Regular exercise is a part of life for millions of Australians – and for many, that means hitting the gym several times a week. But with so many different options available, how do you decide which gym is right for you?
Well, it largely depends on what you’re looking for, and how much you’re willing to pay for your membership. If you make the wrong decision, you might find you don’t get the value for money that you were hoping for so it’s important to do your research, ask some friends, and get a good idea of what you’re signing up to.
Fortunately, Canstar Blue recently asked more than 1,000 of our friends about their gym-going habits – and how they rate their gym across a range of categories, from the equipment available to the social atmosphere and whether or not they think their membership represents good value for money.
After all was said and done, just one gym chain scored a five-star rating for overall satisfaction – Fernwood Fitness. So after winning our Most Satisfied Customers Award for the second time in as many years, we caught up with Emma Warren, National Marketing and Communications Manager from the female-only gym chain, to get an insight into what the business is doing right by its members.
Why do people go to the gym?
Q: Our survey found 49% of gym members joined to improve their fitness, while 29% were looking to lose weight. What is your experience of why members choose Fernwood Fitness and how significant is the female-only factor in their decision-making?
A: Years ago, those statistics would have been around the other way; it was more about weight loss. However, these days, more people understand the many benefits that exercise alone can provide for their health and wellbeing, and many people just want to ‘feel’ good, which is what exercise does with its endorphin release. The female-only factor is obviously what makes us different to other full service facilities. We cater to women’s needs, provide a clean and friendly environment for them to get their “me” time and we really do focus on making sure each and every member gets the support they need to achieve the results they sign up for, whether it is to improve fitness or to lose weight.
Why choose a female only gym?
Q: One in four gym members told us they would be happy paying more for a single-sex gym. As the biggest organisation of its kind, can you tell us about the increasing popularity of single-sex gyms and how it has driven the success of Fernwood Fitness?
A: Being a female-only full service gym has always been our point of difference. Fernwood was founded over 25 years ago because of the need for a comfortable space for women to strength train, where women didn’t need to worry about being looked at by men or smell the typical aroma that came with a male gym environment. These are still reasons women join Fernwood. But other reasons also include our premium service, our attention to detail, our friendly ‘hello’ when you walk in the door and all the feminine touches.
Fernwood gyms are a real community where women can socialise and find new friends. We’ve also evolved as the needs of women have changed to have more accessibility by opening 24 hours and having online programs so members can tune in whenever they have the time for helpful advice and support, not necessarily when they are physically in the gym. All of these things have been key features of Fernwood’s success.
What do we want from our gyms?
Q: Value for money was found to be the biggest driver of customer satisfaction, but the availability of staff and social atmosphere were not far behind. How important do you believe a helpful, encouraging atmosphere is to helping people achieve their goals?
A: Often, people sign up to a gym to give themselves the accountability they need to get their desired result. But at the end of the day, if a member is not seeing value in their membership, they will cease it. Fernwood are a full-service gym – we’re not the sort of gym where there’s one type of membership and you never interact with a staff member after you sign up. Our staff members are there to provide a service; Fernwood is more than a room with gym equipment in it.
The value we add with our hands-on support, services like Group Personal Training and Food Coaching, as well as our group fitness, online programs, free breakfast and toiletries (the list goes on!) is what is so important in being able to tailor our gym to so many different types of women and help them achieve their goals. Every woman will have a different goal and a different way of getting there, so it’s important we take the time to understand the needs of every member and support them on their health journey.
How often do people work out?
Q: We found one in four gym members work out three times per week, while a further 36% do so four or five times. What is your experience of how frequently Fernwood Fitness members hit the gym and what are the busiest times of the day and week?
A: These numbers are pretty consistent with what we see in our gyms. Women these days lead very busy lifestyles so we’re fortunate we can cater for many different types of members. We have 30 minute express group fitness classes for those who want a quick workout before or after work, or during their lunch break. We have Personal Trainers available throughout the day for pre-booked 30 minute sessions that keep members accountable to their workout. Some of our clubs even have child minding so mums can still get in for their workout. All of these great options ultimately mean that our members can easily commit to a few workouts throughout the week without feeling like it’s taking up too much of their time, which is important.
Each of our gyms will be a bit different in terms of peak times of the day because of their different locations, but generally early morning and after work are our busiest times.