A Gymmusic Blog by Steve Hayward, UK Country Manager
When you look at your clients in your gym working out what do you see? Do you see a lot of your customers wearing headphones? If so, that might just be a sign that you need to make some changes in your gym before your numbers start slipping…
Many people see headphones as a vital part of their gym kit, I’ve known people turn around and head home without having done their workout because they have forgotten (or not charged) their headphones! These people will always wear headphones, they like the sense solitude it can provide, they like the musical bubble they have created for themselves, it can give them focus and it can be a means of saying to the rest of the world “I’m here to workout out, I’m not interested in hearing from anyone else”.
In most fitness environments you can expect about 20% of customers to be wearing headphones (I’ve even seen a number of gym users stick to their headphones even when the gym had hired an extremely talented DJ to live mix for their customers! Even then headphones usage was at about 5%… there really is no pleasing everyone!)
At the other end of the spectrum is a discount 24 hour gym I went to in Inner city London, they had very high headphone usage, over 80%. Amazed by this, I spoke with the manager and asked him why this was so high, their response was “If I could get it to 100%, then I would. The more people using headphones the fewer fights we have!!!” They were INTENTIONALLY playing very few tracks on a high level of repeat (and even classical music from midnight to 6am) to encourage headphone use throughout their customers!
BUT if you look around your gym and you can see about 50% of people wearing headphones then you have a challenge on your hands and the first thing you need to do is workout why…
The most frequent cause is the music. The main fails that will skyrocket your headphone usage are:
- Playing the radio. Personally, I would walk out and not even bother to come back if the gym I’m in plays the radio. Inane, jolly, prime time chat? The news? Interviews? Are these going to get me to run a PB or lift a PR. No, they are not. Ditch the radio today.
- Playing the same old, tired playlist again and again. See above. Repeats create a sense of Groundhog Day and if you’re working out hard, that is not what you want.
- The Gym Manager that only ever plays what THEY like. You have to ditch your ego, you have to sacrifice a little something for the sake of your gym go-ers; stop playing that Skrillex*/Metallica*/Skid Row* album and broaden your musical horizons to match that of your customers (or your target customers).
- Your gym culture. This is a tough one, but to create a great gym, it’s one you need to be aware of and tackle head on. If all the women in your gym are wearing big headphones and the jocks in the weights area aren’t lifting that much and high fiving a bit too often, you might have a problem. Perhaps it’s time to be more on the floor, or have a quiet word with some of the more respected regulars and see what they think. Chances are you have a small number of highly disruptive perpetrators who will head back under their rocks when a light shines on them.
The advantages of low headphone use in a gym are clear:
- Your staff can talk with your customers. This one is vital, as you move around the club in the daily execution of your duties it is far easier to let your customer know about the things that are going on, if they are not wearing headphones. “Oh hey, by the way, there’s a Push Up Challenge on this week” or “If you like using the bike, you should join our Group Exercise class at 7pm” all these little prompts and reminders help your gym members feel like they are part of a club, not just attending a room with some exercise kit in it. That will keep them coming back and that will improve your retention numbers.
- Your customers can speak with one another. There are fewer things worse for our mental health and our sense of well being than not being communicated with, there’s a reason that if you’re a bad prisoner, you get sent to isolation. If your gym users can speak with one another they can encourage one another, they can help one another and in the long term this helps keep bringing people back.
- You create a good atmosphere. Close your eyes and think about what it would like to walk into your gym on the perfect day. I’m guessing the sun is shining as you head in, reception gives you a smile and wave and you go to get changed, there’s a brief chat with a couple of people checking with you to see how your day is going and what you have planned… Now imagine everyone is wearing headphones, no one is talking, it’s heads down, no eye contact; feels different just thinking about it, doesn’t it?
Afterall it could even be a health issue… Have you ever come back from the gym and quietly, at home, put your headphones on and listened to music? With the same settings I just used for 2 hours, it was waaaay too loud! Not having noise cancelling headphones I realised I was having to have the volume up and up to overcome the existing music in the gym, the sound of the treadmill and all the other background noise in the gym.
You owe it to yourself, your staff and to your customers to invest in a better music service than just flipping on the radio, or the same old playlist.
*All great bands, just not the same thing over and over again, please!
With Set4Play making your own branded workouts is easy and it means you can set yourself free from expensive third party providers and harness the skills of your existing Group Ex instructor base.
