As a fitness business, were you prepared for the pandemic?
Most likely not.
Due to Covid-19, many fitness owners worldwide lost out on a major amount of money, time, and even their companies.
Alarmingly in 2020, more than 38,400 fitness clubs closed down due to the pandemic.
Those clubs which have survived have shifted their business online hosting fitness classes. They did this to prepare themselves in the event of another pandemic or change to their business. There are even completely new fitness startups that just strictly offer fitness services like live classes for digital devices.
Therefore the only way to compete with these new startups or surviving businesses, is to offer live and virtual on demand classes. In this article, we will go through why you should move your business online and the steps you need to take to make it a reality.
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Why should your fitness business move online?
If you’re planning to compete with big companies and get your name out there in the fitness industry, online fitness will allow your company to benefit from the following:
It’s estimated that by 2026, over 7.516 billion people in the world will be using smartphones. That’s a giant statistic just for smartphone users; which doesn’t even account for other portable devices like tablets or gadgets. Simply offering your services online will allow you to target a wider audience that’s not just limited to your brick and mortar location.
Did you know around 80% of members quit after joining a gym within the first 6 months? Most of the time, people quit due to other social, professional, and personal commitments. Simply by offering online workout classes, you make your company more accessible, allowing people to work out according to their schedule, from the comfort of their own homes, and on the go.
During the first half of the pandemic, fitness apps grew by nearly 50%, making fitness more affordable and accessible for all. Because of this rise of the workout app, many existing gym businesses offered hybrid models adding fitness online streaming services for their members. By switching to online, you will show you are also equally as innovative as your competitors.
It’s hard to predict when another pandemic, epidemic, natural disaster, or impact on the fitness industry can occur. By offering your services online, you can help save time and allow your business to bounce back when something major does occur. Doing it will save you from having to plan or think about member retention as a result of a crisis.
Greater member experience
As a fitness owner, to maintain retention, it’s essential to ensure that your existing members benefit and enjoy your services. One of the major ways of optimizing the benefits for your members is by providing them with a choice to work out from the gym or at home. If you run classes online that provide them with the same studio experience included in their monthly membership, it provides them with choice, freedom, and support towards their fitness goals.
How to set up an online offering for your fitness business
We understand it may seem quite overwhelming when looking to transition onto the online world for the first time. Don’t worry, though; there are several ways you can operate your business online, which are:
1. Establish a website
Ultimately, to have an effective online presence, you need to have a website. If your business has a website, you benefit from looking more credible, gaining more leads, and time-saving opportunities for both your members and staff.
Moreover, you don’t have to pay thousands of dollars to have a website design; platforms like WixFitness and themes allow you to launch a website with a pre-made fitness website design quickly. Having a useful website can be the gateway for potential members subscribing to fitness programs or meal plans you offer.
2. Utilize social media
You don’t need to wait for a fully functioning and immersive website to showcase your business online. You can offer live and recorded classes for a trial period, from the social media platforms your business exists on. Platforms like Facebook and Instagram have live streaming features, allowing you to provide free workouts to potential members and allow existing members to work out from anywhere like their living room.
In addition to this, you might want to use Youtube to add workout videos too. Platforms like Youtube are also equally as beneficial as they allow you to monetize your live streams and receive additional income from advertisements if you receive enough viewers and subscribers.
Utilize social media platforms where you can’t stream your workouts too like LinkedIn and Twitter. These will still allow you to share pre recorded videos and enable you to access a larger network.
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3. Create workouts specifically for an online setup
While many businesses have quickly migrated to offering their services online, many of their services have been compromised. Even though mentioned above, you can stream your services quickly through Facebook and Instagram live; you should be considerate about your devices and surroundings.
To have that edge over your competitors, you will want to use high-quality devices instead of an iPhone. It’s worth investing in proper cameras, microphones, lighting, internet connection, and equipment like tripods from the very beginning to allow your customers to have a consistent and smooth experience throughout.
Doing this will allow your members to have ease and provide them with fewer reasons to drop out from your online services. Plus, they help support the quality of your brand.
