Why Full-Service Health Clubs need an All-in-One App – A technical analysis

Why Full-Service Health Clubs need an All-in-One App – A technical analysis

I am not going to start with a pretty picture.

Imagine  a full-service health club with a wide range of services – Group Ex, Personal Fitness, Tennis and Pickleball, Childcare and Camps, Nutrition and more. 

Each service has its own app. Staff and members are struggling to learn and use each. Member and Class data is input and stored in multiple locations. 

Efficiencies are scarce, and expenses mount.

But, we often say that we have an All-in-One solution for full-service Health Clubs. But, what does that even mean? Does it bring any real benefits to our customers beyond the very obvious benefits of one solution instead of multiple apps? 

Here I explain the non-obvious benefits of an All-in-One and specific drawbacks of multiple apps from a technical perspective.

Going back to the range of services offered by the full-service club – each service definitely needs strong software solutions. Let’s outline the requirements of Group Ex: Members will want to book classes. Invite guests. Message their instructor. Receive club and class updates. Be part of a group. And so on.

So, the club needs to offer the following through its software solution:

  • A smart calendar
  • Ability to communicate via push notifications, messages, and posts
  • Digital marketing

What happens when you scale this scenario across other services as well?

Think of Personal Fitness. Members  will need access to the Trainer’s Calendar, ability to book a session, message the trainer, view videos, workouts and purchase Fitness Plans.

Scale it further for Tennis and Pickleball. It gets more complicated because now members need to book courts, pay the fee online, and invite their friends to play and arrange matches with players at the same level. Phew!!

To do this – again you need to offer your members a calendar, ability to book, ability to purchase, push notifications and more.  

Some drawbacks of using different and multiple software providers for your services are obvious

  • 5 different apps = 5 different user experiences and 5 different logins obviously leading to a fragmented and disjointed experience.
  • Your cost of learning and staff training of the 5 softwares in addition to the cost of implementing and running so many different softwares.

Some drawbacks are not so obvious, but they  have a huge impact on the cost you incur and the pricing you offer

  • Another cost – the providers charge quite heavily for these softwares because they all have to develop the Calendar, the Purchases, the Booking, the Social Network, and Digital Marketing capability and that makes it expensive and they transfer the cost to you.
  • For you, the clubs, the margins are low, so your services cannot be priced at a price point which helps you recover the cost you are paying. 

The way out: An alternate way of thinking about your  softwares or the “tech stack”  you use at your club

Think of all the different softwares you use in terms of Horizontal and Vertical services. 

You have some requirements that are common and needed across all your services. Let us call these Horizontal services or just Horizontals– such as Custom Branding, Calendar and Social Networking, Purchases, and Digital Marketing.  

And think of all your different departments as Vertical services – Group Ex, Personal Fitness, Tennis, Camp, etc. All these Verticals need all the Horizontal functionality as well. So, imagine these Verticals as sitting on top of the Horizontals.

But, if you use one App for delivering all your Verticals, while using the same software to deliver the Horizontals, you bring “economies of scale” – to state it in good old-fashioned Economics jargon. Let us examine these “economies of scale” one by one.  

With one App, you save on your net outflow for software expenses

Because you don’t pay for the high development costs of each provider, you save on your net outflow. Here is an approximate breakdown of what this might look like if a club goes for multiple apps for Group Ex, On Demand Video and Nutrition Counseling. 

Note that for a similar set of software solutions, you can save approx. 40% if you use an All-in-One App.


With one App, you save on your implementation and staff training effort

And because you don’t implement multiple apps, you save on your implementation and training effort. Every software provider has their own onboarding process. The softwares even work and behave differently. 

With one App, you maintain one source of all your data

With multiple Apps, the club staff, trainer, instructor data along with class, & calendar events data at the club, and the member booking & attendance data will be used on multiple Apps and websites. Data like class data, member data, and staff data has to be input into each software. They all have to either share data with each other or maintain the data independently which adds a lot of burden on the staff.

With one App, you spend less and depend less on integrations

If there are two Apps, you will need to have one set of APIs to exchange data amongst themselves. If there are 3 apps, then you will need 3 sets of APIs.  Don’t take this literally, but the point I am making is that the more the Apps, the more the APIs you will need. Overall, this  increases your spend, reduces the functionality that can be provided, and ends up with more errors and down time for clubs.

With one App, you can capture your member preferences once

For example, if one of your members wants to opt out of push notifications, and she opts out of one of the Apps. But, that will not be enough. She will have to opt out of all the other club Apps as well. 

And last, but never the least, you deliver a remarkably better user experience

Imagine your members using multiple apps for different services – will it not be hard for you to give them your brand’s consistent experience. It will be truly difficult for a club to use their colors, fonts consistently across so many different apps. Isn’t it better to give a single login id and a single app to your members?

User experience is, of course, not only about the brand and UI. It is also about the value a member can receive from your club. One App allows you to offer newer and digital offerings, consolidate them or offer them as packages. You could offer a Personal Training class as a virtual two-way video conference in a single app, but if you are using different apps for live streaming and PT, you cannot.

You can design new age offerings like Fitness Plans, with Guided Workouts and Tracking; options of Personal Training classes (in person or virtual); ability to pay online, ability to purchase an integrated Nutrition Counseling service all through one App. And give access to a vast library of workouts and exercises.

You can further offer your typical full-service range of options beyond the Group Ex and Personal Training, to include new non-dues ideas like court booking, spa bookings, food and beverage, and Proshops.


Summing Up

An All-in-One App for member engagement and interactions, to showcase your services, and for providing new age services for your members is a more efficient way of looking at your tech. stack. 

Explore how our full-service customers are using our All-In-One solution to enrich their member experience.

The Atlantic Clubs Case Study

Vida Fitness Case Study

I would love to start a conversation with you.


Founder and CEO, SHC