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7 Types of Gym Access Control Systems Compared

7 Types of Gym Access Control Systems Compared

Posted by Tyler Spraul, Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist® (CSCS®) on November 4, 2023 — Updated on January 19, 2024

Compare these 7 different types of gym access control systems to find the best door access system for your gym. Key fobs, barcode scanners, swipe cards, and more.

Types of Gym Access Control Systems

Securing a fitness facility effectively requires an understanding of the various gym access control systems available. These systems range from basic mechanical locks to advanced biometric systems, each offering different levels of security, convenience, and technological sophistication. From traditional mechanical locks to state-of-the-art biometric systems, each of these different types of gym access systems offers unique benefits and potential drawbacks depending on your gym’s specific requirements for the best gym security systems, user convenience, and cost.

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Learning how to implement a gym access control system, and how to develop a mobile gym check-in system, all while choosing the right system can enhance the security of your facility, provide a better experience for members, and integrate smoothly with the best gym management software like Exercise.com. See why the best gym software with door access control can take your gym’s security and profitability to the next level.

Exercise.com is simply the best. We were using three or four different apps or softwares to do what we can now do all in one with the Exercise.com platform.
Brandon Stroupe
Founder and President, APEC Sports Performance

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Types of Gym Access Control Systems Comparison Table

Here we compare the most prevalent types of gym access control systems, outlining key features and considerations for each type.

TypeSecurity LevelUser ConvenienceCostMaintenanceIntegration with Management Software
Mechanical LocksBasicLowLowLowNone
Electronic KeypadsModerateModerateModerateModerateLimited
Magnetic Swipe CardsModerateHighModerate-HighModerateModerate
RFID/NFC SystemsHighHighModerate-HighLowHigh
Biometric SystemsHighHighHighModerateHigh
Key FobsModerate-HighHighModerateLow-ModerateHigh
Barcode ScannersModerateHighLow-ModerateModerateModerate-High

Mechanical Locks

Mechanical locks are the traditional method of securing doors and have been used for centuries. They require a physical key for access and provide a basic level of security. While they’re cost-effective and easy to maintain, mechanical locks lack the sophistication needed for modern gym management, such as the ability to track user access or integrate with digital systems.


  • Low initial investment
  • Easy to use and understand
  • Minimal maintenance required


  • No user access logs
  • Keys can be lost or duplicated
  • Offers basic level of security

Gym Mechanical Locks Evaluation

So, should you consider gym mechanical locks? For small gym setups or personal training studios seeking a straightforward, cost-effective solution, gym mechanical locks may suffice. They provide basic gym security without the complexities of modern technology. However, gym owners should note that while these locks are a low-cost gym entry system option, they do not offer the advanced security features or integration capabilities for comprehensive gym management software solutions.

Electronic Keypads

Electronic keypads are a step up from mechanical locks, offering enhanced security through unique access codes that can be assigned to each gym member. They offer a moderate level of convenience and security but fall short when it comes to advanced features like real-time access monitoring and seamless software integration, which are becoming increasingly important for comprehensive gym management.


  • Eliminates the need for physical keys
  • Allows custom access codes for individuals
  • Access logs can be available on advanced models


  • Security can be compromised if codes are shared
  • Periodic maintenance is needed
  • Integration with gym software can be limited

Gym Electronic Keypads Evaluation

So, should you consider a gym electronic keypad system? A gym electronic keypad system is a step up from traditional locks and offers moderate security. Ideal for gyms that want to avoid the hassle of physical keys, this gym door entry system allows for unique access codes, enhancing the control over who enters the facility. However, gym owners must manage and periodically change codes to maintain security.

Magnetic Swipe Cards

Gym Access Card

Magnetic swipe cards are a popular choice for gyms that want to offer a more convenient experience for their members. They enable access tracking and basic integration with gym management software. However, they can incur higher costs due to card replacement and the potential need for regular maintenance of card readers.


