What’s the best gym management software platform in 2021?
Two-Brain mentors hear this question regularly as top gym owners around the world try to figure out which software will help them manage all aspects of a growing fitness business.
Below, we’ll answer that question and tell you exactly which company provides the best gym management software right now.
In 2021, as the fitness industry recovers from more than a year of pandemic-related restrictions and government-mandated closures, gym owners are looking to capitalize on a surge of clients who are returning to physical spaces. Entrepreneurs also need to be flexible as governments continue to issue instructions as the pandemic continues.
Overall, gym owners need management software that will support them every day and clearly provide a solid return on investment.
This year’s detailed evaluation features in-depth reporting on these top gym management platforms:
- Zen Planner
Our research in two large groups of gym owners indicated that 74.5 to 80.4 percent of gyms use these four platforms.
We’ll also direct you to more info about a host of other fitness facility management platforms, including Arbox, Pike13, Glofox, Triib and more.
The Best Gym Management Software: Our Review Process
Our exhaustive search to find the best gym management software in 2021 involved the following:
1. We looked to successful, long-term business owners who are experienced users of the gym management platforms. Some of these owners are Certified Two-Brain Fitness Business Mentors. One owner also had extensive experience in software development. We excluded “casual users” who don’t dig into their software in favor of experienced, successful owners who are looking to learn about their tools, master the features and wring every dime of ROI from the platforms.
2. We included responses from a series of surveys posted in a private Two-Brain Facebook group with over 700 of the best gym owners in the world. These gym owners constantly outperform their industry peers in terms of revenue, profit, average revenue per member per month (ARM), length of engagement (LEG) and net owner benefit (NOB). Their opinions carry a lot of weight: Many of them have used a number of these platforms over the years and aren’t just saying “the one I use is best.”
Below are the results of a poll on usage in that group. A total of 153 group members voted.
- Wodify—44 (28.8%)
- Zen Planner—41 (26.8%)
- PushPress—27 (17.6%)
- Mindbody—11 (7.2%)
- Triib—11 (7.2%)
- Pike13—6 (3.9%)
- Gymsystem—3 (less than 2%)
- Arbox—2 (less than 2%)
- WODTogether—2 (less than 2%)
- TeamUp—2 (less than 2%)
- RxGym—1 (less than 1%)
- WodBoard—1 (less than 1%)
- FitHive—1 (less than 1%)
- Wellness Living—1 (less than 1%)
3. We surveyed the huge public Facebook group Gym Owners United. It’s home to more than 4,100 active fitness entrepreneurs. Even conservative estimates suggest these owners are spending about $5 million per year using software to manage over half a million members and over $45 million in revenue. The real numbers are likely much higher.
Below are the results of a poll on usage in that group. A total of 329 group members voted. Some named software platforms designed specifically for martial-arts and yoga facilities.
Zen Planner—59 (17.9%)
RhinoFit—6 (less than 2%)
Arbox—5 (less than 2%)
FitHive—5 (less than 2%)
GymMaster—5 (less than 2%)
Wellness Living—4 (less than 2%)
TeamUp—4 (less than 2%)
WodBoard—3 (less than 1%)
Glofox—2 (less than 1%)
WODHOPPER—2 (less than 1%)
Spark—2 (less than 1%)
ABC Fitness Solutions—2 (less than 1%)
EZFacility—2 (less than 1%)
Octiv—2 (less than 1%)
Gym Assistant—1 (less than 1%)
fitDEGREE—1 (less than 1%)
Quoox—1 (less than 1%)
PTminder—1 (less than 1%)
Clubworx—1 (less than 1%)
MyBestStudio—1 (less than 1%)
4. We contacted each of the major software platforms—Mindbody, PushPress, Wodify and Zen Planner—and asked for a list of 2021 updates and upcoming improvements. All four companies responded with detailed reports we summarized for you.
Essential Aspects of Gym Software
The best gym management software must do three things that are more important than anything else:
1. Process payments at point of sale and via automated billing. The money must flow from the member to the business without interruption—and the path isn’t always smooth. If cash flow isn’t reliable, small fitness businesses can die quickly.
2. Member management. Gym owners need a powerful database, seamless automations and third-party integrations, appointment scheduling and facility management features, check-in and reservation capabilities, administrative features, and retention systems.
3. Robust reporting. It’s worth highlighting this aspect of gym management software in 2021. Two-Brain prioritizes data collection and uses the numbers to help clients get results fast. Without key numbers at their fingertips—ARM, LEG, profit and more—gym owners are flying blind. Easy, insightful metrics tracking isn’t a “bonus” feature anymore. It’s 100 percent essential.
