The Gym Group open the UK’s latest budget fitness club

>I have just returned from visiting the Gym Group’s latest club in Guildford, Surrey. This is the second low-cost, or budget club, that the group has opened. The club is situated in the same building as a Travelodge hotel, with members and hotel guests sharing the car park.

The club has a fresh, light and minimalist feel and does not have the ‘cheap’ ambience of other low-cost clubs that I have seen. The Gym Group has partnered with Matrix fitness equipment on this club switching from Cybex who they collaborated with on their first club in Hounslow, Middlesex.

Ian, the Manager, explained to me some of the key things they had learnt from their first club including improving the entry/exit system for members. The club also has 170 exercise stations, slightly more than their first club.

I spoke with several members who were big fans of the club. One had switched from Esporta, while another member had been a serial member of most of the other clubs in the town. They liked the £15 monthly price, but also the fact that the club did not require members to sign a contract.

However, what I need to clarify with the company is that the brand, with funding from Bridges Ventures, is meant to be developing clubs in areas of social deprivation. This is in line with Bridges social agenda and investment guidelines (Bridges Ventures invests in companies that are located in the most under invested areas of the UK or that can achieve strong social impacts in sectors such as healthcare, the environment and education – taken from the Bridges website). Guildford, however, is an affluent commuter town, and I understand that the brand’s third club will be in South West London and in one of the UK’s richest borough’s. So, is their location strategy changing?

Please leave a comment if you can clarify this point for me.

(Click on the image to enlarge)

Ps. John Treharne, the CEO has now clarified this point – click on comments