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Recap: The Opportunity in Virtual Fitness

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On September 2, IHRSA, REX Roundtables and Club Solutions Magazine presented the 22nd installment of a weekly virtual roundtable series aimed at helping clubs navigate through the COVID-19 crisis.

Panelists included José Teixeira, the head of customer experience for SC Fitness, Portugal; Michele Melkerson-Granryd, the general manager of Castle Hill Fitness; Tiffany Levine, the director of marketing and PR for Club Greenwood; Bill McBride, the co-founder, president and CEO of Active Wellness; and Blair McHaney, the CEO of MXM and owner of WORX health clubs. The discussion was led and moderated by Brent Darden, the interim president and CEO of IHRSA, and chair of REX Roundtables.

The following is a summary of top takeaways from the discussion, centered on taking advantage of virtual fitness programming to engage members:

HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE DISCUSSION

  • Pods are a viable method for letting members workout in a socially distanced setting, especially if they aren’t fans of virtual workouts — this idea was developed by Castle Hill Fitness.
  • Your virtual fitness programming is a brand in and of itself.
  • Virtual fitness content should be omnichannel.
  • A major challenge is finding the right instructors to use in virtual workouts — you need top instructors to carry the programming.
  • You have to be a health and fitness provider where members are, not just in a brick and mortar location.
  • If it’s not done correctly (as “something on the side,” in other words), virtual fitness could be a distraction to your staff and members instead of a benefit.
  • When examining data about your club’s offerings and performance, humanize it. Use the data you’re looking at to find out how your offerings are impacting your members.
  • The following platforms and products were recommended by the panelists for virtual fitness: Vimeo, Zoom, Uscreen, GO Gym, Yondo, MINDBODY, FitGrid, gymGO, Mevo, FunXtion, Whereby
  • If you’re a smaller club, you’re dependent on the research and development of technology companies — it’s important to know their road map and where they’re investing money in the future.
  • If you’re a bigger club and have the budget to do so, consider building your own virtual fitness and broadcast systems.
  • Consider giving your trainers the necessary equipment — cameras, microphones, etc. — to take home or to their own class areas to record sessions.
  • Continue growing your virtual offering and making the whole experience more professional. Develop your own content, upgrade your equipment, and improve your streaming and broadcast quality.
  • Consider having a virtual fitness membership that is a different package than a standard membership, especially as you continue to improve the quality of your virtual programming.
  • Predictably Irrational” by Dan Ariely gives some good insight into why consumers make the buying decisions they do.
  • It’s important to keep members connected to your club, and virtual fitness is a great way to get them reengaged.
  • Talk to the companies you know of in charge of music licensing to see if you can reach a deal for streaming classes.
  • Sending regular e-blasts can help drive participation in virtual classes.
  • Use social media platforms to push your virtual programs — be sure to highlight your instructors.
  • FORTË, FitnessOnDemand and Wexer are great sources for live streamed and online fitness programs.
  • In many clubs, pricing is evolving to look more like the prices for hospitality services, not just health club offerings.
  • Streaming services are also searching for unique ways to get subscribers to fitness classes. In some cases, video content providers are going straight to trainers to teach and record virtual classes.
  • Internet speed is absolutely critical — make sure you have the right speed to support the classes you want to offer.

To access the on-demand version of this webinar, click here.

To access the audio-only version of this webinar, click here.

UPCOMING: Don’t miss the 23rd installment of our virtual roundtable series, “Successful Strategies for Shaping Your Future: Making Exercise Essential” on Wednesday, September 9 at 2 p.m. EST. Limited seats are available. Click here to reserve your spot.

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Bobby Dyer

Bobby is the former assistant editor of Club Solutions Magazine.

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