Are Pure Gym Wasting Thousands of Pounds on a Terrible Touchscreen Interface?

puregym homepage
PureGym are a national chain of discount 24 hour gyms. They have several POS kiosks in house where new members can join or existing members can login to book various classes. These machines are situated inside the gym and outside the security gates where they are used instead of reception staff.

In another life I used to be a personal trainer at Pure Gym staff and we spent a lot of time assisting folks who couldn’t use the kiosks. And we would monitor what was happening around the machines at peak times because we had CCTV. And it wasn’t pretty.

Customers would come along wanting to buy a day pass or a monthly membership and would begin fiddling away on the touchscreen and then one of four things would happen:

  • they were able to purchase a membership/day pass
  • they fumbled around for a bit then called gym staff
  • they fumbled around for a bit, gave up, called gym staff  but because we were doing something else, walked out
  • they fumbled around for a bit, gave up and walked out

I studied a bit of archive CCTV and I estimate about 5% walkouts, 35% assists, 60% success.

This was costing the business money both in terms of lost sales opportunity and staff time wasted.

What the hell was going on?

Finding One
In a moment of sublime genius, someone had decided to use the website as the touchscreen interface:

small targets

In another post I highlighted how touchscreens have calibration and detection errors. As you can guess from this screenshot, users found it impossible to click into little targets such as form fields or inputs like radio buttons and checkboxes.

And the fact that they couldn’t use the touchscreen as a pointing device meant that…

Finding Two
…they were forced to use the hardware.

In this case the kiosks used a trackball navigation aid as proxy for a standard mouse. A percentage of users did not understand the relationship between the trackball and its associated mousebuttons:

trackball and trackball mousebuttons

And that was a dead end for those crazy cats.

Finding Three
As part of the signup procedure, the website forced users through what can only be described as ‘marketing-form hell’:

long membership sign-up forms

See all those teeny weeny radio buttons and checkboxes? Imagine the joy of navigating your mouse around those with yer trackball!

Average time to complete signup: 10-15 mins.

Summary: poor interface, tiny targets, loads of form fields to wade through and a hard to use pointing device.

A solution
First step: change that interface already:

new homepage

…large targets, focused tasks.

The next step: destroy those forms and limit to the PARQ (“I’m not going to keel over and die when I exercise”) and payment screens:

new PARQ form

checkout confirmation

…no more radio buttons, minimal input, unmissable calls to action

order confirmation

Confirmed payment and access codes


I have no idea how much money these kiosks cost PureGym in missed sales opportunity and wasted staff time, but when you scale the problem across all their gyms nationally I’m guessing 50k+.  “Aye, just whack the website up there, that’ll be fine!”. No it won’t; it was a terrible business decision and probably cost the company a stack of money.

But what do you think? Do you think my solution is good? What would you have done in this situation? Comments don’t work for some reason and Twitter is a good place to get me.

UPDATE Puregym have updated their website. Let’s give it a spin.



Nice! I guess I have to select Glasgow as my club (lower left drop down)…


And click Join Now…


Erm, why isn’t Glasgow selected? Why you I oughta….but at least it looks like this page is optimised for touchscreen!

I select Glasgow as my club again:

4Any one any ideas what I’m meant to do next??

It turns out this is a bug and after a few angry page refreshes I get:


But when I click Continue … nothing happens. Eventually I realise I missed the ‘Are you a student field’ located a billion miles from the field it refers to:


I select No as an option and resubmit:


Uuuuh, what the hell in this and why are you in my way? I guess I am a UK taxpayer eligible for GiftAid? I select that option but feel uneasy. Clicking continue…


Erm, right OK. I click a couple more times and get the same screen so I figure I HAVE to select make a donation:


Moving on:



Confirm email? Oh come on. And why do you need my address?

I fill it out, click continue and proceed with the rest of the checkout, which is good:



Yes! Limited options, no checkbox lists! Good job.


PureGym have made lots of effort to improve the touchscreen experience but the new site is really buggy; a few of the steps are weird and maybe the personal info form could be pared back by a few fields. Room for improvement for sure and they need to get those bugs sorted.

I walked past the gym last night. Saw staff member helping out folks who couldn’t figure the kiosk out. Sigh.