Plus, think about the platform you want to host your workouts on and gain an income from your members. It’s not always good to depend on social media, as its algorithms can change and run into problems in comparison to having real-time support from a dedicated fitness platform.
4. Consider the type of classes you’re offering
While there’s a range of benefits to offering both live-streamed and prerecorded content, you should take your time to think about what is more beneficial to you. Live stream workouts can allow people who’ve missed your class to come back and work out. However, the quality of Livestream can be a bit lower than recorded content.
Many prerecorded virtual workouts can make them look more polished and provide your members with greater variety. For example, if you’re offering a resistance training type workout, you will definitely want to pre-record the workout. Whereas if you have a guest instructor, you should opt to live stream and create excitement surrounding the event.
In addition to this, you should also think about the duration of the classes. Sometimes people might be undergoing online classes from their homes or on the go; therefore, you should have short and long ones to accommodate people’s lifestyle habits. Try to include a variety of full-body workouts, hiit workouts, interval training, low-impact workouts, yoga classes, strength training, cardio, no equipment and more workouts that target a range of muscle groups into your timetables.
5. Train your team
No doubt, as a fitness entrepreneur, you probably enroll your team through lots of training like administration, first aid, and qualifications. It’s equally important to up-skill your team online and better the user experience of your prospective and existing customers. The best way to do this is to train them or enroll them in training on content creation. Doing this will allow them to be familiar with the online setup and help your instructors run their classes smoothly.
6. Test your setup
Before you start live streaming, you should always test your setup to ensure it runs well and there are no distractions once the class begins. To stand out amongst your competitors and be reliable online, you need to offer a seamless experience. This means no lagging, music dropping, or noise distractions. To know more about this, check out our step by step guide to live streaming.
7. Offer lots of support
Once you’re set up online, you will want to make sure that you provide more words of encouragement verbally through the classes than you do in person. This means you and your instructors have to use your voice more than normal, be louder and provide more praise to users in their training program.
Doing this will allow a better and more personalized member experience online. Furthermore, you will want to make sure you have frequent engagement with your audience online by providing them feedback forms about your classes. Similarly, you should be active and engage with your member’s comments and messages on your social media channels to instil confidence in them to subscribe to your online classes.
8. Provide modifications and progressions
With online classes, you will have a wide range of users from different fitness levels using your services most of the time. Similarly, your users will be working out from various environments such as their home, hotel room, workplace, or anywhere else. This means some may have limited fitness space and skills in your classes.
To accommodate as many people as possible, you should provide modifications and progressions in each session. Plus, it provides people with that personal touch that they would have in a studio session. Showing alternatives will enable people to safely work out and have the correct form by following strict instructions.
9. Build an online community
In addition to offering online classes, you should aim to build a supportive online community of your users. You can do this through your own platform, Facebook groups, or other methods. Having a niche-based community will allow people to get social support from other members in offline classes.
Plus, it will provide ways to encourage new people to sign up for your classes and use your online services. Most importantly, it will help your members gather motivation from other members to be a part of your online classes, which is essential to stay consistent on home workouts.
10. Make the experience personal
When offering online workouts, you will want to make sure the members using your service feel valued. One of the best ways to do this is by attending your online classes 10 minutes earlier or 10 minutes after finishing and chatting to the members to get to know them.
11. Automate class reminders
Just like you would do for personal training or classes in gym, provide automated reminders to your users about your sessions. You might wish to send texts or emails to show that a class is about to start or a new prerecorded one has been released onto your platform. Doing this can help boost attendance and increase member satisfaction.
Overall, transitioning your fitness from offline to online will help you prepare to operate a bit easier when a crisis hits. In addition to this, you can reach more people with your services by allowing people to engage in classes on the go or from the comfort of their homes. Plus, you give your existing members flexibility to attend classes based on their schedules, which helps increase member satisfaction.
Finally, an online platform serves as an additional space to grow your niche and let members influence each other within your community. To know more about setting up your online business or adding additional features, check out our podcasts.