Also important: general functionality, cost of service, ease of use, customer support and mobile apps.
Things that are becoming increasingly important as the industry recovers and evolves in 2021: features that allow lead nurture and marketing, and “all-in-one functionality”—management of facilities, group classes, personal training, payroll, and online PT and nutrition coaching.
As more and more platforms appear in the market, gym owners are looking for systems that reduce costs by covering multiple aspects of the gym game. It’s no fun to use a linking program to connect a database to an email system—with each software suite adding subscription costs. Systems that do a lot—without spreading themselves too thin—are the future.
Gym Management Software: Our Exhaustive Evaluation
So which gym management software is best for you and your business? Which platforms are easy to use? What platform has the most features? Which ones boast a host of integrations?
The answers are critically important to your business. The right software will help you become profitable, grow, retain members, analyze your business and plan for the future. The wrong choice will have you throwing your hands in the air as you try to figure out how to get what you really need.
We’ve compiled our research on the key players in the gym software industry to help you decide which system will work for you, your staff, your clients and your growing business. You are investing in a service, and you need to see a return on your investment.
Our review is unbiased. We combined expert reviews with feedback from our clients and info from the providers themselves to present an objective evaluation.
Below, we rate each of the major software providers from 1 to 10 in these critical categories:
Function—Does the software meet the basic needs of a gym? These are the must-have elements: payment processing, scheduling (appointments, classes and staff), membership packages and so on. Down time and service outages factor in here as well.
Reporting—Can you quickly find the data you need—including data that Two-Brain has identified as absolutely essential? Can you create and run your own reports to create exactly what you need? Is it easy to do so?
Usability—Is the software easy to use by the owner and staff? How steep is the learning curve? How about use by clients? Is there an app? Is the user interface (UI) pleasing or painful? Look and feel factor in here, but ease of use is far more important than appearance.
Integrations—Does the software platform play nice with others? Does the program integrate with common management tools such as Mailchimp, SugarWOD, iCalendar, Zapier, etc.? Does it have an open API so you can add things as you see fit?
Features—Does the platform offer anything extra, such as a killer workout-logging app or a great customer relationship management system (CRM)? What’s the customer service like? Does the software stand out through any unique features?
We’ve included pricing info in US dollars, but in some cases rates are highly variable based on the features you select, the size of your membership, and so on.
We’ve also selected videos that will give you a quick look at each platform. You can find others on each company’s YouTube channel.
New for 2021: Social links so you can get to know the platforms better.
Scoring and Standards
The maximum score for each gym software platform is 50.
One final note: We’re not endorsing any platform yet or making blanket recommendations to our family of entrepreneurs. But we really want to. We want to be able to tell our clients exactly which platform will help them solve their problems and grow their businesses.
So we’ll keep evaluating and communicating the needs of the community to developers.
And when a platform finally does everything we need, we’ll recommend it to the Two-Brain family.
Now, on to the software, presented in alphabetical order.
The Top 4 Gym Management Software Platforms
Mindbody still has it all. The platform has been around for a long time, and it’s grown to serve its large user base. So if you’re looking for a time-tested platform to bill clients, manage group class programs, schedule personal training sessions and run payroll, Mindbody could be the choice for you.
The drawback is that it can be tough to navigate the many, many features. You rarely hear complaints about things Mindbody can’t do. But it’s also very common for users to be overwhelmed by it all—one Two-Brain client said it’s “a very complicated system,” though that criticism was tempered with comments about the “very helpful” training available. If you choose this platform, be prepared to invest time learning how to use it.
Mindbody is also very reliable—especially when it counts. Two users with a combined 20 years of time on the platform reported just one payment-processing issue between them.
The gym software keeps data on a massive amount of information and allows you to create and save custom reports on everything from sales and payroll to cost of goods sold and age of inventory.
Mindbody provides essential reports gym owners need to run and manage their business in the Starter package. From there, you can choose to upgrade and unlock additional reports to help manage your facility. How many reports your gym needs to use is up to you.
Mindbody remains robust but challenging to use without investing in learning. In 2020, one user called the membership/contracts system “the most confusing process I’ve ever come across.”
However, in 2021, another user said this: “We sat back and realized that the problem was not the software but rather the user (us)! It’s such a comprehensive software. We asked for help and received three hours of training with a member of the management team. Now, it works so well and we have a better understanding of all its intricacies.”
