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Top 9 Takeaways from PerformX Live 2024

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PerformX Live 2024 far surpassed expectations with two dynamic days of educational masterclasses, engaging panel discussions, vital networking opportunities, and more. Here are the 9 essential insights that you need to know.

Gym owners and operators attended en masse for the first major fitness event of 2024. Promoted as a 'can't-miss' event, PerformX Live 2024 certainly delivered on its promise!

The event featured inspirational masterclasses led by top experts and showcased the latest innovations in equipment, technology, and training, along with ample networking opportunities with like-minded professionals.

We were thrilled to welcome many attendees to the Xplor Space bar. Over the two days—March 21 and 22—you enjoyed nearly 1,000 coffees served by our skilled baristas. A big thank you to everyone who joined us for coffee (or a cocktail on Thursday afternoon!).

Without a doubt, it was a bustling event with much to see and many connections to make. We understand that not everyone could attend in London, so we've compiled 9 crucial insights for gym owners and operators.

1. Keep learning

A recurring theme in many masterclasses and panel sessions was the importance of ongoing education.

Notably, emphasizing learning from the best in other industries. Many fitness industry leaders and innovators pointed out the benefits of looking beyond what other fitness and wellbeing businesses are doing.

The Main Stage agenda began with the "Building Customer Experience: Lessons From Hospitality" panel. This enlightening discussion featured leaders from the hospitality industry, offering a perfect opportunity to learn from those outside the fitness industry.

During this panel, Emlyn Brown, Senior Vice President of Wellbeing at Accor Hotels, suggested that gyms and fitness clubs could take cues from hospitality leaders like Ritz-Carlton, a brand renowned for exceptional customer service.

Takeaway: Learn Customer Service from Ritz-Carlton

Ritz-Carlton has set the bar high in customer service, extending their efforts to meet even unexpressed needs. Their staff are empowered to create unique, memorable, and personalized experiences. At Ritz-Carlton, stellar service is embedded in the culture and the brand.

Later on day one, the importance of learning from other industries was again underscored during the "Building Empires: Transformative Insights From Industry Titans" panel.

Dave Wright, Founder of Myzone, urged gym owners and operators seeking significant growth to look beyond their competitors to the best businesses in other industries.

“If you want to be the best in your industry, and improve your business by 10%, you follow the best in the industry. If you want to improve your business by 110%, you follow the best in another industry.”

Dave Wright, Founder of Myzone

Fitness industry thought leader and disruptor, Emma Barry, echoed this sentiment during the "Decoding The Next Wave Of Fitness From The USA" masterclass on day two. She shared that she spends half her time looking outside the industry to learn from more established ones.

Emma cited food, fashion, and hospitality as industries that have existed for centuries and have successfully adapted to hybrid spaces.

“Think about food, it’s a great analogy. We might go to a nice restaurant. We might go to a supermarket. We might have stuff delivered. We might have it half delivered. We might have it delivered and cook it ourselves. That is what fitness is going to become.”

Emma Barry, CEO & Founder of Trouble Global

Stay tuned for more insights and strategies from PerformX Live 2024 that will help elevate your gym or fitness club to new heights!

2: Create a strong community

During this masterclass, Emma shared insights on emerging trends from the USA that are likely to influence the fitness industry in the UK. She emphasized that a new narrative is taking shape.

There’s no returning to pre-COVID norms; the world has moved forward. As everyone has aged, Gen Z (born 1997 to 2010) is coming into their own. By 2030, Gen Z will have considerable spending power in the fitness industry. It's crucial to act now to cater to this demographic.

One effective strategy is to focus on building a community. In the USA (and arguably in the UK), fandom has become a lucrative business. Whether it's football fans, Swifties, or e-sports enthusiasts, Gen Z and other generations are willing to spend considerably to participate in their fandom.

Entertainment is key. You need to consider how you are entertaining your members and create an immersive experience that captivates them. Fitness should be fun and community-oriented.

“Think of the spectacle that conferences and events are becoming: the friendship bracelets, the merchandise, the swag. These elements are building a community that people don't want to leave.

What are you doing to build a community that people never want to leave, where they don’t want to break up with you?”

Emma Barry, CEO & Founder of Trouble Global

The importance of community was also discussed during the Building Brand For Legacy panel hosted by FRIDAY&’s Sam Kitching and Jonny Rose, featuring industry leaders George Veness of JAB Boxing Club, Molly Bryan of runlimited™, and Ben Taylor of Gravitate Sport.

These fitness business founders highlighted how critical community has been in building successful brands. Staying true to their values, these business owners have created experiences and products their communities want to be part of.

Similarly, during the Bulletproof Gym Systems panel, many gym owners emphasized the importance of focusing on existing members and nurturing a sense of community.

