With security upgrade, gym franchise clamps down on 'tailgating'

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Monday, August 4, 2008

HASTINGS, Minn.--With its unique business model, fast-growing Anytime Fitness is only as strong as its doors and as sharp as its cameras.
The health club chain's 800 locations stay open 24 hours a day, and are often left un-staffed, making its surveillance and access control systems crucial to the safety of its members.
"The safety and security of our members and staff is our number one priority," said Anytime media director Mark Daly. "As such, we are constantly seeking to upgrade our security system as new technology and developments evolve."
The company's latest upgrade happened this summer when it switched over to Smarter Security Systems' Door Detective in an effort to curb "tailgating"--when a non-member sneaks in behind a member who has opened the door with a key-card.
With its previous entrance control system, tailgaters--most of whom are relatives or friends of members--were slipping through the cracks, Daly said.
Door Detective uses microprocessors and infrared beams mounted on the doorframe to accurately monitor how many people pass through, according to Smarter Security Systems. The technology virtually eliminates false alarms, the company says, which was another problem Anytime was having with its previous provider.
"Smarter Security has a much more intelligent system," said Dave Mortensen, president of ProVision Security Solutions and a software development consultant for Anytime. "Less false alarm inputs allow a club to better manage the real tailgaters."
With Door Detective, alarms identify violations and trigger red flags in surveillance footage--provided by a Bosch system--so that club operators can easily track unauthorized entries. The operator can be notified, and view surveillance footage on site or from a remote location to determine whether the situation is threatening.
"More often then not, tailgaters know the person they're following in, and are simply there to check out the gym," said Mortensen. "In that way, the system can be used as a profit center. The club can actually give those people a call, and most of time we can turn those into new memberships."
Either way, said Daly, the member who facilitated the violation is flagged in the system and warned the next day.
Door Detectives are now being installed in all new Anytime facilities, and in any existing clubs that opt for the upgrade. Anytime is requiring clubs that currently lack an anti-tailgating system to install the Door Detective before renewing their contract with the company, Mortensen said.
In addition to 800 operating facilities, Anytime has sold 1,200 locations worldwide, said Daly.
"Our growth has been unbelievable," Daly said. "But in order to be successful, we need to track and control who comes into our clubs. It's at the very core of our business model. It has been from the beginning, and it always will be."