Engage Members Around the Clock with Virtual Fitness

shutterstock_124075579Each week, thousands of square feet of studio space and equipment go unused in fitness facilities around the globe. Studios remain silent, barbells untouched and steps stay tucked away in the corner of rooms — all because staging live group fitness classes in off-peak times isn’t financially viable for many clubs. The unused studio space and equipment are half the problem. The other is the gym-goers who miss out on the motivation and coaching expertise they receive when working out in a group.

A solution is being presented in the increasing popularity of in-club, video-based workouts. Video-based workouts mean studios can be used around the clock, and members can take group exercise classes whenever they want, instead of trying to make it to their favorite class. A growing number of clubs are realizing the vast array of benefits presented by offering video-based, “virtual” workouts. But is a virtual offering essential? And are all virtual classes the same?

In order to determine whether to add a video-based offering to your Group X program, it’s important to understand that the secret to growing membership, attendance and therefore, profits, is to arm members with what they want — results and motivation. Great group fitness is one of the best ways to make this happen.

Research proves that engaging people with an assisted (and social) form of exercise is more effective than having them train alone. More than 50 percent of all exercisers report that they’d rather work out in a group. People who attend group fitness come to their clubs at least twice more per week than others, and they refer more friends (Nielsen, 2010; IHRSA Health Club Consumer report, 2011). There’s no doubt that great group fitness is addictive. It drives higher member engagement, which leads to a higher retention rate, a higher number of referrals and better word-of-mouth advertising.

Fitness facilities that extend their group fitness offering into off-peak periods find that more classes equals more members. Of course, when you take into account the cost per head of live classes, this often isn’t a financially sound decision. That’s where video-based workouts come in.

Video-based, virtual workouts enable clubs to offer classes anytime at a very low cost, providing a highly effective and motivating training option that satisfies people who can’t come at usual times. As a result, virtual workouts become a great retention tool, an area where many clubs struggle. Another issue for clubs is acquisition, which is also solved with video-based workouts. A strong group fitness offering has great pulling power when it comes to securing new members. And those who are new to group fitness can use video-based workouts as a great way to get hooked. Video-based classes are the ideal place to gain confidence and learn the moves before stepping into a live class.

Programs like TAEBO, Beachbody P90X and INSANITY have proven that video-based workouts can attract many people off of the couch to transform their lives. However, to really drive results for a facility and its members, a video-based workout needs to show dynamic and engaging footage of scientifically-inspired, highly-effective choreography — all set to hit music.

Success doesn’t only come down to what is captured on film. Solutions that go above and beyond a pure video-based offering and provide a complete virtual experience are the way to go. A big screen and pumping sound system playing engaging and dynamic choreography set to hit music, will appeal to members on many different levels and serve to fill those unused studio spaces with excitement and energy around the clock.


Steven Renata is the CEO of Les Mills West Coast. He can be contacted by phone at 888.669.8876 or by e-mail at info.usa@lesmills.com.

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