This article will dive into the different ways to collect data, what types of data to collect, and how it translates into business value that will benefit your gym.
These days, data is one of the most valuable resources on the planet. It’s used to influence political elections, support military operations, advance biotechnology, and improve our health and fitness.
For gym operators, it can reveal patterns and trends that can help you run your business more effectively. Leveraging data can help you improve your member experience, predict rising churn or identify satisfaction levels. It can also help gym members to understand their progress and what to do to reach their goals. Yet most gyms barely use any form of data analysis. They avoid using it for their business, and they don’t offer any form of data analysis for their members.
In this article, we will be taking a look at how data-driven solutions can benefit your gym and your members.
You can’t use data without first collecting it. So let’s start here.
There are two ways you can collect data, manually and automatically.
Every gym collects a certain amount of data from their members manually.
The member might be asked to complete a membership contract or enrollment form which is entered into your gym’s Member Relationship Management (MRM) software. Or the member takes a survey or submits a review or rating online.
These are manual forms of data collection. They require the member to manually input or write in answers to questions.
Most gyms also collect a certain amount of data from their members automatically.
Your members might tap a membership card to enter the gym – data such as a the date and time stamps are automatically collected. Your members might purchase a protein shake or your brand merchandise – data such as the purchase item, quantity, date and time are collected.
Or maybe you send out an email promoting a new service? Your marketing software should be able to tell you the open rate, bounce rate, etc. which does not require any action from your members. In other words, some form of data is automatically collected.
There are many different tools you can use to collect data from your members, ranging from survey forms to social media posts. The form in which these tools collect this data is either analog or electronic.
Analog tools are usually paper-based, whiteboards or chalkboards, and always collect data manually.
Some common analog tools include:
Electronic tools can be any software that saves or sends some form of data to a server, whether manually or electronically collected.
Some common electronic tools include:
Without getting too technical regarding the general types of data, (unstructured vs structured or nominal vs continuous) we’ve broken data into simple categories as it relates to you. In the gym, there are several different categories of data you can collect.
Data can come from many different sources, and a single source can collect data that falls into multiple categories. Here are the 3 most relevant categories of data in the gym that you should pay attention to.
This is the most common category of data gyms collect. This kind of data typically comes from membership contracts or onboarding. Mostly, this type of data represents your members demographics. Who they are as individuals. Are they married? How old are they? Male or female? It also represents each member’s profile in relation to your business such as what type of plan they signed up for, how long they’ve been a member, or if they’re signed up for your newsletter, etc. But it doesn’t have to stop there. It could also represent your members fitness goals, satisfaction levels or how many times they’ve contacted customer support.
This category of data pertains to a members activity in the gym or using your services. It can come from your own gym app, connected equipment, online workout platform, or third party integrations with wearables or other apps. This data represents how many times a member visited the gym, what kinds of exercises your members do. It could also be used to understand the types of workouts they do, High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) or Low Intensity Steady State (LISS)? Combined with the right software and AI, it could even tell you if your members practice good form while using free weight equipment.
Equipment usage data can help you to optimize your space and represents how many times or how long specific equipment is used. Connected equipment is a great source for this category of data. For example, the leg extension machine was used 520 times vs the inner/outer thigh machine was only used 30 times over the past week. You might want to consider replacing the thigh machine with another leg extension machine, or investigate why it is not being used. Maybe its unserviceable? Maybe your members have no idea what is it or how to train with it? Maybe they do, but they don’t understand the benefit.
Data is just data if you don’t organize it and turn it into actual information you can use to improve your business activities. You need the right software solution or tools to translate the data into actionable insights that create value. There are software tools for every job; customer acquisition, engagement, retention, etc. Each software tool will attempt to collect as much data as possible to turn into information you can use to make informed decisions.
However, some tools don’t collect enough data to make informed decisions. Other tools may collect enough data, but don’t organize and present it in a way that you can derive any value from it. And some may even get this far, but don’t help you to action on those insights. So how do you pick the right tools for the job?
Firstly you need to know what you’re looking for. Identify your needs. Then figure out what data you want access to or information that is important to you. Then make a list of things you could use that information for. Use this list against the software tools offerings.
It’s also important that the company that is selling you the software can tell you:
There are many ways in which data can improve your business. Giving you more information about your members and what they want can help to improve your service. Identifying trends and patterns can help you to predict what will happen in six months and allow you to prepare. Data can also help to improve the results you offer.
Here are some benefits specific to the business side of your gym and will help you in the following ways:
Collecting member data is the first step to understanding your members. Combined with other types of data, it can be used to understand your members personality and characteristics. Are they early birds? Do they spend a lot of time in the gym? How much of that time is spent working out (and how much maybe on talking with other members)?
If you know the majority of your members signed up to lose weight, then you can consider buying more cardio equipment or introducing a nutrition program.
The better you know your members, the better you can align your services and address their needs.
