Let’s talk about numbers. More than 45% of consumers want physical fitness to become part of their weekly routine going forward. As of March 2020, 85% of Mindbody consumers attend live streaming classes on a weekly basis and 7% in 2019. Virtual sessions allow athletes to explore a wide range of experiences, avoid commuting to the gym, and customize their fitness schedule.
This is a huge opportunity, but it can require a seismic change in how you think about your business. In a hybrid world, fitness brands that build high-quality virtual experiences for their communities will retain members and grow faster than the competition.
According to a recent Mindbody survey, 40% of consumers book virtual workouts with studios they have never physically visited before, which means a large segment of the market can be accessed through remote experiences for the first time. Taking digital seriously will give you a specific advantage: getting to where consumers make their purchasing decisions.
The question is: Are you sure your digital workout experiences stand out against the competition? This competition is growing and includes digitally original brands such as Apple Fitness + and Peloton.
It’s not easy to deliver a digital era experience that fits the expectations of modern consumers, but it’s a physical era that is quickly supported by the pandemic, which is a recent explosion in tools and good practices that will quickly improve your offering.
There are some top questions to answer right away. Do you offer live or pre-recorded on-demand workouts to your community — or both? What software will you use to give live playback classes and provide on-demand content? What software or platform will keep the community engaged with you and engaged with each other?
We’ve seen thousands of virtual workouts from live fitness markets around the world – live and pre-recorded. They introduced a number of innovative approaches to differentiating the virtual training experience, including many that you should probably avoid.
Only a small percentage of virtual training options are doing more than the status quo, just running classes that were previously face-to-face on a platform like Zoom or Facebook Live. Fast-growing brands recognize it as a remote personal experience. Virtual training sessions should be designed in ways that take advantage of what they do alone. It’s not too late to innovate your digital strategy while competitors explore similar options.
The right set of tools for virtual fitness is an important foundation. Best-of-race streaming platforms, metric solutions for accountability, and a social layer that connects members are the three areas to consider. These areas have benefited from the recent explosion of innovation, so it’s time to review your technology options.
Here are eight areas of virtual training to consider:
- Give athletes multi-platform access, and broadcast more than one streaming platform at a time to find them where they are.
- Choose a broadcast location that reflects your brand. Consider backgrounds or murals that reinforce your mission or mantras.
- Decide on the choice of video playback platforms. This area has undergone great innovation in the last two years.
- Take advantage of the exit rooms to motivate small groups to compete with each other.
- Optimize how you share music. Get rid of athletes directly for an immersion workout.
- Explore motorized AI tools that help with metric workouts, shape correction, and post-workout summaries.
- Invest in better cameras and stage lighting for high quality production.
- Consider the virtual approach of two coaches for virtual training so that one coach can pay special attention to participants, social engagement, and directed instruction.
Brands that will thrive in tomorrow’s increasingly hybrid world will be the ones to use modern tools to create better remote experiences. Going more miles will strengthen your community and enhance the virtual experience you offer, leading to a strong and growing business.
Clint Gehde is one of the founders and coach of Exer to enable fitness AI startup building tools, coaches and professionals. The Exer Studio app adds rankings and motion scores to virtual fitness workouts that use an athlete’s laptop or smartphone camera, no extra hardware required. For more information, write an email [email protected]