Best Access Control System for Gyms (& 5 Key Considerations)

Elliot Blackler April 25, 2022 11 min read

The last time you went to the gym or fitness centre you may not have thought that it looked much different than the last few decades.

The treadmill is still one of the most popular machines and free weight sections look the same as when Arnold Schwarzenegger was competing in the 1980s.

Gyms have moved away from being a place where only bodybuilders go and have become a much more common thing in our society.

Due to the huge surge in people wanting to join a gym in the last decade or so, the owners have had to become much savier. 

Introduction of 24 gyms, access control systems and an array of classes and additional offerings have kept the booming fitness industry ahead of the curve.

In this guide, we will be giving a crash course on Gym Access Control, what it is, the types of access control, finding the best system and the potential costs.

  • Access Control for Gyms Features
  • Gym Access Control Basics
  • Benefits of Gym Access Control
  • How to Find the Best Gym Access Control System
  • Gym Access Control Cost
  • Deciding on the Best Gym Access Control System

Short on time? Download our Nortech Access Control Comparison


Key Components of Access Control for Gyms

Gym access control systems can come in a few different shapes, each with their own benefits, uses and features.

For the purpose of simplicity and covering all bases we will be discussing the key features that all, if not most, of these systems will have when implemented in a gym environment.

Customisable

Due to the variety of gym access control systems available (more on these later), your gym can find exactly the system you need that will work best for your members and management.

Give More Freedom to Members 

With the additional flexibility on when your members can visit the gym and do their fitness routine will not only improve their workouts, but also their perception of your company and make them much more likely to recommend to friends and family.

Creates More Time for Staff 

Not having to stand by the entrance all day can help your staff and members in a lot of ways. From being able to improve member interactions to keeping the gym tidy to improving staff morale. This can even lead to lower costs and less need for gym staff around the clock.

Track Your Admissions

A major issue plaguing gyms revolves around entrance fraud and people sharing their keys, especially to less secure gyms. Installing an access control system will help alleviate the majority of the problem, if not all of it.

Having a system that is easy to manage and maintain allows for much easier gym admission management.

Emergency Management

Due to the way that an access control system works you will have a much more secure environment. For example, as an added safety feature, you will be able to know how many members and staff are in your gym in case of emergency.

Keeping Everyone Safe

Depending on the location, some gyms can have problems with security, especially those in city centres.

Having an additional layer of security at your gym will have a domino effect, a safer gym makes for better workouts, better workouts lead to happier members and they are more likely to recommend.

Norpass PDF Comparison

 

How Does Access Control for Gyms Work?

Gym access control, in short, is the way that a member or gym user can get into (and out of) the gym without a traditional key. Usually a form of gym access control is something small that can fit in a wallet or on a keyring.

In this section, we will be briefly looking at a few of the different types of gym access control and how they work. This will be much easier and more helpful than just saying the broad strokes of how a generic system works and help contextualise the systems.

Choosing the right access control system for your gym may seem like a simple concept, but as we will discover there are a few options available to you, each with their own cost, benefits and types of clubs that they work best in.

Types of Gym Access Control 

 

Key Fob Access Control 

Key fobs are one of the most widely used forms of access control regardless of the industry. In the context of a gym, a member will be issued a key fob. This is often a small circular device that can be tapped against the reader at the gym to open the gate, lift the barrier or unlock the door.

Key fob access control has been used in gyms for quite a while, and is a simple, cost effective and practical way to grant access to a gym or fitness centre.

 

Card Access Control

Following on from the above area, card access control works almost exactly the same but instead of being issued a key fob, a gym user would be given a key card.

These are designed to be put into a card slot in a wallet and are very common with the industry. As most people have probably seen this is the same system hotels use for their rooms. A card can sometimes be tapped or inserted into a reader to allow access to a door, gate or barrier.

 

Biometrics 

One of the more advanced options available and much less likely to be used than the previous two options. Biometrics are no longer just part of spy movies and sci-fi films, they have everyday uses within our society.

A biometric access control system grants a user entry via their unique characteristics. A good example would be a fingerprint entry system at the front entrance to the gym.

In fact, biometric access control has recently been implemented in various theme parks across the world to pair with tickets or season passes as a form of two factor authentication. Some examples include Disney, Universal and Merlin Group.

 

Unique Access Code / Password

One of the issues that 24-hour gyms face is the potential for membership fraud, in this case that would be someone using the gym with a friend's membership.

As we all know, companies are trying to crack down on this from gyms to streaming platforms, such as Netflix. We all know someone who is using someone else's Netflix account, albeit they are trying to crack down on account sharing.

Having each member have multiple digit access code or password can help alleviate this problem. For example, some gyms have passwords that will change every time you enter or have a website or app to generate a new code each time.

 

QR Codes

A quick response code, or QR code, as they are much more commonly known is a form of advanced barcode that, similar to the above, generates a new unique code each time the user accesses the gym.

The QR code will be scanned by a reader at the front of the gym and grant access to the user. Typically, they will use a barcode scanner with the infrared light we are used to seeing at a supermarket or shop on the scan guns.

 

The Potential Ramifications of Implementing Access Control

Being able to modernise your gym effectively and not stagnate is important due to the growing competition within the fitness industry and the boom of people wanting to be in better shape.

One of the major issues with implementing technology is the potential of alienating your older demographics. Ensuring you give your gym goers support as you transition to a new system is imperative to aiding adoption rates.

This factor may not seem that important with the average age of gym users being a lot lower in a modern market, but making your gym an inclusive place for all is important for the long term success of the business.

 

Benefits of Access Control System for Gyms

Access control for gyms may sound like something that is way ahead of the times, but you would be shocked to know that a lot of fitness centres and gyms already have some level of access control within the company.

