An hour of yoga on Wednesdays, bouldering with friends on Thursday evening and EMS training on Friday morning. Sports are booming, diversity is booming, flexibility is booming. The winners of this trend are Urban Sports Club, Gympass and the like – the so-called fitness flat-rate providers which have been conquering the market for some five years now. A market overview.
Digital platforms and their impact
Digital platforms that establish contacts between providers and users are as successful as ever. This is demonstrated by examples from other industries: Netflix and Spotify in the entertainment market, AirBnB and Fluege.de in the tourism sector, Flixbus and car sharing for mobility services. Smartphones are used to make contact, simplify the customer journey and payment is made via PayPal or a subscription most of the time. Fast, easy, no frills – the parameters that are indispensable to purchasing decisions for Generations Y and Z. The digital fitness platforms on the market work in a similar way making initial contact and interaction between the sports provider or the fitness club and the customer so much easier. Everything is handled by smartphone and subscription membership with flat-rate providers. Club operators’ need for advertising, marketing, distribution and administration is minimised. At the same time, this is also always a “test run” for fitness flat-rate users. Those who like it will probably stay as a member some time.
Fitness market places for personalised sports offerings
The most successful providers grant access to a wide variety of sport, fitness and wellness services: From equipment training at the club, CrossFit, yoga and fitness courses, to dance lessons, access to indoor swimming pools, golf and tennis courts not forgetting spas and saunas. Members can decide at short notice and without obligation where they would like to go, thereby putting together a personalised sports routine. Platforms are particularly effective here. Leveraging user data new trends, personal preferences and preferred locations can easily be established. Perfectly developed algorithms are employed to register customers’ preferences and make recommendations. Personalisation becomes an unbeatable sales argument. The required flexibility is guaranteed by the providers who address their target groups with different types of memberships, partnerships with employers and entry-price offers. We have taken a closer look at this market.
Urban Sports Club – the market leader
The Berlin start-up dominates the market with the biggest portfolio of over 7,000 partners in five countries and 45 German cities. Established by Moritz Kreppel and Benjamin Roth in 2012, Urban Sports Club is headquartered in Berlin and is as successful as ever. August 2019 saw Urban Sports Club announce its takeover of Dutch provider OneFit (3 countries, 1,000 partners). This means that Urban Sports Club is now not only represented in Germany, France, Italy, Portugal and Spain but also in the Netherlands – albeit under the name OneFit. The OneFit outlets in Germany will in future be incorporated into Urban Sports Club. After Somuchmore, 99Gyms, Fitgeno and Fitrate, OneFit is the fifth company to end up under the roof of Urban Sports Club since the expansion started in 2015. Interested parties can chose among four different packages: S to XL. Decisive is the so-called check-in – i.e. how often users really use the sports activities via the App. Depending on the subscription additional sports facilities and monthly check-ins are activated. Furthermore, as the flat-rate price goes up the cancellation term comes down from three months to one month. The L and XL packages come with massages and EMS training included. The lowest-cost package (S) is available for as little as EUR 29.00 per month, with three months’ notice and includes four check-ins per month. Memberships can be used in all cities across Europe. Urban Sports Club cooperates with a number of corporate clients. The latest partner is Deutsche Telekom AG employing over 100,000 staff in Germany. Urban Sports promises sports providers and club partners extra income generated by each individual visit of a member and higher recognition levels due to free marketing.
Gympass – company sports revisited
Corporate health management (BGM) has gained increasing importance over the past few years. A study on corporate wellness trends carried out by Gympass in cooperation with Mercer, shows that almost 90% of the companies interviewed in the USA already offer corporate wellness programmes. In Europe this figure is as low as 63%. So this is clearly a growth market for the corporate fitness company founded in Brazil seven years ago. Via the Gympass App sports activities are offered in 14 countries and 48,600 clubs. The key difference compared to other providers: since 2015 Gympass has exclusively served corporate clients. The costs are spread between employers and staff. This means services are cheaper for employees than a regular membership in a fitness club. This is particularly attractive to get previously inactive workers involved in physical exercise thereby developing sustainable habits. Using the Gympass platform companies can grant their workers access to sports and wellness services regardless of the company location – also on business trips. Workers can locate the sports facilities via the App and check in. Employers can use the software to see how well Gympass is adopted at the company and personally administer access. The corporate packages are prepared individually. Gympass already succeeded in convincing more than 2,000 customers – meaning companies – of its concept and is rated as a “unicorn” (company worth in excess of $ 1 billion) thanks to its latest financial injection of EUR 300 million.
Hansefit – corporate fitness made in Germany
Like Gympass Hansefit focuses on a thoroughly researched corporate fitness programme. This network is the market leader in Germany and offers companies a programme that allows their staff to train with all partners of the alliance without any restrictions. Fitness clubs, swimming pools, wellness and physical therapy: over 1,700 network partners in Germany accept the Hansefit card. More than 1,500 companies employing over 250,000 staff already make use of it. Since 2018 Hansefit has been part of the portfolio of private-equity fund Waterland and seeks to exploit the full market potential through accelerated expansion and to further digitalise the range. There is no additional red tape. Hansefit offers fitness club operators added income and other attractive features such as the Twogether partner programme. Hansefit members can take a second person along to the participating fitness studio. Upon concluding a new contract this person receives a full 20% discount on monthly fees and one-off costs.
And more: My Fitness Card, FITFOX, ClassPass
My Fitness Card offers somewhat lower rates but also limits the number of monthly check-ins at one and the same club. The portfolio is also very extensive here. Particularly attractive for users: My Fitness Card is an exclusive partner to Fitness First Studios. Competitor FITFOX by SportScheck parts with the idea of a monthly subscription. Via fitfox.de tickets for a variety of sports can be reserved. These tickets are available as daily, weekly, monthly passes and as 3, 5 and 10-visit passes for over 700 partner studios and over 3,000 sport activities in 100 German cities. The Hamburg-based start-up was established in 2013 and is now a wholly owned subsidiary of SportScheck. Boasting in excess of 19,000 partner clubs in 16 countries around the globe the US fitness start-up ClassPass in fact only launched in Germany in May 2019 – with 300 partners in Munich and Berlin for the time being. Its services focus on group fitness courses. For the German launch they were able to enlist such clubs as BeCycle, Adidas RUNBASE, blackBIKE and UN1T. Membership is based on a credit system. In exchange for a monthly fee, members acquire a fixed number of credits. Each course costs users a specific number of credits which vary according to the availability, frequency and popularity of the clubs or courses.