To get the most out of this platform, users simply must invest time in learning. Mindbody helps to reduce the learning curve with its Setup Checklist. Users can run through guided instructions to set up staff, classes, appointments and membership options when logging into their account, and they can explore functions they’ll use daily, like adding clients and selling new services.
The software also offers apps for both the gym and its clients. For example, the mobile staff app makes signing waivers, scheduling personal training sessions and checking clients into class a breeze. In addition, Mindbody provides an easy solution for clients to view a gym’s schedule, purchase new services and add scheduled appointments/classes directly to their calendars. For an additional fee, businesses can upgrade to a branded app for a more personalized experience.
It’s also worth noting that Mindbody has an excellent customer service team and dedicated account reps. If you need help navigating the system, looking up reports or adding new features, they are there to help.
Mindbody integrates with lots of systems—more than anyone else—and if you don’t find an integration for the one you want, it has a robust open API. However, Integrating with partners on Mindbody’s marketplace isn’t always smooth sailing: Customer service can be hit or miss depending on the company.
Some add-ons integrate seamlessly, while others make an already-complex system a much bigger headache. Many of Mindbody’s partners allow you to DIY the integration or you can pay an additional fee to have the link created for you. Recommendation: Pay the fee.
Mindbody has features galore—some as add-ons and some as part of upper-level service tiers. The COVID crisis of 2020 highlighted the need for a video-on-demand/live-streaming service, and it’s available for $49-$99 a month. Also interesting: Messenger[ai], which is a virtual assistant that can respond to calls, answer questions, and book appointments and classes.
Cost: $139-$699 per month. Pricing page: Click here.
Two-Brain Clients Said
“We had some frustrations with some system things we wanted to do during COVID (giving members access to see how full group sessions were, only allowing the schedule to be visible four weeks at a time, without having to input it every four weeks, etc.), but it was a lack of our understanding of their software.”
“There’s a lot of screens for each member’s profile, which takes a lot of clicks to view everything—I was given a preview of their new interface which will launch this fall—that will be resolved with a single screen view for each member. … Billing is a breeze and their support team is really good about 90 percent of the time.”
“For studios/boxes, (Mindbody) is a winner. For pay-for-access gyms, you’re better off with another platform.”
“I used (Mindbody) for 10 years. It’s really comprehensive, but I felt that it was too expensive for my gym (we have four locations).”
“As a client of a yoga studio that uses it, I like the ease of booking into a class online! The Mindbody scheduler tool is simple!”
“I have thought about switching but have held back every time. They have an awesome customer support system and if you screen-share with them on your support call, they typically can fix issues right away. My clients love using it to book their sessions. … Overall I’d say it’s a good software, but the learning curve is tough.”
“I wish they had a better way of doing member check-ins. The way they showed me was clumsy at best and is easier to do via Google sheets.”
“I’ve used (Mindbody) for eight years. It’s a love-hate, but I wouldn’t switch at this point. I wish they had better processing rates. It’s complex and robust, which can be great but also frustrating at times. I use Infusionsoft for my CRM and Trainerize for client programming.”
Info From Mindbody
What’s new with Mindbody in 2021?
Fitmetrix: A customer engagement platform that equips businesses to create a gamified workout experience, stay connected with clients and hold them accountable to their fitness goals. Owners can provide customers with performance and long-term metrics to keep them engaged. FitMetrix Group X Management makes it quick and easy for instructors to request and accept substitutions. Pick-A-Spot: Integrating with the Mindbody Branded App, Pick-A-Spot lets your clients reserve a spot directly within the app. With auto-assign functionality, clients reserving through Class Pass and Mindbody Connect will be automatically assigned spots, freeing front-desk staff from long lines at check-in.
Lead Management: Consists of the Sales Pipeline Dashboard and the Sales Funnel Analytics report. The dashboard automates lead capture, tracks interactions and allows your sales team to schedule follow-ups with leads. The Sales Funnel Analytics report delivers valuable insights about sales-funnel performance metrics. Lead-management tools are included in the Ultimate and Ultimate Plus packages, easing the burden of managing your expanding operations while improving sales processes.
Messenger[ai] for Fitness: Turn missed calls into bookings, drive sales, reach your members—and keep your team focused on the clients they’re with.
Mindbody finished first in our 2019 and 2020 rankings, and the platform continues to lead the industry. This software will do it all. The question is whether you need it all and will put in the time to learn how to use the system. If you aren’t willing to invest in education and training, this is not the platform for you.
