We talked to John Greaney of The Hurtlocker Galway about the journey he went on from being a triathlete to running his own thriving fitness business on the West Coast of Ireland and the challenges he faced on his adventure.
“It’s when you are on the limit of breaking down or about to push through the pain barrier,” says John Greaney when explaining the origin of The Hurtlocker, a fitness studio based in Galway Ireland. It was during his days as a triathlete that John first came across the term in the form of a rallying call during particularly hard training camps.
He explains: “We would be doing training in Lanzarote and during the peak of the really tough sessions the coach would be telling us ‘You’re in the hurt locker now lads’ and it’s something that has always stuck with me for years.”
Before setting up his own fitness business, Glofox customer John Greaney spent his nearly a decade competing in one of the toughest sports on the planet – The Triathlon.
It was competing in this combination of cycling running and swimming that gave him the qualities of endurance and dedication that would serve him well in his later adventures in fitness.
Having competed successfully on a national and international level, he then decided to return to college as a mature student to further his skills, and it was during this period that the origins of his present career began.
“At the time I was in college and working four days a week and was looking for a way to make a bit more money while working less so I could put more time into my studies,” he says.
John released he had a unique skill set that he could utilize to help him achieve that. He came around to the idea of doing cycling classes even though its beginnings were in helping him personally he felt he could help others also. For John, the way cycling classes were being taught at the time were not in keeping with the revolutionary new techniques he has experienced as a triathlete.
“Back then it was all very old school the way people were being taught how to cycle with things like cadences (pedaling rate), revolutions per minute and other ideas that maybe weren’t as effective as what was being done professionally,” says John. Having coached at a high level for many years, he thought he could introduce new ideas that at the time would have have been considered cutting edge and hopefully help people improve their technique as well as their fitness
Taking the First Step
His reputation locally as a successful triathlete along with his confidence in the new ideas he was bringing convinced him to give it a go. Despite not really knowing what he was getting himself in for, he knew he has found something special after the very first class
After setting up a Facebook page and creating what he says was “a terrible little logo” he got stuck in and began his journey as a fitness entrepreneur.
“I rented a little hall in my hometown and on the first night almost 20 people for the first night. It was such a feeling to have people come through the door pay you for knowledge you have that could help them, so I was hooked from then on.”
And John in a way is typical of a lot of our Glofox customers. Taking the expertise they’ve crafted in their field, be it cycling, HIIT, boxing, yoga or pilates, they embark on new careers, sharing what they have learned in the hope of igniting that passion for fitness in others.
The popularity of his fitness classes grew and pretty soon John was running the classes in the three different locations across Galway, building up a very healthy membership base. He began introducing different fitness elements into his class such HIIT, and Strength and Conditioning forming the basis. It was then he took on the enormous challenge of building on this initial success and opened up The Hurtlocker.
Two main things stick out for John when thinking about the initial challenges he faced in taking this step.
The first was scaling up from renting a hall and doing a few classes a week to experiencing overheads for the first time. “The pressure was significant at the start, and to jump in from no costs with renting halls to having your own premises and everything that goes along with that, it was daunting. But if you have confidence in what you are selling the business will grow.
The second major thing that John has to overcome was deferring college, a decision that initially made him hesitant but has worked out in the long run. “You ask yourself ‘Are you doing the right thing?’ But then you go to work, and you come home, and you’re buzzing. People are coming in the door and are leaving happy and the feeling you get from teaching classes, well there is nothing like it.”
Building the Business up
As John built the business, one of the main things he did right was that he hired the right people for the courses he was running. He is the primary trainer in Hurtlocker, but he strives to bring in the best people to teach the courses he runs.
“If I am doing a course I want the best people running them. For example for our Olympic Weightlifting course, we have a guy called Mike Conroy who is part of the Irish Olympic Weightlifting squad which is brilliant” says John.
For him, it’s not about bringing in the cheapest to make the most profit but bringing in the best to give people the most value to his members and give the best results.
Another critical lesson that John learned as he built up Hurtlocker was to delegate sections of the business to those who have expertise in that area.
He explains: “ Things like finances would go totally over my head so it was important to get someone in to handle that so I can to be as focused as I can on other aspects of the business. It is a key piece of advice that I would give. Get your finances in order before begin and have everything set up correctly and you will have an easier time of it.”
Patience Is Key
Finally, if there is one thing John has learned from his journey from triathlete to fitness entrepreneur its patience, something that you feel can be applied to both disciplines.
His advice is simple “You have to start small and build up your name around town and build trust with your members. We started very small, and we just kept going, and we are at the stage now where the business is very developed. What it takes is just time and patience.”
We are really excited to share that the new Glofox App update will be rolling out for all Studios who are on the Glofox App this week. This is a faster, easier to use, and all-around a better experience for your members.
