What Happens When Traditional and Virtual Group X Co-exist Successfully
The power of a credible live group fitness instructor who is able to captivate, engage and connect with a large room of people to draw out their fitness potential is invaluable. And the meaningful connection that can form between a live instructor and their trainees is gold in the retention business. But many facilities who excel in this area are now also choosing to supplement their programs with virtual alternatives to achieve new, complementary goals. Despite common misconceptions about virtual and traditional programming living in an either/or relationship, many facilities are recognizing how they can use the two collaboratively to fuel a more robust and successful program.
When done successfully, virtual group fitness can supplement existing programs to do the following (see TIPS if you are currently offering both):
1. Attract new participants into group fitness that wouldn’t otherwise be inclined to join for reasons such as scheduling conflicts, lack of variety or targeted solutions, or fears about the experience. TIP: Use an onboarding consultation to find out what barriers would hold that member back from trying group fitness. Offer suggested advice based on their individual needs — whether they be physical, emotional, or scheduling needs.
2. Create a “bridge” for those intimidated by the live group fitness experience, by offering a safe, non-threatening environment to use tutorial or basic-level classes to learn and practice the fundamentals before joining a larger group. TIP: Put a cap on some non-peak hour classes as small as three to five people, or advertise a scheduled tutorial class time to attract beginners and give them a place to find affinity groups.
3. Improve experiences for live group fitness instructors and participants by offering another tool for members to continually progress in between live schedule classes. TIP: Encourage group fitness instructors to “prescribe” homework for those in class that they know could use some extra practice.
4. Spread out participation to accommodate more participants and offer a more robust schedule. Some facilities are using virtual classes to trial a new time slot that is in consideration to bring a live instructor in for. TIP: Schedule live instructor or auto-start virtual classes to consistently occur at peak times. Use the rest of the day to trial new time slots or leave schedules open for participants to take classes “on demand.”
5. Live instructors are leveraging virtual programming to train with expert coaches to get ideas for choreography and further develop their skills. TIP: Incentivize instructors to participate in virtual classes on their own, in formats similar to those that they teach.
While not every facility has the human and/or other resources to offer both live and virtual group fitness programming, the industry is recognizing that the collaboration of the two can and does often lead to a successful marriage that can achieve together what neither are able to do separately.
Sean Levesque is Director of Strategic programming for WELLBEATS™, formerly Fitness On Request. For more information e-mail email@example.com or call 855-520-7501.