Similarly, it’s unlikely most gym owners will use everything Mindbody offers. If you don’t need all the bells and whistles, you might not need Mindbody. For example, we interviewed a gym owner who’s managing his business with Acuity for $50 a month.
Our advice: Don’t just jump in. Figure out exactly what you need and determine if Mindbody’s impressive package solves all your problems. If so, spend time learning the ropes and you’ll likely be very happy with this platform.
PushPress has most functions you’d want from gym software, but there’s a missing piece: Clients cannot book appointments and pay on their own. Only staff can do these tasks. We noted this is 2020, and it remains a very large hole in the system. Gym owners definitely need clients to be able to book and pay without help. PushPress is working on fixing this, with a target of this year.
In contrast to other providers, Two-Brain clients had no complaints about service outages. That backs up PushPress’s reported 38 minutes of downtime in 2021 (as of Aug. 11).
Reporting has improved since 2020 but still leaves something to be desired. A special Two-Brain report/dashboard makes it far easier to pull key metrics such as average revenue per member per month (ARM), length of engagement (LEG) and lifetime value (LTV). But two separate gym owners in our survey referred to PushPress reports as “a mess” and “a mess at best.”
Another drawback: PushPress will still not calculate length of engagement for clients who joined before the owner signed up for PushPress. The company knows about this issue as well.
If Mindbody is complex, PushPress is at the other end of the spectrum: It doesn’t have a steep learning curve. Part of that is surely because of the company’s focus on developing “software that is, first and foremost, easy to use.”
Users also reported that the payroll function is a real time saver that allows owners to easily pay coaches for each type of service. That said, the calendar and scheduling services were noted by three owners as very weak.
Ease of use remains a strength, but some performance improvements are needed. For example, it’s difficult to check in guests without getting a lot of info—busy coaches need a function that allows guests to serve themselves to save time.
PushPress has an open API and integrates with everything through Zapier. This is a huge plus for people who want to customize their platforms. Stripe is the payment processor.
New as of July 2021 is a nice integration with Driven Nutrition: “The app integration allows gym owners to easily sell Driven Nutrition retail items to members. With just one click, the entire Driven Nutrition catalog—complete with pricing, images and product descriptions—is installed, with the added benefit of easily tracking sales, revenue and profitability.”
The ability to easily sell supplements is great for owners who are struggling to manage or build their retail revenue streams.
A number of clients brought up an intangible but not unimportant point: They feel like the company is invested in its clients: “I feel like they really genuinely care about gym owner success and not just their own,” one said. Others agreed and noted that support quality and response time are amazing.
PushPress now includes lead nurture for existing and departed members, as well as automations and a unified inbox. This comes at an add-on price of $97 a month. The company also does websites: $499 a month for set-up and then $127 per month.
These additional pieces come at a cost, but the integration is a definite plus.
Cost: $0-$139 per month (the free option, released late in 2019, still has no monthly fee but charges processing fees plus 1 percent of gross revenue. Fees increase until your gross is $13,900, at which point users should switch to the premium monthly rate). The Pro plan knocks off the 1 percent processing fee and offers premium integrations (Zapier, Mailchimp, SugarWOD, etc.).
Two-Brain Clients Said
“They are super fast with their support. Like within minutes during the week and sometimes just as fast on a Sunday. Also very responsive to growing the platform to address user needs.”
“I have rarely waited more than an hour or so for a response from customer service.”
“The reporting is the big downfall for me. There are several reports that I had been using that I eventually realized were inaccurate, and they just said ‘yep, we know’ and gave me a workaround.”
“It’s still better than most others I have used. And their response time and customer service makes up for a lot of the downfalls. I would still recommend them above anything else I have tried.”
“Reports are a mess and inaccurate … . Personal training sessions/appointment credits can only be assigned to one coach/trainer. Appointments calendar is difficult to use (on mobile and desktop), and not very intuitive IMO.”
“Support is top notch. If I have an issue, they respond within 10 minutes regardless of the time of day. PushPress Grow is a game changer as far as client journey and leads … but the scheduling software they use is trash. We still use Acuity for that.”
“I’m with them because I get the same feeling from them as I get from (Two-Brain)—which is to say they care, they are here to help, and they are constantly reinvesting/improving in their services.
“Big fan of (PushPress’s) customer service and ease of use of the system. … Calendar/scheduling feature for services—PT, nutrition, etc.—is their major weakness for me. And their reporting isn’t as detailed as I would like.”
Info From PushPress
PushPress reported significant investments since 2020: Its team has increased in size from 8 to 26, with the engineering crew quadrupling.