Fitness center owner Abbi Hutchinson (Studio6) underscored how vital it is to build a community based on genuine connections with members for business growth.

“People sometimes hesitate to buy from a seller, but think about those who enjoy your services. No one promotes you louder than someone who feels good about themselves, and they’ll share that with their friends.

So, take care of the people in front of you. Ensure you give them touchpoints not just in the first 30 days when you’re trying to convert them from a trial to a member but also afterward.

Look at all the people in your business and ask how you can fill their needs, appeal to them, and elevate their experience.

Listen to the people in front of you as individuals, not just numbers, and they’ll stay and feel valued.”

Abbi Hutchinson, Owner of Studio6

Panel host Dan Aguilera (Fitness Business Profits) explained that people will leave your gym when they no longer see a future there. This doesn't necessarily mean they stop seeing results.

Gavin Denning from GWD Performance uses community events to ensure people continue to see a future in your facility.

“There are people on the verge of leaving your facility right now. The community and the social events you plan can keep those people engaged and attending.”

Gavin Denning, Owner of GWD Performance

3: Focus on consistency

Another crucial insight from PerformX Live 2024, essential for attracting and retaining more members, is the importance of delivering consistently high-quality experiences.

During the "Building Customer Experience: Lessons From Hospitality" panel, we learned how the hospitality industry takes this aspect seriously.

The fitness sector is often criticized for prioritizing sales over retention, thereby neglecting customer experience. A significant transformation akin to that seen in the hospitality industry—shifting from merely providing a place to stay to offering a comprehensive living space—is required.

Staff training is paramount. Service should be practiced and perfected, and your business values should be emphasized through this training. Incentives can motivate team members to deliver the desired level of service.

“For our teams, touching on the training element, we’ve implemented steps of service. So, we know for consistency when you’re checking in you’re going to get that same level of service.

Each site does have its own personality, its own twang to it, but you know as soon as you walk into the doors of a Soho House you’re expecting that same level of expertise and service.”

Michaela Hurst, UK Head of Health & Wellness at Soho House

Michaela Hurst highlighted the importance of mystery shopping to ensure consistency in customer service. Budgeting for both training and mystery shopping is crucial.

“Training is definitely a superpower. The repetition, the role play, and really teaching the language and then inspecting it.

My biggest frustration with delivering training is when I have meetings with operators, and we spend so much money on beautiful facilities, the latest equipment, and high-tech amenities.

But, how much of the budget is allocated to training people? How much is set aside to train people? Because if you haven’t done that, you just end up with empty spaces filled with nice equipment.”

Jaclyn Hughes, Board Member of The UK Spa Association

The significance of member experience was also discussed during the "Building Empires: Transformative Insights From Industry Titans" panel.

The panelists agreed that if you can run a business that centers on customers and employees, you are on the path to success. For gyms, this means making people feel good about exercising.

Similarly, in the "Bulletproof Gym Systems" panel, Dan Aguilera of Fitness Business Profits emphasized the value of a fitness facility audit.

This tool can be used to objectively review every touchpoint in your facility from a member’s perspective. Consider everything from smell to sound. Rate each aspect from 1 to 10, then compare it to a high-end establishment (it doesn’t have to be a gym).

Evgenia Koroleva, Founder and Director at ONE LDN, stressed the importance of instilling a customer-focused experience. In owner-operated clubs, this should start with the leader and trickle down through the team to the customer.

“What can we do as leaders, as people in an organization, to instill a company culture that translates through your team into the client experience? So, your customers want to come back to you day in, day out. And when they fill out a customer survey, they say it’s the staff that keep them coming back.”

Evgenia Koroleva, Founder and Director at ONE LDN

4: Educate to add value

A recurring theme throughout the event was how to increase industry penetration beyond the current 15% level to reach the remaining 85% of the UK population.

One strategy is to focus on delivering value to members. Dr. Jonathan Leary, the CEO & Founder of Remedy Place, explained that providing health and fitness education can add significant value.

This approach can transform the industry, and a starting point is to showcase healthy behaviors that inspire members.

Leading by example to educate members was also discussed during the "Bulletproof Gym Systems" panel. Ross Colquhoun, Owner of The Training Club, shared how he inspires members of his men’s gym.

“The gym is an expression of yourself, so living by example is the best kind of leadership in my experience. How you do everything matters. Know that everyone is always watching… I personally hold myself accountable and feel obligated to be in shape, on time, and many other things.”

Ross Colquhoun, Owner of The Training Club

5: Get creative to disrupt

To attract a broader audience, including those new to fitness, it's crucial to adopt the right gym marketing strategy. One standout example is Gymbox's approach to marketing.

During a compelling interview, Rory McEntee, Gymbox's Brand & Marketing Director, discussed disruptive marketing strategies before a captivated audience.

