Half a million members and still counting
By Justin McDonell – Co-founder & Chairman, Collective Wellness Group
Ten years ago, the prospect of getting half a million Australians engaged with Anytime Fitness never crossed my mind. It would have sounded ludicrous back then. In the early 2000s, Australia’s gym market was largely monopolised by a few key players - a stark difference to the masses of new gyms, bootcamps and boutique fitness classes that you see today. Australia’s fitness industry – on a whole – has come a long way in the last ten years.
And it’s for this reason that I believe that the 1st of March 2018 – the day we reached 500,000 members here in Australia - wasn’t just a milestone for Anytime Fitness, it was a milestone for Australia’s entire fitness industry, and a reminder of just how far we’ve come. The number of Australians engaged in fitness now is far greater than what it used to be, something we don’t often take the time to look back on and consider. It’s a huge encouragement to know that as an industry, we’re doing something right and we’re moving in the right direction.
Much of the success of Anytime Fitness, I believe, comes down to the fact that we didn’t enter the market looking to compete as such. We entered the market with an aim to bring something new to the playing field. Not with a primary focus on enticing those people who were already engaged, but with an objective to break down barriers and make fitness more accessible to those people that didn’t feel like they had the option before.
Before we came into the market, Australians had few options to choose from when it came to fitness. And for some individuals, this meant no option at all. In bringing Anytime Fitness to Australia, my focus was always set on making fitness more accessible and more convenient for as many people as possible. This includes those people who’s working patterns previously left them shut out, those people in regional and outer metropolitan areas, and those people who simply prefer and deserve the option to train outside of peak hours.
I do believe that the growth of Anytime Fitness and the 24/7 gym model here in Australia has played a significant role in growing the number of people using fitness services. And for me, this is the accomplishment I’m most proud of.
When people ask me what the gym industry can learn from Anytime Fitness’ journey, two things immediately jump to mind. The first one being that an unwavering commitment to your core service offering goes a long way. To gain member loyalty, I believe that fitness providers need to remain loyal to their fundamental identity. First and foremost, you need to have a clear identity right from the start – know who you are and what you’re not. You’re never going to have a service that will meet the desires of absolutely everyone and that’s ok. But know what you want to bring to the table, what you want to add to the market, and then build on that.
Anytime Fitness is founded on a core offering for convenience, accessibility and most importantly, reliability. These three elements are what underpin our business and will continue to drive us forward in everything we do – from our operational processes, through to our equipment, design and layout, and the products and services we offer our members.
As we’ve expanded across Australia, our members have come to rely on us to accommodate their fitness needs, wherever they are and at whatever time they please. It’s one of the reasons why with over 480 clubs across Australia, we’re still growing and opening new clubs, and we will continue to do so. Our members feel reassured in the knowledge that no matter where they are, there is an Anytime Fitness club not far away. As an interconnected network, there’s still a demand for more clubs across Australia to meet the needs of over half a million members, and this demand will continue to increase with Australia’s growing population.
To this day, we remain fixed in our commitment to offering convenience and accessibility to our members, and the introduction of new products and services in our gyms reflect this. This year has seen us introduce Remote Coaching across our network, an app based platform that makes it possible for members to connect with and receive guidance from a personal trainer (PT) via their mobile device.
This service is the first of its kind in Australia and we hope that by making it available, and breaking down some of those barriers that often stand in the way of people accessing PT, it will give more people an opportunity to engage and benefit from this service. Our motivation behind Remote Coaching – as you may recognise – is similar to what led us to bringing Anytime Fitness to Australia in the first place. It’s not a case of following what others are doing, it’s a case of identifying what’s missing, and filling those gaps in the market to make the most significant impact.
The second learning I think the gym industry can learn from Anytime Fitness’ experience, is that you mustn’t be afraid to do things differently.
We entered the market differently to our competitors, focussing on regional areas rather than capital cities. Our entry strategy might have appeared unorthodox for some, but in hindsight, it turned out to be one of the smartest business decisions we made.
We entered locations with minimal competition and maximum exposure to the local community. Our experience in regional Australia is what gave us the knowledge and framework we needed to support national expansion.
Smashing the 500,000 member milestone has been eye opening, just as much as it’s been rewarding. I’m in awe of just how much the Australian fitness industry has evolved over the last ten years, and I’m proud of the role that Anytime Fitness has played in that journey.
With so much competition and so much demand, it’s an exciting time for the industry right now. For Anytime Fitness, our focus will remain on the Australian people, and how we can continue to deliver services that are convenient and accessible, as well as break down barriers wherever we can.