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App analysis: PureGym

Apps are an important way for health and fitness operators to keep members engaged and motivated. Lucian Weston, head of business development at Puregym, talks about developing their app in-house to ensure it met member needs

Published in Fit Tech 2020 issue 2

Tell us about your background
My previous role was a strategy consultant at PwC. I came to Pure Gym three and a half years ago.

In my current role I’m responsible for the development of new products and services to enhance member experience and deliver incremental revenue. Product management of the mobile app is an important component of this.

What were your main goals in developing the PureGym app?
Ultimately, we believe the app should be central to the entire member experience and provide a point of competitive differentiation. It’s also a great way of engaging and motivating those who don’t use our physical facilities.

Who did the development work?
We chose to develop it in-house. We see this as a real strength as it gives us complete ownership and allows us to continually add features and improve usability for members.

The first version was released in June 2018.

What functionality did you opt for and why?
Initially, our aim was to develop a tool for class management. However, over time, we’ve added a wide range of other features to be relevant for a broader audience.

Did you consult members in relation to the app?
Member feedback is one of the key principles of our development process. We always start with a member problem and think about how we can solve it.

Before starting development, we conduct research via a range of channels: online groups, in the gym, focus groups and one-on-one usability testing. We then develop and release a minimum viable product (MVP) of any feature before iterating based on usage data and feedback that we receive directly through our app.

Which features are most popular?
Class management still accounts for about half of overall usage. However, it has been great how quickly we have diversified usage and the remaining features are all well used. We released a new version of training plans in January, which have got off to a flying start.

Are there any features that don’t get used so much?
Honestly, there aren’t. The actual development is the costly, time consuming part of the process so we make sure we have as much confidence as possible before we start building. We do this through thinking strategically, conducting member research and analysing what works well in the market – as much in other industries as our own.

How do you measure success?
We set ourselves ambitious targets across a range of metrics and track our performance rigorously. First and foremost, we record usage of the app. At the start of January, we were ranked number two on the App Store for Health and Fitness, second only to Fitbit. That month in total we had more than 700k members using the app.

Do you plan to update it? If so, how often and with what goals in mind?
We release a new version of the app every two weeks, so it’s always evolving and improving over time. We’re committed to it as a long-term investment, with the goal of it being the centre of a member’s experience.

There are lots of exciting developments coming up this year, including digital training support, body composition integration, home workouts and intelligent messaging.

What advice do you have for other operators?
Think carefully about your business goals and how an app will help you achieve them. Be clear on your return on investment model. Also bear in mind there are plenty of fit-for-purpose third-party apps that can be taken ‘off the shelf’.

How have you updated the app since COVID-19?
After we closed our gyms on 20th March, we focused on expanding our home and outdoor workouts.

To continue supporting our members, we added tailored nutrition information, mindfulness and exercise guidance and made connecting with PTs for online training easier.

These were features of the app that we were already in the process of developing, however, the impact of COVID-19 has massively accelerated their rollout.

How has the app helped you to engage with members during this time?
Alongside our social media channels, it has been our primary engagement tool with members.

Since our sites closed, more than 500,000 members and former members have used the app to support their mental and physical wellbeing. There are now more than 100 free workouts across cardio, strength, yoga, mindfulness and running, which have been highly popular and received great feedback.

How do you hope to use the app going forward?
The app is central to our digital strategy. As we begin to re-open sites, members can use it to check how busy the gym is, and book a slot to visit safely. It’s also providing key information updates and being used to capture real-time feedback from members.

Meanwhile, tailored content is guiding members on getting back into their gym routine. The home and outdoor content will continue to be crucial for users in order to stay fit and healthy when they can’t make it to the gym.

