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Your Studio's Secret Weapon For Boosting Attendance and Delighting Members

by Kate Cracknell and Les Mills Asia Pacific

Your Studio's Secret Weapon For Boosting Attendance and Delighting Members
Your Studio's Secret Weapon For Boosting Attendance and Delighting Members

Keith Tan 
Founder, The Active Chimp, Petaling Jaya, Malaysia 

“We’ve been in business for eight years now and along the way we tried many different types of equipment before finding SMART TECH. Our business’ core value is to give the best to our members; they only pay when they attend a class and when they use our services; so they become more sensitive to the environment and program and equipment we provide. 

The biggest difference between SMART TECH and other equipment is the innovation and design. Because it can be separated into pieces when stored, it saves us a lot of space. This means we can have equipment to serve more customers at one time. The design itself is modern and trendy, which enhances the design of the studio environment. The gator, pull-and-click system allows the customers to be more flexible and take up more challenges using different weights, because they don’t need to worry about the transition time, compared to conventional clip system barbells. 

The quality of SMART TECH is remarkable; and our members’ feedback tells us they recognise we provide high quality equipment. 

We also use SMART TECH equipment outside our group fitness classes and because our members already know the equipment, they’re ready to try the different programs and self-created challenges we provide. The step platform, for example, we turn into an incline bench; and the weight plates are great as hand-weights. Workouts become more safe and enjoyable for our members, which creates a great experience for them. 

As a studio owner, SMART TECH is a worthwhile investment because the return is really remarkable.” 


John Davie 
Director, World Gym Australia, Gold Coast, Australia 

“We use SMART TECH in 28 of our franchisees and company clubs. As a company, we want to have standout equipment in every part of our facility and we look at SMART TECH as being a point of difference for us. We want our members to come in and utilise the best equipment because that helps us retain our members. They don’t want to go back to using the old clips and springs.  

The mentors for our Instructors are the Les Mills teachers, and they use the same equipment those mentors use on the videos, that we use in our clubs. So they love learning from their mentors and using that same equipment. 

As a company, we pride ourselves on putting the best equipment into every club and that’s why we use SMART TECH.” 


Amy Chew Ai Mee 
GX Manager, Peak Fitness, Gurney Plaza, Malaysia 

“SMART TECH generates more sales, more PT sales, and more participation in GX classes.  

SMART TECH is a smart move to bring in new members and help our existing members. It’s great equipment for PT and GX classes. Our members and our Instructors love SMART TECH for its ease of use, stability, non-slip design, quick transitions, and the overall experience it creates.” 


Joely Davie 
Group Fitness Coordinator, World Gym Australia, Gold Coast Australia 

“SMART TECH is all about the experience. Our members get a great experience because it’s easy to unload and very quick; it’s ergonomically amazing for your wrists, and they put no pressure onto any areas that they shouldn’t. The design makes them versatile so you can use the weight plates as dumbbells and so many other different ways. 

The MBX Mats also look amazing and are so versatile with the two sides for yoga and the sweaty stuff; we have them in the Burleigh Club. 

The SMARTBANDS are also amazing, giving members the full range of movement for all the Les Mills programs. 

Because we have SMART TECH equipment, Instructors also love teaching for us because they love the experience of teaching using the best equipment.” 


John Blackburn 
Head of fitness and customer experience, 1Life, UK 

“We have LES MILLS SMART TECH – SMARTBAR®, SMARTSTEP® and SMARTBAND® – in approximately 50 per cent of our sites in the UK, with more clubs transitioning each year as they move into their new equipment lifecycle. 

We started installing SMART TECH in 2014 after a demonstration event, where a few key features stood out for us. 

With the SMARTBAR, it was the lightweight feel of the bar, the effortless ‘slide in, slide out’ transition of the weight plates, and the ability to use the same plates as hand weights. We felt these three features combined made it by far the best group exercise option. 

In terms of the SMARTSTEP, it was all about being strong, sturdy and versatile – words I use extensively to describe how well SMARTTECH works for us. The round risers provide great stability and confidence, as well as the ability to adjust to an incline variation when needed. 

Finally, the SMARTBAND is robust and comfortable to use. It allows for a range of resistive movements and remains functional after much use, unlike some other brands of the resistance band. 

All our SMART TECH is used primarily in our group exercise studios, for classes, although we’re increasingly seeing personal trainers use the equipment for its versatility. And our members absolutely love it. The ease of transition on the SMARTBAR has been the biggest winner – less time faffing with spin locks – and the fact you no longer need additional hand weights has also been a big positive. The equipment also looks very good, which drives member perceptions of quality. 

We did some analysis in the early days of installing the equipment when we had 200 sets of SMAR TTECH across eight clubs. Within three months, we saw an average 72 per cent increase in BODYPUMP® attendance with only minor timetable changes; one club increased attendance levels by 81.1 per cent with no timetable changes at all. 

Complaints about equipment have also plummeted in all the clubs that have SMART TECH. In fact, I’d go so far as to say I’ve never heard a single negative comment about this equipment, ever. 