If you are a gym delivering Group Exercise to your members you are likely to already have a solid base of group fitness Instructors. Some of them may be freelancers, some could be directly employed either way you have (unwittingly) already overcome the most difficult step in creating your own brand of Group Exercise: pulling together a team who can provide the classes.
In that team you will have a wealth of innate talent, experience and education as well as a huge combined sum of years of delivering group classes: talk to them, see what they like, see what they think the members of your gym like, understand the key areas that don’t just make them tick, but hum like a finely tuned engine. Now come up with your ‘Brands’. Without getting into the whole marketing debate about the nature of ‘what is a brand’, think of it like this, something catchy that chimes with the style of your gym and your customers. Then give it a name that you won’t be embarrassed to tell your customers about!
Now think about the core fitness areas you want to address, Group Ex has a few well trodden paths that should not be neglected: ab workouts, HIIT workouts/circuits, leg workouts, upper body workouts. Plus you can come up with a few novel group ex workouts that will work well with your demographics and customer base.
Now the fun bit starts, get in touch with Gymmusic and start a free trial of Set4Play. Take advantage of our free training and get a hands on, personally delivered starter session to understand the software. Invite your Instructors along too - after all they might be helping make your new and deliver your workouts. Once you have a playlist its as easy as 1,2,3,4.
- Use the powerful search functionality to find the tracks you love. Pick from the signed original artists catalogue or our royalty free library (don’t worry you cant go wrong, we’ve carefully selected all our tracks with fitness and workouts in mind). Pick your favourites for future reference and pop these in a playlist. Our library is huge, but if you cant find a specific tracks you can always order in and we’ll get it for you.
- Make your mix! You’ve probably been bamboozled by Mix Meister before. Set4Play is not that. We use clever, intuitive technology to make mixing a simple and quick pleasure. No previous experience necessary! It’s really straight forward. The interface is obvious. Match your tracks to the work/rest periods in your workout structure, maybe add some sound effects to denote beginning or end of segments, maybe add some choreography points to prompt your instructors during the workout and you’re ready to go.
- Having ensured all your instructors have the Set4Play app on their mobile phone, every instructor on your account gets your mix. It’s downloaded to their device so they can play it offline or when there’s poor reception. This gives them plenty of opportunity to learn your workout ahead of the first workout and we can even deliver your notes, instructions and video via the platform to help them get it right.
- Deliver brilliant classes that you control!. With a simple interface, count up and count down and on screen reminders to help your instructors delivering group exercise classes with Set4Play is easy to do. Plus there’s some big button controls to cover every eventuality. The mix for your workout is totally secure, you can even pull it and change it if you need to.
If you’ve been on a varied fitness journey for any reasonable amount of time you’re going to have experienced great group exercise classes and not so great ones. We aim to help you take that guess work out.
You can make as many mixes and create as many classes as you like. You can enable mixing for some, none or all of your instructors and get them to help you build a library of great workouts. Don’t like a mix? As an Admin you have final sign off and can take down any mixes that aren’t up to your brand standards. Instructor leaves, you can pull your mixes or close their account. We provide you with total control.
You’ve got this far, just one more step: use the contact form on our website to order a free trial and get underway today.
Blog Post by Steve Hayward, UK Country Manager
I hate Playlists. I think partly the problem is the style of workout that I do. I’m a little too old now to be building big muscle and my passions are running, kayaking and climbing so when I go to the gym, it tends to be for two hours at a time, working endurance rather than gaining bulk.
A couple of years ago I was training for the Devizes to Westminster Canoe race; a 125 mile non stop race from one side of the country to the other in a double canoe. For us it was 25 hours (the quick teams do it in 18 hours!), but we did come in 30 seconds ahead of a pair of Royal Marines, so we were well chuffed.
In training, I switched gym three times. This was entirely because of the music they were playing. It very quickly got to the point where I could predict the next track plus I hate wearing headphones, they are so anti-social. Being in the gym for 3 hours a time 4 times a week gave me a very low tolerance for hearing the same tracks again and again. I have no idea how the staff coped hearing the same songs day in, day out.
It’s for this reason when I heard about how the Gymmusic Pin2 Music Streaming service works, I loved the concept from the start. They have a huge library, but instead of picking up individual books, you can grab entire aisles, whole sections!
The Gymmusic Pin2 music streaming service DOESN’T use Playlists. We use technology combined with a specialist team of highly experienced music experts. If you own or work in a gym here’s some things to think about when making your playlist.
Making a Playlist takes time. This costs you money, you are effectively paying someone to put music together and even then, you need to maintain the lists you have made. Updating Playlists takes even more time. This is time you should be using to keep your clients happy!
