Nearly everything is on-demand these days. Movies, car rides and food are all available with a quick tap on a smartphone. As the average consumer has become increasingly impatient, the fitness industry has had to pivot. The result is a burgeoning expectation of on-demand fitness.
“On-demand fitness has improved so much in the last few years,” said Matt Remick, the president and owner of Rochester Athletic Club. “The expectation from our members on production quality, instruction, entertainment and results is high due to all the content that is available on the internet.”
Not only do members want fitness on-demand, they want a variety of options. Delivering a platform with only one type of workout won’t cut it anymore.
“This offering is growing — on most platforms, there are new video demonstrations on several workouts, whether it’s free weight training, selectorized training or cardiovascular training,” said Mike Neff, the vice president of member services at Crunch. “I think that’s where things are going to evolve — it’s going to be more than just group fitness content. There’s going to be a bigger variety of workout content available.”
To take full advantage of the on-demand craze, offer an increased value to its current members and engage prospective members, Crunch created its own video streaming service: Crunch Live.
“Crunch Live is available to pretty much every member through our mobile app,” explained Neff. “We have over 100 videos every single year, and we share some of our newest content on the platform — we try to keep the content fresh.”
Today, Crunch Live is an integral part of the fitness brand’s formula. “What we have found over the years is that there’s a lot of value in offering our members an extension of their membership,” said Neff. “It’s a platform we’re going to continue to build, and start to include even more than just group fitness.”
Crunch Live has also served as an additional introductory resource for new members who are just starting their fitness journeys.
“A lot of people, when they join a gym, don’t necessarily take advantage of an introductory session with one of our trainers, who will show them the equipment and how to set up some of the initial programs,” said Neff. “Then they get discouraged because they may not have been gym-users all these years, and they get intimidated. So, you want to have a platform where you provide a very short trial period for people to go through, look at some of your content, and try a couple of workouts.”
Even if you’re not launching your own version of Crunch Live any time soon, there are many ways you can create workout content for your members to consume.
“First of all, clubs need to determine where they want to host their content,” said Neff. “You have to find a provider like Wexer, where your video can be hosted and people aren’t going to have issues.”
Finding the right host site is critical and, according to Neff, this is not the time to be cheap. “If you’re trying to save money there and you put your content on a platform that doesn’t really have good technology behind it, people will have a bad experience and end up leaving,” he said.
When formulating your on-demand fitness programs, it’s important to know there “truly is a cost of production,” according to Neff. Like any other service or amenity you add to your club, a robust library, stable hosting site and dedicated space are essential elements to creating a rich on-demand fitness experience.
This sentiment extends to on-demand experiences provided in-club as well, such as those powered by FitnessOnDemand, as is the case at Rochester Athletic Club.
“An in-club experience needs to meet or exceed the desired experience,” said Remick. “I personally recommend not skimping on the display or the sound, as the experience should be better than what they can get at home.”
This attention to detail has paid off, said Remick. “It has been a very positively received by our members,” he added. “Members have access to many more class types, instructors and length of classes, and the selection of on-demand classes matches their schedules.”
And the transition to FitnessOnDemand was seamless. “For us as operators, it was fairly simple to install and offer,” shared Remick. “We used the sound from our studio and installed a display, and FitnessOnDemand provided a tablet and streaming box with the connections. Once they were on the wireless network, the setup was mostly complete.”
FitnessOnDemand also made it easy for members to sign up for their favorite workouts, according to Remick. “We then used the online scheduling website to setup classes,” he said. “And this can also be viewed by members to plan their workouts. All in all, it was pretty easy.”
No matter how great your in-club experience is, you won’t be able to get everyone to participate. There will always be members who can’t work an in-club visit into their busy schedules, or those who just don’t like leaving their houses if they don’t have to.
“People are getting used to everything on-demand,” explained Remick. “Consumers can access ‘exertainment’ content when and where they want it on almost any device. Movies, television and music libraries for on-demand consumption continue to grow.”
According to Remick, on-the-go workout streaming resonates well with today’s consumer. “On-demand fitness is keeping us current with member expectations,” he said. “Offering FitnessOnDemand fits with what our members experience on their devices and at home.”
And what consumers expect out of all their streaming services — not just their fitness apps — is fresh content. Without a steady supply of new videos, your on-demand service won’t survive very long.
“You have to be willing to invest in creating new content — content can get stale very quickly,” said Neff. “Creating a couple of videos a year — that’s probably not going to cut it. Some people will actually use on-demand fitness as their normal, everyday workout. If you’ve only created 15 or 20 videos, they’re going to lose interest pretty quickly.”