Ben Dixon. Anytime Fitness Commercial & Property Director
Ben Dixon. Anytime Fitness Commercial & Property Director
Interview with Anytime Fitness director Ben Dixon

Anytime Fitness has launched a new interior design as part of its global strategy to enhance the member experience. The company’s commercial and property director explains.

The company

Originally founded in the USA, Anytime Fitness opened its first UK club in Bristol in 2010. There are now over 160 clubs across the UK and it sits as the country’s second biggest private operator, only behind PureGym by number of sites.

It has over 160,000 members and a wide-reaching membership demographic, catering for all ages.

The gyms are open 24/7 and provide a mid-market offering, including fitness equipment from Life Fitness or Precor as well as dedicated free weights areas and group exercise classes.

Anytime Fitness operates a ‘join one, join all’ membership policy, meaning members can access any of the brand’s 4,200+ worldwide locations via the fob which is issued on membership.

Q. Why have you launched this new interior design scheme?

After nine years since the first UK club opened, now is the time to refresh our brand to ensure the offering is kept modern and relevant to the ever evolving fitness industry. The new designs will be used to differentiate Anytime Fitness from budget operators and own that mid-market gym space where a more caring approach for its members is key.

Q. How does the new design enhance the member experience?

First impressions are everything
We have made lobbies to be as open and welcoming as possible, removing any closed office spaces. Staff are on the gym floor and instantly able to greet current and prospective members, increasing the opportunities for clubs to engage with their customers. It’s what today’s fitness consumers expect.

Open design throughout
The rest of the club is also designed to be less intimidating and more comfortable, particularly for inexperienced gym-go-ers. An open plan design replaces different training areas traditionally segmented by clear dividing walls or similar. Psychologically for members, taking away enclosed spaces enhances their experience as they feel more comfortable in their surroundings.

Q. What other differences will members notice?

The main, noticeable difference will be the new look and feel of the clubs:

  • ‘Generation one’ clubs prominently feature the brickwork and chalkboard style which formed a key part of the previous branding.

  • ‘Generation two’ clubs will instantly notice a lighter, more open look to the clubs and the use of more subtle colour tones. As well as the trademark purple, a more modern and contemporary light blue has also been added to the colour pallet.

 

Q. How did your research influence the design?

Guest experience mapping in existing clubs told us that members need a straightforward customer journey, allowing them to seamlessly transition between different exercise formats in an open and modern training environment.  So our club layouts needed to change.

We have created a journey divided into phases throughout the gym, considering several profiles of people who could potentially work out in our clubs. Cardio, free weights and group training form the backbone of this, but we have also accommodated the needs of our members that stretch far beyond that, including the rise in on-demand fitness and circuit/ HIIT training.

Collaboration with Livit
This leading global design company understood that the complete 360-degree experience is what captures the imagination of our members and guests. Their brief was to create a new design concept that firstly catered for the change in fitness training habits but more importantly, a more open and welcoming environment that removes any trepidation about entering a gym.

Q. What is the design ethos?

It reflects the four key Anytime Fitness brand values:
human, honest, approachable and empowering.

We created a customer journey divided into phases throughout the gym, considering several profiles of people who could potentially work out in our clubs.

A more ‘modular’ layout gives the key fundamental training areas (eg. cardio, strength, free weights, functional training area) a more balanced and equal presence in clubs. For example, the free weights area should not exceed 30 per cent of total club space.

All new-look clubs must have our ‘brandatories’ - compulsory design elements.


Q. Will all clubs be retrofitted with the new design?

As part of their franchisee agreement, clubs are required to have a refresh every five years and updating their club in line with the new design manual will now form a part of this.
Some clubs are under a year into this cycle which is why this will be a gradual process.

 

Q. How does the new design respond to the popularity of functional training?

It will now be compulsory for all club owners to have a dedicated functional area, recommended to be around 25 per cent of the overall club space (including the studio).

Replacing multi-purpose rigs in the middle of the training area
These will be replaced with less space hungry wall-flush racks which house functional training kit including slam balls and TRXs etc. These areas will also be instantly recognisable due to the purple flooring, a key design ‘brandatory’.

If the building layout allows, clubs are also encouraged to use folding concertina walls between their group exercise studio and functional training area to increase the amount of space available.

Q. How will the new design drive down fit-out costs?

All the materials and new elements included in the new Anytime Fitness design manual are of premium quality. These reduced costs have been achieved by a number of pre-negotiated and global agreements which have been established to help franchisees reduce the cost of the overall package.

Furthermore, because the clubs have a more open and expansive feel, there’s less construction required and as a result, less construction costs.

Q. Your brand positioning has switched from convenience to coaching. Why?

Convenience has been an important factor in attracting new members to our clubs. But is less important for retaining them as budget gyms also offer this accessibility.

Our research, including an in-depth member survey and focus groups with our franchisee network, found that members stay for the overall experience and friendly, community atmosphere that the brand promotes within its clubs rather than the convenience factor which enticed them to join.


New tagline
We have updated our brand tagline from ‘Get to a Healthier Place’ to ‘Let’s Make Healthy Happen’.

New products designed to support and coach our members:

  • Anytime Prime: a bespoke membership to help over 55s achieve their fitness goals and lead healthy and social lifestyles.
    Benefits:
    - tailored low-impact ‘Prime’ group exercises classes which focus on balance and flexibility.
    - access to a dedicated ‘Prime’ focussed personal trainer for specific training and support (additional cost).
    - social activities for ‘Prime’ members during off-peak hours.
    - local partnerships that support the local community including discounts at local amenities.

  • Anytime Coaching, an app-based personal training platform to provide members with an affordable personal training option. The app allows personal trainers to communicate with their clients via a built-in messaging platform to share bespoke workouts, set goals, track their daily steps and generally keep in touch via direct messages.
    This gives Anytime Fitness members access to the expertise and knowledge of their personal trainer and reduces the need for face-to-face time coaching, allowing personal trainers to coach their clients even when they are unable to visit the club. This ensures that every individual receives true value for money whatever their fitness goal may be.