RFID Talk Blog

Fit to be tied: my gym won’t adopt RFID

When I arrived at my health club yesterday I realized that I had misplaced my barcoded membership card. I was surprised when the associate said he didn’t have any barcoded replacement cards to give me, and that the barcode system is actually being phased out.

My first thought was that Planet Fitness is deploying an RFID-enabled system! My favorite gym was about to get a lot better! So imagine my disbelief when I was informed that the gym is not going to RFID at all, but instead is going to require all members to check in at the front desk and sign in personally. A staffer told me that management believes the policy will lead to staff being more engaged with clientele.

Planet Fitness, gym memberships

RFID can enhance gym memberships for the customer and for gym management

Well, they might think twice about this backwards move when they have a line out the front door in the biting cold of mid February. It’s clear that Planet Fitness is moving in the wrong direction. Ease of use for customers is the primary calling card for gyms and other businesses these days that cater to large amounts of clients.

I’ve often thought how nice it would be if I could just stroll by the front desk on my way in and gain admittance from an RFID-enabled membership card instead of fishing for my barcoded card.

There’s a reason why many other gyms, stadiums, concert halls, ski resorts and major sporting events are turning to RFID. The technology makes it easier for customers to enter the facility, streamlines operations, eliminates fraud, and in some cases even allows customers to interact with social media.

As for the gym, RFID would allow facility management easy access to customer billing information and provide visibility into who their top customers are. As for  engaging with customers, RFID-enabled passes would let the gym email or send text alerts and coupons to customers. RFID could also enhance revenues by offering special discounts on various classes to select target customers. If set up correctly, an RFID-enabled system could even help gym customers to keep track of their daily workouts.

This move just doesn’t make sense. I’m all for eliminating the cumbersome barcode system. But this is not the alternative I was seeking.

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