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What is the background to the company? PayasUgym was created by me, Jamie Ward and Michael Blake.

I trained in leisure management some years ago and then started working in the City. Jamie and I worked together at a couple of companies and for a while bounced ideas around until we hit on this one. We then asked Michael, an experienced web developer, to come on-board as we knew how important it would be to carry out all of the development in house.

How did the idea come about? Through frustration! Jamie and I travelled a lot with work and

found it challenging not to be able to get to a gym on a regular basis. We felt there had to be a more flexible way of using a gym – one that would attract more people to the market – and conversations with friends validated those views. We quit our jobs at the end of 2009 and spent a lot of time

talking to each other and to other people, running surveys and doing market assessments to work out the reasons why people weren’t currently going to the gym, and what would make them go. We believe technology is the answer, using it to better effect – with online booking for example, particularly via smart phones, as well as social media networking and marketing. From there, we’ve really refi ned and enhanced the idea.

Start-up: The payasUgym founders, (left to right) Jamie Ward, Michael Blake and Neil Harmsworth

So what’s the concept? As a payasUgym customer, you can create an account online

for free and top up an e-wallet with credit, just like topping up a pay-as-you-go phone. The minimum upload is £10. Users can then look at the gyms on the website and buy a pass to whichever one they want to visit. They’re sent a unique eight-digit voucher code, either by text or email, and they hand that over to the gym reception, where it’s validated. The pay-as-you-go concept of pre-loading an account has

been there for some time; this concept brings it to the leisure industry using technology such as smart phones. The customer is required to complete a health disclaimer as

part of the purchase process to ensure they’re fi t and ready to use the gym, saving the gyms the paperwork. And once they’ve used a gym, they can leave feedback on

their experience, a bit like TripAdvisor for hotels. It gives the power of information to users.

Who is the target audience? I think there will be a couple of groups of users: those who live

and work in different places, who might already use a couple of gyms, and those who want to use gyms occasionally to back up their outdoor training. Other feedback we’ve had is that some people fi nd it a bit

frustrating always going to the same gym and seeing the same scenery and same people. PayasUgym allows them to vary their workout by location and price too. We offer everything from functional, no-frills gyms to large, luxury sites with sauna, pool and spa. This programme offers the fl exibility of easily swapping from one to the other, which is very appealing. Our research has shown it will also appeal to casual gym users

and non-participants: people who don’t go to the gym, but who tell us they would if it could be done on a more fl exible basis.

What is the pricing structure? Each gym has its own price and we work with them to get that

price right. It has to be attractive to the target audience of people who don’t go to that gym, but who might do if it offered more flexible options, but it should still make it cost-effective to be a member. That way, if people start going on a regular basis, we help maintain the membership model. We want payasUgym to open up a whole new audience. The thing that operators are recognising more than ever before

44 Read Health Club Management online at april 2011 © cybertrek 2011

An idea whose genius lies in its simplicity, payasUgym has flown off the starting blocks, with companies including GLL, LivingWell and Fit4Less buying into the concept. Neil Harmsworth, one of its co-founders, speaks to Kath Hudson


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