These Apps Help Health Club Operators Run Their Business

Six top health club industry professionals share their favorite business apps for marketing, management, and everything in between.

There seems to be a mobile app for nearly every aspect of life—work, family, business, leisure, news, politics, religion, health and fitness, and so on.

They’ve become a major component of our social fabric.

Statista.com, a Hamburg, Germany–based statistics portal for market data, reports that, as of the first quarter of this year, Android users had 2.1 million apps to choose from, and Apple users, nearly 1.8 million.

These digital tools connect us, inform us, and offer a multitude of benefits that educate and enhance our personal and professional lives.

Which apps make life easier and more productive for health club owners? Fitness industry experts weigh in.

For Marisa Hoff, customizable graphics helps build community within the gym.

With a staff of 45 and a membership of over 1,500, overseeing operations at Stevenson Fitness in Oak Park, CA, requires Hoff, the general manager, to assume several different roles, including the development and execution of all marketing initiatives. To accomplish this, she employs Canva, a graphic design platform—i.e., a mobile app and website—which, among other things, offers a variety of multipurpose templates.

“My favorites are those for social media, posters, and flyers,” says Hoff. “However, I use a few others as well.”

With its drag-and-drop format, Canva offers a huge selection of photos, graphics, fonts, and clip art that are free of charge. Additional photos and clip art can be purchased inexpensively, and the platform also allows users to upload photos from other sources.

“My favorites are those for social media, posters, and flyers.”

Marisa Hoff, General Manager

Stevenson Fitness - Oak Park, CA

“For example, we hosted a ‘Moms and Mimosas’ event for Mother’s Day at the club, so I started with the poster template, and found a design I liked. I modified it with some of our own photos, and, then, used the Stevenson ‘Brand Kit,’ which I’d created previously. It contains our company’s brand colors, fonts, and logos.”

Once the poster had been created, Hoff downloaded it and sent it out to be printed.

“Another awesome advantage is that I can re-size the poster file in Canva to create a flyer or use it for social media posts. As a small business, we can’t afford to have a professional graphic designer on staff, so Canva saves us time and money!”

Hoff also recommends FaceTune, a “fun portrait and selfie editor” app she uses to edit, enhance, and retouch photos directly from her smartphone.

It’s particularly handy when creating portraits.

“We love using our own members and staff in our marketing materials,” she explains. “When taking member photos for testimonials and social media posts, or instructor and trainer images, I use FaceTune to make easy and high-quality touchups. I can smooth their skin, whiten their teeth, remove blemishes, and brighten their eyes. I can also use filters and add frames.”

Apps can help ease administrative tasks, too.

As director of group fitness, Ingrid Knight-Cohee of Steve Nash Fitness World & Sports Club in Vancouver, Canada, oversees six group fitness managers and 350 instructors who, collectively, conduct 800 classes a week across 23 SNFW locations.

On the administrative side, Knight-Cohee finds Genius Scan to be extremely useful. “It’s a simple and quick solution for instructors and staff, who have to submit a wide variety of documents in a consistent format.”

This free mobile app allows the user to take photos with their smartphones and email them in a PDF format in seconds. “The quick delivery of files allows my managers to upload to our human resources and payroll platforms, which simplifies tasks, and makes us more efficient.”

There’s also an inexpensive monthly subscription option that provides safe and secure file backups and synchronization.

“In a world where we’re increasingly mobile, this works for a large staff that’s constantly on the go.”

Ingrid Knight-Cohee, Director of Group Fitness

Steve Nash Fitness World & Sports Club - Vancouver, Canada

“In a world where we’re increasingly mobile, this works for a large staff that’s constantly on the go,” she attests.

For Amy Boone Thompson, the national customer experience manager at Les Mills U.S. in Chicago, IL, her organizational tool of choice is OneNote, which is positioned as a “digital notebook.”

Why is it her “go-to” app?

“I work with our club chain’s owners, senior executive teams, and fitness leadership in a consultative role,” she explains. “I advise, support, and lead decisions about effective programming. I use OneNote to keep notes about what’s been said, proposed, and agreed upon when I’m on site with them.

