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When Reopening, Don’t Put Virtual Offerings on Hold

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Mike Alpert, the COO at Smart Health Clubs, shares why you shouldn’t put your virtual offerings on hold when you are reopening.

In the past 15 months, there have been quite a few articles written on virtual fitness. While it’s not new, it took the COVID-19 pandemic and the closure of health clubs and gyms to capture the attention of many club operators. In many cases, virtual programming contributed a great deal in keeping clubs afloat during the pandemic as members were able to workout remotely with their favorite instructors and trainers.  

Every club has a percentage of their members who have been anxiously waiting for the club to reopen and they are rushing back in. Clubs are certainly acquiring members whose clubs in their areas went out of business due to long-term extended closures of the pandemic. This might tempt some operators to put their virtual offerings — which include live streaming, on demand and two-way video conferencing — on hold or from getting into the virtual market.

Although your number one priority is to get your members back into your club quickly and to continually build your backlog of prospective new members, you are missing a golden opportunity if virtual fitness is not part of your programming mix.

Due to COVID-19, consumers are seeking wellness like never before and this has resulted in the increased demand for the digital delivery of wellness and fitness solutions. There is a huge segment — about 80% — of the population who don’t belong to a health club or gym, and a significant percentage of them are deemed “at risk” due to chronic illness. 154 million people — 74% of the population — in the United States are either overweight or obese. The total available market of this population represents $1.5 trillion and is a staggering number. If you can get them active by offering programs that they can do in the privacy of their own homes you will, at some time, convert a percentage into club members.  

Let’s look at some numbers.

  • The digital at-home fitness spend since COVID-19 has surged 30 to 40%.
  • There are currently 87 million fitness apps in the United States and the online fitness market is expected to grow from $6 billion in 2019 to $59 billion by 2027, representing a 33% compounded annual growth rate.
  • Peloton has 1.7 million subscribers and Beachbody, which just went public with an IPO, has 2.6 million subscribers.

Last week, United Healthcare made a major announcement that they have agreed to pay the recurring monthly subscription fee to Peloton for all of their healthcare subscribers for one year. This is a major shift by one of the largest healthcare providers in the country that is making a major financial commitment by encouraging their members to get active and to take charge of their health care and their health care costs. Even with a steep discount of the recurring monthly fee, assuming one was given, it represents a significant financial commitment. Other healthcare providers will surely follow suite. A pivot from treating sickness with costly drugs and costly procedures to exercise and programming that work at a fraction of the cost. Be the club that brings this to your members and non-members and stand out as the leading health club in your market. 

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Mike Alpert

Mike Alpert is the chief operating officer at Smart Health Clubs. He can be reached at (951) 205-1136 or Mike@Smarthealthclubs.com.

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