The fitness industry has changed fundamentally. Above all this is due to an oversupply and price decline of the ‘fitness’ product by discount giants. If, as a health club manager, you do not refine and enhance your profile today, you will probably not be able to survive the next few years. For many fitness and health clubs, the concept of EMS personal training could be an important lifeline with a potential for huge market growth and a chance for service and therefore price differentiation allowing for a significant increase of membership fees for the specific customers segment.


Talking about the overall concept of EMS, it has proven to deliver an affordable personal training, which thanks to its price structure has made personal training more accessible to a broad customer group. Therefore, it comes not as a surprise that the German EMS market continues its positive development and increasingly skims a significant part of the classic fitness market. This trend, as well as its worldwide spread, can be illustrated through an increasing number of international success stories. The search for a time- and cost-efficient training alternative that is compatible with a modern lifestyle leads more and more customers to EMS Training.


In this article, you will learn about the specific advantages that you can benefit from by integrating EMS into your existing facilities as a shop-in-shop system. You will find out what you, as a club operator, have to consider when integrating EMS Training in your system.




Is it enough to let the EMS personal training take place in the training area?
The answer to this is ‘No’, as the experience of numerous club operators as well as the world market leader for EMS Training – miha bodytec – clearly shows. This is easy to understand when you look at the target group of EMS personal training: people who did not achieve sufficient training success within the existing health and fitness club concepts. You should obviously avoid mixing the service of EMS personal training with those offered by your ‘conventional’ health and fitness club. This would deter the EMS prospect and blur the line between the two different service categories ‘fitness training’ and ‘EMS personal training’.


For example, the experience with regard to the drop-out and fluctuation rate of EMS clients shows that the attrition rate of members of the shop-in-shop system is far lower than conventional models, usually with a fluctuation rate of less than 10 %.


Can I simply provide my course training room to the EMS customer?
At first, this may appear to be a viable solution, but it is not advisable if you want to have lasting economic success with EMS Training. If you want to create the added value and high esteem that is typically expected by EMS customers, you need to build it up by separating it spatially and by giving it a high-quality, classy ‘look and feel’. In comparison to typical fees for a fitness- or health club, EMS customers are willing to pay more than twice as much for a weekly 20-minute EMS session of a 1:2 personal training. Thus, they deserve an ambience and relaxed atmosphere that feels exactly like that. Compare it to a hotel room: The luxury suite costs twice as much per night, and as a guest you should be able to feel that difference!


This is the main reason for the new approach, wherein EMS personal training assumes the features of a shop-in-shop system. It is even advisable to give the EMS personal training its own brand name in the external presentation. Whether you want to create a new brand or access one of the existing concepts is up to you. The key point is that you increase the exclusivity of this service and clearly separate and elevate it from the rest of the company.


Do I cannibalise my existing health club members by adding an EMS personal training concept as a shop-in-shop system?
No, experience shows otherwise. The target group and philosophy of EMS personal training should focus on bringing people into your 18 company who either have not yet found their way into your existing club, or 2) are former members, who had to quit the classic fitness training due to lack of time or lack of motivation and because they did not achieve sufficient training successes. Imagine if you could reach out to all your previous customers who quit and re-enrol them into your new EMS Training club by overcoming the typical cancellation arguments ‘too little time’ or ‘I do not come often enough’.


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Right now, every fitness club is fighting for the (at most) 15 % of the population who have an affinity for exercise and also have enough time and intrinsic motivation. In the meantime, the remaining 85 % are completely neglected. With an EMS shop-in-shop solution, you can appeal to precisely this neglected target group and win it for yourself. The idea of just 20 minutes per week with a motivating EMS personal trainer will even appeal to the classic ‘couch potato’. And when he or she becomes ‘part of your club’, then all synergies with your entire system will take effect as well.


What are the advantages and synergies offered by the integration of the EMS shop-in-shop system?
There are many advantages of an EMS shop-in-shop system - especially when compared to a traditional ‘stand-alone’ boutique-studio. You will see the great benefit of the shop-in-shop system by being able to reach the ‘EMS target group’ because of the clear (apparent) separation from the rest of your club – while still fully exploiting the great synergies that enable you to integrate the EMS concept into your existing business.


These synergies begin, for example, with the enormous cost advantages compared to a ‘stand-alone’ boutique-studio with regard to rent, personnel procurement as well as sales opportunities. However, the most interesting benefits come in the form of additional sales potentials for your existing fitness and health club or your overall company. Through EMS personal training you now appeal to a whole new target group and, of course, gain a lot more interest in your club. All your new EMS personal training clients have family, friends and acquaintances, who represent potential EMS customers or fitness club customers. Added to this are revenues from the supplementary sale of nutritional concepts, supplements and similar benefits. Now, you have the opportunity to enrich your existing company with EMS personal training as an additional market opener as well as cash cow.


Can I also carry out EMS personal training in groups with 3 or more people?
The willingness to pay twice as much for the weekly EMS sessions (in comparison to a typical health club) can only be maintained if you are able to convey the feeling of an exclusive personal training experience to the EMS customer. This means safety, motivation and effectiveness through the EMS Training with the personal trainer and the direct proximity to the member. If you expand the EMS Training to groups of 3 or more people, you will lose the ‘pure EMS customer’, who is so important to you, and their willingness to pay. You are basically degrading the high-quality service to nothing more than a highly effective gymnastics course. The distinguishing feature from the competition is thus completely lost.


With a 1:2 training session, your employees can maintain the image of safety, motivation and effectiveness at the highest level and promote the fun factor due to the dynamics of exercising in pairs. The maximum safety and effectiveness of the 1:1 or 1:2 workout for your members has been confirmed by recent scientific studies as well as framework recommendations like the German TÜV certification and various training standards. Thus, it is clear: EMS Training remains a personal training experience with max. 2 participants per personal trainer – and not a product of the course room. It is precisely this phenomenon that makes more than 1,000 EMS boutique-studios in Germany grow so strongly.


What do I need for a functioning EMS shop-in-shop system?
Of course, you need the basics: this includes two EMS devices, a room design of approx. 40 sqm as well as trained employees. The acquisition costs are thus manageable and far more favourable than any electronic circuit concept in the industry. However, the low acquisition costs do not mean that the EMS personal training will become a big seller in your area by itself. For that, you need working structures and procedures for your employees in order to win EMS customers, to be successful and to achieve maximum profitability.


What should I expect from the shop-in-shop concept from a financial perspective?
The beauty of it is: unlike the traditional fitness area, the EMS shop-in- shop boutique does not require a massive amount of members to be successful. You do not have to rely on excessive customer traffic, because each member will provide an annual turnover of that is more than twice as high in comparison to the standard member.


Conclusion: EMS shop-in-shop solution as an opportunity
Of course, the decision if and how you implement EMS personal training in your club is left to you. However, the experience of numerous club operators has proven that differentiation from the competition and proper positioning is now more important than ever before, especially when it comes to building a profitable customer clientele.


Thomas Kämmerling is a trained physiotherapist and top expert for health care providers of the Employers‘ Association of German Fitness and Health Facilities (DSSV). He has been working in the fitness and health sector since 1983 and he owns a sports medicine training centre. As an internationally known industry expert and keynote speaker, he has been advising over 100 physiotherapy practices, fitness and health clubs, as well as rehabilitation centres in market positioning and orientation. 


Thomas Kaemmerling