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Fitness First to move brand upmarket with $490 million global revamp

Fitness First to move brand upmarket with $490 million global revamp
January 16, 2014

Global health club chain Fitness First has unveiled a $490 million three-year global strategy to upgrade its clubs and customer service based on 'behavioural psychology'.

The chain, which came close to administration in 2012, believes it has found a formula to ensure gym-goers stick to their resolutions.

Rescued by US hedge funds Oaktree Capital Management and Marathon Asset Management, the new owners are investing almost $490 million (£270 million) in a strategy based on 'behavioural psychology' as they seek to revive the brand in its key United Kingdom and Australian markets as well as investing in new clubs across Asia.

The 'behavioural psychology' aims to help members fulfil their fitness goals and has been drawn up with the help of Stuart Biddle, a Professor of Physical Activity and Health at Loughborough University.

In the UK, this has already seen Fitness First presenting itself as an 'authority' on fitness with a new 'Rewriting the rules of fitness' slogan (hashtag #RewriteFitness) suggesting that it will make the gym experience better.

By 2015, all of Fitness First's 2,200 staff in the UK, including Group Chief Executive Andy Cosslett, will have a certified fitness qualification so they are able to advise members.

Gym-goers will be given an estimate of their 'biological age' after completing a fitness and health test and Fitness First plans to incorporate more technology, including a new App, to help its customers track their progress.

The chain, which has 350 clubs around the world, aims to move away from the traditional gym model of stocking row after row of machines and introducing more group and personal training. It also plans to expand its 'Dynamic Movement Training' programs (a freestyle fitness regime based on natural movement) first introduced at its Sydney CBD club at 94 King Street in July last year.

Cosslett has spent the past year testing various ideas ahead of a re-launch of the Fitness First, aims to move the chain further upmarket and help to ward off growing competition from low cost fitness operators.

The investment also includes a budget for opening around 40 clubs over the next three years, predominantly in Asia where Fitness First has continued to prosper.

Since his appointment in mid 2012, Cosslett has spent the last year fixing basic problems, such as making sure the showers worked in its clubs, and said the 21-year-old brand is now in a position to re-stamp its mark on its core UK and Australian markets.

Cosslett told UK newspaper The Daily Telegraph "what Fitness First failed to do in the past was to make a strong enough case for itself as a brand and what it stood for.

"The low cost clubs have come in with very little in terms of human interaction and support and they are boxes full of equipment.

"That's fine for some but for most people our research tells us if you want to stay on your fitness journey you need more human support than that."

Fitness First's investment has redesigned its corporate identity, replacing its blue logo with a red version, and launching a marketing campaign designed to communicate its repositioning to consumers.

Fitness First's UK Marketing Director David Jones explained "we are transforming our business based on what we've learnt.

"While our competitors are sales led and think it's about the number of machines in the gym, we focus on our people, motivating members, our clubs, and our product."

In Australia, Academy Award winning actor Jane Fonda, the 'face' of aerobics in the 1980s, will launch the 'new and improved' Fitness First Australia in Sydney next week.

Click here for more information on the #RewriteFitness concept.

Fitness First's relaunch was the cover feature in the January/February 2014 issue of Australasian Leisure Management. If you don't already receive the magazine, be sure you get your copy by subscribing here. Back issues are also available.

25th September 2013 - FITNESS FIRST INVESTS S$26 MILLION TO OPEN THREE MORE CLUBS IN SINGAPORE

12th August 2013 - $130 MILLION GLOBAL INVESTMENT TO BOOST FITNESS FIRST BRAND

1st June 2012 - FITNESS FIRST TO SHED 24 AUSTRALIAN CLUBS

10th May 2012 - FORMER INTERCONTINENTAL HOTELS GROUP CHIEF EXECUTIVE TO LEAD FITNESS FIRST 

14th February 2012 - MANAGEMENT CHANGES AT FITNESS FIRST’S UK BASE 

14th September 2011 - MEMBERSHIP, PROFITS FALL AT FITNESS FIRST

16th April 2011 - PETE MANUEL TO HEAD FITNESS FIRST AUSTRALIA  


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Asking a small favour
We hope that you value the news that we publish so while you're here can we ask for your support?

The news we publish at www.ausleisure.com.au is independent, credible (we hope) and free for you to access, with no pay walls and no annoying pop-up ads.

However, as an independent publisher, can we ask for you to support us by subscribing to the printed Australasian Leisure Management magazine - if you don't already do so.

Published bi-monthly since 1997, the printed Australasian Leisure Management differs from this website in that it publishes longer, in-depth and analytical features covering aquatics, attractions, entertainment, events, fitness, parks, recreation, sport, tourism and venues management.

Subscriptions cost just $90 a year.

Click here to subscribe.

 

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