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Like any other commercial building, gyms and fitness centers need to control who enters their facilities. Some gyms are membership only, others may be located in apartment buildings, hotels or condos for use by residents or guests, while some gyms may offer paid public access without membership requirements.

Regardless of location or type of user, gyms need a method of access control that is secure, easy to use and convenient. This article explains the benefits to gym operators, explores the requirements for a gym access control system and describes the different types of gym entry systems.

Benefits of a gym access control system

Aside from controlling who can enter a fitness center and protecting the property, a system for controlling access at gyms can also provide insight into other areas, such as business growth. Some benefits of a gym access control system include:

Stronger security

An effective gym entry system ensures that only authorized users can access and use the gym’s facilities, protecting the property, people and revenue. 

Better customer service

Because gym staff do not have to monitor access or spend time on the front desk signing in users, they can focus on customer service and other one-to-one tasks. Implementing a cloud-based system also reduces the management and maintenance burden.

Greater convenience for users

A streamlined gym check-in system means users can access the gym quickly and easily with minimal congestion and no delays with signing in at the front desk. 

Extended opening hours

A 24-hour gym access system means that users can enter the gym and use the facilities at a time that suits them. This can make membership more flexible and attractive, with an impact on both revenue and customer satisfaction. 

Greater control over usage

Extending access control to other areas of the gym or specific equipment gives operators greater control. For example, a gym membership card system can be customized to restrict or secure access to facilities only available to users with higher membership levels. 

More insight into usage patterns

Data from a gymnasium access control system provides valuable insights into usage patterns, such as peak traffic times, most popular equipment and usage by different membership levels. The data can be used to improve capacity management and plan future investment. 

Simple integration with other gym systems

The latest gym access control systems are built on open standards and can be used as part of an integrated security system with security video cameras, intrusion detection sensors and fire alarms, as well as building management and environmental control systems. Integration at this level can help operators develop a smart solution for managing all gym systems from a single dashboard. 

Aside from connecting with other systems to give operators a greater control over all areas of security, an integration with a membership software allows gym operators to easily sync membership data with access permissions, credentials and fitness class schedules. The integration strengthens security by ensuring that every individual entering a gym is authorized and simplifies administrative processes.

Requirements for a gymnasium access control system


A gym access control system must provide a high level of security, as gyms and fitness facilities house different types of expensive, moveable equipment and members’ personal belongings such as wallets, phones and headphones stored in lockers, which could easily be stolen by intruders. 

The system must also ensure that only authorized users, health club members, residents and paying customers can gain access to the facilities. Uncontrolled access dilutes the benefits of membership and risks lost revenue through unauthorized entry. Having strong physical security gives gym owners a competitive advantage.

24/7 protection

Although gyms may have regular weekday and weekend opening hours, some users may want to use the facilities at any time, day or night. This makes a 24-hour gym access system essential. Because customer service or security staff may not be onsite outside normal hours, a 24-hour access gym benefits from cloud-based remote management that allows operators to observe activities from anywhere, at any time. 

Convenient credentials

Operators must be able to offer users a choice of credentials that are convenient to use. While gym key cards, custom gym access cards or gym key fob systems remain popular, an increasing number of gyms are using mobile credentials as more convenient gym check-in systems. 

Simple administration

A gymnasium access control system must be simple to manage. While larger gym groups may have dedicated security specialists, small or medium independent establishments depend on customer service staff to handle security. 

The most important tasks are keeping membership or resident lists up to date and issuing or revoking credentials. The system must be able to automate the process of validating credentials and updating the database. 

Recording data

Thorough record-keeping is crucial in facilities like a gym. An access control system helps staff accurately record and store access data. The data helps gym operators ensure that gym members are using the facilities in line with their membership level. Access control data can also be analyzed to detect possible fraudulent use of credentials or to help identify individuals in the event of an incident. 

