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Every gym can personalise the member experience. Here’s how.
February 18, 2021 •

Personalisation challenges

In a world where personalisation is a key agenda point for every consumer-facing business, gyms have a problem: when it comes to their product, they are currently capable of little customisation, instead relying on brand messaging and aspirational imagery to differentiate and connect to people’s goals. 

This in the face of myriad digital solutions that deliver against the wellness agenda in a specific, measurable, personalised way. 

Even where operators are capturing data – including insight into customers’ goals and requirements – it tends to be limited in scope and rarely used for the purpose of product personalisation. Rather, it is predominantly focused on gyms’ own operational needs, with little consideration for the other variables that encompass fitness and wellness. 

Personal interaction in a gym environment is, currently, mostly found in the delivery of additional services such as personal training – and even here, it all too often falls short. 

Impersonal training

Let’s paint a realistic picture of the typical personal training experience right now. 

Every week, I attend to be guided and motivated towards the achievement of my goals. The expectation is that my trainer is aware of these goals, and that (s)he tailors sessions appropriately. But even if we suggest that is the case – and ask yourself honestly how often the intensity of each session actually varies – it only represents a small part of the overall story.

I attend these weekly sessions in a variety of conditions: I may arrive on a Monday following a very physical weekend, or I may arrive on a Friday having had a stressful week of work, with limited sleep. 

To benefit my body and mind and move me towards my outcomes, the session needs to account for this. Not doing so will be detrimental and most likely move me away from my goal. 

Conversely, imagine the positive impact on trust and credibility if, on my arrival, my trainer were to congratulate me on an active week and outline a session for that day that focused on recovery. Even better if that were all followed, at the end, by some guidance on what to do away from the gym before our next appointment, as well as encouraging me to get some sleep.

A digital ‘day in the life’

It certainly won’t be long before the current (im)personal training scenario is ousted by consumers and replaced with a digital alternative. Consider this (very feasible) day in the life of a digital wellness consumer, which illustrates the power of personalisation.

On waking, my app congratulates me on meeting my sleep requirements following an active previous day. It prompts me to hydrate and suggests I start my meditation routine by selecting which programme I wish to use from its library.

My recovery score lets me know what level of exertion I should attempt today, including my non-gym activity. It is noted that I’m on a 16:8 intermittent fasting protocol and, through its integration with my Lumen tool, my app suggests optimal nutritional macros for the day, at the same time setting a notification to alert me when my intermittent fast is completed. 

With access to my schedule and a knowledge of my optimal workout requirements today, I’m given a recommendation to train between 2.30pm and 4.30pm. My location suggests I’m currently on a business trip, so options are presented to me using my ClassPass membership. Three providers are identified within 400m of my expected location at that time, with the selected sessions appropriate for my target exertion level. One click and I’m booked in. 

On completion of my workout, I’m prompted to take on appropriate hydration and a suggested post-workout snack, all in line with the knowledge that I will be having my evening meal at 7.00pm to meet my fasting deadline. It is also suggested that I be in bed by 10.00pm, to meet my recovery requirements from today. 

I’m presented with an overview of my activity for the day, my behaviours, and how all of this has combined to impact my progress. A summary of tomorrow’s plan is presented, along with a progress update on my month to date. As bedtime approaches, I’m presented with a suitable soundtrack to assist my sleep.

Draw the spokes together

As a gym operator, you may be daunted by the prospect of creating and delivering such a 360°, 24/7, 365 journey. But in fact, you don’t have to. Rather, you should determine and zero in on the part(s) of the journey you can and should control – read more here

Importantly, though, this should not hold you back from acting as a ‘hub’ to add value across the full ecosystem: educating members on the importance and impact of other spokes in the wellness wheel, analysing and interpreting data from across the ecosystem, offering tailored advice and content, supplementing with trainer-led reviews and progress benchmarking… 

All of a sudden, you own the ability to influence someone’s (ecosystem-wide) outcomes through the delivery of comprehensive guidance and measurement, with a high degree of personalisation. All of a sudden, your gym becomes a critical part of that person’s life. 

Wheels, and whether to reinvent them

One key consideration in establishing this ‘hub’ status is to determine where you stand alone and where dovetailing and integrating with others’ content will allow you to better play your part in the overall ecosystem.

When building a technology proposition for delivery through somebody else’s ecosystem – such as Apple’s – you must do so with the intention firstly to leverage their infrastructure to reduce customer friction, and secondly to take advantage of the expectation an Apple product brings. Take the time to understand what that means to design and delivery.

When designing your own parts of the ecosystem, do so with the customer experience at the centre of your thinking. What is the overall experience you’re looking to deliver to the member? What part of their life are you looking to improve, and how will their experience of interacting with your product – whether bricks and mortar or digital – deliver that? 

In doing so, you will increase the depth of relationship and be able to expand it, whether in the shape of extended services or simply longer-term relationships.

Learn more about personalisation in our white paper

For more insight into how gyms can survive and thrive in the fitness future, download our FREE white paper: The Fitness Future: Rules of Engagement.