  • Better user experience with quick entry
  • Access logs for entry tracking
  • Some interoperability with gym management systems


  • Cards can be lost or subject to wear and tear
  • Magnetic readers may require regular upkeep
  • Slightly higher cost than key-based systems

Gym Magnetic Swipe Cards Evaluation

So, should you consider gym magnetic swipe card systems? Gym magnetic swipe card systems are a popular choice for modern gyms offering a balance between security and ease of use. As a gym access card system, it allows for quick member check-ins and can integrate with gym membership management software for tracking visits and member activity.

RFID/NFC Systems

RFID (Radio-Frequency Identification) and NFC (Near Field Communication) systems represent a modern approach to access control, facilitating contactless entry with quick taps or proximity cards. These systems offer a high level of security and can be integrated seamlessly with gym management software, providing an advanced solution for gym access control.


  • Quick, contactless access improves user experience
  • Excellent for tracking and access control
  • High compatibility with modern gym management software


  • More expensive upfront costs
  • Compatibility with hardware is necessary
  • Can be complex for non-tech-savvy users

Gym RFID/NFC Systems Evaluation

So, should you consider a gym RFID/NFC system? A gym RFID/NFC system is suitable for fitness facilities aiming for a high level of security and member convenience. These gym access control systems allow for contactless entry and are often used in conjunction with gym management software like Exercise.com, facilitating seamless gym access management and providing gym owners with robust data analytics.

Biometric Systems

Biometric systems use unique physical characteristics, such as fingerprints or facial recognition, to grant access. They offer the highest level of security and user convenience, as there is no need for physical keys or cards. Integration with gym management software is typically extensive, allowing for detailed access tracking and member management. Despite the higher cost, biometric systems provide an unmatched level of security and operational efficiency for gyms.


  • Unparalleled security with unique identifiers
  • No physical access tokens needed
  • Extensive software integration for management


  • Significant initial investment
  • Privacy concerns with data collection
  • Environmental factors can affect readings

Gym Biometric Systems Evaluation

So, should you consider a gym biometric system? For gyms prioritizing security and a personalized member experience, a gym biometric system can be the ideal solution. This gym door access control biometric system uses unique physical characteristics to grant access, eliminating the risk of unauthorized entry due to lost or stolen access tokens. Integrating this with gym management software ensures a secure and efficient member management process.

Key Fobs

Gym Key Fob System

Key fobs offer a balance between security and convenience for gym access. These small devices are easy to carry and use, providing gym members with secure, personalized access. Key fobs can also integrate with gym management software like Exercise.com, providing real-time access logs and the ability to manage member permissions seamlessly.


  • Portable and user-friendly
  • Difficult to duplicate, offering enhanced security
  • Easy to deactivate if lost or stolen


  • Fobs can be lost or forgotten
  • Battery replacements may be needed periodically
  • Higher cost than traditional keys

Gym Key Fobs Evaluation

So, should you consider gym key fob systems? Gym key fobs are a secure and convenient gym access system for members on the go. These fob gym access systems provide easy-to-use, portable access control that enhances the security of the facility. When integrated with gym management software, gym key fobs can simplify access logs and membership management.

Barcode Scanners

Barcode scanners are a cost-effective solution for gyms looking to upgrade from mechanical systems. By scanning a member’s ID card, gyms can track usage and control access without a significant upfront investment. While they don’t offer the high level of security found in biometric or RFID systems, they are a step up in convenience and control from traditional locks.


  • Low cost per user for issuing barcodes
  • Quick member check-in process
  • Can be linked with gym management software for tracking


  • Barcodes can be replicated easily
  • Requires line-of-sight for scanning, which can slow entry during peak times
  • Scanners and printed barcodes are subject to wear and require maintenance

Gym Barcode Scanners Evaluation

So, should you consider gym barcode scanners? For gyms looking for an affordable, easy-to-implement access system, gym barcode scanners are a practical choice. These gym entry systems allow quick member access through a scanned ID card. When integrated with comprehensive gym management software, they can efficiently track and manage gym usage data.

Read More: Best Gym Software with Barcode Scanner Access

Choosing the Best Gym Access Control Software

These gym access control systems provide different levels of security and convenience to fit various operational needs and budgets. When selecting an access control method, consider how it will integrate with a comprehensive gym management system like Exercise.com. Offering a fully custom branded app for gym members, Exercise.com streamlines business operations, accepts payments, manages bookings, and even hosts exercise videos.

