Digital strategy, virtual fitness, technology, apps, wearable technology, live streaming… it can all seem a little overwhelming. I should know, I just started working with Wexer Virtual. In my privileged position I have been able to view small and large fitness businesses and how they are winning the battle with technology and digital fitness. Without doubt, the question is no longer “do I need digital fitness?” but rather it has evolved to “what is the best way to execute my digital strategy?”
Rather than discussing the many ways to successfully integrate a digital strategy within club groups, I would like to share a few insights Wexer has uncovered about how to engage the modern fitness member, who expects and demands flexibility as well as solutions crafted and available at their fingertips anytime and anywhere.
For the most part it starts with technology. Technology is now more relevant than ever before. This is only natural as technology is now intertwined in every aspect of life and members have the same expectations for their group fitness experience.
At Wexer we believe it’s not just about the technology though, it’s about the user experience, and when it comes to virtual, the execution is crucial for a successful launch. Like the traditional cinema experience, the lighting and sound, the size and the quality of the screen, and the overall setup is essential for creating an engaging and captivating atmosphere. We’ve seen a direct correlation between a well-executed installation and usage figures. The better the installation – the more members use and engage with virtual.
More recently we are seeing an increasing amount of club groups combining virtual with live instruction, either to make the live class even more engaging or to free up the instructor to enhance participant interaction. Therefore, virtual being used alongside live delivery, further increases the value proposition as the reach of virtual goes beyond the 5-15% using virtual solely and begins to enhance the experience for the 30% using live classes.
But it’s not just about engaging users in the gym. In fact, the majority of members spend 99% of their time outside of the 4 walls of the club. One of our most recent innovations which enables clubs to reach these members is the option to live stream their group exercise instructors to their membership base through the use of our streaming application. This empowers clubs to offer superior customer service and flexibility as all sessions can be recorded and streamed after, therefore taking what’s in the club outside the 4 walls. The possibilities with technology are endless!
However, to understand if technology is a good investment, you need to understand your members’ usage pattern and preferences. For example, utilizing technology in group fitness via in-club virtual classes has proven to be a solid retention tool – it increases studios’ usage by 75% and live classes participation with 12%. For most clubs, who manage their group exercise offering well, the attendance of group exercise classes is high enough for it to be a profit center. Furthermore, streaming exercise classes is another great way to use technology to increase revenue. It can be used both as a strong retention tool, but also as an ancillary revenue stream.
So while the focus remains on execution, we are now advancing the conversation to how club groups can inspire people to make fitness part of their lives.
Daniel Waide, National Manager (US) for Wexer Virtual