Exercising and working out aren’t only beneficial for physical fitness, but also for mental health. While some people have what’s necessary at home to work out regularly and stay fit, most who want to stay healthy and in good shape need to join a gym or a fitness center. Even the best home gym can’t compete with what an actual fitness center can offer, especially when it comes to the variety of fitness devices or other weight-lifting equipment.
The impact of the Covid-19 pandemic was immense for gyms and fitness centers as gym owners had to close shops due to health reasons and the risk of spreading the virus further. Per TD Ameritrade report, 59% of Americans were not keen on returning to gyms once the pandemic was over, and similar studies across Europe showed nearly identical results. Gym customers’ main reason not to renew their membership was cited as “health and safety risks” and fear of gyms being overly crowded.
Things are rapidly changing, though; some gyms and fitness centers are booming again, but most certainly not all, and not without a reason. Post-lockdown consumer demands are quite different than what they were a few years back, and gym owners need to be able to understand what their customers want in order to address these changing customer needs and expectations.
Understanding what your members (or potential customers) want is key to improving your gym in the post-covid world and you need the right tools and technology to deliver that safe and reliable exercising experience. Knowing which areas at your fitness centers pull the most people and when; which equipment is used the most and what fitness devices you need to invest in the future can all be addressed with the right traffic counting technology.
This article dives deep into how a gym can benefit by investing in the digital world and going beyond traditional fitness. It will also explain how you can transform the raw data you gather from your gym and members into actionable data to improve your fitness business.
What do gym members want?
Putting aside the obvious, wanting to be fit and healthy, gym members want a safe environment to reach their training goals. Even prior to the pandemic and lockdowns, gym managers had to pay close attention to keeping their place clean at all times, but now “clean” isn’t enough to show that you care about your customers.
Per UpSwell Marketing’s latest fitness consumer survey (a reliable data-providing agency focusing on the fitness and health sector), nearly one-third of all gym-goers have still not returned to the gym since the pandemic. According to this survey, gym members want to know that they can return to the gym without fear and they want to see gym owners take action.
The survey (alongside many other studies published in 2022) claims that the fitness industry is more competitive than ever, but gym owners face new operational challenges and need to address customer needs; understand what would motivate them to rejoin a gym. It also suggests that gyms will see a bigger surge in new memberships, and the ones which offer more than what an old-school gym does will get ahead of the competition.
While reassurance for members is critical to developing the right environment and bringing them back to the gym, offering vaccine or mask mandates, childcare and classes were not as motivating enough by themselves. Both the returning gym-goers and the ones who’re not returning yet but wish to say they want enhanced locker room facilities and better healthcare precautions.
A significant number of non-returning gym customers also said they would feel safer and would be willing to renew their membership if they could know in advance (and in real-time) how crowded a gym is or will be at a specific time.
What’s a people counter (traffic counter)?
No reason to get all fancy here, people counters (or traffic counters) do exactly what the name very obviously suggests. They are electronic devices that measure a specific area and tell how many people pass through that defined zone. Gyms and fitness centers, retail stores, restaurants, malls, and any other physical businesses can leverage this technology to understand what their customers want and how they can improve their businesses.
However, not all people counters are the same and the underlying technology varies. Most of them are just simple traffic counters that come with a large margin of error, while a select few others are built with state-of-the-art technology, offer high accuracy, and ensure privacy. Sadly, simple and cheap people counting solutions can’t provide any meaningful data. Knowing how many people come and go isn’t exactly an actionable insight by itself, it’s just a statistic at best. You’d have to get quite creative to build a marketing strategy based on that data alone. Needless to say, older technologies can’t even provide accurate data even if their sole task is to count people in and out.
V-Count offers people counting sensors that deliver up to 99.9% accuracy, gender and age recognition, zone analytics, and more. On top of that, all V-Count traffic counting sensors come with an in-house coded, customizable cloud dashboard that transforms the data your gym collects into actionable, meaningful insights.
If you want to give it a test ride, reach out to us via the link below and our experts will hook you up with a free demo.
How can a traffic counter help your gym improve?
In a nutshell, modern, reliable and accurate people counting technology will help you increase your revenue while lowering operating costs.
Knowing which zones are hot and when, you can optimize your workforce, decrease cleaning costs, and save energy by turning off the lights and air conditioning for the areas that don’t get used at specific times. Having actual and factual data at hand is way better than taking decisions based on rough estimates, right?
Gain new gym members
The people are returning to normal life, but that “normal” has changed forever. A significant portion of former gym-goers now wants to make sure their future gym takes extra safety precautions and enhanced cleaning. As pointed out earlier, mask or vaccine mandates alone can’t entice them to join your fitness center.
Having a people counter that can show live occupancy is a feature not many gyms offer, and most gym owners lack the technology to tell how occupied their places actually are. Guessing on the spot isn’t a convincing approach, your potential customer is usually quite smart; however, taking a data-driven approach can tilt the scale in your favor. Imagine being able to tell (or show online) on what days, and at what times your gym is most populated. Knowing when they can enjoy a quiet workout or socialize with other gym-goers (if that’s one of their goals) is an amazing trait most other gyms can’t provide.
Retain gym members
Let’s say you locked in a decent number of members; as a gym owner or a manager, you know too well that it’s far from the job being done. Maintaining and retaining these customers is key to increasing your revenue. We’re not here to give you tips on how you can motivate your customers to come back, that’s your expertise, but we can briefly explain how you can use technology to your advantage. Combined with your experience results will surely follow.
People counters can help you detect which exercise and fitness equipment your members use the most and which ones barely get touched. If there’s a line for specific workout equipment regularly, and you can back this claim with data, you now know which equipment you need to invest in. Less waiting time means happier gym members.
An alternative approach you can take is asking your members to fill out a short questionnaire and understand their wants and needs. Say, you know one of your members works during the day and wants to avoid crowds when they’re working out. Prepare a personalized report based on their preferences showing when they can find the best times to work out week in and week out. What you can do with actionable data is nearly limitless.
Optimize gym layout
This may sound like something that’s given to an experienced gym runner, yet time and time again, fitness centers just don’t do the necessary work to offer the best layout to their customers to ensure they have a satisfying experience.
Most gym coaches have a set of training programs they offer to their members, depending on their goals and current fitness levels. Optimizing the layout to suit their needs is a time saver for them, and may even help you save on some costs. Maybe you have a dedicated room for cardio equipment but they could be placed elsewhere, in a shared room where other cardio or lightweight activities are taking place. Energy costs decreased, just like that.
Modern traffic counters can also identify groups of people and track the customer journey. You can track your members’ programs and see their journey across their training sessions, combine the data and optimize your layout for maximum efficiency.
Show live occupancy
We covered this key feature across the article, but it deserves a standalone mention. American and European gym-goers believe that social distancing is the best way to keep themselves safe against covid and other transmittable diseases.
It’s a sure way to lose a hardly gained customer when they come to your gym and see that it’s packed. If you could display your live occupancy numbers via your gym’s website or if you have one, through a mobile app, you could show that you truly care about your customers’ health and safety.
Taking these little extra steps and keeping up with the times, or even better, being a few steps ahead will help your gym thrive and maximize your revenue.
Looking at the recent past of the fitness and health industry, one can easily deduce more and more people will return to gyms and fitness centers. However, customer demands have changed drastically following the pandemic, and lockdowns and gyms that don’t keep up with times are doomed to be left behind.
A modern people counting sensor will show you when your gym is packed and when not, and get you all the data you need to provide a customized and satisfying member experience. You can also cut down on your energy consumption and cleaning costs; better optimize your gym layout and workforce.