Knowing what kinds of workouts your members do at your gym is part of knowing your members. You can also use this data to present coaching opportunities or offer tips and advice.
If you know a large portion of your members lift heavy weights, perhaps you might consider holding a strong man competition. Maybe you noticed some of them don’t practice good form. That’s a good chance to offer some free instructional training to make sure your members don’t injure themselves. Not only does that make your members feel like you care and are looking out for them, but it also gets those members more familiar with your staff. This has even more knock off affects such as giving those members a stronger connection to your gym and opening them up to further personal training sessions and other upselling opportunities.
In the end, if you understand who your members are, what they want, and their workout goals, activity and preferences, then you can engage your members more effectively. You can host challenges and competitions that comprise of the most popular workouts. You can target your marketing for members that want to lose weight or for those who want to gain muscle. You can offer workout routines, advice and encouragement that resonates and gives them a personalized experience. Improving your member engagement leads to happier member that stay longer.
Most gyms tend to suffer from rush hours and are usually busiest between 6-7 pm when people have come from work, got changed, and walked into the gym. We know this thanks in part to anecdotal evidence (any gym owner, fitness instructor, or personal trainer can tell you from experience), but also from analysis of data. But not every gym is the same. Some gyms get a second wave after dinner, or before work between 7-8 am.
Understanding what time your members visit and how many members visit your gym at specific times can be as simple as standing by the entrance with a clipboard, or as complex as tracking entry times via an app that is connected to the gym’s access devices.
There are many uses for this information. For example, you can use this to predict busy times in gym. If you know for a fact that 7pm is the busiest time, then you can find ways to mitigate this. Could you offer a running club at this time which utilises a nearby park? That way members can still get a great workout, but it frees up the treadmills for others.
Some gyms provide a live update of how busy the gym is on their website. So that members who are considering turning up can see that the gym is packed and reschedule for a quieter time (also shown on most websites).
Many gyms offer discounted memberships for retired people and students which is designed to encourage them to train earlier. You could use data analysis to find out whether any of these strategies work, or to test out new ones. Or you might find out that only 5 members visit your gym between 6-7 am vs 50 members between 7-8 am. Then you can make an informed decision about whether opening that early is worth the extra cost. Same goes for staying open later.
Many fitness apps can be synced to gym equipment, either with integrated or retrofitted technology (like the sensors we use for the MoFit app). With this technology, a data map can be created highlighting where certain members spend their time in the gym (weights area, cardio area, spin bikes etc). This allows you to create offers and promotions that may apply to them specifically.
You can also use this information to ascertain what areas are most popular with your members, and which areas get busiest during rush hour. This could help you if you are considering a new layout for your gym. Does the weights area need more space? Is the area reserved for stretching and abs underused? Should you be encouraging people to use different areas at certain times?
This ties into the benefit above. If an app can track what equipment is being used, then this will help your members (see below) but can also help the gym to decide what equipment is popular and what equipment is being ignored. What you do with that information is up to you. Maybe you can try to encourage more usage by putting on a workshop? Or perhaps you replace this equipment with a more popular one.
Member retention is very important for your business. Data driven solutions can help you identify churn trends, find out how long members stay with your gym, identify members that are inactive, quantify the risk of losing certain members and help you to retain your members. If a bold new approach leads to members staying 6 months longer (on average) then you can be very pleased with the results.
Using activity data to identify when a member is at risk of cancelling their membership is a great example of this benefit. If the member hasn’t visited your gym in a certain amount of time, you’ll be alerted and can mitigate the risk by either offering them a free coaching session, highlighting an upcoming class they like or giving them a new workout routine they might like based on the data you collected.
Collecting activity data in the gym not only helps you understand and manage your members and business, but it could also help your members track their workouts, track metrics like calories burned, understand their progress, reach their goals, feel accomplished, and more. Making activity data available to your members could add tremendous value to your membership and offer a unique experience. So its worth considering if fitness tracking as an amenity is a worth while investment for your gym.
Leveraging other data like equipment usage data can also help you to offer your gym members a better experience. If you knew on average how long members spend on a popular piece of equipment, you could send friendly SMS or app notifications informing members that take longer than average to allow others a turn. If you have a high demand for certain equipment and no space for more, it could really go a long way towards improving the overall experience for all your members.
So data can help your members in these two ways, through fitness and through what they experience within the gym. Below are a few more benefits of data-driven solutions for your members.
There are many ways member data analysis could create upselling opportunities, and data-driven solutions can identify opportunities for upselling. Here are a few to get you started:
Data is all around us. When collected ethically, by multiple sources, and leveraged strategically, data could bring tremendous value to any business.
Gyms are no exception. Tech companies are not the only businesses that can leverage data to gain competitive advantage and grow their businesses. Gyms that embrace this and leverage data driven solutions will have access to information that will help them get ahead of their competition.
If you want to know more about how you can leverage the data in your gym, contact us.
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