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EGYM Steve Barton – Interview

With years of experience in the health and fitness sector behind him, Steve Barton has taken up the role of country director for EGYM. Here, we find out what his aims are for the company and his thoughts on the future for the health of the nation

Firstly, congratulations on your new role. Can you tell me why you wanted to take up this challenge and what attracted you to the company?

The company culture is primarily what attracted me to EGYM. Passion and commitment is evident at all levels of the workforce. The company is global, with individuals located across the world, yet there is an incredible sense of cohesion when it comes to mission, vision, focus and drive. I am also incredibly impressed by the wellness ecosystem EGYM has built. EGYM makes it possible for operators to deliver evidence-based, outcome-driven health interventions at scale. Working in collaboration with best-in-class partners, EGYM’s digital biome supports individuals along their entire health and wellbeing journey. I’m joining the company at an exciting time in its development as we push to support policy makers and industry bodies in the attainment of a healthier society driven by a more active population.


Where are you looking to take the business in the UK?

EGYM is a data-driven company, designed to support, record and deliver health outcomes. Through our digital ecosystem and resulting data, we are supporting operators in their ambition to drive good health and support ill health for those who most need it within their communities. Our data is evidencing significant health improvements amongst many groups, including people living with metabolic disease, tackling immunity issues and battling frailty. Our aim is to improve everyone’s access to our ecosystem so that, together with our operators and partners, we can improve the populations’ health on a national level.


What are the particular issues and challenges with the UK populace that EGYM can help to tackle and support?

The inactivity crisis is killing or limiting millions of people and costing the NHS billions of pounds every year. EGYM’s AI-driven, digital ecosystem provides personalised exercise prescription to target all aspects of health, be it mental, physical or social, through a focus on prevention rather than repair. EGYM has studied and applied hundreds of data points from thousands of EGYM users to design effective targeted programmes that tackle some of the world’s most prevalent lifestyle diseases, including diabetes, frailty and Long Covid. Our mission is to transform health care through prevention.


How does EGYM support users?

EGYM uses AI-powered technology to handhold every user through their entire health journey, making EGYM the perfect solution, not just for those intrinsically motivated to exercise but also for the 85% of the population who are not currently engaged with a traditional training environment and are motivated more by health improvement than athletic performance and aesthetics. Our smart equipment automates set-up, resistance, cadence, repetitions, sets and periodisation based on non-invasive measurements recorded by the individual at prompt points along their journey. It means users can optimise their training time on every visit, and move quickly and safely towards their health goals. For many, this removes the uncertainty and anxiety from exercise and provides the regular health improvement data needed to evidence the direct health reward related to effort, encouraging maintained engagement. Our data-driven, automated solutions are also popular with Generation Z. For this demographic, everything has to be quick and effortless, producing recognisable results at speed.


How will AI influence how EGYM and the sector works in the future?

EGYM has always been a data-driven company, using centralised, depersonalised data collected from thousands of users to better understand training behaviours and outcomes. This year, and available from autumn, we’ve enhanced our digital training biome even further with the introduction of EGYM Genius – the AI driver powering the entire EGYM ecosystem. EGYM Genius aggregates data from hundreds of thousands of training sessions carried out on EGYM equipment, and via connected cardio partners – including 340 million assessment data points – and generates precise recommendations for individualised training plans, optimally tailored to a personal experience level and/or training goal. This system intelligently connects the entire training experience, bridging the gap between digital and analogue.


Where does the EGYM proposition have the most impact?

I’d say when individuals want to understand the health rewards from their training effort and operators want to understand the commercial impact of their investment, such as through member acquisition and retention. We have found that members using EGYM workout, on average, use the system three months longer than non-EGYM users. There’s also evidence of collective positive health outcomes, such as 22% strength improvements across all ages, 25% for the over 50s, and a decrease in BioAge (EGYM’s unique health improvement tracker) of 9.5 years across all ages and 11 years for the over 50s. We are working with operators to create pathways and deliver health interventions that contribute to a range of healthy communities’ strategies and referral programmes. Our focus is on prevention rather than repair, so we can help to alleviate the strain on NHS waiting lists, whilst driving a healthier population.


Where do you see the future of EGYM and your role in it?

EGYM is the leading aggregator of connected wellness. Through our WellPass integration and recent acquisition of Hussle – the UK’s leading provider of fitness into the corporate market – the company is perfectly placed to support individuals within fitness facilities and work environments. Working with the UK team, my focus will be on making our wellness ecosystem accessible to as many people as possible. People who are part of our ecosystem achieve behavioural change that keeps them training for longer and that’s a fact. This delivers health wins for the individual and commercial wins for the operator.


What are the challenges in the UK fitness/leisure industry that need to be tackled, and where are the opportunities?

The UK fitness industry is extremely resilient, driven by passion and an unwavering determination to overcome adversity. Together we survived a global pandemic and are recovering strong. A major challenge now, especially for public sector leisure, is financing the technology, equipment and education needed to deliver against a collective ambition to better support public health on a mass scale. EGYM has created a solution proven to support good health and prevent ill health for millions. We will continue to work with industry bodies and operators to provide the evidence needed to convince the Government that our sector can deliver against population health objectives and level up health inequalities. We know, beyond doubt, that EGYM drives healthier, more active lives for individuals, whilst also increasing revenues for operators through improved user retention. As an industry, we have a huge opportunity to become an intrinsic part of the nation’s inactivity crisis solution. We can only achieve this through partnership working and collaboration, focused on delivering engaging user experiences that drive measurable health outcomes. EGYM is 100 percent dedicated to this mission.

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