Fitness First Revamps Membership Model To Compete In Post-Covid Landscape

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LONDON, United Kingdom — Big box gym chain Fitness First has given its membership model a revamp to better reflect consumer desire for more flexible and affordable options.

The approach, which more closely mirrors the popular boutique fitness model that has forced the fitness industry to reimagine the way it does business, will see the gym operator giving members the option to access up to all of its 45 clubs without having to lock into a contract or pay a joining fee.

In addition, the cost of the gym’s flexible, no contract membership for its highest tier, which includes four London clubs at Baker Street, Bishopsgate, Cottons and Tottenham Court Road and gives access to 35 gyms across London, has been dropped to £99 a month from £139 – almost a 30 percent reduction. The cost of its other membership options remain unchanged.

“This is a really cool move, which allows people to get a gym membership which is as flexible as they are,” Fitness First UK Managing Director Lee Matthews told Leisure Opportunities.

He continued: “Our mission statement has always been clear, we want to encourage fitness and not limit access to it in any way, shape or form. With this in mind and the world of work becoming more fluid, our new flexible membership options ensure we meet this demand, producing the perfect environment where both office work and gym routines are fully flexible and dovetail with each other.”

Elsewhere, the company has also relaunched its app to deliver a more connected and seamless experience. Going forward, this means customers will be able to book PT sessions straight from their phone, take on-demand classes, connect to their personal fitness trackers and use contactless check-in.

The refresh comes at a time, when, despite many gyms and studios reporting a strong recovery post-covid lockdowns and restrictions, there exists the need to adapt in order to better cater for new lifestyles and behaviours that have emerged as a result of the pandemic.

With a huge number of people still working from home, either full or part-time, as well as utilising digital fitness platforms, gym and studio brands are finding themselves having to rethink their offerings in order to remain relevant within this new landscape.

London-based boutique fitness chain Psycle recently announced a brand new membership model ‘PSYCLE5’ which offers consumers the option to purchase five studio credits per month for just £85, in addition to discounts on further classes.

Earlier this year Digme introduced a ‘Best Of Both’ membership enabling customers to sign up for 2 classes + Digme at Home per month. And 1Rebel now offers an ‘Out Of Office’ package, in which consumers can save money by purchasing classes at quieter times.

The high-octane fitness brand has also launched a brand new PT concept at its Holborn studio, which offers members the ability to book one-to-one, personalised training away from the crowds.

As the fitness industry continues to rebound during this recovery phase, research from Les Mills suggests appetite for live fitness classes is twice as popular as Livestream options at home.

“Much like bars, restaurants and sports events, fitness is experiencing a real ‘live revival’ as people make up for lost time with renewed appreciation for real-world social settings,” commented Phillip Mills, Les Mills Founder and Executive Director.

Read More: Gyms & Studios Set For Roaring Recovery, New Les Mills Report Finds

However, what these new strategies highlight is that operators are increasingly having to recalibrate their offerings to meet new expectations, with innovation and evolution the key to future success.

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