Why Your Health Club Needs an App

Digital services can increase engagement, retention, and revenue. Here’s how to get connected.

Every health club operator knows that member retention is essential for running a successful business, but few know the true costs of attrition in dollars and cents.

According to IHRSA’s Profiles of Success, “A health club member that leaves can cost a club as much as $674 in annual revenue per dropped account.” If you operate a multipurpose club, that number rises to $894.40. Not only do you lose revenue when a member quits your club, it costs an average of $103.50 in sales and marketing expenses to land a new member.

Since those numbers are from a few years ago, it’s easy to imagine that those totals are higher today. And not only are costs higher, but competition in the health club sector has intensified. This has led health clubs of all sizes to enhance the onboarding process and increase engagement with advanced customer relations management (CRM) software and mobile apps.

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In fact, it’s not an exaggeration to say that if you run a health club, you’re not just in the fitness industry—you’re in the technology industry. And that means implementing mobile apps.

"It's irrefutable that a 'mobile-first' strategy is emerging, which means that you may need to rethink some aspects of your business model," says Bryan O’Rourke, president of the Fitness Industry Technology Council (FIT-C).

Tethered to Our Screens

Why are apps so important for health clubs? For the same reason they’re important for all consumer industries: People are hooked into mobile technology, and it’s growing every day. Consider these statistics:

  • Consumers spend more than five hours a day on their smartphones, according to a survey by AdWeek, with 88% growth every year in amount of people watching videos on their phones.
  • Research by BrightEdge reveals that 57% of all online traffic in the U.S. is generated by mobile devices (according to Statista, that number is 52% worldwide).
  • 69% of smartphone users are more likely to buy from a company that easily answers their questions and concerns, according to BrightEdge.
  • According to marketing firm Smart Insights, “Apps account for 89% of time spent on mobile devices,” and some estimates put that higher at 92%!

That last statistic should get your attention. Mobile is king, and apps are where most of the attention of today’s consumers are focused. If you want to attract new members and retain the members you have, you need a mobile app.

But what app is right for you?

“A health club member that leaves can cost a club as much as $674 in annual revenue per dropped account.”

Why Clubs Have an Edge on Fitness Apps

The fitness sector has always had strong representation in the app market. According to Flurry Analytics, the fitness app market has grown more than 330% in the last three years, with 75% of users opening up their health and fitness app at least two times per week. The demand is there.

Consumers have more than 160,000 fitness apps to choose from, according to estimates. That may seem like insurmountable competition for attention, but club owners have an edge. Clubs can offer automatic check-in, scheduling, and other conveniences for members. But to really keep your members engaged in your app, you need to deliver content beyond basic club services.

Clubs would be wise to cover their bases by offering a digital ecosystem that allows for customization and integration of third-party apps. You don’t want to miss an opportunity.

Here’s what you should consider including in your app:

  • On-demand biometric assessments;
  • Interactive, individualized training experiences with club staff;
  • Group training promotion and sign-up;
  • Video instruction for exercise movements;
  • Nutrition and lifestyle coaching;
  • Abilities to link with “smart” equipment;
  • Messaging capabilities for club announcements and promotions;
  • Regular programming updates to keep up with mobile tech trends;
  • Data protections able to withstand today’s security challenges.

That’s just a partial list of what a fully integrated, cloud-connected app can accomplish for your brand. The app you use for your club should also provide multiple options for wellness programs to enlarge your pool of prospects and range of services. And apps can reduce costs by automating member services that don’t require human interaction.

While a great mobile app delivers convenience and added value for members (enhancing retention and engagement), it can create tremendous revenue opportunities through upselling of personal and group training packages, automated referrals, instant purchases of products, and other services.

Those are a lot of features, but if your club’s mobile app doesn’t provide them, the competition will.

Choosing a Versatile Digital CRM App

Created in 2012, Technogym’s Mywellness app is currently the only open ecosystem in the industry able to offer end users a fully personalized experience both on Technogym equipment and outdoors. The cloud platform connects to 15,000 clubs and 10 million users worldwide, bolstered by its extensive network of industry partners.

“Our partnerships work to make members’ personal health and workout data—stored in real time—available on Technogym equipment as well as across multiple other platforms,” says Enrico Manaresi, Technogym’s PR and media relations director. “For example, our proprietary MyRunning Logbook app allows members to track any of their outdoor runs using their mobile training devices and favorite apps, such as RunKeeper, MapMyFitness, Strava, Polar, and Garmin. What’s more, they can replicate those runs on any Technogym treadmill that has the Unity console.”

As part of the company’s Technogym 4.0 project next year, the Mywellness app will increase its reach and interactive functionality, especially as it relates to the Internet of Things (IoT) and cloud capabilities. This gives club owners more power in how they customize the features of the Mywellness app as they apply it to their own clubs.

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The Mywellness cloud system has established a track record of delivering on ROI. One club (Fitness Space) increased potential members by 31% after offering the Mywellness app, while another club (KMPG) saw an increase of 43% in members engaged in challenges.

Find out how the Mywellness app can help you increase engagement and revenue in your club. To learn about other products and services from Technogym, visit their website and select your region.

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Jim Schmaltz

Jim Schmaltz is a contributor to IHRSA.org