How technology has changed the way gyms operate
There is little doubt that the technologies in gyms has changed in recent times and there is an argument – we think to be correct – that COVID-19 acted as an accelerant to a number of developments and improvements.
Class Lists/taking attendance
Pre-COVID class attendance was taken by way of a printed (paper based) sheet and then checked after the class. So step one at the front desk was to print the class list and place it in the studio. The trainer would get the clients to put a tick beside their name and after class the trainer would give the list back to the front desk - and they would in turn manually check off the names.
Post COVID (staff and trainers) download the “Gym Master” App where the above steps are removed. The trainer uses their smart phone and automatically marks off all who attended. This technology makes tracking attendance for class so much easier.
Pre-COVID and during COVID, when the gyms opened up but had restrictions around attendees, most places firstly used paper based systems where people would write down their details as part of the sign in process.
This was slowly overcome as members were provided with passes to enter the gym enabling them swipe in and the record of the swipe would be recorded. Changes enforced by the NSW Government (and other governments in other states) insisted on check in via a QR code with evidence of a valid COVID Vaccination Certificate – technology being used for good.
Members could email their COVID Vaccination Certificates to us. We would upload it to the client account so they did not have to show each time. The member would basically check-in via the NSW Services App and swipe in using their access pass. Tidy, secure and convenient use of technology.
Placing memberships on hold
Pre COVID if a member wished to place their account on hold - for a particular reason - they generally had to come to the front desk and fill out a paper based form and the staff member would manually ‘add the hold’ through the Gym Master system.
During COVID all members’ accounts were automatically placed on hold and the member did not have to advise - this was done automatically due to the various lockdowns in NSW and beyond.
Post COVID – members wishing to place their accounts on hold could now do this via the App and it would send the gym an email notice stating that the member has placed there membership on hold and this is automatically updated in their account.
Event applications (hiring rooms in the gym)
Pre COVID – members wishing to book one of the rooms for a particular event/activity would have to come to the front desk and check availability with the staff; fill out the necessary form; and make the payment via the front desk EFTPOS terminal. Once this was completed, the staff member would put the entry into the system. If there was to be alcohol at the event it was necessary to copy the RSA and attach it to the application as proof.
Post COVID – members now can send an enquiry message via the website where the event staff email the electronic form and payment details for the member to pay via direct deposit and email a proof of payment. A couple of days prior to their booking they receive the policy (again) with regard to what they can and cannot do in relation to the booking. All done online - from start to finish.
The traditional use of EFTPOS cards or cash has been essentially automated using a range of devices for tap and go purposes – including smart phones and watches for convenience. Today, Gyms sell a range of products such as food, drinks, towels or items for the classes.
Pre COVID – if the member wished to purchase something it was done either with cash or using their EFPOTS card.
Post COVID – in addition, a whole range of options are available for convenience – the most common is using smart watches which are easy to carry and can be used for fitness monitoring at the same time.
Enhanced technologies have certainly enhanced the ways gyms operate on a daily basis - in a good way - making it easier for both the members and staff members.
James Manly is Media Assistant at Group Colleges Australia and a Gym staff member
Emeritus Professor Greg Whateley is Deputy Vice Chancellor and Vice President (Academic) at Group Colleges Australia