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Customer Engagement Academy

Customer Engagement Academy Logo

The Customer Engagement Academy (CEA) exists to provide the global health and fitness industry with a go-to, robust, reliable resource for learning and development in customer engagement. Our ultimate goal is to help support operators to provide their members with exceptional club experiences which lead to business success. The Academy believes in the importance of operators developing a deep understanding of customer engagement based on real research carried out by experts in the field, quality member feedback and real-world examples of best practice.

Why is Customer Engagement So Important?

TRP's research over the past 4 years has shown us that engaging with members is incredibly important to an operator's success.

30% of members fail to visit their club in each of their first 3 months of membership

TRP 10,000 - October 2015

Compared to not making a visit in a given month, making at least one visit reduces the risk of cancelling in the next month by 20%

TRP 10,000 - October 2015

Compared to members who say they are always spoken to by reception staff, members who are never spoken to cancel at a rate 2.8 times higher, equating to an extra 21 cancelled memberships each month for every 1,000 members

TRP 10,000 - June 2015

58% of members report being highly motivated by the social aspect of attending the gym

TRP 10,000 - July 2014

For each factor that members report they have made progress on, the risk of cancelling during the 7 months after answering the question reduces by 10%

TRP 10,000 - July 2014

Compared to members who did not make a friend, those who did were 40% less likely to cancel their membership

TRP 10,000 - July 2014

Almost 9 in 10 members say they value fitness staff speaking to them

TRP 10,000 - May 2014

Where a negative club experience is present, receiving two channels of communication is shown to overcome the detrimental effect on the chances of being a Promoter

TRP 10,000 - November 2017

Educational Resources

One of the founding principles of the CEA is a belief that in order to be successful, operators must continuously seek opportunities to learn and develop; reacting to an ever changing health and fitness environment to stay at the top of their game. The CEA blog and research repository exist to help meet this need and provide quality resources, robust research and actionable tips, ideas and examples of best practice for your continued professional development.


Check out the CEA blog to discover our tips for delivering exceptional member experiences which create raving fans of your business. A quick and easy read, these snappy little posts are bursting with great ideas to implement in your club!

Read Blog


Industry-leading research into the relationship between member behaviour, characteristics and club experience and loyalty for you to learn from and apply in your club. Available to download completely free of charge!

View Research

Member Engagement in the Global Health and Fitness Industry Survey Report 2018

In April 2018, we conducted a survey of operators within the global health and fitness industry about their engagement with their members.

Read the survey report to learn how the industry engaged with members in 2018 (with specific focus on social media and email), how operators measure the effectiveness of member engagement, and their plans for developing their member engagement in 2019.

Our 2019 survey and report are now underway and will be released in the summer.

Access Report


Daniel Haywood

Daniel Haywood

Organisations: TRP and CAP2

Role on the Board: Chairman


About Daniel

Daniel has over 15 years’ experience working in a variety of roles for local councils and leisure trusts – most notably his 12 years at GLL where his last role saw him develop the business model around the Swim School brand to make it one of the largest in the world. In 2015, Daniel made the move from operator to supplier when he took over the running of  TRP’s sister company, leading sports course management software providers, CAP2, as General Manager. Daniel’s background in coaching, degree in Sports and Exercise Science, as well as senior experience within large leisure operations has helped him grow CAP2 on many levels. Now Managing Director for both TRP and CAP2, Daniel is looking forward to utilising the research produced by the CEA to support the industry in getting more people more active more often through the delivery of exceptional club experiences. Daniel loves engaging with his teams and is starting to speak externally about this and the associated best practice. Daniel is married with two children who both love taking part in as many different sports as they can.


Daniel’s Greatest Customer Experience

“I love drinking coffee, maybe too much at times! One example of fantastic customer service was at a small independent coffee shop in the back streets of Hoxton, East London. Not only was the coffee amazing, how the barista kept the queue in check was brilliant and the way she managed me during the transaction was fantastic – making me feel like the only customer in a very busy cafe and brewing my coffee exactly how I like it. The small talk during the transaction moved to my favourite song of all time, which I didn’t think much of. However, as I sat down in the individual booth to drink my coffee, the speakers started playing the song I’d just mentioned – this made me smile and complimented the already amazing service. The barista made me feel very special and added the personal touch that made me leave wanting to return again. That’s fantastic customer service.”

Dr Melvyn Hillsdon

Dr Melvyn Hillsdon

Organisation: N/A

Role on the Board: Honorary President


About Melvyn

Melvyn started his fitness industry career as an instructor at the Hogarth Health Club in 1986. Following a period as fitness director for LivingWell, in 1992 he moved to the NHS where he spent 3 years developing a specialist exercise facility for clinical populations. In 1995 he stepped into academia and was awarded a Ph.D. in exercise interventions in 2000. He is now an Associate Professor of Exercise and Health Behaviour at the University of Exeter.

In 2000, Melvyn approached the FIA and challenged them to establish a standard measure for membership retention and a benchmark figure for the industry. The results of the subsequent research were published in 2001 in a series of six reports entitled Winning the Retention Battle.

