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As the industry evolves and moves into the digital age, it’s important to seek innovative solutions for traditional concerns — namely, how to engage members and promote group fitness classes. A 2012 IHRSA Health Club Consumer Report survey indicated that over 40 percent of club members across the U.S. use group fitness at their facilities, and a second study by Les Mills revealed that 60 percent of club members named group fitness as the most important amenity a gym could offer. Most clubs know how to use social media, like Facebook, Twitter and Google+, to promote group exercise programs, but there are other media tools that could help you target your group fitness audience.
Recent University of Florida graduate Ed Buckley, along with co-founders Matt Redinger, Scott Peeples and Rex Tullius, have created a website (peerFit.com) and corresponding mobile app that uses digital and social media to incorporate group fitness into a person’s everyday life. “Our research shows that, with peerFit recommendations, people are much more likely to go try a new class; we just thought letting them have a digital shortcut to tell their friends about classes was something cool, and people have turned out to love it,” said Buckley, who is also the president of peerFit.
This free app has allowed users, and instructors, to rate classes and share their experiences on their social media accounts. While group fitness has been the most social aspect of using a gym, peerFit looked to take these highly social and connected users and allow them to share their thoughts and recommendations easily through social media.
Buckley added, “We built peerFit because everyone hates wasting time. Taking the time and effort to go to a fitness class, and it ends up not being right for you, is a killer! Letting people share their thoughts and recommendations about classes they have gone to, both on peerFit and through social media, allows people to get a greater look at what they should try. Not only does it help save the member’s time by letting them see classes that are for them, but it helps connect the entire community with social engagement.”
But peerFit isn’t just beneficial for group exercise junkies. Gyms across the country that are utilizing digital and social media are seeing their members more engaged in their classes and are seeing more group fitness newcomers trying classes that they wouldn’t normally go to. Shawn Stewart, the operations manager at Gainesville Health & Fitness, said that they’ve been using peerFit since June, and it has proven to be worth its weight in megabytes. “Our members are traditionally very social people. Now that we’ve incorporated peerFit into our group exercise and small group communities, we’ve seen a rise in attendance levels and the amount of people who rate our classes and instructors. The text reminder feature has proven to be the most appreciated and effective part of it all.”
There is little doubt that being able to promote on all social and digital mediums has been a concern that every gym should be looking to find quick and easy solutions for. Not every club has a social media person, or the resources to market group fitness like they want. While peerFit is a new tool, it represents a big idea. Engage the public where and how they want to be engaged — on the go and in the digital world.
By Amanda Purser, the front desk manager at Gainesville Health & Fitness.