Since the beginning of this year, we’ve been working directly with Fitness Studios and their members to understand how we can make the member experience the best it can possibly be. We want to make sure members can book sessions and manage their membership with ease, all the while experiencing the unique brand of their favorite fitness studio, in the palm of their hand.
Studios who have a Standalone App (the app has their own app icon in the app store) have gotten access to the new app the past few months. Since the start of September alone, over a quarter of a million bookings have been made through the new app, accompanied by overwhelmingly positive feedback from both the Studios and their members!
But don’t just take our word for it, here is what Eduardo from Fit 7/8, who rolled their app out to their 7,000 members, had to say:
“Customers noticed the upgrades and it quickly reflected positively on our ratings. We went from “nonews is good news” to “good reviews are great news”. The new screen flow and simplicity is a game changer.”
Another of our customers, myPilates London, received a very positive reaction from its members with one saying:
“The app is very intuitive and easy to navigate. The great aesthetic makeover is akin to other modern apps I use”
what Is Different About This Update?
- The underlying technology of the app is brand new – making it faster and better performing than ever before
- The look and the feel of the app is cleaner and easier to use – meaning your members will be able to book and buy memberships faster and have less questions for you about their expiry dates or how many credits they have remaining
- The power to customize your app is now in your control, so you can make updates quickly and easily from your Glofox Dashboard
Where can I get more information?
Check out the articles below where you can learn how to:
1. Customize your app to make your brand shine, read here
2. Share the message with your members
- Already on the Glofox App and excited on the update – If your members already have the update, we’ve created some content to share with them, so they know what to expect in this exciting change! Check it out here
- Moving from your own app to the Glofox App – we’ve created some content you can share on social media and newsletters to help make the transition simple – Find it here
The success of boutique fitness industry is down to how gym owners are putting time and resources into creating unique experiencesthat bring their members value.
No longer is the gym just a solitary experience where you sweat in silence, headphones on and closed off from the clanks and grunts that make up the soundtrack of your typical workout space.
In fact, today, more and more people are gravitating towards a more class-based and interactive fitness model where the most successful gyms offer a member experience that goes beyond what the larger low-cost fitness chains are offering up.
Creating this goes beyond just implementing the correct gym management software. It is about cultivating an ethos in your gym that values each individuals progression and focuses on building personal relationships with your customers. This ethos is something that is woven into the fabric of the business, from how your space is laid out to every touchpoint your customer interacts with you, both online and offline
To get this right can be tricky at first and can take some experimentation before you get it correct.
However, there are three absolutely key things you need to consider to help you succeed in this process.
Know Who You Are and Who Your Members Are
The reason most successful gyms are changing the fitness game is that they have thought long and hard about who they are as a gym and what value they can bring to their members.
One of our customers who does this really well is Stephen Weinmann of BikeRowSki who started his fitness studio to counteract a trend he was seeing in the industry. For him, some aspects of fitness training had become overcomplicated, with some trainers and gyms focused on teaching complex training methods that had the effect of alienating some members.
In developing the concept for BikeRowSki, two things were at the forefront of Stephens mind:
Time and Simplicity.
“As you grow older you start to realize that time is your biggest asset. If I am in the gym full time for my job and I can’t even get to train, how are the people in my target market supposed to?” Stephen says. “People only have maybe 2 to 4 hours a week to spare and they don’t want that time taken up learning a new skill in some cases”
So Stephen came up a fitness model which he defines as the “I can” fitness model. No matter what type of injuries they have, perceived deficiencies they have or pasts fears that have marred previous experience in the gym, he wanted to make sure there was nothing in the gym that would leave the person feeling that “I Can’t”.
“People come in, we show them the studio and ninety-nine percent of the time they believe they can do it,” he explains. “There is nothing standing in their way from coming in with a bottle of water, a towel and being coached on three machines for twelve to fifteen minutes each.
The two factors of time and simplicity that are central to the “I Can” ethos of BikeRowSki. For this ethos to work, however, there needs to be a space that welcomes the customer in. From the way the gym is laid out to how the staff interacts with members, the goal is to create a positive environment for everyone. “A big factor for us is making the gym as welcoming as possible because a lot of people are afraid of going into the gym for the first time”
Invest in Technology
Creating a truly unique member experience means investing in the digital infrastructure of your business as well. This will make life easier for both the staff and the member, creating an all-around more streamlined experience.
Choosing the correct gym management software for your fitness business is a large part of this. With Glofox, you will have an all in one place you can manage leads and memberships, allow your members to book classes easily through the website integration or app and keep track of your business performance.
The key benefit of this is that your admin time for you and your staff is reduced. This leaves you with the time to develop and grow your business further.
