Industry experts explain how they stay ahead of the rest when it comes to gym equipment
Nicole Bradley, assistant manager, The Burj Club, Burj Khalifa
Joao Batista Gonsalues, personal trainer, Fairmont Dubai
Michele Moro, managing director, Technogym ME
Daniel Morariu, director of recreation, The Retreat Palm Dubai
Xavier Halbi, executive assistant manager, Radisson Blu Hotel Dubai Deira Creek
Sue Chua, front office manager, Media One Hotel
What are the latest trends in gym equipment?
Nicole Bradley: Functionality and ease of use are two key trends that we have witnessed in strength training equipment. Members are looking for personalised software for cardio workouts. Stair climbers and X trainers are the most popular machines amongst members wanting to see results in a short period of time. The TRX suspension trainer, a highly portable performance training tool is another piece of equipment that is popular with clients.
Joao Batista Gonsalues: People are moving towards non-motorised equipment, for example the “jungle gym” concept with artificial rocks, ropes and climbing frames. Instead of using the static machines or free weights, people would rather exercise using their own body weight, incorporating the entire body into the workout. Such methods burn more fat compared to static machines.
Michele Moro: High Intensity Training (HIIT) equipment is very popular as it is a great way to burn fat, more specifically in terms of equipment, I’m talking about the Technogym Skill Mill, Skill Row and digitally connected equipment through Unity as people can track themselves and set goals to see progress, rather than just running outside.
Daniel Morariu: There’s a growing demand for functional equipment that helps you engage the core through compound movements rather than isolated exercises. As well as physical gym equipment trends, technology is also incredibly important, with wearable fitness trackers, smart-watches and various apps, which are great for tracking your personal development. Now, as well as providing heart rate readings and GPS route trackers, you can even have reminders to move, consume water and food and to analyse sleep patterns.
Xavier Halbi: There are constant changes in the field of wellness with new physical trends and thought movements constantly emerging, from equipment to diets, muscle gain and cardio work. The various tools and machines are becoming more comfortable, more streamlined, and more appealing to the eye while offering the same functionality and physical results.
Sue Chua: Computer technology incorporated into fitness equipment is becoming a trend now. Life Fitness’ Elevation series of cardio equipment allows users to save their workouts to a USB stick then download that information onto a special website where they can monitor the workout length, distance and intensity.
What qualities are gym instructors looking for when purchasing equipment?
Nicole: It’s not just about quality. The biggest aspect is about providing the member and the trainer a variety of machines that do different things. Technology innovations in gym equipment can help in differentiating a facility. From an investment point of view, we always look for reliability and a great maintenance programme for each piece of equipment.
Joao: With the device market becoming both more specialised and diverse, the key priority is safety. Quality is equally important and we have just recently upgraded all our treadmills to the latest Technogym models.
Michele: The first would be easy-to-use equipment, since most clients are at a starting point in terms of exercise, which is why they have a trainer to motivate them. Engaging equipment is also very important, for example Olympic lifting bars, which allow trainers to give great examples next to the client while they are performing the exercise as opposed to giant machines locked in a certain position, which are hard to teach with.
Daniel: Usually there is a balance between maximising the use of space and delivering a comprehensive suite of equipment that appeals to our guests. It is worth bearing in mind that Mthe gym in some hotels is only used by around 20% of hotel guests, so you will find that other hotels put a far greater focus on cost effectiveness.
Xavier: Gym instructors can vary greatly in their views and approaches to body workouts. Some are more focused on the client getting leaner, gaining mass, losing weight or simply for maintaining a certain level of health. Therefore, their purchasing behaviour will reflect the needs of their clients.
Sue: A brand with a good reputation is key, as is a decent warranty. Preventive maintenance is vital as well.
How have customer needs changed when it comes to the gym over the last 12 months?
Nicole: Members want to track and record their progress to see if they are accomplishing their set fitness and health goals. Customer experience and educated fitness trainers are two key things to win loyalty.
Joao: As the trend of fitness clubs is rapidly evolving, , guests want to further enhance their experience every time they work out. Gym-goers are looking for innovative alternatives to cardio machines, which enable them use their own body weight while exercising.
Michele: Athletic and performance training is taking over as well as the CrossFit trend. This means less rough fitness and large lifting is happening in favour of a more sport-focussed performance approach.
Daniel: There is an explosion in the market for yoga, tai chi and qi gong, with great exposure provided by social media influencers. Mindfulness is all about gaining a greater awareness of the deep connection between mind and body.
Xavier: The major shift is that people are spending less time in the gym. Clients nowadays are in a rush, they want a quick burn-out or at least a quick break away from the daily stress of life. Of course, we have some of our very loyal customers who still enjoy their two-hour workout, however we see more and more people who come twice a day for their daily quick fix.
Sue: Users prefer to go to a facility that is accessible to their workplace. A 24-hour gym facility is key and users often request for their membership to be frozen because a lot of Dubai expats are transient. Most users like fitness classes too to boost their motivation to finish a workout.
What steps should hoteliers take to maximise revenue potential from an on-site gym?
Nicole: The Burj Club focuses on offering a variety of training packages and personal training sessions. Combining other services and features, such as spa or pool access as part of a package, is another potential revenue generator.
Joao: It’s important to keep the gym equipment up-to-date. One of the many ways of maximising revenue potential is to offer guests personal and group training programmes or specialised equipment services, such as a 1.5-hour Power Plate sessions, which activates the body’s natural reflexive response to vibration, while engaging muscles in a consistent and controlled manner.
Michele: Hotels need to be consistent with their brands. Status and overall experience is also key. Leverage the typical three main streams of revenue with a proper attraction strategy, proactive retention and innovative and appealing secondary spends, not only limited to F&B, retail and PT, but also with small group training and specialised classes.