Gymbox is a brand that thrives on innovation, constantly seeking the next big trend. This proactive stance extends significantly into their marketing. As a London-based brand, Gymbox aims to deliver surprising and delightful experiences to its audience.

"It's about being consistently inconsistent, especially in our marketing, to surprise people. We have a polarizing effect; people either love or hate Gymbox.

And that's fine because we don't aim to attract everyone. The reality is that some people may find our gym, with a boxing ring in the center, quite intimidating," said Rory McEntee.

Understanding their target audience enables Gymbox to develop creative and disruptive campaigns. This mindset is crucial, as is drawing inspiration from trends outside the fitness industry.

Gymbox doesn't allocate a substantial budget to marketing but excels in maximizing the impact of what they do spend. They stay reactive to cultural shifts in their region and the UK at large, quickly crafting creative campaigns that resonate with their target audience.

"All it takes is an idea and getting it out there. In the era of social media and digital platforms, you can do this on a relatively modest budget. Guerrilla marketing is driven more by ideas than by budget," McEntee added.

Rory also emphasized the importance of continuous brand investment to attract members over time and create value that reduces the need for frequent discounts.

"Make sure to allocate some funds to maintain the brand’s presence. It's tempting to divert that money into paid media for short-term results, but I believe that would only lead to a cycle of discounting," he said.

6: Ask the right questions

Creating marketing and advertising campaigns that cut through the noise and resonate with your target audience is crucial. During the event, it became clear that asking the right questions is vital for truly connecting with your audience.

Emma Barry, during the "Decoding The Next Wave Of Fitness From The USA" masterclass, underscored the importance of questioning both your members and mentors from other sectors.

This approach keeps you curious and innovative, helping you attract and retain more members.

"My advice is to ask better questions. Always seek feedback. Spend time with people in other industries. Ask them, 'What would you do in my position? What do you see here? What’s coming next?' Experiment and pilot new ideas constantly," said Emma Barry, CEO & Founder of Trouble Global.

Asking the right questions also aids in sales. In the "Gym Sales Expertise" masterclass, Luke Robinson and Charlie Horton from Fitness Marketing Agency (FMA) shared insights on converting leads into paying members.

For prospects who aren’t signing up online, understanding their needs and aspirations is key. A phone call is often the most efficient way to facilitate this process. Aim to resolve inquiries in a single call to prevent indecision, delve into each prospect's goals, and use open-ended questions to guide them toward joining.

Luke outlined four essential questions to address in every sales call:

  1. What are your goals?

  2. Why are these goals important to you?

  3. What have you attempted before?

  4. Why now?

7: More action, less hesitation

At this year’s event, technology was a major focus. Today, more than ever before, technology presents gym and fitness clubs with the chance to create more engaging experiences and significantly scale their operations.

During the "Decoding The Next Wave Of Fitness From The USA" masterclass, Emma Barry discussed the ongoing 4th industrial revolution. Technology is advancing at an unprecedented pace. Therefore, as a gym owner or operator, it’s crucial to stay updated and determine what’s best for your business.

“Consider this—timing is everything, especially now that technology is a prevalent topic. I believe the time is ripe to integrate technology from other sectors into ours.

Whether it’s software platforms or enhancing motion capture technology, these innovations can be game-changers.

My advice is to get well-acquainted with technology, understand where your brand stands, and remember that it doesn't always have to be AI.

Sometimes, simple automation to handle mundane tasks can make a significant difference.”

Emma Barry, CEO & Founder of Trouble Global

Time is of the essence. PerformX Live 2024 attendees had the opportunity to attend an ultimate AI masterclass hosted by Ian Mullane, Founder & CEO of Keepme.

In this informative session, Ian discussed the various opportunities that AI can provide for gyms and fitness clubs.

The session emphasized that AI should be viewed as an ally, not an adversary. It’s a tool that can help your business scale. If embraced promptly, AI will create new roles and opportunities within the fitness industry.

“I believe AI will lead to the addition of roles in our sector, not the elimination of them.

Here’s why: our market penetration is about 15%, give or take a couple of percentage points, and it rarely changes significantly. To alter this, we need a substantial catalyst…

Artificial intelligence will be that catalyst.

Why? Because we’ll be able to produce better products, personalize our offerings for consumers, increase accessibility to a broader audience, and enhance our ability to help customers achieve their goals and track their progress.”

Ian Mullane, Founder & CEO of Keepme

To illustrate his point, Ian shared how GymNation, a growing chain in the Middle East, is utilizing AI to scale and grow more rapidly.

For instance, the gym chain employs an AI-powered voice assistant to follow up with leads. This assistant can make return calls, answer questions, and schedule visits. Since its implementation, sales performance has improved.