Melvyn’s research into retention and attrition has led to the development of appropriate measures which provide data for operators that can directly inform business decisions. The research has been presented at numerous conferences in the UK and abroad including the IHRSA annual conferences in the US and Europe. Multiple club operators and industry bodies have benefitted from Melvyn’s expertise in identifying the determinants of retention.

In 2013, in partnership with TRP, Melvyn started the TRP 10,000™ study. TRP 10,000™ is the biggest and most comprehensive survey of member behaviour and retention ever carried out in the health and fitness industry. 10,000 health and fitness members completed a baseline survey of their exercise habits and membership behaviour between July and September 2013. During regular intervals over subsequent years, they have been followed up and the results of the research have been released in a series of features in Health Club Management and via the TRP website. Melvyn continues to work closely with TRP to this day in their production of research released through the Customer Engagement Academy.

Elaine Jobson – CEO, Jetts

Elaine Jobson

Organisation: Jetts

Role on the Board: Honorary Vice-President


About Elaine

A senior figure with a vast amount of experience gained across the global health and fitness industry, Elaine has spent the past 20+ years in executive roles in Asia, Europe, South Africa and now Australia; where she is currently the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Jetts. Having led Virgin Active to the honour of Deloitte ‘Best Company to Work For in South Africa’ during her time with the organisation, Elaine is a passionate advocate of company culture as a source of competitive advantage. Outside of her day-to-day role at Jetts, Elaine is a keen blogger (you can read her blog at culturehacker.com.au) and accomplished educational speaker.


Elaine’s Greatest Customer Experience

“A few years ago I was lucky enough to spend New Year in Ritz Carlton London and then visited Ritz Carlton Naples in Florida a few months later. On approaching the check-in desk in Naples Ritz Carlton the receptionist smiled politely, welcomed me back and informed me that they had stocked my bar with extra gin and tonics as these were noted to be my favorite drink. It was then I learnt that great service has a lot to do with great systems. As polite and friendly as the receptionist was she was being informed by her software system as to my preferences. Any great service business needs technology, it can’t be delivered consistently by humans alone.”

Chris Stevenson

Chris Stevenson

Organisation: Stevenson Fitness

Role on the Board: Honorary Vice-President


About Chris

Chris Stevenson is the owner and founder of Stevenson Fitness, a full-service health club in Oak Park, California. The club’s success is based on providing an unparalleled member experience, underpinned by effective staffing, systematic operations, and world-class leadership. This success is reflected in the club’s Net Promoter Score® (NPS®), which is consistently in the 80’s – well above the industry average which sits in the late 30’s. Chris is an international speaker who regularly presents at IHRSA, Club Industry, IDEA and many other fitness and business events. From health and wellness to business strategies, Chris presents viable, applicable lectures that resonate with every audience.


Chris’ Greatest Customer Experience

“I love Southwest Airlines. Their customer experience is generally excellent in all aspects. One particular flight, however, was off the charts. As we were waiting on a layover my son asked me if he could look into the cockpit. I said sure and he walked to the front. All of a sudden over the loudspeaker I hear “would Chris Stevenson please report to the flight deck?” It was my son. Not only did they show him how the plane worked, let him sit in the seat and play with the controls, they let him use the loudspeaker too.”

Stuart Martin – Managing Director, Active Nation

Stuart Martin

Organisation: Active Nation

Role on the Board: Honorary Vice President


About Stuart

Stuart Martin is the Managing Director of Active Nation – a charity with 16 venues across Southampton, Chorley, South Derbyshire, Runcorn and Lincoln. Stuart’s career in the fitness industry started in 1992 when he was a personal trainer at The Haven Hotel and Health Spa in Poole. He has since worked in a range of regional and group management roles for operators including Everyone Active (SLM) before joining Active Nation and becoming their Managing Director in 2015. Active Nation passionately position themselves as a charity rather than a leisure trust, with supporters rather than members; and have a clear mission (to persuade the nation to be active) and supporting brand values which they live and breathe. In 2018, Stuart was a finalist in the Outstanding Leader of the Year category in the ukactive Awards.

John Penny – Managing Director, Third Space

John Penny

Organisation: Third Space

Role on the Board: Honorary Vice President


About John

John Penny is the Managing Director of Third Space – a high-end, premium group of health and fitness clubs in central London. A Sports Science graduate who went on to study an MBA in Organizational Leadership, John describes himself as a leisure, spa, hospitality and fitness enthusiast with a passion for business development. Clearly seen within his excellent clubs, John believes in continuous improvement, and has meticulous high standards for quality and attention to detail. 

