6 Key Benefits of Access Control systems for Health Clubs

How often do your receptionists become swamped and submerged because members are entering your leisure facility at a rate which is seemingly unmanageable? 

How many times do you find that during the quieter periods, your reception team are sitting around, not doing much except for waiting for someone to walk in? 

Both are common issues for Health Clubs, and ultimately the reasons for both situations occurring is due to inadequate access controls. 

If your front desk team is still constantly having to manually check-in your members, either because you don’t have an IT-based access control system in place at all, or because your current access control system suffers from regular intervals of downtime, then let’s face it – you have a major customer experience problem. 

Yes, it’s nice to be greeted with a friendly smile, however, we are in an age now where members expect to be able to check themselves into a gym without any delays, friction or staff intervention. The warm welcome should take place once the member has entered your facility, not as part of the ‘gaining access’ process.

This post shares six reasons why having the right access control system can benefit your health club. 

1. Better member experience

There is an old quote among gym enthusiasts which claims ‘the hardest part is walking through the door’, here they are referring to the psychological battle members face to show up to the gym, not your access control system.

As I said in the introduction, your members don’t want to have to wait in a long line just so they can get in. Unfortunately, this is what happens when you have a system outage or substandard IT infrastructure installed. Sadly, it means your front desk staff have to bear the brunt of it and have to manually check members in.  

Let’s be real, after a hard day’s work, many of your members may be struggling to find that motivation to show up – the thought of performing 50 plus reps on one muscle group or pounding a treadmill for 20 minutes is just not that appealing after a gruelling day on the 9-5 grind.

Out of those members who do pluck up the courage and decide it’s worth it, a lot of them may want to get their session over and done with quickly, ideally in under an hour, so they can enjoy the remainder of their evening.


Member thinking about going to the gym
A photo from Tim Gouw depicting the mental battle lots of people face at work as they deliberate whether or not to hit the gym

What members don’t want to see upon arrival is another 10 members queuing to get in before them. Waiting to begin a workout not only eats into that precious ‘workout time’, but it’s also a highly frustrating, tedious and demotivating experience – when we talk about the emotional bank account, this is a huge emotional withdrawal – so much so that the next time a member is deliberating whether or not to attend the gym, that initial pain-point of ‘queuing to get in’ may be a deciding factor that sways them against the idea.

It‘s hard enough to get members to convince themselves to turn up to the gym as it is, don’t make it even harder for them by giving them more reasons not to bother.

With better access controls in place, you’ll at least improve the initial arrival part of attending the gym, and that might just encourage a few more members to say YES to attending the gym. Even if it just increases your visits by 1%, it’s a marginal gain for your Health Club and as we know, it’s the aggregation of all the one per cent’s that makes the difference between success and failure.

2. 24-hour gym access

This may be a bitter pill for some operators to swallow, but members don’t want to be restricted to certain hours in the gym because your staff members have to go home. 

Before 24-hour gyms were a ‘thing’, gym-goers fully empathised with staff and understood that as those manning the desk were only human, they too needed to get a good night’s sleep, meaning the gym couldn’t stay open all hours. However, when the low cost, self-service gyms came along, they turned the standard, conventional gym experience on its head and one of the most attractive selling points was making their gyms open 24 hours, with this – customer attitudes and perceptions shifted.

Nowadays, many fitness consumers have experienced a 24-hour gym, so they are conscious that this amazing technology (which allows them to come and go as they please) exists. As a result, expectation levels among consumers have risen and many gym goers now believe that every operator should have a system in place which enables them to train around the clock. Unfortunately, if your facility is not able to provide this 24-hour experience, your member satisfaction levels may be diminished. 

With a quality access control system, whereby human intervention is not required, you’ll be better positioned to operate 24/7 in the future. 

3. Stronger Security

Gyms with non-optimised access controls will witness many rogue people entering their facility.

Gyms with pin codes and keypads often face issues; it’s not exactly the best-kept secret that members share their pin codes with their non-member friends. If you are a facility which utilises pin code technology as a means for entry, how can you be sure that each person is really who they say they are? If there is any funny business occurring, what security does that provide for your paying customers? 