“It’s very easy to use. I can attach images and documents, make appointments, and, then, sync all of this between my devices, making the information readily available, no matter where I am or which device I’m using. OneNote helps me to stay on top of priorities, allowing me to easily track action items and follow-up.

“My measure of success is seeing an increase in club member visits and engagement.”

To keep tabs on all the people she meets on the road during club visits and at industry events, Boone Thompson uses Haystack, a digital business card app. It allows individuals and companies to create “smart,” branded business cards that are easily shared, and updated automatically when a contact’s details change.

“Haystack works like a charm when you want to exchange contact info at conferences, meetings, and events,” she says. “You can easily sync and share.”

Users also can take a photo of a paper business card and immediately transfer the information into a CRM or email mailing list. Although Haystack is a native English app, it currently can scan cards in 25 languages.

“This app also allows us to be mindful of the environment, reducing the amount of unnecessary waste,” she points out.

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A Les Mills virtual class.

Beyond administrative tasks, apps can be a powerful marketing tool.

Senior Vice President Darren Jacobson’s role at Zumba Fitness in Miami, FL, is to oversee all education, instructor trainings, master trainer teams, and events. For him, social media is a vital communication tool.

“It’s a hugely relevant way to create awareness of our initiatives and opportunities,” he says. “I use several apps to enhance my ability to position social media content so it’s right on point, and can be easily consumed.”

One of his favorite apps is InShot, an all-in-one, visual-content editing app that allows him to create and edit videos and photos, format content, overlay music, and add text.

Jacobson emphasizes how important it is for him, as an industry expert and fitness professional, to use apps such as InShot. “It ensures that my message is delivered in a way that’s on-trend, most effective, and relevant to consumers.”

Using it enables him to create content that he can share on a variety of social media platforms, including Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn. “It’s helped me to grow my social media footprint significantly over the past year, both personally and professionally.”

What about the background of managing a health club facility?

Christin Marås Kalve, owner of Sport-Treff Health and Spa Club in Stord, Norway, values versatility.

One minute she’s the marketing or sales person, the next she’s teaching group exercise classes, giving a spa treatment, or working with a personal training client.

To stay on top of and run a successful business, Kalve utilizes Exceview, which works with Exceline Gym Management Software.

“My membership system provider has custom-tailored this application to meet the needs of club owners and managers like myself. It provides a dashboard overview of everything I need to know, including how many visitors we have, and our sales, class attendance, and retention metrics.”

Kalve, who’s also the IHRSA ambassador for Norway, stresses that using a data management app is critical to the successful management of her club, since it provides real-time information, which informs her decision-making. “With all of my duties in the club, I don’t have the time to dig into the heavy reports from my accountant,” she says. “Exceview gives me control over my numbers, providing me with live data from the membership system at any given moment.”

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Sport-Treff Health and Spa Club

On the sales and staffing side, Matthew Januszek, co-founder of Escape Fitness in Newport Beach, CA, relies on Monday.

It’s a team management platform that’s designed to help teams collaborate, and Januszek uses it to record, organize, and track business leads and inquiries. It’s an important tool at Escape Fitness, which specializes in the production and installation of functional fitness equipment.

“Since leads come in from many different sources—our website, email, trade shows, and so forth—and we have a lot of external partners, this app allows everyone to work together easily,” he says. “When a lead comes in for a specific project, it can be tracked from A to Z.”

All of the leads are put into what Januszek calls an expanded CRM (customer relationship management) system, and, once the data has been collected, it’s integrated into Escape’s main CRM.

Monday’s dashboard can be customized to provide a view that’s intuitive and simple to use that allows users to track progress at a glance.

For big projects that involve a number of people and partners, Januszek and his team use Trello, a task-management app. “Trello is great for managing product development; it centralizes the project, providing a spot where the different participants can come together.”

He likens it to a social media platform for all involved.

“For example, if the project is to design and equip a new gym, we create a board, and invite and provide access to everyone—both internally and externally—who is working on it. The flooring person can see it, the equipment people—etc., etc. And we never have to send a single email.”

Januszek especially appreciates how visual the app is. “You can actually see concepts—not just imagine what they are. And you can make comments, assign tasks and actions, and create deadlines—an exceptionally important aspect of any project.”

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