Tom Galvin - Regional Manager, Barnsley Premier Leisure

Tom Galvin

Organisation: Barnsley Premier Leisure

Role on the Board: Honorary Vice President



About Tom

A seasoned professional within the leisure trust sector, Tom has spent the last 12 years in various management positions at organisations across the length and breadth of England and is currently Head of Fitness and Regional Manager at Barnsley Premier Leisure (BPL). With a Postgraduate Diploma in Management Studies, Tom prides himself on his commercial awareness and is passionate about team empowerment and growing an organisation’s strengths through development of human resources from within. Tom is a real advocate of the power of consistent, regular customer interaction; something which is reflected in BPL’s Net Promoter Score® of 65 – well above the industry average which sits in the late 30s.

Ken Brown - Owner, Fitness Incentive

Ken Brown

Organisation: Fitness Incentive

Role on the Board: Honorary Vice President



About Ken

Ken comes from a background of application development. He and his wife, Corinne, founded Long Island, New York based Fitness Incentive in 1984, the dawn of the age of personal computers, and were early adopters of PC technology, implementing a home-grown membership management system in 1985. Since that time, Fitness Incentive has stayed on the leading edge of technology to support a club model that puts communication with the customer at the core of everything it does. The club’s motto “More than a membership…a relationship” neatly encapsulates their approach.  Fitness Incentive is also notable for advocating continual investment in its facilities to ensure that the member enjoys the most advanced equipment and class programming, along with exceptional maintenance and cleanliness. As a result, Fitness Incentive routinely achieves a Net Promoter Score® in the high 80’s and has been voted the ‘Best of Long Island’ an unprecedented 22 times.

David McLean - Group Fitness Manager, Edinburgh Leisure

David McLean

Organisation: Edinburgh Leisure

Role on the Board: Honorary Vice-President



About David

David’s career in the fitness industry started at the age of 17, as a hotel leisure assistant. He spent his early twenties in gym instructor and personal trainer roles in Scotland and the Middle East before becoming a personal training academy assessor for a major private operator. David joined Edinburgh Leisure in 2008 as Assistant Health and Fitness Manager. He is now Group Fitness Manager, defining the strategic direction for how the trust delivers fitness service across the city. David’s passionate focus is on ensuring his members receive the best experience possible so that they want to remain members longer. During his tenure as Group Fitness Manager, David has proudly played a significant role in more than doubling Edinburgh Leisure’s average length of stay from 5.7 to 12.7 months!

Meet The Board

Julie Ashley-Jones

Organisation: Pembrokeshire County Council

Role on the Board: Honorary Vice-President

Accreditation and Awards

Brand New for 2018!

The CEA Customer Experience Awards is a unique initiative created to recognise and reward health and fitness club operators consistently delivering an above average member experience in their facilities, as determined by member feedback and loyalty scores.

Click the button below to learn more about the awards and accompanying accreditation; including how they work and what you need to do to win!

Learn More

2018 Winners!

Operator Awards

Operator of the Year: Fitness Incentive (USA)

Best Customer Experience – Private Independent Gym: Fitness Incentive (USA)

Best Customer Experience – Private Multi-Site Gym Chain: Power Wellness (USA)

Best Customer Experience – Leisure Trust: Wolverton Leisure Trust (ENG)

Best Customer Experience – Local Authority: Pembrokeshire County Council (WAL)

Best Customer Experience – Golf Club Group: Altonwood Golf Group (ENG)

Best Customer Experience – University/School/College Gym: Hertfordshire Sports Village (ENG)


Site Awards

Club of the Year: Crymych Leisure Centre, Pembrokeshire County Council (WAL)

Best Leisure Centre Customer Experience: Crymych Leisure Centre, Pembrokeshire County Council (WAL)

Best Gym Customer Experience: Birkmyre Park Fitness Gym, Inverclyde Leisure (SCO)

Best Golf Club Customer Experience: The Shropshire Golf Centre, BGL Golf (ENG)

Best Swimming Pool Customer Experience: Broxburn Swimming Pool, Xcite – West Lothian Leisure (SCO)

Best Outdoor Sports Customer Experience: Southampton Water Activities Centre, Active Nation (ENG)


Operator-Level Platinum Award for Customer Experience Excellence

Fitness Incentive, Stevenson Fitness, Westwoods Health Club, Power Wellness, Wolverton Leisure Trust


Operator-Level Gold Award for Customer Experience Excellence

Xcite – West Lothian Leisure, Tees Active, China Fleet, Christus Health & Wellness Center, Pembrokeshire County Council, Kennedy Club Fitness, Castle Point Borough Council, New Vision Fitness, Taymax Group, Celtic Leisure, Odyssey Fitness Center


Operator-Level Silver Award for Customer Experience Excellence

The Works Family Health and Fitness Center, Altonwood Golf Group, Inverclyde Leisure, Writhlington Leisure, Caerphilly County Borough Council, LED Leisure, Jetts Fitness, BGL Golf, tmactive, Edinburgh Leisure, Hertfordshire Sports Village, Doncaster Culture & Leisure Trust, East Dunbartonshire Leisure Trust, Glasgow Life, Active Nottingham, Oldham Community Leisure, Aneurin Leisure, York Sport, Pure Gym, St Mary’s Calne Sports Centre