‘…If a fitness brand doesn’t acquire some sort of technological resources, it will be outpaced’ Mashable, 2015
Today’s digital consumers: Driving the fitness technology evolution
Technology is transforming the fitness industry inside and out. The rapid advancement of smart technology is giving consumers more choice and convenience than ever before. The driving force behind this transformation is today’s digital consumer. The modern fitness member expects and demands flexibility as well as solutions crafted and delivered at their fingertips anytime and anywhere. This is why health clubs nowadays cannot afford to exclude technology when they shape their service, with innovation playing a major role in every new product offered to today’s fitness users.
Millennials: The way they redefine fitness
Millennials are an important generation for the fitness industry as they are redefining fitness and moving away from contract based membership plans. According to an IHSRA consumer trends report for 2015, club members who are 18-34 years old tend to visit the club less frequently than any other age group. Therefore, for a health club operator to stay relevant in the technology-driven mindset of the millennials, they need to adapt and offer fitness products that will satisfy their needs for convenience and variety.
Practically speaking, a smart solution for operators to appeal to millennials would be to include virtual group exercise in the club’s digital eco-system. This way health clubs can expand their reach and service and attend to the needs of the contemporary fitness user.
Streaming: The consumer-centric delivery of fitness
Although valuable in a club setting, an interesting thing about virtual fitness is that it is not confined to the four walls of the club, which means much more opportunity to reach members outside the four walls of the club. Streaming exercise classes is a great example of the new consumer-centric way of delivery, along with health and fitness apps and wearable fitness trackers.
By giving members the opportunity for digital attendance, health clubs are able to break the walls down from the inside and reach further than the physical club. Through adding virtual fitness classes to their own apps, clubs group can offer access to group fitness on members’ own consoles (TV, smartphones, and tablets). This is a great way to deliver fitness to millennials who are more hesitant to attend clubs or commit time and money to a contract based membership.
Also, remembering that clubs can be a scary place for potential members, this service can act as a stepping-stone into a membership. Exploring the gym from their own phone or TV at home creates an opportunity to overcome the intimidation factor and develop confidence to advance their fitness experiences. Inevitably, the digital attendance leads to more interactions with the clubs’ brand, thus creating more loyal members and higher retention rates.
The virtual technology: Flexible and adaptable
Group exercise is constantly evolving and virtual technology is extremely flexible and adaptable to different group exercise scenarios and users. Having visual support provided by virtual fitness, makes group exercise classes more accessible and engaging through supporting the instructors’ delivery. Executing the class in this way benefits new members, while creating more interaction for those who need it.
Looking at this from an overall perspective, health club operators are faced with many challenges today, and adding another tech solution like virtual fitness may seem like just another service that needs to be maintained. But if executed well, it can become a valuable part of a club digital eco-system. Having this complete digital eco-system in place can be the competitive advantage and the ultimate selling and retention tool that will guarantee a place in the brave new future of fitness.
By Paul Bowman, CEO of Wexer Virtual