Data provides useful insights into patterns of usage, which can help operators optimize the way they manage their facilities.

Avigilon Alta access control for gyms

  • Improve safety with smart video and access control 

  • Gain real-time insight into how and when members use your gym 

  • Manage access control for staff and members from anywhere

  • Extend opening hours and improve customer service 

  • Simple integration with well-known gym systems and tools

  • Future-proof your gym with 100% cloud-native security

Components of gym entry systems

Components of gym entry systems

One of the most convenient forms of fitness center access control is keyless and touchless access. Keyless entry is a suitable solution for a 24/7 gym access system, as it requires minimal supervision. There are a few main components needed for a keyless gym check-in system.

Gym access control readers

A reader positioned at the main entrance or on an entry barrier like door entry systems requires users to present credentials to the device. The reader transmits the data to gym software and grants access to the user if it recognizes the credential. Access control readers can take a number of forms, depending on the type of credentials issued. Some gyms may use PIN keypads or intercom systems to control access. 

Security door or entry barrier

Gymnasium access control systems can incorporate types of physical entry barriers to strengthen security, including: 

  • Turnstiles: Tripod or full-height turnstiles are paired with access control readers. Users present their credentials to the device, and the turnstile releases its locking mechanism to allow access when the credentials are validated. Although secure, turnstiles may require a staff member to be present, in case any security issues arise. Turnstiles can also be used in other areas of the gym to control access to swimming pools, changing areas, locker rooms or special equipment rooms. 
  • Security doors: These doors are located at the main entrance and fitted with electronic locks, which can only be released when a user presents valid credentials. Although they are secure, tailgating is possible, increasing security risks.

Management software

Management software for gym entry systems streamlines procedures by giving operators the ability to easily issue credentials like gym key fobs or gym key cards for new members and revoke them when users cancel their membership. Credentials can also be tied to gym membership by integrating your management software with a database of authorized users, making it easier to prevent membership fraud. 


The infrastructure to house the gym entry system software and access control system generally comes in two forms: 

  • On-premise infrastructure: A server is located onsite and is managed by the staff, who are also responsible for updating the software and maintaining the hardware, as well as installing new capacity limits if necessary. 
  • Cloud infrastructure: A hosting company takes responsibility for managing, maintaining and updating the software. This means there is no need to have physical infrastructure on the premises. A cloud-based gym access control system scales easily with the ability to add new users and devices to a network with a few clicks. Because the system is Internet-based, it can be accessed and managed from any location with mobile access.

Types of 24/7 gym access systems

Gyms can use a number of different types of systems with  credentials, each with its own set of access hardware that have potential advantages and drawbacks. These credentials typically come in the form of: 

Gym key fob system 

Users will present a key fob to the door reader to gain access to the facility. A key fob system for gym users is simple and convenient, but gym key fobs can be lost, stolen or shared, which can compromise security. 

Gym key card system

Users will typically swipe their card through a reader to request access. Gym key card systems allow administrators to customize the card with the gym member’s specific details and access level, giving greater granular control. However, like gym key fobs, key cards offer minimal security because they are easily lost, stolen or shared. 

Mobile gym check-in system

A more secure and convenient solution for gym access is a mobile app. The app can be downloaded on a smartphone, Smart Watch or other mobile device. Like key cards, the app can be customized to give users access to certain areas or equipment. Unlike key cards or key fobs, mobile credentials are more difficult to lose or steal, and offer a more secure solution.

PIN-based gym entry systems 

Users will gain access by entering a PIN code to a keypad. The codes can be general or unique to each user in the membership system. However, PIN code systems offer minimal security, as passcodes can be easily shared with unauthorized users.

A gym access control system for your business

If you are considering implementing a new access control system or upgrading an existing gym key fob or gym key card system installation, you can gain all the benefits above by investing in the latest access control technologies. To help you plan your system, it’s important to consult a security specialist or a security system integrator for expert advice and professional support.

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