Best Practices for Virtual Fitness Offerings
Many health clubs have added or expanded their virtual fitness offerings due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Last fall, Club Greenwood in Greenwood Village, Colorado, launched Les Mills Virtual Classes in their group fitness studios, expanding their class schedule from 150 live classes to nearly 270 classes total. During the club’s quarantine, they began offering classes remotely, knowing when they came back to the club, their remote classes would stay.
“Simplifying the vernacular was essential, so rather than naming everything virtual, we used virtual for Les Mills, online for training, live for classes in the club and livestream for our new streaming service,” said Tiffany Levine, the director of marketing and public relations for Club Greenwood.
We sat down with Levine to discuss the best practices for all virtual offerings:
What type of technologies/set up do you need to support virtual services?
TL: For the easiest and best quality livestream set-ups on a budget, we found the following technology to be the fastest setup and the easiest to train our instructors on. We do have a larger livestreaming plan that will include high-end set-ups and permanent installation for 2021.
Quick set-up option:
- Having a premium livestreaming account with Vimeo, Facebook, Twitch, Instagram, YouTube – the options are numerous.
- Buy a Mevo Camera and Mevo Boost to make it wireless if necessary.
- Wireless mics (Rode Wireless Go or Galaxy Treks).
- Dedicated iPads for each camera set up.
- Mevo software that works for multiple streaming locations.
What are some best practices for group fitness classes with no interaction, also known as broadcast?
TL: For in-club group fitness, we decided to go with the broadcast mode because our instructors are teaching in front of a group. A group class makes it more challenging to chat one-on-one while at the same time presenting to an online audience. We went with a higher quality stream that we could record to provide members with access to the classes afterward.
Tips for this format:
- Use a mixer or a mic. It’s always best to get a mixer to combine your stereo music and voice microphone and plug it all into your livestream system. We had to make do without mixers at first, so wireless mics worked out perfectly. We were using either the Rode Wireless Go or Galaxy Audio Treks.
- Presentation. Our long-term plans include adding special lighting to the studios and possibly plants to spruce things up. Our instructors teach in front of a live audience, and are wearing masks, so they need to do their mic checks after they put their mask on.
- Say hello to your audience. Greet the viewing audience when you start.
- Things do happen. Livestreaming takes time and practice. Allow members to email or call in if there is a problem and have someone help them determine if the issue is on their end or yours.
Can virtual fitness be a good source of revenue?
TL: Absolutely. We have members who are still waiting to come into the club, but they are retaining their memberships because of our virtual offerings. We are keeping them connected with our livestream classes and on-demand replays. We also plan to sell our livestream and on-demand offerings to non-members who may move out of state or travel. Our fee-based, online livestream boot camps are in high demand. Throughout the summer, we had members participating in person while offering our livestream audience the same experience. Whatever we offer in the club, we are finding ways to offer it virtually.
How can you maximize ROI?
TL: Equipment costs vary, so you can start at any price point and grow your program to maximize your ROI. Many video software platforms tie into your website and come with ecommerce options so you can start making money right away. There is a lot of churn in the video-on-demand industry, where people pay for subscriptions and cancel, so many of the platforms come with integrated retention tools to retain subscribers. In addition to retaining members and including this with regular memberships, we will be selling online memberships this year. On average, a current online fitness subscription costs anywhere between $10 to $30 per month, but you can charge more if there is a personal connection to members.