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Fitness First to invest £270m in brand makeover

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Global fitness operator Fitness First believes it has unlocked the key to motivation and is investing approximately £270m (US$445m, €329m) over the next three years in bringing its global estate in line with its new philosophy.

The gym chain, which has 189,000 members in the UK and 377 clubs worldwide, has worked with Professor Stuart Biddle of Loughborough University, UK, to understand motivation, in a bid to turn new year resolution recruits into long-term gym goers.

Biddle has identified that keeping up a new exercise regime, requires more than simply willpower: “Most think motivation to exercise is down to willpower, but it goes much deeper, as we need to meet psychological needs to maintain the habit. If key things can be put in place in order to meet those needs, then our new year’s resolutions have a much greater probability of success.”

Motivation comes down to three specific psychological needs: seeing signs of improvement and feeling competent; feeling like we have a choice of what we are doing and feeling a sense of belonging in the surroundings.

Fitness First has already started investing to meet these needs. The 82 clubs in the UK will benefit from new technology, better trained staff and a number of new workouts and services. This includes a growing focus on functional training, with ‘freestyle’ small group sessions offered on the gym floor.

Twenty London clubs have been refurbished and rebranded, with plans to complete 34 this year and the rest of the estate by 2016.

Physical changes include vibrant new branding, removing barriers on entry to create a welcoming reception; using touchscreen technology to give information and allow members to track progression and aid personal consultation.

Freestyle zones are being added to the gym floor for personal and small group exercise in functional training. Forty clubs already have new style shower blocks and spas with bespoke ceramics, lighting and finishes.

Bio Age, a scientifically designed fitness test to measure biological age, which acts as a motivation and behaviour change tool is being introduced, along with a new induction programme, Custom Fit, which will assess members’ training personality, to inform their unique programme.

Fitness First CEO, Andy Cosslett, says to date gyms haven’t delivered what people need and his company is rewriting the rules of the fitness industry. “We've expanded variety and choice, offering members a huge range of expertly created short workouts which are delivered by skilled staff. We know members want to feel welcome, safe, inspired and not intimidated and these needs shaped our new staff training programme, designed with Professor Biddle, which includes expert instruction on how to motivate members.”

“No gym brand has gone to this length to supports its members’ fitness. From the physical transformation of our clubs to a bold new brand identity, we are making a quantum leap forward for fitness and Fitness First.”

And today - deemed the most depressing day of the year, by psychologist Cliff Arnall, based on lack of sunshine, holiday debt and failed New Year’s resolutions – Fitness First is getting upbeat with free Freestyle team workouts throughout the day, with trainers offering hands on support.

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Global fitness operator Fitness First believes it has unlocked the key to motivation and is investing approximately £270m (US$445m, €329m) over the next three years in bringing its global estate in line with its new philosophy.
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