The company also listed the following recent accomplishments, among others:
- Removed billing delays with Stripe.
- Upgraded activity feed to track all member-management actions.
- Worked to get all key Two-Brain metrics in one place to make it easier for clients to get the data to their mentors.
- Logged onboarding customer experience score of 6.11 out of 7.
- Achieved a lifetime net promoter score (NPS) of 56 on a scale of -100 to 100.
- Logged a median support response time of 4 minutes 11 seconds.
- Launched the PushPress Grow lead-nurturing system.
PushPress also shared its upcoming development schedule with us, and it’s extensive. First up, the comms features will be upgraded to allow email customization and on-off toggling.
PushPress is easy to use—that’s the big win. It’s also great for gym owners who are getting started and tight on cash flow. Instead of paying set fees right off the top, owners can sign up for free and give up just a processing fee until they grow. That flexibility is nice.
So is great customer service. But the old question comes up again: Is great customer service enough to make up for having to call customer service?
We also like the Two-Brain dashboard for obvious reasons. We know the data that’s in there is essential for gym owners, and it’s great when people can easily get the numbers they need. We’ll keep pushing for better LEG calculations.
Our advice: If the scope, learning curve and price of Mindbody terrify you, PushPress is a nice option. It’s cost effective. And while it doesn’t have everything, you can learn how to use the system fast. The ease of integration will allow you to fill any holes
In Two-Brain’s private Facebook group, Wodify is regarded as a solid option, but a number of gym owners expressed displeasure with recent outages and other functionality issues.
For example, take this comment: “I still think it’s the best all-around app that handles membership, WODs, class reservations, and PT appointments.”
That’s balanced by these two: “The frequent outages are becoming more aggravating,” and, “Software only works half the time—issues loading especially when taking payments. This has been happening a lot lately.”
Our survey coincidentally dropped after a platform issue, so we won’t over-emphasize service interruptions likely highlighted by recently frustrated users. But it’s worth noting that downtime is the worst thing that can ever happen to any software provider.
Beyond that, Wodify remains a very solid option, and some tech-savvy Two-Brainers prefer it to other platforms.
One expert user highlighted point-of-sale features as major win for the platform: “The Wodify POS is also a nice touch. I can sell shirts, drinks, any retail item right from the Wodify POS. All the sales stats are included in Wodify’s standard reporting. No manual pulling of sales numbers from third-party apps. The POS also offers a credit-card scanner and bar-code scanner for purchase. Super professional!”
Wodify released a redesigned client app this year, but Two-Brain users aren’t ready to fully endorse it yet.
Not a lot of progress has been made on Insights, the reporting dashboard introduced in 2020. The stats are nice, but drilling down and segmenting data is difficult.
The old “Reporting” feature remains, but it’s a vast landscape of default reports, so it’s often hard to determine which report includes the numbers you want to see in the way you want to see them.
Instead of trying to guess exactly what gym owners need, Wodify could allow easier access to the raw data and let owners build their own dashboards (in or out of Wodify). Wodify told us it will offer this in the future but did not provide an exact date.
Organization is still lacking, and the continued inclusion of useless features clogs up the sidebar. In our reviewer’s eight years of Wodify usage, numerous views have never been used. A great example: Workout Calendar view. It is not populated with data and has never been used.
The real Achilles heel is down time, as mentioned above. In addition to regularly scheduled maintenance (which is normal and to be expected with software), Wodify experiences an unusual amount of downtime: The app won’t respond and will return 500 errors in the app and browser. This is especially troubling during normal business hours. Our reviewer reported that he is forced to abandon class registration and workout logging five or six times a year due to service outages.
Wodify offers a strong list of integrations, including Zapier, WordPress, Shopify, Quickbooks, Mailchimp, Callingly and Thankster, in addition to a host of programming streams. HybridAF is a new addition to the list, as is FIGHTTIPS, a martial-arts programming stream.
Also new: Wodify Pulse, which uses Myzone and the Wodify Core Kiosk to show members their heart rates.
Wodify has a whole suite of apps: Owners/coaches and athletes use different apps, and others help you run challenges (Rise), competitions (Arena) and live seminars (Live). All have free or paid versions that integrate with your Wodify payment gateway.
The many options are great, but service issues remain: Wodify evolved its client app recently with an unexpected amount of problems. Wodify, Wodify Athlete and Wodify Client all exist in the App Store and seemingly do the same thing. Yet none of them work consistently.
