If you can take any lesson from 2020, it’s that digital fitness isn’t going anywhere. In what has been a tough time for many industries, the coronavirus pandemic showed that businesses need to adapt to survive. That’s exactly what the fitness industry did. To survive in the current climate and into the future, running a hybrid fitness business is key.
By combining digital and in-person elements in your business, you can expand your reach, support your community, and boost your bottom line. A hybrid business model puts you in a more secure position as it allows you to continue to generate revenue even with gym closures and restrictions. In this article, we discuss why you need a hybrid gym in 2021 and 11 ways to make it successful.
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What is a Hybrid Gym?
A hybrid fitness business combines in-person and online offerings. For example, you have a gym and a digital fitness platform where you stream your classes and offer on-demand workouts for digital members. You might also offer in-person and online personal training sessions as well as one-on-one coaching. A hybrid gym is a mixture of in-studio members, virtual coaching, and digital services.
With a hybrid gym, your digital division complements the rest of your business. For brick and mortar businesses, the hybrid business model is a relatively new approach. But now it’s being accepted with open arms by the fitness industry. Businesses that can adapt and pivot to a hybrid business model can cater to a growing home workout crowd while taking care of their current members.
The coronavirus pandemic has emphasized the need for fitness as part of a drive to keep the nation healthy. As different cities go in and out of lockdown, not everyone is keen to return to the gym quite yet. A digital fitness platform allows you to reach out to your community and grow your customer base. If you’re not seriously thinking about a professional and smooth online offering, you’re behind the curve. Because your competition is already there.
4 Reasons to Run a Hybrid Fitness Business in 2021
Running a digital division to your business helps to navigate the risk that comes with COVID-19. Even with a vaccine on the cards, there could still be months of restrictions, shielding, and uncertainty. Although you’re keen to get members back in the gym, a hybrid gym with live-streaming and on-demand workouts is the way forward. Here are four reasons you should run a hybrid fitness business in 2021.
Help More People
When you have a gym, you’re membership base likely works or lives near your location. You can change your pricing and your offering, but you can’t change your location. It will always be an unavoidable deal-breaker for some. With digital fitness, you can help even more people. You are no longer restricted by location. If someone has access to the internet and a smartphone, all of a sudden, you have a potentially global reach.
Additional Income Stream
During the first wave of the coronavirus pandemic, gyms and fitness studios were forced to close their doors with immediate effect. For many, that meant they had no money coming in and still a lot of money going out. Digital fitness platforms diversify your income and create additional revenue streams. This puts you in a stronger and more secure financial position now and in the future.
Maximize Your Time
Your fitness instructors only have so many hours in the day to teach classes. You have a set amount of classes or personal training sessions and a set amount of people who can attend. With live-streaming and on-demand fitness, you can now reach a wider audience in the same amount of time. There is no limit to the number of people that can join your fitness classes remotely. This can transform the amount of time it takes to reach a bigger audience.
The Future of Fitness
It’s no secret that digital fitness is hugely popular. Members can work out whenever they want from any location. They have access to fitness instructors in different states or even different countries. Although digital fitness has a big role to play in the future of fitness, it’s not here to replace in-person services. As much as you can create a unique digital experience, there’s something about going to the gym and visiting a small group training class that inspires and motivates. That’s why a hybrid business model has the potential to be the most effective approach.
The Online Trainer Show Podcast talks about hybrid training business models. The episode breaks down the hybrid approach and discusses how hybrid models are critical for gyms. It has an interesting take on how there is a version of hybrid training for everybody.
11 Ways to Make a Successful Hybrid Gym
If you want to create a digital version of your offering, it needs to be the same high quality and standards your members expect from your gym. It pays to invest time and money into a next-level digital solution that compliments your in-person services and experience. Here are 11 ways to make a successful hybrid gym.
