Small business, high security: A gym’s experience

October 23, 2019
Keeping staff and premises safe and secure is one of the key challenges for every business. The Swedish fitness chain Friskis&Svettis , which is one of the biggest in Sweden with 500,000 active members and branches in numerous cities, decided to increase its level of security to protect their premises and staff against threats like theft and violence. The company started this endeavor in its Malmö facilities. Here we take a look at how the gyms in this city are using a new video surveillance solution: IP cameras in combination with AXIS Companion software.

Sus Andersson, Senior Facilities Manager at Friskis&Svettis in Malmö talks about the company’s experience with the security system:

“We can leave even our larger facilities unguarded because the cameras do the heavy lifting”

“We have previously had cameras on our two small facilities as we don’t always have staff on site. But when our system stopped working all of a sudden, we had to ensure that our premises and staff were still safe and secure. Which is why we chose to install a new system that provided 24 hour surveillance. With the new security solution, we can leave even our larger facilities unguarded because the cameras do the heavy lifting for us when it comes to securing the premises. With our recently expanded opening hours, which have been received very positively by our members, we schedule our staff to be on site during times when it’s more crowded or when trainers are needed. The main reason why we chose to install cameras on our premises is to be able to detect and prevent thefts as well as monitor who enters the facilities when our staff is not on-site. This way, we can ensure that nobody destroys our facilities and - in case people are on site - that the whole team and customers are safe.

“All the staff in our facilities were very open about the idea of installing video surveillance cameras”

We decided that Axis was the right solution for us when we heard that it allowed us to access the cameras and the footage remotely from our mobile devices. But before we made our final decision, we sat down with our work environment representatives and made a risk assessment to be able to determine the threats our employees face. We explained that the main purpose of the monitoring would be to prevent violence, robbery, theft and any other threats. We also agreed that the monitoring would only take place when there is suspicion of a crime or abuse of a membership card. All the staff in our facilities were very open about the idea of installing video surveillance cameras, which is why we eventually went for it and implemented a surveillance policy. An installer helped us with mounting and setting up the system and we put a camera surveillance policy in place. The core points of the policy are:

  • Camera surveillance should be done with restrictions and cannot be used against personnel
  • Information about surveillance should be clearly marked and made visible
  • The video material will only be saved for a maximum of 30 days

”We even get valuable footage in total darkness”

Friskis&Svettis reception
"With the new security solution, we can leave even our larger facilities unguarded because the cameras do the heavy lifting for us", says Sus.

The solution that we decided was best for our facilities was the software from AXIS Companion software for Windows and mobile applications. Depending on the premises, that we wanted to upgrade, we chose individual solutions with different devices and features for each of the four gyms in Malmö. Therefore, we analyzed the needs of our company and circumstances of our facilities together with an expert from Axis who could give us valuable advice in which solution to choose. While all of our chosen systems had AXIS Companion software as a base, we combined different additional features and devices. For example, for our gym in Limhamn, which is a bit smaller and easier to monitor, we chose two AXIS Companion 360 degree panoramic cameras as they allow us to easily provide an overview of the whole site due to its size. In another location, we decided that three AXIS Companion Dome mini would be the best regarding their impressive clarity and high quality resolution even in challenging light conditions. With the integrated infrared illumination we even get valuable footage in total darkness. In other cases we just chose smaller cameras as we wanted a more discreet solution in certain areas of our facilities.

All in all I can say that the different solutions available for AXIS Companion fit the respective needs of each of our facilities have really made our everyday life so much easier. The whole team at all four locations are extremely happy and so are we for making this decision.

“Many other brands wouldn’t have the secure remote access”

Our IT manager recommended IP cameras from Axis due to his perception of them being well-known and of high quality. Ultimately, it was the remote access and the possibility to share the access to the cameras – temporarily or long-term – that made us choose Axis. Many other brands wouldn’t have these features and they make our lives easier. We have shared the access to the live video footage between myself and one person in charge on each site. I’m currently the only one who has access to the recorded images, but if, for example, I go on vacation, I’ll be able to give the permission to one of my colleagues. This way we have always someone around who can check on the facilities in case of an incident. 

“The cameras have been useful in many situations so far”

I recall one incident that happened on a weekend when we got a burglar alarm notification from the system. When I checked the camera footage, I could see that someone was inside the premises outside the opening hours. The alarm company told us that the person on the camera had locked himself in by accident, so we sent staff to open the doors and let him out. For us it’s easy to just open an app to see what’s going on and send our own staff if it’s nothing urgent or suspicious as in this case. It saves us the effort of contacting the alarm company who would have to send a guard.

In other cases, we have also used the security system to identify gym members who lend their membership card to other people so that they could use the training facilities. This way we could block their membership cards. We also used it to check which lights are switched off once the gym closes. The system is usually set up to only record images when the cameras’ sensors are triggered by motion. Not only does this allow us to store more footage (and only scenes that are actually important for us) but it also takes less time to find a certain recordings of events.

“We would definitely choose Axis cameras”

As the system has just been installed, we won’t need additional cameras immediately but we have definitely planned to expand our Axis camera portfolio it in the future. And why wouldn’t we: The products are great and the contact persons are very helpful. We have received a help and support when we needed it and the staff from Axis have shown great patience. For example, when we exchanged one camera and wanted to adjust the direction of another.

We have six facilities in Malmö and four of them are currently equipped with cameras from Axis. So, once we start the process of updating our other two sites, we would definitely choose the same vendor as they meet all our needs.”

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