As an introduction, I should say a bit about me, so you can be sure what I’m suggesting comes from experience rather than an idea plucked out of the sky!
Over the last 27 years I’ve been a freelance instructor teaching classes in many London clubs, taught teachers to teach and managed studios for some top health club chains. Now I’ve hung up my teaching trainers and settled at Wexer as a Content & Account Manager looking to help health clubs, gyms and leisure centres get the most out of their Wexer Virtual offerings.
A question that’s often asked is how to ensure members really engage with virtual fitness – and the key, I believe, is to think of your virtual classes as if they were live, instructor-led classes. Here’s how:
1. Help members find ‘their’ class
It’s normal to schedule instructor-led classes, so members know exactly when to come to the club for ‘their’ class. More often than not, the same people are there week in, week out. The time works for them, they like the instructor and the class style, they have other members to exercise with.
So why not give your members the opportunity to do the same with virtual classes? Because let me just say here and now, members do schedule virtual classes in their diary. You don’t have to have a wall-to-wall virtual timetable, but you should give people a chance to create a routine in their virtual class attendance. Offer as many opportunities as possible for every member to find a class that becomes ‘their’ class.
2. How live and virtual complement each other
There are times of the day when on-demand should be available i.e. when members can turn up and select a virtual class, and times of day when virtual classes should be on the timetable alongside instructor-led ones.
We can help you to pick out which times in your club are best for on-demand versus scheduled virtual classes. A great place to start is by combining virtual classes with live:
For example, new members are more likely to try classes when fewer people can see what they’re doing, so try adding a 30-minute virtual class before a popular live class – with a bit of a gap in between – and then try another at the end of those classes. The gap means new members will be out of the studio in plenty of time for the instructor-led class, so they won’t be intimidated by regulars waiting outside!
3. Treat virtual classes as if they were live
On-demand definitely has its place, and of course there are people who like to be more flexible and spontaneous with their workouts.
However, relying solely on on-demand reduces your chances of creating a community in your club through group exercise, because there aren’t set classes each week where members will see familiar faces.
With a schedule, virtual fitness classes gain their own regulars: members find a class they like at a time that suits them, they meet people who also attend each week…. all of which makes them more likely to come back, which in turn stitches them more firmly to your club.
Ultimately, if you treat your virtual classes as if they were live classes, you’ll experience similar results in terms of member engagement and retention!