Taking Health Club Digital Engagement to the Next Level

At Crunch Fitness, engagement doesn’t stop when a member leaves the club.

Leveraging technology in health clubs is one of the most critical issues facing the industry. With so many options to choose from—and consumer demands to satisfy—it’s difficult to know how much and what kind of digital services you need.

Crunch Fitness is one health club brand that’s putting a priority on creating a seamless, integrated digital experience for members.

“After you establish your Crunch online account, you have access to all of the different services that we offer via a single sign-on,” says Mike Neff, vice president of Crunch Fitness. “People don’t want to go to five different places to get different services, such as check-in and in-house Wi-Fi. They want one single entry point.”

There are currently 265 Crunch clubs in 24 states, Puerto Rico, and four countries. Neff says the company plans to expand to more than 1,000 clubs. Their digital strategy is a huge part of that ambitious plan, and one of their main drivers of engagement is CrunchLive.com, an on-demand video streaming service.

“We have over 100 videos of workouts and exercise instruction that we’ve shot professionally in our clubs,” says Neff. “If you’re a member, you get free access to CrunchLive.com. Even if a member is not able to make it into one of our facilities, we still want Crunch Fitness and our high-quality workouts available to them no matter where they exercise. Which is why we offer non-members the ability to pay a monthly fee to access our content.”

Crunch Fitness plans to expand Crunch Live in the coming years.

Embracing Member Experiences

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Crunch Fitness is just one club chain that’s reacting to the demands of the new tech reality. But every club has to decide their own digital direction.

“The challenge for clubs with technology adoption is knowing what solutions should be incorporated in a clubs’ business,” says Al Noshirvani, chairman and co-founder of Motionsoft and a charter member of IHRSA’s Innovation & Technology Advisory Council.

Noshirvani believes that club owners should think of technology services in two distinct categories:

  • Operational-enhancing technology
  • Member service-focused technology

Regardless of how your club may view innovation, Noshirvani insists that club owners need to stay on top of technology solutions and services.

“The main question for operators is how can we use technology to transform your club’s growth,” he says. “We need to start creating seamless synergies between how we’ve operated clubs in the past and the modern technology-enabled way our members use technology and navigate our collective club experiences. Operational and financial efficiencies are value drivers for owners and operators, but creating an integrated digital experience for our members must be our first priority if we’re going to streamline member services and improve retention at our clubs.”

Member Experience and the Human Touch

While Neff is an enthusiastic advocate of transforming customer engagement using cloud-based digital platforms, he knows that all these great technology services can’t replace the human touch.

“I believe that human interaction is important in the success of any health club, whether you're getting that through your personal trainers, your front desk, or your group fitness programs,” he says. “I think that’s one reason why studios have been so successful. They’ve created an environment where they can make a connection.”

But there are times when people can get in the way. Noshirvani says that it’s important for clubs to know when members would prefer to skip human contact in favor of efficiency.

“I think we forget that redesigning member experience is about their needs, not yours,” he says.

Neff agrees that it’s important to understand the difference between meaningful human interaction and inconvenience.

“When members walk into a facility, they don't want to sit at your front desk for 30 or 45 seconds,” he says. “People just want to get through, get started on their workout. Crunch is considering creating ‘fast lanes’ for those individuals who want to get to their exercise routine as quickly as possible. To that end, we’ve continued to enhance our mobile app features to create a great customer experience regardless of your workout needs.”

Instantaneous Reports—Robust KPIs

Neff says that Crunch would not be as advanced in their digital tech services if not for their partnership with Motionsoft. One of the leading providers of club software technology in the fitness industry, Motionsoft not only creates digital integration of member services, the company also has helped Crunch increase their KPIs with seamless operational functions.

“Motionsoft has given us the ability to build out an enterprise reporting warehouse through a single platform,” he says. “A lot of times operators will have one application that manages check-in, another that manages billing, and another that schedules training sessions. Instead of accessing different platforms, Motionsoft has brought all these pieces together.”

“We’ve proven that if we can engage people in one-on-one, group, or small group training, the retention rates are off the charts. Motionsoft helps us successfully reach these members.”

Mike Neff, Vice President

Crunch Fitness​ - New York City

Especially valuable to Crunch is access to data in real-time that Motionsoft provides through their intuitive dashboards.

“We create KPI reporting that goes out every few hours during the day, so we can see how we're trending,” he says. “I believe KPIs need to be looked at on a regular basis. You need to engage your people, whether it's general managers, sales managers, or group fitness leaders. You have to react to changes that happen each day. We don't like to run our business from the corporate office. We believe in our leaders in the field. The architecture of Motionsoft’s software allows us to share data between systems.”

In the end, it all serves the same goal of member engagement and retention.

“You have to find ways to engage your members,” he says. “We’ve proven that if we can engage people in one-on-one, group, or small group training, the retention rates are off the charts. Motionsoft helps us successfully reach these members.”

Motionsoft is used by some of the top health club chains in the world, and their ability to scale is important to Crunch as they seek to expand.

“We feel that Motionsoft is an important partner for our future plans,” says Neff.

To learn more about Motionsoft and their range of digital products for health clubs, big and small, visit their website and sign up for a software demo. You can also attend the upcoming 2018 Motionsoft Technology Summit in Washington, D.C., on October 3-5. This year’s theme is “The Convergence of Marketing, Sales, and IT on Creating Memorable Member Experiences.”

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Jim Schmaltz

Jim Schmaltz is a contributor to IHRSA.org