Anyone can make a Playlist, very few people can make a GOOD playlist. If your gym has 100 clients working out, the likelihood is that only one person will like the music that’s playing; the person that made the playlist! Fact is that most gyms are run by guys. Guys play guys music. It’s all very well having a playlist that keeps the big guys who like to lift happy, but how is that Skrillex going to work out for the two nervous newbies who have just arrived in your gym for the first time? Will they be back?
No matter how big your Playlist, you will always hear repeats. This is because of the way that Playlist random play works. Many services and particularly MP3 players don’t keep a track of which tracks have already played, this means the laws of chance are at play for you to hear the same song twice in a row. A very annoying interruption to your work out.
Playlists are static. This means if things change in your gym in terms of the clients needs, you are stuck with the tracks that are in that list. With Pin2 from Gymmusic you can meet your client needs in a second, increase the overall tempo in seconds. Want something rockier, slower, more pumping, just change the dashboard settings and the technology finds the tracks to match your needs. Our highly experienced music team makes sure that you get the right balance of music to give something to everyone.
We measure the BPM of each track. Beats Per Minute gives an insight into the tempo of the track and enables us to understand the workout ‘power’ in each tune. It also enables us to cue up tracks next to one another that have a similar BPM which means your workout stays seamless and the music doesn’t have any jarring tempo drops. It also enables you to select the range of intensity that you want to match the activity going on in the gym. Our competitors do not do this.
I hate Playlists. But I love Pin2.
Blog Post by Steve Hayward, UK Country Manager at Gymmusic
I’ve been to a lot of gyms, more than most people. It’s part of my job to understand a gym’s client base, the atmosphere, the style of the place and then help them set up our Pin2 music streaming service accordingly to match their needs.
Visiting all these places (all pre-Lock Down!) led to some interesting situations/conversations and I thought I would share some of the more interesting ones here. I’m not going to mention any names but I am pleased to say that most of them are now using Pin2 and so their situation has radically changed!
Gym Manager #1
“We don’t need a new music system because most of our clients wear headphones”
I heard this when I first started at Gymmusic three years ago and I was stunned! It was no surprise that the gym was one of the most soulless empty spaces I’ve ever been to. The music they were providing was from the TV! At the same time they wondered why their numbers were down and that most people only stayed a month or so. Key learning: a great, up beat music mix gets your clients talking and if they have friends at the gym, they will stay longer!
Gym Owner #2
“I play what I like and nothing else”
This guy was a classic case of a guy who worked out a lot, who eventually got his own gym, then expected all his clients to be like him. At the same time as flipping that worn out 80’s heavy rock CD in the music system he was wondering why he was struggling to attract any women and younger people to his gym. Learning: a good music mix will please a broad range of people.
Gym Manager #3
“We just put on a Spotify playlist”
That’s exactly what most gyms are doing. You are not doing anything different to the competition, it just isn’t special anymore. This isn’t matched to your clients wants or needs. And then what happens? Either you hear the same songs over and over again (sometimes in the same order if you havent hit shuffle play) or you spend an hour or two each day ‘curating’ your playlists… this is classic nothing work, it doesn’t make much difference and is time consuming. Again it’s unlikely (unless you have a profound music knowledge) that the time costly results will produce a good mix.
Gym Manager #4
“I let my staff play what they like”
This is tricky territory, but it fails to work more often than it does. What you won’t hear is the collective groan from your clients as your heavy metal fan PT queues up his Slayer CD again… I’m not saying Slayer is bad, if that’s what your customers like, but it’s about providing what your clients like to listen to not what your staff like. Everything in moderation and in a wide and varied mix is a far better recipe for success. You want your staff focusing on your clients, not nipping off to change discs/playlists all the time. The other danger with this is that it’s very easy to get into client complaint territory: that gangster rap mix that sounds so on your headphones is perhaps not ideal for a public space where there is a spectrum of age ranges…
Gym Owner #5
“I just spent £50k on new weight machines, why should I spend even more money on music…”
Faster than a fancy paint job and definitely cheaper than a new Smith Machine, revising the way you deliver your music is the CHEAPEST way to totally revise the atmosphere in your gym for the better, get more people signed up and keep them with you for longer.
So there’s a quick round up of some common mistakes, none of them particularly bad in their own right, but you will lose clients over time if you’re not creating the right atmosphere.
Check out more of the functionality of our Pin2 fitness music streaming service here and don’t forget to request a free trial and experience the difference for yourself.