Fitness First Germany shapes up customer services with high-availability infrastructure from Lenovo

Fitness First Germany GmbH prides itself on giving its members the best possible fitness experience. But with an aging, diverse IT infrastructure in place, the company would often suffer hardware outages that brought key customer-facing business applications down. With highly reliable, high-performance Lenovo ThinkServer TS440 tower servers, Lenovo ThinkCentre M83 desktop PCs and Lenovo ThinkPad laptops, Fitness First Germany can be sure of keeping customer services running smoothly.
“With the Lenovo solutions in place, we are much better able to support our staff and deliver the best customer service.”
 —Matthias Werner,
Head of IT,
Fitness First Germany
Solution components
86 Lenovo ThinkServer TS440 with Intel® Xeon® E3 processor family
116 Lenovo ThinkVision T2364t 23-inch FHD LED Backlit LCD Touch Monitor
Microsoft Windows 7
Microsoft Windows Server 2012
VMware vSphere
922 Lenovo ThinkCentre M83
124 Lenovo ThinkPad X240
27 Lenovo ThinkPad X250
80 Lenovo ThinkPad X260
“The INS Systems team kept disruption for staff and customers to a minimum during the rollout – they really went above and beyond to make the implementation a success.”
 —Matthias Werner,
Head of IT,
Fitness First Germany
“Today, staff can count on Lenovo technology keeping key business and back office systems running smoothly – helping to ensure a fantastic Fitness First experience for our members.”
 —Matthias Werner,
Head of IT,
Fitness First Germany
Fitness First Germany GmbH is the German subsidiary of Fitness First Ltd., one of the world’s leading health and fitness companies. Headquartered in Frankfurt, Fitness First Germany operates over 80 clubs across the country, where more than 270,000 members exercise regularly.

Unfit IT
To run a chain of health clubs successfully, it is crucial to have the right equipment in place – from treadmills and cross trainers to dumbbells and barbells. Another essential? Smooth and reliable customer service.

Matthias Werner, Head of IT at Fitness First Germany, takes up the story: “To ensure that members have the best possible fitness experience, we always have to adapt our services and drive innovation. This includes not only digital services but also the experience in our clubs, where we need to serve members quickly and efficiently, no matter if they want to buy a fitness drink, have a question about their membership or want to know details of the class timetable.”

In the past, Fitness First Germany simply used different makes and models of desktop PCs as point-of-sale (POS) terminals and to run membership and locker management as well as file and print services.

Matthias Werner comments: “As some of the PCs were being used as POS terminals, any failure would result in revenue losses as well as inconveniencing members. To improve customer service and maximize sales in the clubs, we wanted a reliable, easy-to-manage solution.

“To work productively, employees need to be able to complete retail transactions, look up members’ subscription details and answer emails without changing PCs or constantly running between the front desk and the back office. To focus on customer satisfaction and enable our staff to deliver the best service, we needed a flexible and robust solution capable of supporting a wide range of workloads.”

All-new infrastructure
Looking to upgrade and renew the systems in its clubs, Fitness First Germany evaluated offerings from three different vendors. Impressed by Lenovo’s flexibility, reliability and compatibility, the company decided to replace the local IT infrastructure in all 80 clubs with Lenovo solutions.

“We chose Lenovo because we wanted the peace of mind of working with a certified solution,” says Matthias Werner. “We selected high-quality equipment that we knew we could rely on.”

Having a single vendor for servers, desktop PCs, laptops and POS touchscreens was another key deciding factor for Fitness First Germany, as Matthias Werner explains: “It was a real challenge to find robust POS touchscreens, but we were happy to discover that Lenovo offered by far the best solution. This meant that we could order all components for the upgrade from just a single vendor, simplifying order and support processes substantially.”

Fitness First Germany teamed up with experienced technology partner INS Systems GmbH to implement a Lenovo ThinkServer TS440 tower server at each health club, as well as multiple Lenovo ThinkCentre M83 desktop PCs and Lenovo ThinkPad laptops.

Each Lenovo ThinkServer TS440 is set up with two virtual machines using VMware vSphere virtualization technology, ensuring flexible and smooth operations. Powered by Intel® Xeon® E3 processor family, the Lenovo ThinkServer machines also offer the high performance levels required to support client workloads.

Matthias Werner remarks: “With so many locations across the country, and specific requirements regarding connectivity and interfaces, we needed a lot of servers, desktop PCs and laptops – Lenovo swiftly delivered all the configurations we wanted, and at a fair price.”

Fitness First Germany worked closely with partner INS Systems throughout the evaluation and implementation phases. Matthias Werner recalls: “INS Systems planned the hardware upgrade perfectly. Thanks to their attention to detail and dedication, we were able to roll out 85 servers and over 1,000 clients, as well as 120 POS touchscreens, across all of our locations in just two months. The INS Systems team kept disruption for staff and customers to a minimum during the rollout – they really went above and beyond to make the implementation a success.”

First-class service
Today, Fitness First Germany is reaping the rewards of having a modern, standard, reliable IT infrastructure in place across all of its health clubs. By standardizing its devices, the company has reduced the number of different server, desktop and laptop models it is using by 50 percent – from ten to five.

The company benefits from the flexible configuration and comprehensive certification even for relatively small servers. Fitness First Germany was able to easily integrate a legacy solution, enabling it to take advantage of a state-of-the-art virtualized solution while maintaining compatibility with existing applications. Furthermore, Fitness First Germany can configure the PCs to be able to connect a wide range of devices – including barcode scanners, signature pads and receipt printers – to its POS workstations, without a problem.

Matthias Werner comments: “With the Lenovo solutions in place, we are much better able to support our staff and deliver the best customer service. Because the ThinkServer, ThinkCentre and ThinkPad solutions all provide very high levels of availability and performance, we no longer have to worry about old, overburdened hardware failing. Previously, there were days when the phone would ring off the hook with support requests – we now receive about 30 percent fewer reports of hardware issues.”

The Lenovo infrastructure is also much easier to manage, as Matthias Werner explains: “With a complete server infrastructure in our clubs, we can roll out software updates much more easily and efficiently. Our desktop and server systems are patched quicker now, and we can use more advanced security settings – better protecting our IT infrastructure against threats.”

He concludes: “We are highly satisfied with our new Lenovo infrastructure and all of the work that the INS Systems team put in to get all of our health clubs kitted out with the high-performance Lenovo servers and clients. Today, staff can count on Lenovo technology keeping key business and back office systems running smoothly – helping to ensure a fantastic Fitness First experience for our members.”

For more information
To learn more about Lenovo Data Center Systems solutions, contact your Lenovo Sales Representative or Lenovo Business Partner, or visit:

For more information about Fitness First Germany, visit: or connect with @FitnessFirstGER

To learn more about products and services from INS Systems GmbH, visit: 
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