My advice to other operators: when your equipment renewal cycle comes up, the SMART TECH range is the best in the business and hard to fault. With its growth in popularity, members are now looking to clubs to provide this as standard. No-one wants to move backward in an industry moving forward at such a fast pace.”


Scott Niven 
Head of fitness, The Bannatyne Group, UK 

“We like the fact that LES MILLS doesn’t rest on its laurels: it’s always developing and trialling new things that deliver clear benefits for the member experience. 

SMART TECH is a great example of this, improving the member experience and delivering better results. For example, ‘time under tension’ is a term used throughout the BODYPUMP program, and the innovative design of the SMARTBAR helps deliver this. This is key to members achieving fantastic results. 

Group exercise accounts for 33 per cent of all member visits across our Group, so it’s something we consistently invest in to keep our members happy and help them achieve their fitness goals. Within that, LES MILLS programs are the highest attended classes, so it stands to reason that we provide members with the best equipment for those programs – and that’s clearly SMART TECH. 

Since 2016, we’ve installed SMARTBAR and SMARTSTEP across our 71 health clubs, and we’re now in the process of installing MBX Mats. Member feedback has been positive, both online through member forum ratings and offline via feedback to team members at our clubs. 

But the clearest indicator of the success of SMART TECH at our clubs has been class attendance: occupancy in classes using SMART TECH is 12 per cent higher when compared to most other classes. Meanwhile, growth in demand for BODYPUMP has resulted in a 3 per cent increase, between Q1 and Q3 2017, in the number of these classes we offer; it now accounts for 9 per cent of the strength genre on our timetable. If I could sum up the difference SMART TECH has made in one word, it would be ‘engagement’. 

In addition, we’ve invested in virtual classes, and it’s good for our members to be using the same equipment as the world-class master trainers they see on the screen. 

It isn’t just about the studio though. Our health clubs and spas vary in size, but we aim to create a feeling of openness across all our sites. This often involves the installation of compact equipment – equipment that nevertheless allows members to achieve the same fitness goals, at the same speed, as they would using larger machines. Our use of SMARTBAR and racks on the gym floor is a great example of this. 

And it’s not just about space-saving; the aesthetics work well too, and SMART TECH also bridges the gap between members who prefer to use the gym floor and those who participate in more studio-based activities. It helps us keep all our members happy.” 


Elaine Denton 
Group Health & Fitness Support Manager, David Lloyd Leisure, UK 

“We’ve been installing SMARTSTEP and SMARTBAR since 2016 and this equipment is now available across the majority of our estate, with the remaining clubs to follow: SMART TECH is specified as part of all club refurbishments. 

SMART TECH is in line with what David Lloyd Clubs’ members expect: top quality, easy to use, innovative and slick. The member feedback is always amazing. They love the design, ease of use and the fact you can use the plates as hand weights. 

We only use SMART TECH in the studio, as our gym floor spaces are already full of great functional equipment, but it absolutely justifies the investment. The SMARTBAR can be used for a range of classes: BODYPUMP and LES MILLS GRIT, but also non-Les Mills programs such as Body Conditioning and Circuits. In addition, the plates can be used independently of the bar in classes like LES MILLS CORE® and other core/functional classes, as well as in more traditional classes. This makes the return on investment and value much higher than other brands. 

We believe members feel valued when you invest in a quality product that enhances their experience, and that helps them get the best from their club and their group exercise, which the SMART TECH equipment truly does. 

If you want to retain members, invest in SMART TECH.” 


Sharon Campbell 
Health & fitness manager, Glasgow Life/Glasgow Sport, UK 

“We’ve had SMARTBAR and SMARTSTEP at our clubs for the last few years; as a Les Mills Instructor, I understand the importance of having the correct equipment to maintain the essence of the programs, and I also appreciate the benefits our members gain from using this equipment. 

In fact, for me, SMART TECH is now fundamental to running the Les Mills classes – you can’t really do the workouts without it. For this reason, we currently have SMART TECH in the studio only: we already have a wide range of equipment on the gym floor, and as our classes are very popular, I’m reluctant to lose SMART TECH equipment to the gym. 

Member feedback has been very positive – they love using the equipment and have seen the benefits – to the point that we’ve had to manage the roll-out carefully: we’ve had complaints from members when they found out that another club had received the new equipment and theirs hadn’t yet! 

Now, all sites that offer BODYPUMP® classes have SMART TECH, and we’re seeing a positive impact on retention, with members getting better and more varied workouts. Our next objective is to leverage the new equipment to increase class attendance: we currently average 70 per cent and are aiming for 97 per cent. 

My advice to other operators considering whether they can justify the expenditure on SMART TECH is simply this: can you afford not to?” 


Graeme Atkinson 
Assistant general manager, Studio Society, UK 

“We have the SMARTBAR and SMARTSTEP at Studio Society, which we use for BODYPUMP classes. 

Studio Society only opened in August 2017, and we’ve had SMART TECH from day one, so it’s hard to say how this equipment might have affected our membership levels. However, the equipment has gone down very well with staff and members alike: members are always impressed by the overall look and feel, and it’s easy to use too – it only takes a minute to show them how to change weight plates. 

Having worked in other clubs, I can confidently say these are the best products I’ve seen for this class.”