Quick look inside the UK’s latest low-cost (budget) gym at Vauxhall, London

I was in London this week so took the opportunity to pop along to The Gym Group’s latest (opened August 2009) low-cost (budget) gym to open in south London. The company has secured space in the St George Wharf development which comprises luxury apartments and commercial businesses.

The gym is on a single floor with a small mezzanine level and has a light and open feel due to the high ceilings and skylights. The facility offer is consistently simple with around 170 pieces of Matrix equipment, changing rooms and sunbeds (not in use when I visited as they were waiting on a treatment license). It was disappointing to see three broken pieces of strength and CV equipment, but then I don’t see the usage data to understand how hard the equipment is being worked.

What do gym members think?

I chatted to a few members and it was interesting that they were new to clubs. This does not mean that they have never use gyms before, just that none had recently left a club to join the new Vauxhall club. They were attracted by the convenience to work, home, the price (£14.99 per month) and that there was no contract to sign.

How about this for an entrance!

The video shows the new entry/exit system the company is using at Vauxhall. Why this approach? The club operates 24-hours and is unstaffed at night. Members enter a pin-code and then enter the 2-door chamber. It didn’t pass the friendly test with my wife, but is clinically efficient. This just shows how various companies can have a different interpretation on delivering a ‘budget gym’ experience. For example, the entry system used at Vauxhall would not go down well with Dutch consumers who would expect a much more personable and friendly welcome.

Property Strategy

I am very impressed with the property strategy the company is adopting. The sites seem to be very carefully considered and I can begin to see a consistent ‘look’ and ‘feel’ across clubs. This approach of selecting new locations and only developing building shells is certainly slower than acquiring clubs, but will certainly pay future dividends.

What do you think of the UK’s budget gyms?

Have you visited any UK budget gyms recently? Are you a member? If so, I would love to know what you think.

(picture shows the St George Wharf development)

(note for The Gym Group: I did ask the member permission to film them entering club)