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Gym attendance usually declines during winter. Can fitness club owners save on energy costs during this time?

We all know how busy gyms can get in January, with classes and sections filled with optimistic new attendees aspiring to begin a New Year fitness regime.

However, before then, there is a real lull in the number of people working out in December. In this guide, we’ll highlight how gym owners can minimise their energy bills during off-peak periods.

The importance of energy management for gyms and fitness centres

Nowadays, we are spoilt for choice with luxury gyms. We have access to open spaces with copious amounts of modern electrical equipment, beaming with more high-wattage lights than a football pitch.

Many of the city centre facilities we use today are open 24/7, allowing members the freedom to workout whenever they feel the need. Whilst this added freedom may be great for consumers, constantly running equipment plays havoc with energy consumption; which is why energy management is so important for businesses within the fitness sector.

An effective energy management strategy will help to keep energy consumption and bills as low as possible. Taking advantage of dips in attendance and using these periods to reduce energy usage is one way of strategising and reducing business overheads. Additionally, lower energy usage means lower carbon emissions, which can help the environment.

Key challenges and considerations

Typically, the main challenge that you could face when trying to save energy in your gym is the response from your customers.

Your gym members and their satisfaction should be your priority, so it’s important that you keep them in mind when making changes. For example, turning off the air conditioning would have a great impact on your utility bills, but it would also leave you with unhappy and sweat-drenched customers.

You should always try to strike a balance between energy efficiency and customer comfort when making energy saving changes in your gym.

A top tip that could come in handy is to place signs or notices throughout gym areas to inform people of the reasons why certain changes have been made. This way, gym-goers are kept informed and are made aware of your energy saving goals – this also allows you to score points with environmentally-conscious members. You could also leave feedback cards around the gym to find out what members think.

Tips for energy saving in gyms

Taking steps to save energy in your gym can help to reduce costs and can also benefit the environment. Winter is a great time to reduce your energy consumption – below we list some top tips to help you save energy during colder and quieter periods.

1. Only Keep Certain Areas of Equipment On

From treadmills to cross trainers, gyms have hundreds of pieces of equipment which are often left on at the same time. Instead of leaving all of the machines left on standby, switch a proportion of them off at the wall and leave a designated section left on for members to use.

Chances are if you leave all of the machines on standby members will gradually switch all of them on during use and you will end up having your entire collection powered up unnecessarily. There’s a weird awkwardness among gym members, many of whom will not use a machine if there’s somebody else right next to them.

You don’t want to annoy your members, but there’s no sense in keeping 150 machines running if you’ve only got a handful of people in the room.

2. Schedule Exercise Classes

If the standby battle is wearing you down, have a few hours in the day where all your equipment is switched off.

People are often discouraged to attend the gym during the run up to Christmas, so give them some motivation by arranging exercise classes during the holidays. Activities such as Zumba and MetaFit require barely any energy (at least in terms of gas and electricity), aside from lighting and music, and it is a great way to inspire your members in typically slack months.

3. Think About Restricting Your Opening Times

This is a tricky one, as many gyms attract members on the promise that they’ll have 24-hour access to the club, so you can’t suddenly turn around and say you’re closing at 8pm.

This is where a bit of data analysis can pay dividends. Look back at attendance levels in previous winter months and see if any patterns emerge. If there was a two-week period in December when only a tiny percentage of members used the gym late at night, write it into your terms and conditions that you reserve the right to close early in off-peak periods.

As long as you make this perfectly clear to new members from the outset, you should be fine, and you could save yourself a fortune.

4. Use Less Air-Con and More Efficient Appliances

As there will be fewer people attending the gym, the need for air conditioning will lessen too. While you don’t want to roast your gym members, if it is possible, open a window as opposed to turning on the air conditioning.

This will eliminate the need to adjust the temperature from one extreme to another as members finish their workouts and your staff start to feel the cold.

Also, consider the efficiency of any appliances you might be offering in your changing rooms. Are your hair dryers economical? Are you using LED bulbs? Are your shower heads energy-efficient? You’ll be surprised at how minor tweaks can save you plenty of money.

5. Place Motion Sensors in Changing Rooms

As well as adding energy-efficient appliances to your changing rooms, you could also invest in motion sensors to ensure that energy is not being used unnecessarily.

Leaving lights and other electrical devices on when they’re not in use can cause excessive energy usage, even if the appliances have high energy label ratings.

Adding motion sensors that are set to turn your lights and appliances off when the room is unoccupied could help to lower your energy wastage. These devices would be particularly useful in winter when gym attendance is at its lowest.

6. Turn Off Music and Televisions

One of the first things you notice when you enter a gym is the loud music pumping through the entire vicinity, however if the numbers are low, turn the music off, as most people listen to music through their personal headphones anyway.

The centrepiece of many modern gyms is a dozen luxury plasma screen TVs proudly mounted above the equipment, providing some entertainment for people during their workouts. Ensure that you are not wasting unnecessary energy by having these TVs switched off at the wall as opposed to leaving them on standby.

​Tips for making your gym more green​

Energy-saving measures should not only be performed during winter. If you want your gym to become more eco-friendly, the following tips could help:

  • Add recycling bins
  • Get rid of plastic cups and encourage members to bring reusable bottles
  • Use renewable energy sources
  • Choose a green energy tariff
  • Go paperless
  • Invest in energy generating equipment ­­­­– These are machines such as treadmills and bicycles that generate electricity and feed back into the building’s supply (100 watts per hour). This has been adopted by businesses such as Cadbury House in Bristol for their on-site gym and Go Green Fitness in Orange, Connecticut.

Whilst some of these tips may seem a little pedantic, they really could help you to save money over the sparse Christmas period, allowing you to concentrate your finances on the inevitable flurry of activity in January.

If you are concerned about your business electricity consumption and want to see if you could save money anywhere else, why not consult one of our expert advisors today and see whether you could save?

You can compare the latest energy prices in seconds by completing our quick online energy comparison calculator.