Anyone who has ever joined a gym or signed up for a package of fitness classes has at some point asked themselves “Is this worth it?”.
Whether it be general time constraints, familial, or professional obligations that get in the way, there is often the sense of one not getting their money’s worth when it comes to monthly memberships at gyms or training facilities.
But it doesn’t have to be that way, says Athlo founder Matthew Mansell.
Athlo falls into the category of a sharing economy app, in this case, focusing on the fitness industry. The goal, Mansell says, is to provide an economically beneficial situation for three main constituencies, which, independent of each other, are either working in opposition to each other or seeing no tangible benefit from co-existing together.
Athlo looks to adjust that situation.
“What we’ve done is provide a solution to the conundrum by creating a product for everyone to win,” Mansell said. “It’s a win-win-win. The gyms benefit from it, their gym members benefit from it, and our users benefit from it.”
The logic behind it is pretty straightforward. Gym members are not always using their memberships, whether it’s for specific periods of time (if someone is on a long business trip or vacation, or injured, for example) or in general (lack of interest on the member’s part).
This causes issues for all involved. Gyms struggle with retention as members assess whether they are getting enough out of them for what they are paying, while members struggle with justifying high costs associated with memberships.
Mansell said Athlo has all three constituencies in mind and can provide a platform for all to benefit.
“We’re here to support our gym partners,” Mansell said. “There’s a number of avenues that we create value through, but primarily it’s their retention, their attrition rate, and the number of members that leave every year. Customer acquisition costs are, generally speaking, five times more expensive than they are to retain a member. So, from a purely economic point of view, you want to retain your members. But then from a term perspective, if you can extend your customer lifetime value by just one additional month, it has a huge effect on the baseline of those gyms and those health clubs or boutique spaces.”
For those using Athlo’s platform, the advantage is the amount of flexibility and variety of gyms and classes that are made available to them on an a la carte basis and crucially, at preferential rates without a subscription fee.
For those who hold memberships at gyms and fitness centers, Athlo provides an opportunity to recoup some of their investment when they can’t make classes or get to their gym.
“We offer a really convenient price, flexibility, variety, and that hybrid model,” Mansell said. “We allow our partnered gym members / class package holders to sell the days / classes that they aren’t using. Making money back when they’re not using it. Those same gym members / class package holders, get access to all of our other gym partners at preferential rates, so at essentially membership rate. Importantly, offering that variety.”
Mansell said that Athlo, for the time being, exists in somewhat of a “blue ocean” when it comes to competition, although other industry verticals have seen success with similar concepts.
Mansell referenced Airbnb as a model to look at.
“I listened to a TED Talk from years and years ago about Airbnb and why they were so successful and what was it that differentiated them from others who had the same product offering previously,” Mansell said. “Because Airbnb weren’t the first offering with that business model. The talk offers an insight into what was the defining factor, and it was timing. They launched during the recession, and people were looking to make money on assets that they were sitting on and trying to monetise things.”
Athlo, conceived and built during the pandemic and now an economic downturn with high levels of inflation, seems poised to benefit from that same sort of timing.
“I think that if you can monetise something, and everyone economically benefits from it, and no one loses, then I think that there’s certainly an opportunity there for a business,” Mansell said. “And we saw that with Athlo.”
While Athlo is an early-stage business, its viability is off to a robust start. Creating a system where all interests benefit is, as Mansell said, a good intersection to set up a new venture for success.
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