Our reviewer still uses Wodify and refuses to give it up even though it’s the first iteration of the client app. He reported that every athlete he’s worked with has problems with Wodify Athlete and Wodify Client. In one case, a member can only get Wodify Client to work by uninstalling and reinstalling it every week.
Cost: Wodify no longer lists pricing for its Engage, Grow and Promote services on its website. Last year, rates ranged from $109 to $419 per month with many a la carte add-ons. Wodify Pulse is a new add-on, and it’s $99 per month. Pricing page: Click here.
Two-Brain Clients Said
“Last two weeks have been ugly. The Athlete App has been spotty at best for class registrations, and there have been a few issues when trying to sign up a new member and take payment, which is obviously critical. I’m currently waiting on a response from tech support.”
“They also told me a long time ago they were going to make a better calendar/scheduling and recurring charges for PT. But it hasn’t happened yet.”
“The coaches app is terrible and clunky; the clients app is outdated and always difficult for our clients to use. The calendar view for our website looks like it’s a program from the ‘90s, so I don’t even post it on our website. I personally believe it is too expensive for what it offers: We have to use the top-tier plan just to run payroll on it, and it doesn’t even track our coach’s appointments.”
“I wish they had some measure of hybrid membership options so I could more easily delineate between revenue streams.”
“The hybrid and recurring PT memberships thing … is a big opportunity for them. It’s supposedly on the timeline somewhere, but I think they have probably shifted their focus to fix the stability problems—or at least let’s hope so. FYI—the new athlete app is legit in my opinion. … I still think it’s the best all-around app that handles membership, WODs, class reservations and PT appointments.”
“We are very happy with the financial part of Wodify and the standard membership options. Would love to see hybrid memberships—that would make our life much easier. And more options for automated emails—four emails for follow-ups is way not enough. I also tested the new ‘brand your app’ feature, but €50 (per) month for two custom colors and the logo is ridiculous. Basically, it works for us and we can handle our business, but with hybrid and mass emails there is still a long way to go.”
“I can’t tell you one meaningful update or improvement they have done in the last five years. … Their saving grace is they started with one of the best products and then no other software company has come out with anything much better or improved enough to make switching worth it.”
“Their point of sale for retail items is borderline unusable. We bought a square terminal and never looked back.”
“The athlete app has been spotty—members having to delete and download routinely just to log into classes. Scheduling for PT clients is an issue.”
“The frequent outages are becoming more aggravating. The point of sale is super frustrating and clunky.”
Info From Wodify
Wodify noted a host of improvements:
The rebuilt Client App allows members to track results, reserve classes and interact with other members. Clients can see cancellation policies and a leaderboard in the app, view videos, receive push notifications, and swipe to like certain things. It’s also brandable.
Australians, Kiwis and Canadians can now access Wodify Payments.
Comms have been improved so owners can customize messaging after purchase.
Workouts can be copied in bulk, saving you time if you recycle programming, and Progression Tracking will allow you to monitor level-ups and progress in your membership.
Point-of-sale barcode scanning makes checkout faster and easier.
Additions have been made to the Insights reporting system:
- 90-day retention helps you see how you’re performing.
- Lead attendance rate shows you how many leads attend a class within 12 days of connecting with your business.
- Cost of holds: No one likes holds (and some gyms don’t offer them). This report will show you exactly how much money you’re losing due to holds.
Wodify Sites is now included in the top service tier, and a monthly email/web/social marketing campaign is available.
The middle service tier now includes group and shared payments—so kids no longer require a second email address when parents register them. This service is not available in the entry-level tier.
Wodify finished second in our review last year and in 2019, but our clients were very clear in 2021: The service outages are increasingly troubling. That’s an overarching concern because all the features in the world are irrelevant if you can’t sell a jug of protein or your clients can’t get into their app.
Beyond that, Wodify has long been regarded as a good platform.
Our advice: If you’re a current client, get in touch with Wodify and voice any concerns you have. If you’re thinking about using Wodify, talk to a representative and be sure to ask about how reliability issues are being addressed.
Zen Planner has a lot of capability and potential, but this comes at the expense of being a jack of all trades and a master of none. It would be nice to take advantage of all of the potential functions that Zen Planner provides, but instead our reviewer often has to go elsewhere to find the best solution.
That said, Zen Planner responded to the COVID Crisis by allowing gyms to link classes, appointments and events to virtual meeting platforms like Zoom. Related changes to reservation, waitlist and late-cancellation management were also appreciated.
On the operations side, the company has been focusing on making it easier to manage recurring staff tasks through the studio for team members to view through the Staff App.