In this section, we are going to look at a few different key areas that an access control system in a gym will impact in a positive way.

Every system will have its own usage, features and benefits, so we are going to broadly cover access control for gyms in a more general sense to highlight key advantages of these systems

We have broken down the benefits into three distinct categories: General Benefits, Security Benefits, and Member Benefits.

General Benefits of Gym Access Control

Temporary Admission - one of the general benefits of gym access control is the ability to grant temporary access to guests, potential new members and other stakeholders. Being able to quickly grant temporary access has a range of its own benefits.

Understand Member Patterns - having the ability to better know your members provides a huge amount of benefit. Such as busy times, slow times, frequency of member visits, or finding the right time to schedule breaks or cleaning tasks.

Security Benefits of Gym Access Control

Keep Your Gym Secure - Having the ability to secure different areas of your gym helps to the overall security of your site. With an access control system doors can be locked to certain areas that members are not allowed.

Eliminate Gym Fraud - membership fraud happens more often than you might think. Members give someone else access to your gym for a variety of reasons. This is fraud, regardless of how it occurs, and it costs your company money. This problem can be almost eliminated by installing an access control system.

Limit External Access - Many gyms include locker rooms or changing rooms where members can store their belongings or clothes while working out, but this might add to the risk. By eliminating the potential for anyone to wander in off the street, these places and your members will be safer.

Member Benefits of Gym Access Control

Available to Train Anytime - everyone has different schedules, preferences, and availability, so having a versatile solution that can allow for around the clock entry is a huge benefit.

Quick Access - we are so used to not using keys whether it's keyless entry to our cars or a hotel keycard that you tap on the door's reader. Being able to have something that can fit on a keyring or in your wallet or purse is a member friendly benefit.

A More Positive Perception of Your Gym - having an access control system in the gym can be an easy way to increase perceived value and make your members value their fitness subscription.

 

What Do You Look For in the Best Access Control for Gyms?

The short answer is that there is not a one size fits all access control system for every gym in the United Kingdom and further afield. Each gym will have its own budget, membership amount, member turnover, promotions, location and demographics to consider.

With the above in mind, we will cover some broad factors and things to keep an eye out for when searching for an access control system for your gym.

  • Customisation - having a system that works for you and helps make the gym run smoother from both member and staff points of view.

  • Budget Friendly - this does not mean a cheap access control system but there are definitely different levels and types that can be explored for all budgets and gym sizes.

  • Type of Access Control - depending on a lot of factors you may lean towards one type of Access control or another. Each has their benefits and are worth exploring.

  • Ease of Use - your demographics may have some part to play in which system you will choose for your gym. Some gyms may have a much lower average age, for example so QR codes or an access control App may work. 

  • Installation and Retrofitting - what kind of security system or entrance procedures you have at your gym could impact your final choice of access control. It is important to think about how you will install and implement this system.

Cost of Access Control Systems for Gyms

Determining the cost of an access control system for a gym is not always as simple as giving a ballpark figure as there are a lot of variables that can affect the cost of the system. Some examples would be:

  • Size of Gym 
  • Number of Entry and Exit Points
  • Type of System Installed
  • Current System 
  • Location
  • Level of Complexity
  • The Model/Brand of the Access Control System
  • Installation Rates 

As a rule of thumb, the larger the access control job is, the more expensive it will be. However, there is always a minimum cost, so a larger gym may sometimes pay only a fraction more than a smaller gym.

The type of system that is installed will obviously impact the cost dramatically, for instance a pin code or password entry system is fairly easy and simple to install. Whereas a large gym with 100s of members, a key fob access control system and multiple entrances would be more costly.

The base cost is one factor to consider but is not the full cost of the system to your gym. For example, each time a new keycard is issued that is an additional cost, albeit very cheap, it's still an ongoing cost to factor in. 

Put that alongside other costs such as maintenance, installation, repair and replacement cards and there's some other numbers to factor in.

Speculative Gym Access Control Example

To give a very broad idea of the cost of an access control system for a gym it can go anything from around £450 up to well over £1000 per entrance. 

The system installation can be as low as £250 but can go a lot higher depending on the type, location and other factors.

Repair costs can be anything around £100. And a maintenance check up can be in that similar region too.

As we said however, each gym is different and this is not a quote but a rough pricing concept.

 

Choose the Right Access Control System for Gyms

At the end of the day, finding the right solution for your gym is the top priority. We hope this quick and easy to follow guide on gym access control has given you the base information you need to find the perfect choice for your fitness company.

We aim to create simple, informative and meaningful content for people in all industries looking to learn more about access control and business security. So whether you're a seasoned professional or new to the concept and just looking at installing access control at your gym or fitness club you've come to the right place.

Here at Nortech we have a huge amount of experience within the UK security market and have a qualified team of professionals to help answer your questions, queries and concerns. 

If you are interested in exploring the access control options for your gym please do not hesitate to get in touch with our UK based team.

 

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It seems that people and vehicle access control is an incredibly complex world using hard to understand technology, yet it impacts so many of the environments we interact with on a daily basis.

We are here to fill in the disconnect. We'll break down access control, the benefits, and drawbacks as well, including expert insight based on over 30 years experience in the industry operating as an independent British company. Our goal is to give you ALL the information so you know what's right for you.

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Elliot Blackler

Elliot is the in-house content specialist at Nortech and runs all aspects of the resource hub. He's passionate about UK manufacturing and how modern content marketing can help bring light to complex industries.

Elliot works extensively with the Nortech team to shine a light on the access control industry for both installers and end users. Always keen to improve, feel free to email him on new content suggestions or feedback!

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