The what now? Who did this? What does it mean? Why is it important to my gym business?

You may or may not be asking these questions (in a calm or panicked fashion.) But fear not! We’ve done the reading for you and have summarised the report into the tastiest bits that are most relevant to you and your business.

There’s heaps of great stuff to cover here so let’s dive right in

What is the Digital Futures report?

Firstly, the origin story. For the past three years, ukactive (an organisation committed to improving the health of the nation through promoting active lifestyles) and Rewrite Digital (a consultancy based in the UK that helps businesses make better use of digital) have released a report specifically on the digital maturity of the health and fitness industry in the UK. The report ‘follows a consultation with the fitness, leisure and sports sector, providing a measure of how well organisations are embracing digital. It highlights the main areas for improvement to digital strategies, services and experiences.’

This research has proven so useful to the industry that AUSactive, Australia’s peak body for the exercise and active health sector, and Rewrite Digital have produced one for Australia! As proud partners here at Xplor Gym, we’re super excited about the findings and the impact they’ll have on gym businesses.

It’s important to note that this is the first assessment of digital maturity in the exercise and active health sector in Australia and was compiled using data from over 450 individual facilities servicing  hundreds of thousands of customers. What a phenomenal tool to have access to as a fitness business owner!

Digital Futures 2024 Cover

Why do we need the Digital Futures report?

You don’t need us or anyone else to tell you that the future IS digital. Things change rapidly on the digital scene and if businesses don’t keep up they could find themselves at a significant and costly disadvantage.

The report is intended to help organisations of any type and size who want to benefit from digital improvements.

Digital’ being defined in the report as ‘the use of technology and data to meet raised consumer expectations and drive innovation, actionable insights and value across capabilities and culture, processes and systems, and services and experiences.’

By assessing their own business’s digital score and comparing it to the industry as a whole, gym owners can take steps to improve their digital journey, therefore enhancing the customer experience.

“By leveraging data-driven insights and automation, businesses can elevate their services, streamline operations, and foster long-lasting connections with their members.

Looking ahead we see a world of exciting possibilities on the horizon for digital innovation in the sector, from utilising artificial intelligence for personalised workout recommendations, to exploring virtual reality for immersive exercising experiences.

As a leading provider of gym management software, we understand the vital role that digital technology plays in shaping the future of gym businesses.”

Michelle Furniss, General Manager, Xplor Gym

Who participated in the survey?

The first Digital Futures report had an excellent participation rate. Here’s who completed the online survey:

  • 45 eligible exercise and active health organisations

comprised of

  • 78% Health and Fitness and/or Leisure operators
  • 13% Pilates and/or Yoga operators
  • 9% Other physical activity organisations

ranging in sizes of

  • 18% 1-5 sites
  • 7% 6-10 sites
  • 4% 11-50 sites
  • 7% 51+sites
  • 4% no sites

which represents

  • 450 individual facilities and hundreds of thousands of customers

As for the specific members who contributed to the data:

  • 51% were CEOs, directors, owners or founders
  • 33% were managers
  • 7% were in marketing roles
  • 7% were in business development
  • 2% were in IT
  • 0% were in digital or data specialist roles

and when asked how many people they collaborated with in their organisation to complete the survey

  • 62% consulted no-one
  • 2% consulted 3 or more people

In short, the majority are small operators who run general health and fitness/leisure centres. The survey was overwhelmingly completed by people in leadership or founder roles and the majority of respondents completed the survey alone.

AUSactive DIgital Futures Report 2024

What was the survey trying to find out?

46 multiple choice questions addressing 5 distinct measures comprised the online survey. The responses were used to establish a Digital and Maturity Effectiveness Score for each organisation, who received a summary report containing high-level recommendations for further discussion and consultation.

The areas of digital covered by the 5 measures were:

Organisational model

How well an organisation is set up for the digital world. It considers things like the products and services it offers,its structured, its culture, employees, technology, how things are done, and future plans.

Performance and impact

How effectively an organisation’s use of data contributes to its commercial, social and other KPIs.