For a seamless, integrated solution that manages everything from member access to backend analytics, booking a demo with Exercise.com is your next step to a state-of-the-art gym management experience.

AMPD Golf Performance
“Working with Exercise.com and their team has been an amazing experience and a dream come true in terms of accomplishing a vision! Their workout technology has helped us effectively engage our community, and I highly recommend Exercise.com to grow your business!”
Andrew Banner
Co-Founder, AMPD Golf Performance

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How do I know which type of gym access control system is best for my gym?

Choosing the right gym access control system depends on your gym’s size, budget, peak hours, and security needs. Exercise.com’s platform offers flexibility to integrate with various access systems, ensuring that gym owners can find the solution that best fits their business model.

What are the most affordable types of gym access control systems?

The most affordable gym access control systems typically include basic keypads or swipe card systems. Exercise.com’s gym management software can provide cost-effective solutions by integrating with these systems to streamline operations without compromising functionality.

Read More: Cheapest Gym Access Control Systems

What are the types of fitness center physical access control?

Fitness center physical access control types range from keypads, swipe cards, and key fobs to advanced biometric systems. Exercise.com’s software can help manage these various access types, allowing gym owners to maintain a secure environment through a unified platform.

What is the best gym management system for integrating with door access control?

The best gym management system for integrating with door access control is one that offers seamless integration with multiple types of access systems and allows for easy monitoring and management of access logs. Exercise.com provides robust integration options to help gym managers maintain secure and efficient operations.

Read More: Best Gym Software with Door Access Control

What are the most common types of gym access control?

The most common types of gym access control are key fobs, magnetic swipe cards, RFID, and biometric systems. Exercise.com’s software is designed to work with these popular options, offering gym owners a versatile and user-friendly management tool.

What is the best gym access control system for a small gym?

For a small gym, a cost-effective and simple system like key fobs or swipe cards may be best. Exercise.com can help small gyms manage these systems effectively by integrating them into a comprehensive gym management solution.

How do you manage gym equipment, gym staff, and gym members with the same system?

Managing gym equipment, staff, and members efficiently requires a comprehensive system that can handle scheduling, access, and inventory management. Exercise.com’s all-in-one gym management software allows owners to manage all these aspects through a single, custom-branded app, ensuring a cohesive and streamlined experience.

Read More:

Is it common for people to break into a gym?

Break-ins are a concern for any business, including gyms. Having a robust access control and surveillance system can significantly reduce this risk. Exercise.com can aid in this by providing software that integrates with security systems to enhance overall safety measures.

What is the most successful gyms use for access control?

The most successful gyms use reliable, scalable access control systems that provide real-time monitoring and data analysis. Exercise.com’s software supports these systems, giving gym owners the tools to make informed decisions and improve overall security.

Read More:

Do I still need an expensive gym access control system if my gym isn’t a 24-hour gym?

Even if your gym doesn’t operate 24 hours, a secure access control system is crucial to prevent unauthorized access and to track member usage patterns. Exercise.com can offer more affordable options by integrating with a variety of door access control systems to fit your gym’s needs and hours of operation.

How can Exercise.com help me run my gym with gym management software and door access control?

Exercise.com can help you run your gym more efficiently by providing custom-branded gym management software that integrates seamlessly with door access control systems. This integration enables gym owners to manage memberships, staff schedules, and facility access all in one platform, simplifying operations and enhancing the member experience.

Exercise.com is simply the best. We were using three or four different apps or softwares to do what we can now do all in one with the Exercise.com platform.
Brandon Stroupe
Founder and President, APEC Sports Performance

Book a demo today!

Tyler Spraul is the director of UX and the head trainer for Exercise.com. He has his Bachelor of Science degree in pre-medicine and is an NSCA-Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist® (CSCS®). He is a former All-American soccer player and still coaches soccer today. In his free time, he enjoys reading, learning, and living the dad life.
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