About the Puregym app

The app currently has the following features and the PureGym team is adding to them all the time:

• Access: check how busy any gym is at any time

• Activity tracking: track gym visits and earn badges

• Training plans: workout plans tailored to fit members’ goals and experience levels

• Class management

• PIN entry reminder

• Manage your membership function

Lucian Weston is head of business development at Puregym

Sign up here to get Fit Tech's weekly ezine and every issue of Fit Tech magazine free on digital.
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features

App analysis: PureGym

Apps are an important way for health and fitness operators to keep members engaged and motivated. Lucian Weston, head of business development at Puregym, talks about developing their app in-house to ensure it met member needs

Published in Fit Tech 2020 issue 2

Tell us about your background
My previous role was a strategy consultant at PwC. I came to Pure Gym three and a half years ago.

In my current role I’m responsible for the development of new products and services to enhance member experience and deliver incremental revenue. Product management of the mobile app is an important component of this.

What were your main goals in developing the PureGym app?
Ultimately, we believe the app should be central to the entire member experience and provide a point of competitive differentiation. It’s also a great way of engaging and motivating those who don’t use our physical facilities.

Who did the development work?
We chose to develop it in-house. We see this as a real strength as it gives us complete ownership and allows us to continually add features and improve usability for members.

The first version was released in June 2018.

What functionality did you opt for and why?
Initially, our aim was to develop a tool for class management. However, over time, we’ve added a wide range of other features to be relevant for a broader audience.

Did you consult members in relation to the app?
Member feedback is one of the key principles of our development process. We always start with a member problem and think about how we can solve it.

Before starting development, we conduct research via a range of channels: online groups, in the gym, focus groups and one-on-one usability testing. We then develop and release a minimum viable product (MVP) of any feature before iterating based on usage data and feedback that we receive directly through our app.

Which features are most popular?
Class management still accounts for about half of overall usage. However, it has been great how quickly we have diversified usage and the remaining features are all well used. We released a new version of training plans in January, which have got off to a flying start.

Are there any features that don’t get used so much?
Honestly, there aren’t. The actual development is the costly, time consuming part of the process so we make sure we have as much confidence as possible before we start building. We do this through thinking strategically, conducting member research and analysing what works well in the market – as much in other industries as our own.

How do you measure success?
We set ourselves ambitious targets across a range of metrics and track our performance rigorously. First and foremost, we record usage of the app. At the start of January, we were ranked number two on the App Store for Health and Fitness, second only to Fitbit. That month in total we had more than 700k members using the app.

Do you plan to update it? If so, how often and with what goals in mind?
We release a new version of the app every two weeks, so it’s always evolving and improving over time. We’re committed to it as a long-term investment, with the goal of it being the centre of a member’s experience.

There are lots of exciting developments coming up this year, including digital training support, body composition integration, home workouts and intelligent messaging.

What advice do you have for other operators?
Think carefully about your business goals and how an app will help you achieve them. Be clear on your return on investment model. Also bear in mind there are plenty of fit-for-purpose third-party apps that can be taken ‘off the shelf’.

How have you updated the app since COVID-19?
After we closed our gyms on 20th March, we focused on expanding our home and outdoor workouts.

To continue supporting our members, we added tailored nutrition information, mindfulness and exercise guidance and made connecting with PTs for online training easier.

These were features of the app that we were already in the process of developing, however, the impact of COVID-19 has massively accelerated their rollout.

How has the app helped you to engage with members during this time?
Alongside our social media channels, it has been our primary engagement tool with members.

Since our sites closed, more than 500,000 members and former members have used the app to support their mental and physical wellbeing. There are now more than 100 free workouts across cardio, strength, yoga, mindfulness and running, which have been highly popular and received great feedback.

How do you hope to use the app going forward?
The app is central to our digital strategy. As we begin to re-open sites, members can use it to check how busy the gym is, and book a slot to visit safely. It’s also providing key information updates and being used to capture real-time feedback from members.

Meanwhile, tailored content is guiding members on getting back into their gym routine. The home and outdoor content will continue to be crucial for users in order to stay fit and healthy when they can’t make it to the gym.