Also new: a free trial widget that can be embedded on a site.
Zen Planner’s reporting is quite robust but requires a lot of learning and tweaking. If you’re willing to put in the time and effort, you can produce reports for just about anything. This is a major plus: gym owners want to be able to deal with their data as they see fit. One very experienced gym owner said Zen has the “best reporting I have seen,” and that’s high praise.
The flip side is that most of the basic reporting a user would expect needs to be adjusted or audited. That’s a con for those who prefer pre-built reports that make life very easy. But gym owners must bear some burden of learning, and Zen Planner’s support staff will help owners get the right reports in place.
The special Two-Brain reports are a nice touch, but we still need length of engagement reports. This remains a hole in key metrics reporting, and Zen Planner users find it easier to calculate LEG with a spreadsheet despite the extra labor required.
Like Mindbody, Zen Planner is full featured but can be hard to use. It can be especially challenging when trying to get multiple part-time employees comfortable with the system or when you try to set something new up.
After a series of hiccups and downtime, the member app has improved over the last year. Our reviewer reported that most people are able to navigate and use the app without any assistance. That’s a big deal.
This remains an area for improvement, and Zen Planner informed us it is working on more integrations and an open API. At present, integrations are limited and rather difficult. Our reviewer does not integrate Zen Planner with any other platforms because it just isn’t easy to do so.
Zen is owned by Daxko, which also owns SugarWOD, so ever-increasing links between the two systems are to be expected. Automatic updates between platforms should reduce duplicated work, and a scheduling integration means members can reserve classes from SugarWOD.
Also new: Automatic updates between UpLaunch (also owned by Daxko) and Zen Planner. That’s great for users of both platforms, but some owners would prefer an all-in-one solution.
Zen Planner is rolling out full-service billing by Gains, which handles payment processing and admin tasks related to billing. This service will keep processing “within the Zen Planner family,” and a recent email sent to select users stated, “We’ll work to ensure you don’t pay any more in processing than what you’re currently paying with Bambora.” As this service rolls out, gym owners should evaluate it carefully.
Customer service has long been regarded as a strength for Zen Planner, but in 2021 we heard some mixed reviews from our clients. Some love the support and customer service, while others now mention support as an issue (see below).
Cost: $117-$227 per month. Pricing page: Click here.
Two-Brain Clients Said
“I love that I can call and talk to a real person with Zen Planner. Their customer service is the best I’ve had out of several others we’ve used over the years. I don’t know that I’d ever go back to a software who provides only email-based support. I wish they did waivers and drop-ins more like front desk/Pike13. It was so nice to send a link to someone for them to be able to set up their own account and have their waiver signed before they show up for class.”
“We would love it to integrate with (Gym Lead Machine).”
“It’s only good for class scheduling. I’m looking for an option just for that to replace it. I don’t like the way anything else works inside ZP. And they force you to use their credit-card processor.”
“I’ve found it a little worse since the integration with SugarWOD. We had a lot of down time since then—mostly it happens at night as we are U.K. based. My biggest frustration is when you have an issue and reach out to them, they always seem to be in a rush ‘to close the ticket,’ which I presume is ZP talk for ticking the issue as resolved. Even when they can’t resolve it because it’s a bigger item that’s coming down the line, it still gets marked as resolved. Their lack of an open API key for integrating with calendars has been a frustration of ours since Day 1. It basically means that something can show in your calendar but not block out the time as busy. We’d regularly get double booked for appointments due to this.”
“It’s super clunky and there are a lot of steps involved in setting anything up.”
“Best reporting I have seen. Year 2000 interface.”
“Zen Planner is good because of how many features it has on the back end: scheduling and billing, events, retail stock and sales, automated emails, reports and stats, integrations with other apps (SugarWOD and Mailchimp has been awesome).”
“The member app and the staff app need improvement. It is so slow! (It’s the) 21st century and people do not have patience to wait for apps to load. They will not use it.”
“It’s missing LEG. Hundreds of reports but no way to calculate LEG.”
“Overall I’m happy. For a long time, I wanted to leave, but now (that) I have learned how to use the features, its value has increased.”
“We don’t like the customer service. In the U.K. we have to email in and they can sometimes take two to three days to respond, which is frustrating when it’s a payment issue.”
“Love: reports you can run, different memberships you can create, ability to hold/drop and cancel memberships.”
“Really need: The ability to up class capacity ad hoc; i.e., if a class gets full, just increase capacity size rather than manually having to overbook one member at a time.”