It also gives your staff the time to focus on what really matters – building personal relationships with their members and helping them achieve their fitness goals.
Having an app for your studio is a great way to assist in building that relationship with your member by connecting with them where they spend the majority of their time – their mobile phone.
In constructing the user experience at BikeRowSki, Stephen used a combination of different technologies to support his “I Can” fitness model.
He uses Glofox to manage his business and memberships and the Polar App to track member performance week to week.
“The Glofox App gives us great information on people coming in and what classes they are attending and gives us the advantage of a streamlined booking system,” says Stephen. “And the Polar App gives us all that performance data about each person that we can work with each week to try and improve”
The overall combination of technology gives a gym owner and their staff the information they need to make key interventions at the right time to keep the member on track. It also allows them to show the member in real time how they are improving.
According to Stephen, the way they use technology is what keeps their members engaged.
“It appeals to the person who needs to get in, get out and see results. With this information readily available we can show them how this can be achieved. ”
Connect With Social Media
Not only can technology help you in building a framework to create the best member experience, but it can also help you connect with your customers through social media.
With the majority of your customer base either on Facebook or Instagram, it is very important that you are using these platforms to keep your members engaged outside of the studio.
Four of the really important ways most successful gyms do this are:
Create a Closed Facebook Group
Make a closed group chat on Facebook where you and your members can exchange information, post class results, deliver words of encouragement and overall keep the sense of community going outside class hours. This helps build a stronger relationship and community between you and your members outside of the couple of hours a week they spend in class.
As well as that you are listening to your members and gathering key information to help improve their member experience further.
Provide Valuable Information
Whether it be written words, pictures or videos, try and provide your members with helpful information on fitness and nutrition. Get this information out to them on a regular basis on social so they can keep motivated in the times they are not in class.
Create a Hashtag
A relevant hashtag that encapsulates what your gym is about can be enormously helpful in creating a sense of community online. This could be the name of your gym or a phrase that is closely associated with your gym. Stephen believes that creating the #bikerowski on Instagram was very beneficial.
“People who came to our classes were taking pictures with the logo with the #bikerowski or posting pictures of their heart rate results with the same hashtag so it had the effect of building a community of people through our Instagram,” he says.
After spending all that time giving key information and community building, give your members an easy way to book classes through social with Glofox’s easy Facebook and Instagram implementation. Make the journey from them getting excited and motivated by your content to actually attending the class so much easier with this unique feature of our software.
Remember that making a member experience that is unique and valuable takes hard work, experimentation, and most importantly patience. Take the key points discussed in this article and apply them to your fitness business to set you on the journey to creating a member experience for your gym that lasts.
Thank you to Stephen Weinmann of BikeRowSki for his contributions to this article. You can find them here
A Shared Connection
We wanted to take the opportunity to let you guys know that we’ve rebranded Glofox. Today’s announcement comes off the back of a couple months of excellent work from the team here. It’s another huge step in our journey and it is an important part of establishing who we really are in the boutique fitness space.
To explain the reasoning behind this rebrand I want to take you back to what kick started this process in the first place. Near the end of 2017, we began thinking of what Glofox really meant to our customers and, in a larger sense, to the wider world. We felt something was missing and that we needed to figure out what that was before we took Glofox to the next level. The answer was easy once we started to explore the heart of what Glofox is all about.
It is the customer. More specifically it is the relationships the team here have built with them over the past number of years. We began to realize that while the voice we had developed internally was making an important connection with our customers, it wasn’t coming through in our overall brand. We needed to put the customer at the center of who we are as a company.
What drives our customers to do what they do is the fact that they can change people’s lives through fitness. They can help their members achieve goals they previously thought were beyond them. Because we share this passion for helping people through fitness, I believe this is what motivates our customers to adopt and keep our product. And while our focus on the boutique fitness space is one of the decisive factors in our customers choosing us over our competitors, I think this shared connection plays a large part also.
Rethinking Who We Are
So we felt our customer and fitness focused message wasn’t being conveyed to the wider world as clearly as we would like. Just like our product is constantly evolving, we needed our brand to follow suit. Therefore we decided to completely rebrand Glofox to better reflect who we are and what we do, in both our tone of voice and visual identity.
The announcement that we were rebranding was met with great enthusiasm by the team here. I felt they had begun thinking along the same lines as I had and we eagerly jumped into a couple of internal workshops to really delve into what Glofox was all about. Their experience in crafting the technology around the needs of the customer had given them great insight into how they really feel about the product and the business. The ideas generated in these sessions reminded me of the key reason my co-founders Anthony, Finn and I started Glofox in the first place.
