More than 11% of gym members belong to gyms that are open 24-hours a day, according to the largest survey of gym members in Australia.
But the annual Fitness Industry Survey, conducted by gym membership and payments systems provider Ezypay, reveals the rapid growth in the sector has little to do with opening hours.
“In the past when we’ve done this survey, franchise-based clubs have always been the fastest-growing segment,” Ezypay chief executive Trent Brown told SmartCompany. “But what we’re seeing now is the 24-hour segment dominating.”
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However, when Ezypay asked the nearly 20,000 survey respondents why they made the decision to join a gym, location was the most prominent reason given, closely followed by whether the membership provided ‘value for money’. Access to fitness clubs around the clock was not nominated as one of the key reasons people joined or left clubs.
Changes in financial circumstances were one of the key reasons people left their gym. Together, these two insights show that most gym members are highly price sensitive.
“The fitness industry is in transition, and is being disrupted by the move to low-cost clubs,” Brown says. “As a consequence of that, it’s actually seeing a lot of growth, princely being led by the 24-hour franchise model clubs.
“Large, premium chains like Fitness First are struggling in this marketplace, whereas companies like Jetts are growing very, very strongly. That’s why you’re seeing clubs turn to the 24-hour model. It almost gives them permission to change their business model.
“Customers accept a trade-off between the hours a club is open and the service it provides… It’s a much more cost-effective model, and that allows clubs to offer lower fees.”
The survey also revealed 71% of club members are women, and 28% said they were unsatisfied with their club.
Just over 40% of gym members belonged to a franchise club, but 21% belonged to a privately owned single club. Another 14% belonged to clubs owned by SMEs with multiple sites.
Club members also showed an overwhelming preference to being contacted by email. Clubs also say they like to get in touch with members through email, but also list face-to-face contact and social media as preferred communication methods.
The most popular social media channels used by members were Facebook and Youtube. The most popular social media channels used by clubs were Facebook, followed by updates to their website.