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The new approach is based on behavioural psychology to get members engaged


therefore began by seeking a better understanding of consumer needs within the fi tness sector. The result was a paper, produced in partnership with professor Stuart Biddle of Loughborough University in the UK, which outlined the science behind motivation and how the principles of behavioural psychology inform whether we will – or won’t – be successful in maintaining exercise. “We peeled it right back to two


questions: why don’t people get involved in the fi rst place?; and when they do get involved, why do so many stop coming?” says Cosslett. “These aren’t new questions, but I do think we’re getting some different answers. “The three things that matter to


customers are being made to feel welcome, comfortable and as though they belong; being given a sense of competence and therefore confi dence, which makes them feel empowered; and being given lots of feedback, encouragement and support about how they’re doing and how they can go further. Those are the three critical components. While they’re not rocket science, they’re strangely absent in a lot of places I’ve been in this industry.” It’s around these key components that the new Fitness First has been born.


ASKING THE QUESTIONS Whether Fitness First will actually have struck upon the answers to the


March 2014 © Cybertrek 2014


Fitness First: Evolution & Growth


Fitness First’s £270m global investment programme will see a revitalised brand bidding to return a sense of value to its offering. But that won’t mean lowering


prices to compete with the budget operators, as CEO Andrew Cosslett explains: “I’ve always struggled with our ‘affordable fi tness’ positioning in the UK – that’s not really a place to be given there will always be a budget operator to undercut you. Neither do we want to be seen as some sort of boutique super-brand. “If you look at Asia, Australia,


Germany – our more successful markets where we have the best brand reputation – Fitness First is positioned towards the upper end of the mid-scale market.” Although the company does


currently still operate fi ve low-cost Klick clubs in the UK – the legacy of its venture into this segment of the market in 2011 – the focus of the estate is shifting upwards, with major investment in clubs, staff and technology. By 2016, all 300+ clubs in 16 countries around the world – including 82 in the UK – will have been refreshed with a new look and feel that embraces everything


from club design and facility mix to technology and staffi ng. However, prices will not necessarily


rise. In the UK, some London clubs will see their prices go up, but as Cosslett explains: “We’ve taken a much more local view of pricing, because it’s just not credible to imagine that everywhere operates in the same economic environment. Fitness First was quite slow to acknowledge that and do anything about it, but it’s something we’re actively addressing now.” There will also be new clubs. Here


the focus will be primarily on Asia as a growth market – 15 new clubs this year and the same or more predicted for 2015 – with new sites also planned for the UK, Germany and Australia. And while it isn’t aiming to become


a ‘boutique super-brand’, Fitness First will also – where demographics and high local penetration of Fitness First clubs allow – be dipping a toe in the microgym market after the success of The Zone, its group exercise-only concept in Sydney, Australia. One such site, provisionally named The Beat, will open this month in London – a take on The Zone that also incorporates heart rate training.


Read Health Club Management online at healthclubmanagement.co.uk/digital 35


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