From these internal sessions we identified a couple of core ideas that I thought really defined who we are as a business. Creativity, innovation and the idea of one team having one voice came up prominently. But most importantly, the idea of the “Customer as a Champion” was what we really believed defined who we are. The next step was taking these ideas to Red Dog, a design agency based in Dublin whose previous work we really admired. From this they developed a brand that we really felt reflected what we were all about.
The New Glofox – Active, Dynamic, Bold
What emerged from this is a brand that I am very proud of and which I feel finally represents who we are as a business. The design represents key characteristics that best define the fitness industry. We are Active, Dynamic and Bold. The idea of movement plays a key part in the makeup of our new “fox-face” logo. We’ve also replaced the blue and white color scheme with a bolder purple and orange which is a more confident and energetic in its visual style.
Deeper than just the visual identity though is the human factor of Glofox. Bringing the customer and their experiences to forefront of our own story is something that is very important to us as company. Fitness is in our DNA the same way as it is in theirs and this is present in both our story and our tone of voice. At each point the customer interacts with us on their journey we want them to encounter a consistent tone of voice that they can comfortably relate to.
As part of the overall process Glofox.com has undergone a complete redesign to reflect our new brand. We have streamlined the navigation of our website, making it easier to find information that is relevant and useful, delivering a more positive experience for both our current and potential customers.
What Comes Next
With our new brand identity we feel we are perfectly positioned to help our customers achieve their business goals. A large part of this will be about producing quality content that inspires and educates our customers with the aim of helping them in all aspects of their business.
In terms of our product we will continue to be guided by the simple principle of building a product around the customer rather than around the technology. Directed by valuable feedback from our customers, we are constantly innovating to meet their needs.
Finally I am incredibly proud of the team here at Glofox and the success we have achieved so far. Our focus now is to go beyond just helping our customers manage their business and provide them with a solution that will power sustainability and competitiveness in the long term. Central to our ethos is that our success is aligned with their success. As our customers grow, so have we and this is the type of relationship we strive to have and has contributed enormously to our present and future success.
2018 is set to be one hell of a year for your gym or studio. It’s the year you get social, build your fitness tribe and most of all, be serious about your member experience. If your business model is focused on group training and semi-private personal training, then this is a must read!
Be sure to take advantage of these fitness trends, particularly, before your rivals do!
1. the Rise of Social Booking
“Social Booking” is a unique way that Glofox customers are using unrestricted social sharing of their classes and last minute promotions, along with easy access to every single customer, to fill every class and keep clients coming back for more.
When you liberate your booking and payment engine from your website, you can share available classes during a promotion, promote a class right up to the minute it starts, or even share classes on social platforms such as Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook and Twitter with ease. Your customers can then book and pay for the class directly through the social media platform, without even having to navigate away to your website (or someone else’s)!
Glofox is ‘Social First’, so this social sharing feature is as simple as adding a link to your profile or embedding your website integration anywhere you’d like your class booking schedule or classes to be displayed. No hassle, just a great social booking experience.
2. the Switch to an Engagement Business Model
Group training studios and boutique fitness spaces are implementing a completely different business model to the ‘Big Gyms’. Instead of ‘sell, burn and churn’, they’re operating an ‘Engagement Business Model’. With limited capacity in their gyms, it’s all about optimizing value and getting those high value members super engaged.
Studio owners operating under this business model need to maintain a single view of every member – so they can keep track of each person who joins, books and walks through the door.
With the right membership management software behind them, these studio owners have the insights they need to charge more for their services, attract and retain more valuable clients. Most can charge more for their services because they can offer a better experience to their customers, by delivering more value.
3. a Personalized member Experience
The last few years we’ve seen more and more gyms and fitness studios take advantage of mobile to drive bookings and engagement to an all time high.
Now, as these owners get more and more comfortable with their top performing channel, they’re experimenting with unique features to create more loyal, engaged members. With mobile features, you can create a personalized experience that drives business growth even further in the right direction.
Here’s how you can get personalized with your member experience in 2018:
- Push Messaging: Including Group Messages
A push message is a short notification, sent by a mobile app, to the home screen of a smartphone or tablet. When used to your advantage, push messages are a fantastic tool for bringing users back to your app, in particular to book a class or take advantage of an offer.
In Glofox, push messages can be targeted an individuals or groups, all so you can provide members with the personalized experience they need to feel valued at your gym or fitness studio.
- Automated Emails: With a Personal Feel
Email marketing is crucial when it comes to engaging with your clients at particular points in their fitness journey. That said, crafting emails tailored to individuals in a growing membership base is an extremely time-consuming activity. That’s why we’re introducing a “Connect with Email” feature here at Glofox over the coming months. Soon, our clients will be able activate 12 different email types, all so you can engage with your clients at the right time, with the right message (without having to dedicate hours on end to writing and sending emails).
Your time is precious. These features, combined with our powerful gym management software will help you to spend it more wisely!