the right match for your members. It’s creating impactful in-person experiences your members can’t replicate at home…while also providing at-home options that feel like a purposeful part of a holistic fitness offering rather than an afterthought bolt-on. And it’s a lot of other things too.

Starting with the member experience in mind is the single constant throughout everything. So whatever part of your business you’re looking to evolve, keep repeating “What would our members want?” and you won’t go far wrong.

We can help bring the wow factor

The projects we get most excited about are the ones where a client wants to transform a space into an experience.

Sometimes that involves things like feature lighting, booming audio, and immersive displays; things that really get people talking. And other times it’s easily accessible WiFi, smooth access control, and reliable phone lines; the invisible threads holding everything together.

If you’re looking for ways to create in-person experiences that keep your members coming back again and again, get in touch and we can help you explore what’s possible. Alternatively, download our free Studio Solutions Brochure to explore the possibilities for your current or next studio setup. 

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