Customer Stories | Muscle Bull Gym

Chloe Bell
By Chloë Bell, Content Journalist

Most would agree that life in lockdown can be a bit of a battle, but we’ve quickly come to accept constant sanitizing, mask wearing, and queue forming as our new norm.  

Not to mention the working from home, the endless cups of coffee made to pass the time, and the fact we never get to see our friends and family. We’re all struggling.  

And then there are the thousands of small businesses that are fighting to survive through lockdown and Covid-19 restrictions, not least the many gyms and health clubs across the UK who earn their living through hands-on interaction with their members. 

Public pressure over the closure of gyms during tiered lockdown forced the government to change restrictions, and if you’re a gym-goer that hasn’t had the time, patience or money to create your own gym space at home, you’ll undoubtedly be missing your favourite workout spot. 

So how are gym owners coping with this new normal? 

There are thousands of small businesses that are fighting to survive through lockdown and Covid-19 restrictions,

Bionic caught up with customer Ryan Bull, owner of Muscle Bull Gym in London, who has been busy adapting to life and business under the latest lockdown.  

We wanted to know all about how he was coping during the closures, how his gym has survived three national shutdowns, and find out how he has changed his business for the future. 

A grim grinding halt for UK gyms 

Before Covid-19 hit last year, plunging the UK and its non-essential businesses into turmoil, Muscle Bull Gym was enjoying some well-earned success and was an integral part of the local community.  

Steadily building up a loyal set of members, the gym has become a talking point, a success story and an inspiration to other SMEs. Nestled under the iconic railway arches in Bermondsey, its members find that working out there is the perfect antidote to the surrounding bustle of city life - a friendly, personal space rather than a soulless corporate one.  

The staff pride themselves on offering a tailored fitness experience, and aim to ‘support, encourage and motivate’ every one of their members from ‘the moment they walk through the door’. 

A hardworking team of instructors, therapists and friendly front of house staff make up a team that shares the same passion of igniting excitement about getting healthy. 

Offering a variety of classes throughout the day - including lifting technique, bootcamp, gymnastics conditioning, fight club and yoga - there’s something for every member to enjoy and help them achieve their fitness goals. 

But despite Muscle Bull Gym’s popularity with its London members, the last year has been difficult.  

As the UK was plunged into lockdown after lockdown, gyms were hit badly. The first lockdown bit particularly hard, when memberships were cancelled amid fears gyms may not reopen for months. 

By the time they were eventually allowed to open again in the summer, owners were urged to enforce social distancing rules and minimize member contact. 

Ryan learnt to adapt and alter his business to keep afloat while adhering to the strict government guidelines. Every member had to call in advance and book an appointment to visit the gym at an allotted time. 

Business was booming again, but this brought a new set of challenges. 

A helping hand from Bionic  

Before the third national lockdown closed gyms, non-essential shops, bars and restaurants yet again, Muscle Bull was still thriving, getting into the groove of the new rules they had to follow to remain open.  

Now they’re preparing to come back with a bang when the restrictions are eased once more. 

Ryan initially turned to Bionic to help him figure out how to best cope with the streams of phone calls he was getting to book appointments, something he is sure will restart once the current lockdown ends.  

Speaking with a member of Bionic’s Connectivity team – also called Ryan, funnily enough – Ryan decided he wanted to switch over to VoIP. This meant he could install a more practical cloud-based business phone system to deal with the calls, so no member was missed or waiting on hold for longer than necessary. 

VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) is a cloud-based phone system that allows businesses to make voice phone calls through an internet connection.

While on the call, Ryan mentioned his frustration that the gym only had one line. This meant that if he or another employee taking calls were dealing with another member - working on a PT session, for instance - there would quickly be a queue of callers building up.  

A more adaptable way of dealing with each member query in a prompt and professional fashion, was needed. And VoIP provided the perfect solution. 

How VoIP left a busy gym owner beaming 

Bionic was quick to understand his needs as a business owner and gladly helped him find a quote for VoIP. This should help him prepare for the fitness flurry he is sure to face as we emerge from this latest lockdown.  

Ready to head back into the big bad world of keeping fit, Ryan plumped for a bespoke deal that enabled him to set up a call queuing system, complete with hold music and a virtual receptionist that can direct and prioritise the most urgent requests. 

Ryan was able to keep the gym’s existing number – no need to change and splash out on new marketing materials - and has the option of using the mobile app. This means he can access from any mobile phone, so he never misses a member call. 

Even better, Ryan was originally paying between £70 and £90 each month for a standard landline and business broadband. But by speaking with Bionic and switching to VoIP, he managed to save up to £30 every month on his call costs.  

Ryan certainly got more bang for his buck by choosing VoIP, and his customers were no longer left ‘weighting’ for their calls to be answered. 

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