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Total Fitness launches its second club concept – The Women’s Gym

Total Fitness has launched a new club concept, The Women’s Gym, in Manchester, UK
The new offering was curated following extensive research and consumer interviews
CEO, Sophie Lawler, says the new club "unites a rich and diverse customer segment"
Up to 40 per cent of women avoid gyms due to concerns about intimidation or harassment
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Total Fitness has launched a women-only concept called The Women’s Gym in Manchester, UK.

Offering a new fitness space, the concept for The Women’s Gym has been informed by interviews with more than 150 women and a wider research study in which more than 3,500 women detailed their attitudes and preferences.

The design of the space was based on this consultation process, with an emphasis on fostering empowerment and delivering personalised fitness journeys. Users can choose to work-out alone or with others and in mirrored or mirror-free spaces – whichever they find the most motivating.

“The Women’s Gym is a statement to women that we take their needs seriously," says Total Fitness CEO, Sophie Lawler. "We listened to thousands of women through our research and have applied what we learned in a very thoughtful way to create a gym that's designed to help them feel at ease while working out. It’s a space where women can achieve progression and enjoy a full, uninterrupted workout, no matter the occasion, their frame of mind or life stage.

"This has been a challenging project, but one for which we take great responsibility and I believe we’ve found a number of common themes to unite an incredibly rich and diverse customer segment," she said.

“Our private and purpose-built spaces help enable women to take control of their fitness journeys and perform at their best, whatever their best means to them in that moment," continued Lawler. "The Women's Gym also aligns with the company's overarching promise to provide spaces and opportunities so members can achieve more than they thought possible.”

Total Fitness has repurposed vacant space in its Whitefield club in Manchester to create the new gym as a club-in-club set-up with its own access control and dedicated entrance and Lawler says the original Total Fitness health club floorplan has not been changed.

“As a space created to build confidence at personal pace and to avoid feelings of intimidation, The Women’s Gym is designed and managed to accommodate no more than 50 users at any one time, with a limit on the number of subscribing members,” says Lawler.

The new gym will be open to existing members as a bolt-on subscription at £12.50/month and non-members as a £10 pay-as-you-go option.

The operator currently has 15 large clubs in the North of England and Wales and Lawler, says the company has plans to develop further club-in-club locations for the new concept, as well as continuing to developing needs-led spaces more generally in this way.

The women's gym concept was curated with the support of Total Fitness thought-partner Yonder Consulting, with club design developed with partners including Studio Twenty.

Equipment has been chosen with the female body in mind from a range of suppliers, including Life Fitness, Precor, Pulse Fitness, Origin Fitness UK, True Fitness and TRX Training.

Cardio and weights have been evenly spread throughout the gym to create a less intimidating and more free-flowing environment.

Attention has been paid to aesthetics, with calming colours, bamboo finishes, wooden furniture, lowered ceilings and purpose-designed lighting.

Staff are being upskilled to support women through their many physiological life stages, such as pregnancy, perimenopause, menopause and menstruation, gaining insights into how these impact training and fitness. Total Fitness will also be expanding its range of educational content and digital workouts, allowing members to access information and workouts away from the club.

Total Fitness already offers separate spaces for women in all its clubs and this provision will continue, however, The Women’s Gym has been designed to meet the needs of women who either don’t currently exercise, or limit how often they exercise, because they find a traditional gym environment off-putting.

Kerry Curtis, brand development director, says Total Fitness identified demand for womens-only facilities from a range of sources, including Google search data that shows an 82 per cent year-on-year increase in searches for 'women-only gyms' over the last 12 months.

Research from Strava and This Girl Can shows that 69 per cent of women in the UK say they've had to take a break from exercise – often due to the pandemic, family or work commitments – and wish to restart.

One in three UK women currently don’t exercise due to low confidence, while up to 40 per cent of women avoid gyms due to concerns about intimidation or harassment.

These statistics show that the industry needs to take this subject seriously and follow the lead of Total Fitness in breaking down barriers for women to exercise.

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