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Entries in Ray Algar (5)


U.K. Independent Clubs Need Laser Focus to Compete with Low-cost Gyms

The United States and the United Kingdom have a lot in common, from our shared language to our shared love of caffeinated beverages (be they coffee or tea). However, while we have a number of similarities, we also have many differences—especially when it comes to the health and fitness market.

Ask any American health club owner what poses the biggest threat to independent clubs and they will likely tell you the same thing: boutique fitness studios.

But if you ask a U.K. club owner the same question, chances are you’ll get a different answer: low-cost gyms.

The U.K. health club industry earns more revenue than any other country in Europe, according to the 2017 IHRSA Global Report. (Click to enlarge)

Continue reading "U.K. Independent Clubs Need Laser Focus to Compete with Low-cost Gyms."

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New Report Analyzes UK Fitness Industry

Ray Algar, a UK fitness analyst and industry veteran, has published a new report that looks at the state of the industry in that country.

The second annual "Review of the UK Health and Fitness Industry and Outlook for 2015" has the following predictions, among others.

  • middle sector clubs, where most of the major brands lie like Virgin Active and David Lloyd, will reinvent themselves
  • low-cost offerings will grab even a bigger share, from 23% to 30%
  • consumers will have more options

Algar is managing director of Oxygen Consulting, a Brighton, UK, company that provides strategic business insight for organizations connected to the global health and fitness industry.

For more on the report, visit the Oxygen Consulting blog. The report can be purchased at the Oxygen Consulting Knowledge Store.

Check out Algar in the February CBI magazine (click on the cover image).


Gymtopia Shares Fitness Industry's Good Will

The health and fitness industry does plenty of good on a daily basis by helping every person who walks through the door onto a path for a healthy and happy life.

You would think it would be enough for a club knowing that they are there to witness an overweight person get off the couch and get the heart pumping and blood flowing on one of their treadmills, or maybe seeing the smile on the face of a mentally handicapped individual who is becoming more comfortable with themselves with the assistance of a personal trainer or occupational therapist.

Many clubs, however, are going one step further by taking the community within their walls and are becoming a bigger part of the area they are in. Whether it is a fundraiser for a local cause, volunteering for a community event or helping with a certain issue, club from coast to coast and all over the world are quick to be involved.

IHRSA has reported on many over the years. Most recently we have shared the many Ice Bucket Challenge videos from member clubs. A little further back we reported on the Finnish club Liikuntakeskus Hukka that donates old squash balls that are sewn into blankets that are used to calm autistic and hyperactive children.

Ray Algar has taken it one step further with his website Algar, an industry veteran and founder of Oxygen Consulting, has created a place where these stories can be told. 

Read on to see more about Gymtopia.

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Rise of the Boutique Studio

Competition within the industry is increasing, and the nature of the competition is changing. Traditional multi-sport clubs are finding new competitors in the form of boutique studios serving market slivers of perhaps just 300 people, observed Ray Algar, Managing Director of Oxygen Consulting, in his presentation at the 14th annual IHRSA European Congress in Amsterdam on October 17.

Algar noted that middle market clubs charge an average €42 per month while boutique studios are charging €25 for 60 minutes. These new, relatively high-priced players are a stark contrast to the low-priced players that clubs have been competing against over the past five-plus years.

Because the boutiques are serving such small slices of the market, it might be tempting to ignore them, Algar said. “But if you have enough competition from all different slices – yoga, cycling, micro gyms – they could put you out of business,” he said.

So how should clubs respond to this new competition?  Algar noted that several operators are finding a way to offer the boutique experience within their existing club models:  Fitness First has recently set up a small studio that is appointment-driven. David Lloyd Leisure currently has three small studios and is looking at adding more. David Barton Gyms have partnered with a boutique provider to operate within the gym.

Algar is currently working on a boutique studio report, which will be published in December. He will be offering it free of charge.


Maximize The Power Of Your Website

This week, experts Ray Algar and Bret FitzGerald discuss how to maximize the power of your club's website:

Q: "We're finding it difficult to measure the effectiveness of our website and figure out how many prospects are actually taking the next step to come into the club for a tour. What are some easy and effective methods to track these website visitors and convince them to, eventually, become members?"

A: The fundamental challenge with many established websites is they were built on the premise of a ‘one-way’ channel for distributing information. Early websites were ‘static’ with content rarely changing. Often, there were very limited, or no ways for prospective or existing customers to ‘engage’ with the site. Unless there is some obvious ‘call to action’ such as downloading a guest pass or join online, it is difficult to establish the visitor’s future intention.

Web 2.0 is designed on a completely different set of rules and assumptions with an interactive and conversations style the new norm. Hence the term ‘social media’. So, it raises the question: Can your existing website accommodate this new, more open and engaging dialogue between companies and customers, or do you need to re-think your digital strategy? A strategic review may reveal that other digital media (Blogger, Twitter, Ning etc) need to be employed to work alongside your existing website.

You will soon find these new digital tools help you to better understand how a visitor becomes a member. For example, you could create an online community for prospective and existing members using a free tool such as Ning. Ning can work alongside your existing website and help you to start a conversation with prospective members. This will help your club to gain a much deeper understanding of the future intention of prospective and existing members (we also need to know the ‘mood’ of existing members as well). You can search the Ning directory to see how clubs across the globe are presently using Ning (e.g. Fitness Concepts Health Club in Massachusetts and Gainesville Health and Fitness Center in Florida.) You will soon find these new digital tools help you to better understand how a visitor becomes a member.

Ray Algar, Managing Director
Oxygen Consulting
44) 127 388 5998

A: There is no magic to tracking web business. Simply ask every lead, be it a telephone inquiry or a walk-in, if they have seen your website and if that was a deciding factor for their inquiry into your business. I would also ask what they liked most and what they liked the least about your website. These days, because of the quality of websites, it is not acceptable to have an unattractive website. Prospects often judge the quality of your club(s) based on the quality of your website.

Bret FitzGerald, V.P. of Corp. Communications
Las Vegas Athletic Clubs