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Virtual fitness presents an additional opportunity — outside of live group fitness classes — for health clubs to engage with members.

However, what is the impact of implementing virtual fitness on an existing group fitness program? FitnessOnDemand set out to answer this question by conducting a study with Rochester Athletic Club in Rochester, Minnesota.

FitnessOnDemand and divisional CEO Garrett Marshall presented some of their findings in a recent webinar titled, “The Impact of Virtual on an Existing Group Fitness Program.”

As Marshall explained, FitnessOnDemand sought to discover the impact on a full-scale operation, which made Rochester Athletic Club a good fit. The club boasts 400-plus live classes per month, five individual group fitness studios, 52 instructors, and offers a wide range of group fitness formats, including instructor-created and licensed programming.

“We knew that in order for virtual to demonstrate success in a club like Rochester, the value proposition would really need to be clear,” said Marshall. “Because quite frankly, the members at Rochester have tons of options.”

The study began January 1, 2018. FitnessOnDemand digitized three of the club’s five studios and implemented Class Count technology for attendance tracking.  

Key Findings

According to Marshall, Rochester Athletic Club was able to increase attendance and decrease costs by incorporating virtual fitness technology into its existing group fitness program. In March 2018, Rochester had 9,200 visits altogether for group visits, compared to 6,661 in March 2017. This resulted in a year over year increase of almost 40 percent in participation.

“Once the technology was implemented, it was used not only by those members who were new to the group fitness program altogether, but also by a certain percentage of the regular group fitness participant population,” explained Marshall.  

In fact, in March 2018, one out of every three group fitness visits were for virtual group fitness.

According to Marshall, when talking to Rochester’s members, convenience was revealed as the main driving force behind their desire to use virtual. “In some cases, we believe that virtual is actually allowing some of the regular group fitness users to use the group fitness program more often,” he said.

And Rochester Athletic Club achieved these gains in participation, while also reducing their operations costs:

  • Cost-per-class reduced 76 percent
  • Cost-per-visit reduced 10 percent

Lastly, Marshall made another point as to why virtual fitness is a good investment for clubs to consider, beyond increasing participation and reducing operations costs.

“Clubs like Rochester are beginning to meet the demand of the 21st century member,” said Marshall. “In this era, consumers have more power than they’ve ever had before. Consumers have the ability to price you, critique and experience your product anytime, anywhere. Services are expected to be on demand and personalized.”

To watch the full webinar, click here.


Rachel Zabonick is editor-in-chief of Club Solutions Magazine. She can be reached at rachel@peakemedia.com

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