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Recap: Virtual Events and Outdoor Fitness

virtual events and outdoor fitness

On November 4, IHRSA, REX Roundtables and Club Solutions Magazine presented the 31st installment of a weekly virtual roundtable series, on the subject of virtual events and outdoor fitness, aimed at helping clubs navigate through the COVID-19 crisis.

Panelists included Robert Brewster, CEO of The Alaska Club; Erin Oncken, national customer experience manager for Les Mills; Ralph Rajs, COO of Forma Gym; 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 virtual events and outdoor fitness:


  • Renormalize programming. Give members fun events and reasons to come back to the club.
  • Ask yourself, “How can we be smarter than the virus? How can we still have fun, but have fun safely?”
  • Virtual programs are an aspect of the business, but virtual is not your entire business.
  • Virtual is a great way to stay relevant in the community and gain media attention.
  • Youth events are some of the most popular events clubs have seen lately.
  • Providing virtual programming reaches women, who statistically aren’t returning to the gym at the same rate as men.
  • Having technology that allows for two-way communication is very beneficial for virtual event success.
  • Moderators are vital to control virtual events and keep them running smoothly.
  • If you don’t have a virtual option, you are behind in times. People want a virtual option. However, remember people don’t love virtual; they love virtual as an option.
  • Make virtual offerings a tangible product you can market.
  • Set up a standalone spot on your website for virtual offerings that members and nonmembers can easily find.
  • You have to figure out what you are selling before you can effectively market it.
  • You can’t use one tool to reach everyone. Take an integrated approach to market your club’s virtual programs.
  • Step up your PR game. You need a good image in your community.
  • Club are finding that people love outdoor areas and want them as permeant options.
  • People tolerate hotter and colder temperature more outdoors.
  • Outdoor areas create new member experiences.
  • Some clubs are seeing higher member usage outdoors rather than indoors.
  • Winterize your outdoor areas. However, heating these areas is going to be a challenge.
  • Think of outdoor areas as a destination, not just a space. Make it visually appealing, add vegetation, decorate, create an aesthetic and make sure that it looks apart of the club.
  • Think strategically and long term for outdoor areas.
  • Outdoor areas are great for offering strength and cycling.
  • Sell warm apparel such as sweatshirts by your outdoor areas when the weather gets colder.
  • Over-communicate your offerings.
  • Create FOMO at your club.
  • Ask yourself, “How can I solve this problem in a way that fits into my strategic plan?”
  • Have someone on the team to research all potential virtual platforms you can use to see which one will best serve your members.
  • Don’t quit virtual offerings if you don’t see sales right away.
  • You will get points from your members just by having virtual options.
  • Come up with a way to package virtual and outdoor areas as a valuable offering.
  • Virtual offerings have to be a complement to your business, not your sole business model.
  • People want events that have closure. Offer programs with a start and stop date in addition to ongoing events.
  • Reach your customers wherever they are.

Access the on-demand version of this webinar.

Access the audio-only version of this webinar.

UPCOMING: Don’t miss the 32nd installment of our virtual roundtable series, “Successful Strategies for Shaping Your Future: How to Support Your Local Military Community” on Wednesday, November 11 at 2 p.m. EST. Limited seats are available, register now.

Taylor Brown

Taylor Brown is the assistant editor for Club Solutions Magazine. She can be reached at taylor@peakemedia.com

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