Data and insights

How data is collected and used in ways that improves the relevance and quality of customer experiences and drives value.

Digital experiences

Covering the variety and richness of an organisation’s digital experiences, including through websites, apps, email, social media, and connected and virtual experiences.

Accessibility, inclusion and satisfaction

Focused on the consumer journey, this is how the organisation’s digital experiences welcome, support, engage and satisfy all consumers. Basically, how well it is executed!

Using the survey scores, organisations would be placed in one of the following 5 stages:

Digitally aware (0-19)

The organisation isn’t quite ready to meet the demands of the digital world but have taken the first step (the survey) and can take other small steps to progress.

Digital Foundations (20-39)

With some elements of digital in place, the organisation needs to review its digital strategy to plot the best course of action.

Digital Experimenter (40-59)

The organisation has made some great advances in digital that will benefit from ongoing investment and support from the top.

Digitally Established (60-79)

A successful and beneficial digital model is already in operation, and although the organisation is likely ahead of its peers, more opportunities exist for improvement.

Digital Leader (80+)

Setting the benchmark for digital performance, this organisation needs to constantly adapt to stay on top.

Digital Futures report Fitness Australia

What were the findings of the Digital Futures report?


The first Digital Futures report for Australia was able to establish a benchmark score for the industry. Drumroll please… 🥁🥁🥁

Although the scores for different operators varied, Australian organisations averaged a 43% score for digital maturity and effectiveness, making us Digital Experimenters!

<snip from page 14 of the report>

Digital Futures Fitness Australia Report Aus Active

This means that we’ve made a good start, and even better, there are so many opportunities for improvement.

If you enjoy a good comparison, in the survey of UK organisations in 2023, the average score was 47%, only marginally higher than us!

Interestingly, 47% of Australian organisations consider themselves as advancing or advanced in digital. The measures averaged out as follows (from highest- to lowest-scoring):

  • Data & Insights: 46%
  • Performance & Impact: 45%
  • Organisational model: 43%
  • Accessibility, Inclusion & Satisfaction: 43%
  • Digital Experiences: 41%

In summary, although we perceive ourselves as digitally advanced and have made good inroads with organisational models and use of data, perhaps our digital offerings and the overall customer experience could use some improvement. The good news is that there are many ways to improve in all areas and the Digital Futures report provides heaps of great suggestions.

At an individual level, although we had no Digital Leaders emerge from the pack, we came close with six organisations at the Digitally Established (60-79) level. Access the report for a breakdown by organisational type and size.

Digital Futures Fitness Australia Report Aus Active

Highlights from the 5 measures

Organisation model

  • This was the lowest scoring category for Health and Fitness and/or Leisure operators, and the highest for Other physical activity organisations.
  • 49% consider a large proportion of their people to be ‘digitally savvy’ and ‘digitally skilled’.
  • Systems (in particular legacy and multiple systems) seem to be holding organisations back and don’t fit today’s expectations.
  • Despite the cost of changing systems, upgrading to cloud-based versions allows organisations to better meet consumer needs in a variety of ways.
  •  33% of those surveyed do not really know or understand what is out there in terms of emerging technologies such as AI, Web3 and the metaverse. However, 22% are currently using AI in day-to-day operations.
  • 80% enable their customers to buy or book products and services online.
  • When it comes to a digital strategy, 31% do not have one and only 9% have one that is complete with a roadmap, up-to-date and ambitious.

Level Up: Prioritise Digital


To improve your organisational model, the report recommends developing a robust digital strategy and ensuring that digital is embedded into processes across the organisation.

Access the report for a few more tips on this.

Performance and impact

  • This was the second highest-scoring category overall, and the highest for Pilates and/or Yoga operators.
  • 80% say they make at least some operational savings through the use of digital.
  • 22% say digital accounts for at least half of their revenue.
  • Over 80% attribute digital to increases in retention, participation and positive social impacts.
  • 53% say that digital will play a critical or central role in their future.

