Frank Hassler has been successful as a gym operator in Germany for many years. After witnessing the benefits of EMS technology both as a customer and as an operator, he set about combining his traditional budget studio with EMS personal training. The result was a synergistic pairing that led to an increase in revenue and good customer loyalty.
Frank Hassler’s studio, the easy Fit in Schwenningen, Germany, is a well-equipped premium discount gym. In addition to training equipment, the studio, which is open 14 hours a day, seven days a week, offers numerous extras rarely found at a low-cost gym. These include courses, a drinks bar and a sauna. In all, the concept is attractively positioned and has successfully established itself as a premium low-cost studio.
Traditional gym and EMS clients
Hassler has also been working with a successful German EMS franchise that has been growing and expanding internationally in recent years. As a result, he could be called a ‘child of two worlds’. He understands the goals and needs of the traditional clientele, but he also appreciates the high willingness of EMS customers to pay for efficient and time-saving personal training. After eight years with the leading EMS studio concept, Hassler knew that he wanted to find a way to take advantage of both worlds for himself. To that end, last year Hassler opened his own EMS studio called bodyloft, and placed it within his existing fitness centre.
Existing easy Fit members who want to undertake EMS training are given additional contracts with bodyloft, which offers highly effective EMS personal training at regular market prices. At bodyloft, and in EMS studios in general, EMS is performed for 20 minutes once a week with a trainer, and customers can still make full use of the easy Fit facility at the same time. The concept has worked so well that a second in-gym EMS studio opened in another one of his fitness centres in December 2017.
Those new to the idea of an in-gym EMS studio may believe that placing an EMS studio within a gym facility will lead to direct competition for customers; however, Hassler has found the opposite to be true.
He says "The goal is to get our people from easy Fit into bodyloft. There, they pay higher contributions for highly efficient personal training with EMS. With fixed appointments and personal support, EMS is very sustainably motivating and results in improved customer loyalty. In principle, the EMS customers are then members of both studios – in the classic gym and at the EMS Studio!”
Hassler adds that original gym customers who sign up for EMS training are not lost to the EMS studio because as soon as the customer quits EMS, their original gym contract is automatically reactivated. He explains: "Gym customers get a new contract on joining bodyloft, making both the EMS studio and the gym available to them. Since the old contract is simply paused and reactivated at a later date, there's no real migration to the EMS concept. If a customer no longer wishes to have EMS sessions, he or she is automatically returned to the easy Fit contract, rather than lost."
A distinct branding
Anyone visiting bodyloft would struggle to guess that it has the same provider as easy Fit. This is because bodyloft has a very different appeal to the more affordable easy Fit – in terms of appearance, advertising and design. Starting from the EMS studio’s entrance, customers are given the impression that the space is entirely separate from the gym. It has its own distinct branding, which is more elegant and sophisticated, and bodyloft’s EMS trainers wear a noticeably different uniform to their easy Fit colleagues. Both concepts also have different opening hours and, as usual with EMS training, there are always fixed appointments. The bodyloft clientele receive special, platinum-coloured membership cards with which they can also access the classic easy Fit studio, if desired. And an added bonus is that bodyloft memberships include access to all of easy Fit’s services, such as use of the sauna and drinks bar. According to Hassler, this is a first for an EMS studio. He says: "Nobody in the EMS sector offers that much – the bodyloft customer has everything."
The in-gym studio provides Hassler with multiple unique selling points. Specifically, the concept sets itself apart from other classic studios by offering a more effective personal training alternative to the traditional gym, and unlike members of stand-alone EMS studios, bodyloft customers also receive access to a complete fitness centre and its extra services. The in-gym bodyloft concept has been in existence since the end of 2016. Its second studio launched in December 2017. Approximately 75 per cent of bodyloft customers are from the existing easy Fit fitness centre and the remaining 25 per cent are new external bodyloft clients. Hassler broke-even with bodyloft after just six months.