With stronger access controls and a more secure way of entering your gym, such as the use of biometric readers, you can be sure to put an end to the fraud. When an entry is made via biometric readings, you can rest assured knowing that everyone is the right person as thankfully, members cannot dish out their thumbprints to their next-door neighbour or work colleague.

In an ideal world, you want to see everything you need to know about a member as soon as they visit, with eFitness, such information is displayed on a members check-in profile which you can see very clearly on your computer screen.

See below how with eFitness, you can change your permissions and settings surrounding your access controls to bolster your security.

4. Less missed payments

As a gym provider, it’s crucial that all your members are paying their monthly dues on time.

Members may well want to know when their next payment is due, but it would appear a little bit strange and slightly imprudent if staff reminded every member when they entered the facility of their next billing date. With gym access controls, the computerised system can alert guests of upcoming payment dates and it’s in no way considered offensive or disrespectful. 

Again, should a member miss a payment, it might appear unceremonious and discourteous for a member of staff to call a member over to explain that their account is in debt. With access controls, the system itself can restrict the access for guests who are behind on payments.

When concerned with financial, sensitive information, technology often delivers. It is likely that your members would rather pay their outstanding settlements when they alerted by an auto-generated notification than if they were informed by a member of staff. This is another reason why investing in efficient, high-tech access control can prove beneficial. 

5. Reduced Overheads

I won’t go into too much detail on this one as it’s kind of obvious, but here goes…

Employing a member of staff to oversee people entering the gym costs money!

With efficient gym access controls, you can either replace your front desk team entirely (as we’ve seen with many of the self-service, low-cost gyms in the UK) or you can employ someone to do more important tasks and projects that contribute more significantly to your bottom line.

I personally believe that all gyms wishing to maximise the member experience should have front desk staff, but their duties should be more finely tuned to helping members achieve their health and fitness goals, not merely checking a member into the gym. 

6. Improved retention

Each time a person enters your facility a ‘check-in’ is recorded. When you look at the data at a macro level, this is extremely useful and can really help you to understand the health of your business.

If you invest the time to examine when people are using the gym, and what type of member they are, you can essentially optimise your whole member experience to suit the right clientele. If you want some more advice on how your Health Club can connect with different age groups, I’ve already posted an article here.

Without the all-important data to hand from access control information, it would be very irrational for you to start making changes to your member experience. I’ve also written a post here which reveals how carrying out analysis on certain types of visitor behaviour can provide health clubs with a much more comprehensive understanding of their future churn rate and can thus enable clubs to save members who are ‚at risk‘ before it’s too late. Again, without the access control data available, this would be impossible.   

Below shows an example of an ‚activity‘ report you can run within the eFitness portal which can give you all the information you need to manage your retention.

Finally, I’ve written a post prior to this one on the advantages of rewarding your most loyal members with perks such as guest passes for friends, discounted offers from local partners and free club merchandise. Simply put, loyalty reward programs provide Health Clubs with an amazing opportunity to encourage more positive member behaviours and interactions, that not only lead to enhanced member engagement, but also an uplift in referrals, PT sales and other ancillary revenue streams.

The best way to run such a program is to reward the members who use your gym the most and realistically the only practical way to administer this is to link your Access Control System data to your loyalty reward program to ensure a member earns points automatically upon every visit.

Last words… 

Those are my 6 top reasons why your Health Club should invest in better access controls. I’m well aware that virtually every reputable gym chain does have an existing system in place already, but this post is really aimed at those operators who are facing struggles with their current supplier. I know first hand how frustrating it can be, but it doesn’t have to be this way. 

In life, change is inevitable, in business, change is essential.

Do you want to learn how eFitness can support with your access control system? Click here and contact us for more information. 

Written by
Joe Hall
Joe is a content creator for eFitness Club Management Software. He holds a degree in Physical Education and Sport and Exercise Psychology, alongside an MA in Sport Business. He is a qualified Level 2 Fitness Instructor and Level 3 Personal Trainer and was the previously Head of Customer Engagement for a leading UK gym brand for 6 years. Nominated as an IHRSA rising star in 2018, Joe has got a lot to say on all things FITNESS!