About the Puregym app

The app currently has the following features and the PureGym team is adding to them all the time:

• Access: check how busy any gym is at any time

• Activity tracking: track gym visits and earn badges

• Training plans: workout plans tailored to fit members’ goals and experience levels

• Class management

• PIN entry reminder

• Manage your membership function

Lucian Weston is head of business development at Puregym

Sign up here to get Fit Tech's weekly ezine and every issue of Fit Tech magazine free on digital.
Gallery
More features
Editor's letter

Two-way coaching

Content providers have been hugely active in the fit tech market since the start of the pandemic. We expect the industry to move on from delivering these services on a ‘broadcast-only’ basis as two-way coaching becomes the new USP
people

Laurent Petit

Co-founder, Active Giving
The future of sports and fitness are dependent on the climate. Our goal is to positively influence the future of our planet by instilling a global vision of wellbeing and a sense of collective action
people

Adam Zeitsiff

CEO, Intelivideo
We don’t just create the technology and bail – we support our clients’ ongoing hybridisation efforts
people

Anantharaman Pattabiraman

CEO and co-founder, Auro
When you’re undertaking fitness activities, unless you’re on a stationary bike, in most cases it’s not safe or necessary to be tied to a screen, especially a small screen
people

Mike Hansen

Managing partner, Endorphinz
We noticed a big gap in the market – customers needed better insights but also recommendations on what to do, whether that be customer acquisition, content creation, marketing and more
interview

Mathieu Letombe

At Withings, we’re improving the way both patients and the medical community are able to monitor, identify and understand health levels and issues

Refining augmented reality

London boutique The Refinery has created an avatar-led digital fitness offering called ALFI, which utilises augmented reality (AR) to demonstrate movements. Zoe Bertali, one of the co-founders of the gym, tells us more

Jessica Ennis-Hill: founder of Jennis

Jessica Ennis-Hill is on a mission to close the gender data gap in health research. Her app, Jennis CycleMapping, is designed to help women understand their cycles and how to train during each different phase. Steph Eaves speaks to Ennis-Hill to find out exactly how it works

How usable is your product?

Your fit tech product might be a game changer, solving problems or creating new possibilities for clients, but none of this will matter if it’s not easy and enjoyable to use. Industrial designer Nick Chubb explains why usability is key, and the factors to consider when designing your new product

Put on your red light

Red light therapy promises a variety of benefits, including better recovery, skin rejuvenation and increased energy, but is it all too good to be true? Fit Tech spoke to Bryan Gohl and James Strong of Red Light Rising, and Wes Pfiffner of Joovv to find out more
interview

Kilian Saekel

With ROX Home, we’re now targeting families who want to work out at home but who are bored with traditional ways of home training

Adrian Hon

Zombies, Run! is one of the most enduring fitness apps, with half a million users getting active while engaging in ‘missions’ against the zombie apocalypse. Its co-creator spoke to Steph Eaves about the power of story

Digital community

Matt Stebbings of SLT Group talks about the creation of their Community Portal, a new platform that aims to help anyone to get active, whether that’s inside or outside of SLT’s facilities

Funxtion: A vital connection

NonStop Gym, Switzerland’s no frills gym chain, has appointed FunXtion to create its member training app

Monitoring mental health

New technology uses advanced machine learning to monitor patients’ mental health between visits to their medical providers
people

Devi Mahadevia

Facebook director of sports and fitness partnerships
With Facebook paid online events, publishers can charge viewers to attend a video livestream on their Facebook pages or a third party video service
people

Andy Etches

Founder and sports director, Rezzil
Rezzil was able to have an injured player learning his new manager's philosophy, positioning and playing style – all from a seated position
interview

Preston Lewis, Black Box VR

Game designers have figured out how to keep people unhealthily addicted to games. If only you could be the hero in a game that levelled up your life
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Technogym
Technogym