Group X: The Opportunity in Technology — Part 2
I’m back with more thoughts and takeaways from my informative podcast with the Fit-C and host, Josh Trent. In Part 1, I touched on the importance of gamification and utilizing the fitness wearable trend, inexpensive adjustments that can enhance the atmosphere of your group fitness classroom, and the necessity of regularly evaluating Group X member happiness.
I also briefly mentioned using social media to entice and engage new group fitness class participants. Technology’s ability to impact that group exercise space happens a lot socially. I see a lot of instructors that do a really great job of posting pictures of their classes and tagging people (with their permission, of course!). Most people are thrilled to not have to go to the hassle of checking themselves in at the gym, and tickled pink to be noticed being there. These instructors do a stellar job of building a following for themselves and a strong social media network. Club members are craving community and digital engagement with what’s happening — even when they didn’t make it to class. This is the modern “word of mouth” buzz and a great revenue generator for the club, with the instructors doing the vast majority of the work.
A lot of clubs these days are using launch parties to drive interest in group fitness classes, combining education, social media, community and sales efforts into one event. Exciting new offerings go really far in encouraging people to join the facility, especially when combined with membership specials. The tried and true “bring a friend!” deal is particularly useful when combined with the ability to share thoughts and pictures immediately via social media. Let your members drive the buzz about the hottest new class and simply sit back and reap the benefits!
More and more club owners these days are also using both geofencing and texting to stay connected with members. Geofencing is the use of GPS or RFID technology to create a virtual geographic boundary, enabling software to trigger a response when a mobile device enters or leaves a particular area. So when members are hanging out in the neighborhood, you can send them a friendly reminder of that popular class coming up in 90 minutes. Texting software is also a top way to let your Group X gang know of last-minute cancellations or class changes.
In this crazy, fast-paced world, not everyone can make it to a live class, unfortunately. Virtual offerings are crucial these days. For the long-term view, remember that virtual classes are not there to replace the live instructor experience, it’s there to enhance it and move around it. There’s a lot of 24-hour facilities now, it’s increasingly becoming a 24-hour world — why should our medical professionals and hospitality staff and other members who might not get out of work until 2 a.m. miss out on their group fitness experiences too? I love this concept of being able to walk into a group fitness room at any time, select the program that I want to participate in, and then start the class. The instructor is virtual, but I get to take the class I want with the instructor I like at the time that works for me, and still be a part of that instructor’s group and that community on social media. The opportunity to serve members in this way is invaluable. Digital group fitness can build the same following and the same loyal member base that live instructors can.
The future of group fitness technology is wide open. Who knows if we might soon be enjoying classes with a fully holographic instructor? I’m also really excited for the possibilities of virtual reality in the health club industry. There’s crazy cool things in the works, we are just at the tip of the iceberg with fitness tech and how it can help you enhance your group class offerings and increase revenue.
Lindsey Rainwater, also known as Lindsey RainH2O, is a sought-after business consultant, leadership coach, writer and presenter to the fitness and wellness industry. For more information about Rainwater, follow her on Twitter@LindseyRainH2O.