“The app doesn’t show all classes—just classes on the member’s membership. This is a missed marketing opportunity for us. We would love new members to see CF kids classes on the timetable, but they never do because only adult classes are shown against their memberships.”
“Great software—a lot of different options and automations. It was hard to set up at the beginning. Two years later (we are) still setting things up, but we are satisfied of the results. I would like to have more than one option for payments processing in Canada.”
“It has been a challenge to coordinate with staff on NSI and double booking with a PT session. Doesn’t happen often, but it’s still a pain when it does conflict.”
Info From Zen Planner
In 2020, Zen Planner focused on addressing the many COVID-related issues facing gym owners and developing the links to UpLaunch and SugarWOD: “Gym owners can now manage the full, end-to-end member journey and provide the ultimate experience all while growing their business, engaging their community, and increasing revenue,” Zen Planner reported.
As noted above, Zen Planner has worked to improve assignment of recurring staff tasks, custom class settings, reservation management, waitlist management and administration of late cancellations. Members can now also check in for reserved classes via the member app, taking the burden off staff members.
On the list for upcoming functional improvements: a revamped calendar widget.
The most promising feature: an open API that allows users more freedom with integrations.
Zen Planner’s package is changing as Daxko acquires more and more software providers, so it seems as though this long-serving platform is very much in flux. But dramatic changes aren’t upon us just yet. Zen Planner will help you run your business—that’s been established. But it’s not the true leader even though it might provide the best reporting and customer service.
Our advice: Zen Planner seems poised for evolution, so keep an eye on updates from the company. As with all platforms, it’s becoming very clear that users should be prepared to invest time learning how to use their system of choice. In Zen Planner’s case, be sure to lean hard on customer service to get what you need. That’s long been a strength of the company, so make sure you take advantage of their support team.
The Rest of the Gym Software Providers
In this review of gym management software for 2021, we chose to focus on what we consider the top platforms—those used by the majority of gyms we surveyed. The evaluation above covered the biggest players in the gym management software game. Dozens of other companies exist.
Triib didn’t make our list for in-depth evaluation, but it’s worth mentioning that it was the fifth most-used software provider according to our surveys in the Gym Owners United and Two-Brain Growth Facebook groups. You can learn more about the platform here.
Also worth mentioning: Glofox, which is used by 9Round, F45, Snap Fitness and others. This platform can serve yoga, Pilates, barre, HIIT, indoor-cycling, rowing, boxing and martial-arts studios of varying sizes. It’s also set up to accommodate franchises. Check it out here.
Below, you’ll find a non-exhaustive alphabetical list of other providers, with a hyperlink to each site.
- ABC Fitness Solutions
- Club OS
- Gym Assistant
- Wellness Living
- Zen Planner
Our mentors can help clients who are using any gym management software, and our Two-Brain reporting systems don’t require clients to use a specific product.
The Big Question: Should You Switch?
As in previous years, no single platform is so far ahead that it’s worth the pain of switching.
And switching is generally not fun. It’s terrifying to migrate the most essential data you have and risk any downtime at all, and then you’re faced with a new learning curve.
In our client survey, some owners expressed extreme disappointment with a current provider but still felt like a switch wasn’t worth it. Others stoically accept that their provider is lacking but realize another platform will have similar issues.
If you’re looking at using gym management software for the first time, the best advice is to carefully evaluate all options. Once you sign up, it can be very tough to make a change.
If you’re already working with a provider, be a squeaky wheel: Communicate what you need and what’s frustrating you. The best providers will respond and solve your problems.
Beyond that, it’s very important that gym owners learn to use their software. Ideally, platforms should be easy to use, but it’s not reasonable to expect to avoid any investment in learning. In our private forum, we often hear from owners who say “our software won’t do this” only to be corrected by another more experienced owner. Interestingly enough, those owners sometimes detail hacks or workarounds they’ve created themselves when the software won’t do what they want it to do.
Finally, be sure to evaluate the cost-benefit relationship. Every single business expense must generate a return—either by generating revenue or saving you time. It’s the same with software. If your system is streamlining your operation, adding value for clients and helping you do more faster, you’re winning. But if you’re constantly frustrated and staring at a sizable monthly bill, you might want to reconsider your platform.
We’ll stay in touch with these companies over the rest of 2021 and into 2022. We’ll monitor their upgrades and keep letting them know what box owners, gym owners, studio owners, personal trainers, coaches and clients need. If and when a provider checks every single box, we’ll be thrilled to tell you about it.