Virtual Training In A Post-Pandemic Landscape
As COVID-19 shut down gym across the country, digital fitness programs are having their time to shine. Whether this be existing online only programs, or new online offerings from major clubs and chains, consumers are taking full advantage of the boom in virtual training platforms. So, what do fitness clubs that invested in such platforms do in a post-pandemic landscape? There is a choice to be made as to whether they continue to invest in this digital offering or shift back to their core studio-based program.
During self-isolation home workouts have seen a peak in popularity, and even those who were not gymgoers before are opting to fill their time with some form of fitness. Classes such as yoga, barre and Pilates have been particularly popular due to their minimal equipment requirements and easy to follow formats. However with home workout becoming an integral part of many Australian’s routines, will this impact their desire to return to the gym once restrictions ease?
For many people working out from home helps overcome some of the barriers that deterred them from joining a gym or studio, whether it be family care commitments, feelings of nervousness or intimidation towards working out in public or simply convenience. For women, who have less leisure time and disposable income to invest in fitness, virtual training programs may be especially appealing. This is part of the reason that historically, many online training programs have been targeted towards women.
The increasing popularity of these virtual training offerings suggests that gym and studio owners should consider continuing to invest in their digital platforms post-pandemic. For some, the option to access resources online is a value-add to their membership, and for others it will be their main form of engagement with the business. Clubs could deliver resources to their members in a variety of ways including live streamed classes, pre-recorded workout guides, programs for specific goals (e.g. flexibility, strength) and even unique challenges.
Going forward, it is important for gym owners who choose to pursue their virtual programs to consider how to differentiate themselves from the free content available in the marketplace. With a wealth of free training guides and workouts on platforms such as YouTube, what can gyms and studios offer to paying members to make it worth the money. This additional benefit could come in the form of one-on-one training advice, tailored nutritional guides or even a free wearable fitness tracker upon joining to help them track their progress.
The bottom line is business owners within the fitness space need to acknowledge that self-isolation has made significant changes to the industry landscape. It is important that clubs and studios re-evaluate what is important to their members and adapt their offering to cater to these new needs. For many, this will likely mean an increased digital presence so that members can continue to engage on their own terms.