GymSafe: CCTV and anti-tailgating entrance control for gyms

Gyms, like other high-street outlets, were hit badly by the pandemic. People got used to not exercising, or simply exercising at home. To lure customers back, some gyms have sought to offer new options like late-night or even 24-hour opening, but few were looking to maintain full staffing for night-owl members.

This can present its own security challenges for gym managers. How can they ensure that only members are accessing the facilities outside of the manned hours, therefore, maintaining the safety of other gym users and protecting revenue streams?

To tackle this issue, our product range can now be fully integrated with a product from CCTV experts, Professional Surveillance Management (PSM), to offer gym owners the ideal monitoring solution to control entrance and exit, as well as enhance staff and member safety.

PSM is a company with many years of experience offering control-room monitored CCTV to businesses and homes. “We spotted an opportunity, is what it came down to”, said Kerry Jones, CEO of PSM. “There were facilities wanting to open later, but wishing unstaffed was possible, or worried about the safety of a lone staffer, and no one out there was offering the combination of our CCTV surveillance and the entrance control that companies like IDL provide.” The journey started with that thought, but the package created, GymSafe, ended up serving any gym that seeks to cut door or training staff, night or day.

What owners and customers want

The first step of any journey is figuring out where you want to go. PSM conducted their own research, speaking to gym owners and members. Some of the findings were unexpected.

You’re probably familiar with ‘tailgating’, the situation where a door is opened legitimately, but then several people go through together. “You associate deliberate tailgating with people actively colluding”, Kerry continued, “but 83% of gym members we spoke to were frustrated at unknown tailgaters attaching themselves and trying to use legitimate members to gain access to the premises.”

Despite the privacy concerns that are a part of modern life, members preferred the safety of monitored gyms by almost two to one.

How anti-tailgating works

For most customers, a core requirement for a package like GymSafe is automated anti-tailgating. This allows the facility to open with unstaffed entrances and without the loss of revenue that comes from members “inviting” their friends or non-members simply waiting and slinking in behind the next legitimate gym user.

An entrance control package generally accomplishes this by sending infrared beams across the path of incomers. If the beams are broken twice, by two people, the system sends an alarm to monitoring room staff and can trigger a loud recorded audio warning. In most cases, this resolves the incident, but the alerted observation team can step up to a live warning, or a call to police or staff, onsite or off.

Integrating GymSafe and the Fastlane product line

PSM provides the CCTV heart of GymSafe, but doesn’t manufacture or supply entrance control products. Integration with the product line of a partner is needed for that.

“GymSafe is designed to integrate with whatever entrance control system the installer involved is going to put in”, explained Tony Smith, Major Accounts and Marketing Manager at IDL, “but Kerry got in contact with us specifically because she could see there were particular synergies between her offering and ours”.

One advantage to PSM of the Fastlane line is simply its breadth. Once the Fastlane integration was working smoothly, installers could offer anything from metal turnstiles to glass Speedgates to optical-only solutions, in a wide variety of sizes. If you like, you can have the system trigger alerts whenever emergency or fire doors are opened. And, of course, all of IDL’s additional integrations, such as facial recognition and touchless fingerprint scans, are available as usual.

“GymSafe can work with anything from a large Glassgate 400 Plus with six-foot barriers, to a Door Detective Plus that most people walking through won’t notice is there”, explained Tony, “but for a lot of customers, something from the Door Detective line ticks every box they have, which is a big part of why Kerry sought us out”.

An optical-only barrier that allows an unimpeded traffic flow, Door Detective is easily installed on an internal door, taking up no floorspace and providing unobtrusive but reliable control of the access point. Of course, an optical-only solution doesn’t actually bar progress: what it does is alert security staff, but that fits perfectly with the monitored solution PSM offers.

A tailored security solution for fitness centres

The CCTV core of the GymSafe package is equally flexible. As well as various monitoring options, you can have cameras at your entrance only, or in staff and member areas too. Outside cameras may help you reduce theft and criminal damage. Inside the building, you might want help points where staff or members in difficulty can tap a button and command the attention of the control room. These choices may positively impact insurance premiums, as well as customer satisfaction.

And, if you integrate the system with a mobile app via your CCTV provider, the customer – even if they’re lounging on a beach somewhere – can always review camera footage, either proactively or in response to an alert.

Preventing sidegating as well as tailgating

Anti-tailgating systems do get more sophisticated over time. It’s obviously useful if the technology can distinguish between a following human and a trundling suitcase. IDL has taken this research further, and offer a proprietary Sidegate Detection option; software analyses the data from an array of beams, and alerts staff if it thinks two people are entering side by side.

For more information about GymSafe, including an explanatory video, click here. Or to find out more about our range of entrance control solutions and integration options, telephone +44 (0)20 8890 5550 or email info@fastlane-turnstiles.com