What Can Budget Gyms Learn From the CrossFit Model?

Over the last 5 years we have seen the exponential growth of low-cost budget gyms across the UK offering no-frills gym memberships for as little as £9.99 per month, with some of the market-leading clubs having more than 12,000 members. There is no doubt that over the next few years we will continue to see this sector grow and then probably consolidate into 5 or 6 ‘big players’.

As the budget club boom happened, we saw a real polarisation of the UK market. Mid-market clubs were left lacking an identity, Virgin Active continued to invest and dominate the higher end of market and we witnessed the creation of the ‘micro gym’ concept – small, high end, results-based gyms sometimes charging ten times as much as their low-cost competitors.

It is pretty clear that there is room in the market place for such different products – budget clubs giving people what they pay for with the micro gym concept giving people service and results but at a cost.

I guess this blog post is aimed more at the budget providers rather than CrossFit ‘box’ owners and micro gym managers, but something that we want to consider today is: Is there an opportunity for a hybrid of the two?

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Where CrossFit sites win

Despite their high price point, Cross Fit ‘boxes’ are quite cheap to set up, they are ‘rough and ready’ and more based around idolising the owner rather than sexy changing rooms and café areas, so for budget operators this problem is not going to go away.

So how do we combat it? We cannot compete with the level of service they offer, the results the members get are unlikely to be as good and going to a £9.99 club is frankly not as cool as being a ‘cross-fitter’, so if you can’t beat them — join them.

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Where budget gyms can win

Some of our budget clubs have over 30,000 square foot of space, changing rooms, fitness staff and thousands of members not getting results, surely a perfect place for a Cross Fit box or your own version of this results-based micro gym?

Now is the time to embrace what people want. Stop losing members to results-based gyms and create your sub-branded gym within a gym!

Pick a price-point that allows you to offer a completely different service and find that one trainer to lead and coach the members on this new type of membership rather than watching your members leave to go somewhere that will ‘guarantee them results’.


Discover the benefits of setting up a hybrid strategy for your gym on our fitness podcast mPowered: