An increasing number of schools across England are being proactive in the battle against budget cuts and financial austerity by making better use of the facilities at their disposal. Schools up and down the country are opening managed gyms as a source of revenue that has the potential to generate a profit without eating up the already precious time of the School Business Manager.
A managed gym is a fitness facility that is completely run and managed by an outside leisure company. The leisure company take control of the management and upkeep of the facility at no operational cost to the school. These managed gyms become part of your school and are integrated into the everyday life of the school. The facilities are available to students and staff throughout the school day and then in the weekends and evenings the gym is opened up to the wider community.
If your school has got a space that could be suitable, you could be missing out on a valuable source of revenue as school budgets come under increasing pressure. Many spaces are suitable; it could be a small hall or classroom, or another under-used space in need of renovation. If your school has football, rugby or hockey pitches, tennis courts or a sports hall, any or all of these could provide additional income through renting them out and your school wouldn’t have to look after this – it would all be managed by an external company.
Here at Educate Services we recently helped Lambeth Academy turn unutilised space into fully functioning, revenue generating managed gym facilities. The school management at Lambeth recognised that they had space which they could put to better use, but were aware that they did not have the expertise or time to build or manage the gym in the long term. We ran a fully compliant tender process for the school, and as a result appointed a gym management company.
The resulting gym, LA Active Life Sport and Fitness Centre, has been a resounding success. Since opening has gained 61 members, court bookings have achieved revenues of £12,000, and are operating at 70% capacity all within the first three months.
If your school decides to integrate a managed gym, you can invest as much or as little as you like. There are various options available; one model sees the school invest a percentage of the initial costs and another model sees the leisure company invest all of the initial costs. Both options come with their own levels of return; as you can imagine if the school decides to provide some investment towards the initial costs it will see a higher return from the revenue generated.
There are a number of benefits above and beyond the potential revenue generations. Obesity levels are on the increase, with one of the main contributing factors being physical inactivity. Introducing a fitness facility to your school would allow your school’s pupils and staff to become more aware of their exercise regime through fitness development. They can be incentivised to participate through reduced membership fees as a result of being members of the school.
We would also recommend speaking to PE staff to understand the educational benefits of a managed gym and what they could add to their curriculum with new facilities.
It does not stop with exercise participation for the students. The leisure company would welcome students to become more actively involved in the fitness co-ordination side of the gym by offering work experience and apprenticeships to suitable candidates.
Opening up the facilities to the wider community after schools hours will help develop the school into an even more integral part of the community. The leisure company and the school synergising to allow local people the chance to get fit, play football or participate in an exercise class will help to transform the school into a community hub.