Ian cautioned that the greatest risk AI poses to gym and fitness clubs is the industry’s slow adoption. Currently, private operators are lagging behind public operators in embracing AI.

“My concern is that the sector will not engage with AI in a timely manner. Our track record in this area isn’t particularly impressive. Adopting this type of technology can have an almost immediate impact on most operators.”

Ian Mullane, Founder & CEO of Keepme

8: Know your numbers

For gym owners, mastering financial management is crucial to building a successful business. This critical topic was thoroughly explored at PerformX Live 2024.

"Master the money game. I think it’s important. A lot of people I see don’t know how much they’ve got in the bank. They live their life from a place of fiction, not fact. And you have to live in a place of fact right now to build a better future."

Dan Aguilera, Owner & Founder of Fitness Business Profits

Simon Kallu, CEO & Founder of GrowFactor, provided a wealth of valuable insights during his masterclass on financial mastery for gym owners. Simon encouraged owners in the audience to consider their financial aspirations.

As an owner, it's crucial to comprehend your financial performance and use that data to shape your strategy. Setting long-term goals is essential, and these should be supported by short-term objectives to keep you accountable and on track.

Regularly measuring the right metrics enables you to adjust your strategy as needed, ensuring you stay on course to achieve your objectives.

Remember, you don't have to navigate financial mastery and performance assessment alone.

If you are serious about building a successful business that allows you to accomplish your goals, it's imperative to have the right team supporting you.

For many owners, this means collaborating with an external team of qualified experts to ensure your finances work in your favor.

"You need to set financial goals that are relevant to your business, and every business is different. So, one of the things is to set up the right account codes to suit your business and create bespoke performance reports...

Have someone else do your bookkeeping each week... the bookkeeper should be part of the same team as the accountant... and a tax advisor... and a CFO."

Simon Kallu, CEO & Founder of GrowFactor

9: Think outside the box

Finally, the panels and masterclasses at this year's event clearly demonstrated the need for gym owners and operators to think outside the box. This approach is key to adapting to ever-changing trends and demands, and to building a thriving business.

Look to other industries for inspiration, advice, and collaborations. Embrace emerging technology to scale your business, and find new ways to tap into consumer trends that might not typically impact gyms.

One way to think outside the box is to get creative in finding new revenue streams for your business. Make the most of every opportunity that comes your way.

An excellent example of this is ONE LDN, which realized that partnering with fitness professionals and influencers to provide filming space can both generate revenue and help market the club.

"We really think about how to optimize every square foot and how to generate cash from every single square foot... we do membership and class-based systems with everything inclusive. So, where else can we drive revenue from?

We’re very fortunate that we’ve built a facility that many fitness professionals and influencers trust. 20% of my paying members are fitness professionals... it’s been incredible for marketing... the other thing they do is film.

 They film ads, they film for themselves – we charge them for it... We’ve built an incredible revenue stream for filming."

Evgenia Koroleva, Founder and Director at ONE LDN

The Wrap-Up

Wow! Here are the top 9 sizzling insights for gym owners and operators from PerformX Live 2024:

  1. Keep Learning: For significant growth, observe what the best businesses and brands in various industries are doing. Apply these insights to your gym.

  2. Create a Strong Community: Building a solid community is crucial for attracting and retaining members now and in the future. Offer immersive experiences that members won’t want to miss.

  3. Focus on Consistency: To provide experiences that keep members returning, consistency is critical. Proper staff training is essential for delivering exceptional experiences.

  4. Educate to Add Value: Fitness industry leaders should inspire and educate members to drive lasting change. Start by leading through example.

  5. Get Creative to Disrupt: Stand out by being innovative with your marketing. Consider your audience, how you can cut through the clutter, and amplify your efforts.

  6. Ask the Right Questions: Attracting more prospects and signing up more members requires asking the right questions. Listen closely and act on feedback to convince people that they need your services.

  7. More Action, Less Hesitation: It’s time for fitness clubs to embrace technology. Begin by finding simple ways to utilize tech to automate routine tasks and scale your business.

  8. Know Your Numbers: Mastering your finances and using financial performance to guide your strategy will help you achieve your overall goals. Seek a team of qualified experts to set up the right financial plan for your needs.

  9. Think Outside the Box: Success for many gyms and fitness clubs will come from innovative thinking. Build on traditional models and find new revenue streams.

We’ve just scratched the surface of what was explored at this year’s event. Did we miss anything you’d include?

Bring on PerformX Live 2025!

We’re leaving this year’s event feeling more inspired and motivated about our industry than ever before. We’re excited for the year ahead and hope you are too. We can’t wait to do it all again in 2025!


Source: xplorgym

The opinions shared in the GymNation blog articles are solely those of the respective authors and may not represent the perspectives of GymNation or any member of the GymNation team.