RSG Group Flexes Its Muscles for a Healthy Cloud Future

With many people focused on health and well-being, gym memberships continue to rise. But as memberships and competition grow, the fitness industry must also adapt to changing demographics and lifestyle choices. RSG Group is leading the way with user-friendly apps and digital experiences powered by F5 Distributed Cloud Services.

Business Challenge

As more people prioritize healthy lifestyles, it’s clear that leading a healthy life involves more than just changing eating habits—it’s about embracing holistic wellness practices that nurture the body, mind, and spirit. The fitness industry is thriving as one of the healthiest lifestyle sectors globally, boasting a value exceeding $100 billion. This figure is set to double by 2030, pumped by new demographics including older individuals and professionals who include fitness as part of their wider health and well-being goals. 

Leading the race in this competitive landscape is Berlin’s RSG Group. Founded 25 years ago, RSG boasts 4.5 million members across renowned brands such as McFIT, John Reed, and Gold’s Gym. However, maintaining growth in this industry hinges on minimizing customer churn and acquisition costs, which demand constant attention and agility from RSG.

Much of this responsibility falls on the RSG technology team led by Christoph Mertsch, IT Director, and Leon Haußknecht, Network & Security Engineer. Together with their teams, they’ve led RSG through complex digital transformations, including a transition to SaaS and distributed cloud environments.

“Our challenge lies in securing this multicloud network environment,” says Mertsch, acknowledging the complexity of hosting a wide variety of applications across multiple data centers and cloud providers. Recent years have seen a surge in security concerns for this disparate infrastructure, further burdening IT personnel who must manage a growing list of network and security solutions.

Haußknecht says, “We host a range of applications across various cloud environments, including Microsoft Azure, as well as on-premises data centers, and we needed a single, unified environment to manage and protect all our applications.”

Mertsch also emphasizes the need to meet the fast-paced demands of various RSG teams responding to market and competitor trends. Membership systems and marketing activities, for example, operate under tight deadlines. “Delivering an outstanding customer experience and promoting it effectively is paramount,” says Mertsch. “We wanted to empower our colleagues across the business to leverage technology with complete confidence and meet their goals.”


RSG has partnered with F5 since 2021, using network management and security solutions including BIG-IP Local Traffic Manager, BIG-IP Access Policy Manager, and BIG-IP DNS. This provided an ideal environment for RSG Group to rebound from the COVID-19 pandemic. But as the business stabilized, it set its sights on a next-level solution that combined cutting edge security with application management in a complex cloud environment. 

“Our partnership with the F5 team has been instrumental in helping to centralize and simplify security management across the organization,” says Mertsch. “They clearly understood the challenges as our infrastructure expanded in scale and complexity. Their recommendation of F5 Distributed Cloud Services piqued our interest as a way to further streamline our infrastructure and application management.”

Within a year, RSG deployed F5 Distributed Cloud WAF and Distributed Cloud Bot Defense to safeguard its SaaS applications and bolster defenses against brute-force attacks and other threats. Additionally, Distributed Cloud App Connect empowers RSG to swiftly expose applications externally while maintaining granular control over accessibility and security measures.

Haußknecht highlights the value of the Distributed Cloud Platform extensions—lightweight software deployed close to applications that securely advertises internal apps to authorized external users. The Distributed Cloud Console provides RSG a comprehensive view of its network traffic and threat landscape to oversee all their distributed app deployments from a single dashboard.


Strength to grow the business

To reduce churn and acquire new customers, RSG must constantly refresh and enhance membership experiences. With F5 Distributed Cloud Services, it can quickly update apps and safely launch software knowing that only authorized users have access to these tools. 

“The major benefit of F5 Distributed Cloud Services is that you can protect applications regardless of where they are hosted. We can just as easily protect SaaS as on-premises applications that we expose to the Internet,” says Mertsch.

A secure experience for gym members

With F5 Distributed Cloud App Connect, RSG can ensure consistent and reliable access to RSG’s applications, such as membership portals and booking systems. This translates to a smoother and frustration-free experience for RSG’s members, regardless of their location or device.

Working in tandem with RSG’s other security solutions, Distributed Cloud App Connect with Distributed Cloud Web App and API Protection (WAAP) help safeguard member data and protect against online threats. This helps build trust and peace of mind with RSG’s customer base.

Clear communication from IT to the business

With the Distributed Cloud Console, the RSG team has a centralized view where they can monitor a variety of performance and security metrics for their entire application catalog. This provides a comprehensive record of all attacks on their infrastructure and helps them recalibrate their defenses in response.

“Maintaining a full history of attacks, particularly in the realm of security, is crucial for ensuring a clear understanding of the threats across all levels of the business. With the Distributed Cloud Console, RSG can prove to management the effectiveness of their security measures,” says Haußknecht.

More innovation, fewer interruptions

By bringing app and network security under one umbrella, RSG has simplified and streamlined the management of its infrastructure. The IT team no longer needs expertise in multiple environments and can focus more of their time on supporting their RSG colleagues across the business. 

“Having a solid understanding in web application and web security is enough to get started with F5 Distributed Cloud Services,” says Mertsch. “The dashboard is intuitive, powerful and easy to find your way around.”

Fit for the future

As RSG prepares for growth and adapts its business model to changing consumer behavior, Mertsch and his team are preparing to implement additional F5 Distributed Cloud Services to secure its business. At the top of the list is F5 Distributed Cloud API Security, which uses machine learning and artificial intelligence to block API attacks in real time and eliminate vulnerabilities at the source. 

“We can see real potential for Distributed Cloud API Security to protect APIs connecting our mobile applications and customers using a variety of devices,” says Mertsch. “It’s just another example of how F5 helps us to manage application loads across different cloud environments while safeguarding data and applications from potential threats.”

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  • Reduce member churn
  • Lower customer acquisition costs
  • Enhance app experience for gym members
  • Improve communications with business management
  • Streamline and upgrade IT team skill sets

  • Maintain growth in highly competitive fitness industry
  • Protect customer-facing apps and data in a multicloud environment
  • Deliver faster app and service launches for internal customers 
  • Demonstrate value of IT investment and security solutions