Data and insights

  • This was the highest-scoring measure overall.
  • 40% report that they collect consumer data consistently and without duplication.
  • 42% use data to drive deeper insight into customers.
  • 36% regularly use date to infer or inform trends, and 56% claim to know about the needs and expectations of their customers.
  • Although 51% were not aware of open data, 27% consume or publish it.

Use data to stay up-to-date with market trends and increase consumer satisfaction – just like Virgin Active


In a case study outlined in the report, learn about how by analysing use of gym equipment across all of their clubs, they were able to identify shifts in consumer trends, leading to upgrades of their gym floors.

Access the full report

Digital experiences

  • This was the lowest scoring of all of the measures.
  • Even though 47% of organisations consider themselves as advancing or advanced in digital, only 4% say they continually and consistently invest in improving digital experiences and have a clear digital product roadmap.
  • 62% say the usability of their digital experiences could be improved.
  • 80% say their web presence could be improved.
  • 53% say they do not have much presence on third-party websites or apps or do not know what presence they have. However 60% have an app.

Boost your digital experiences score


Harness the power of Xplor Gym, just like RXGym did when faced with engagement issues during the pandemic (see the case study on page 27 of the report). Using a branded fitness app by Xplor Gym, they implemented a digital On Demand service, found a new market of users and saw impressive user engagement retention.

Request a demo and see for yourself!

Accessibility, inclusion and satisfaction

  • This was the equal second lowest scoring category overall and the lowest for Pilates and/or Yoga operators.
  • This measure looks at how digital progress can isolate those who lack basic digital skills or access, or who have disabilities or conditions that put them at a disadvantage. It can also affect people during the cost-of-living crisis. The aim of increasing scores in this category is to target the issues causing this growing divide and reduce or eliminate it to provide the best digital offering for everyone.
  • 78% say they could do more to make their digital experiences more accessible and 78% say they could do more to welcome and support people who are new to the sector.
  • 80% say they use digital channels for customer service.
  • Only 53% offer at least some support or alternate means to digital engagement.

So… what can you do next?

#1 Find out your score

First of all, if you didn’t take part in the Digital Futures survey, it’s not too late! Sign up and login here, complete the survey and get your score. You’ll also have access to the free Digital Futures personalised resource library jam packed with a wealth of information to help you on your digital journey.

PLUS you can go in and take the survey at any time to update your score and see how you’re improving.

#2 Access the full report

We’ve provided some great highlights and takeaways, but head to the full report for much deeper insights, fantastic case studies, and practical recommendations. Heaps of work has gone into this amazing resource so don’t miss out on the benefits!

The recommendations on pages 38-39 are especially useful as they give great tips for moving from stage to stage.

Request the report from AUSactive here.

#3 Create or update your own digital strategy

In order to grow your digital maturity and effectiveness it’s essential that you have a digital strategy. But as recommended by the report, your strategy needs to be:

  • up-to-date
  • complete
  • ambitious
  • supported with a roadmap
  • embedded within your overall business strategy

Get started by gathering input from the whole organisation and establish a digital vision that the whole team will want to work towards.

For more steps, check out page 36 of the report.

#4 Find the best digital partner

If you’re going to become a digital leader, you need the right partner by your side.

Xplor Gym software has everything you need to run your business in one fast, responsive, easy-to-use gym management system, making the customer digital experience seamless and enjoyable.

And as proud partners of the Digital Futures 2024 report, we can’t wait to see how far you can go.

Get in touch with our team to get started.

The wrap-up…

So there you have it. Australia is making good progress on the digital journey and we’re only a little behind the UK. We may not have any digital leaders YET, but there are so many ways for organisations to get there.

Participants in the Digital Futures Report 2024 have identified many priorities such as creating digital strategies and supporting staff. See more on page 30 of the report for ideas you can use in your own planning.

“In the fitness industry, embracing digital technologies is no longer optional—it’s imperative for staying competitive and meeting ever-evolving consumer expectations.”

Michelle Furniss, General Manager, Xplor Gym

The right systems and partners can help your fitness business thrive in a digital world, so you can wow your customers. Get in touch to see what Xplor Gym can do for your business.

Article by Xplor Gym

First published: 14 May 2024

Last updated: 14 May 2024