Date founded: 2011
Founders: Jamie Ward and Neil Harmsworth
PayasUgym was born in late 2009 during a discussion between co-founders Jamie Ward and Neil Harmsworth about how hard it was to keep fit while travelling when gyms seemingly only wanted you to sign up to a long term contract. They learnt that there were about 5,800 gyms across the UK, of which the big brands accounted for just 450 clubs.
It was clear that there was huge potential for an aggregator within the health and fitness market if the proposition could be made appealing to the 10m lapsed gym members in the UK.
What’s more, they noticed that the gym sales process really hadn’t advanced in years and was not catering for the huge growth in people wishing to do their homework online rather than taking the “sales tour” at the club. This meant that people shopping online had no way of easily locating a gym, finding out what was on offer, comparing that to other clubs in the area, and then using that gym a few times to see if they like it without the sales staff harassment that came with a “free” trial.
“The challenge was obvious though,” the company suggested. “How do you convince an industry hooked on membership to risk their known revenues and open their doors to potential new customers by making it easier for people to come and go? The key to achieving ‘disruption’ in this market was based on securing the supply side of the market through a compelling proposition for the gyms, which was significantly helped by the huge shift in customer behaviour to shopping online.”
“The name PayasUgym is instantly appealing to the end user but it took a bit of explanation for the industry to understand what it is we’re doing,” said Ward. “It is bringing people who are not currently using gyms to get them to use their gyms in whatever capacity they want to use their gyms.”
The scale of the business is quite monumental when you consider that the UK fitness industry alone is worth £4.5bn annually and that PayasUgym now has access to more than 35 per cent of the supply side market. And after having secured that half of the market, PayasUgym is in the midst of a new national TV campaign, including a referral scheme to encourage word of mouth.
But according to PayasUgym, a lot of the company’s decisions are dictated by trends and what is available in the market. “Google trends shows that more and more people are shopping for health and fitness services online (25 per cent year on year growth for the last three years) and Mintel reports ‘flexibility’ as the main factor that would encourage new customers to start using the gym. So in terms of future ambitions, PayasUgym plans to continue to scale within the UK and then expand and disrupt new territories in the next 12 months.”
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