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1. Engage with Digital and In-Person Members
Find creative ways to engage with both your digital and in-person members. While some members may crossover into both memberships, you will likely have digital and physical-only members. This means you have to engage with all of your community. Whether it’s through email, text, push notifications, newsletters, or Facebook groups, you can engage with all of your members effectively by creating an engagement strategy that factors in all elements of your hybrid gym.
2. Invest in Video and Sound Equipment
To deliver a high-quality digital experience, you will need to invest in video and sound equipment. Digital fitness platforms are often a combination of live streams and on-demand content. For recording workouts and editing video, you will need to invest in equipment such as cameras, microphones, screens, tripods, lighting, and editing software. Your digital equipment will need to replicate the experience that your members love.
3. Think About Your Target Audience
The chances are your target audience may have evolved slightly. As you expand into digital fitness, your target audience expands. You will have members that naturally prefer an online model, and they will have different needs and wants than your in-person members. For example, you may be targeting parents that want to exercise around their kids’ schedule or at-risk people who don’t to risk any exposure to COVID-19. When moving into a hybrid business model, analyze your target audience, and think about how you can expand your reach.
4. Hire Digital Talent
While some fitness instructors thrive in a digital environment, others do not. Just because someone is a great instructor, doesn’t mean they will flourish on camera. To create a great digital fitness platform, you need good digital talent. This means hiring video editors with technical knowledge, content creators who can engage with your membership base, and marketing experts. Your digital team will help create a library of content that’s on-brand, engaging, and motivating. On top of hiring new talent, make sure your existing team has the skills needed to deliver a fantastic live streaming experience.
5. Software for a Hybrid Model
Does your software support a hybrid business model? Think about how members can book live classes, manage their digital and in-person membership, and access your digital content. Your software and member management system should support your hybrid business model. This means that you can easily collect membership payments, spot any late payments, and manage all parts of your business through your gym software.
6. Be Unique, Authentic, and On Brand
It’s important that all parts of your business remain unique, authentic, and on-brand. If your known for your fun, quirky, yet functional training programs, your digital fitness platform should embody all these qualities. A great digital fitness solution delivers a unique experience that your members expect from you. Your social media, digital fitness, and in-person offerings should all interlink and complement one another. Whether you’re a martial arts gym, boutique gym, or focus completely on cardio, your members should feel your brand in all parts of the business. Be authentic in everything you do.
7. Create an Easy-to-Use Digital Platform
Your digital fitness platform should be easy to access, stream, and watch video content. It should be simple to navigate and clearly state what you can watch and when. With virtual memberships, you can reach a potentially limitless number of viewers. Don’t let your members down by offering a platform that lacks usability. Your digital experience is key to your success and includes your website, fitness streaming and on-demand platform, and social media. Keep it clear and simple.
8. Use Targeted Marketing
As your audience personas may evolve and expand, it’s more important than ever to use targeted marketing. The growing home workout crowd favors convenience and cost-effective solutions for working out. As your business evolves into a hybrid way of working, you will begin to offer flexible membership options based on your new services. An effective marketing strategy uses market segmentation to send the right message to the right people at the most effective time possible.
9. Data is King
With digital solutions becoming increasingly popular, technology continues to disrupt every part of the fitness industry. From marketing and customer service to health data and consumer behavior, data is essential to making the best decisions for your business. Data is absolutely king. Your gym members have high standards. This is why they choose to engage with your business in the first place. You can continue to improve all aspects of your fitness business by using the data you have available. Whether it’s increasing the number of strength training classes you have during lunchtime or expanding your digital class variety, always make data-driven decisions.
10. Develop In-Person and Digital Challenges
Fitness challenges are a fantastic way to nurture and grow your gym community. Think about how you can engage with both your in-person and digital members through fitness challenges. Virtual fitness challenges can motivate members, inspire them to move, and generate a healthy amount of competition. Depending on social distancing guidelines and COVID-19 restrictions, you can launch in-person challenges as well, such as most gym visits, a bootcamp-style sports day, or improving your personal best. It’s a good idea to create a hashtag for your fitness challenge and encourage users to post and tag your brand on social media. This helps create plenty of user-generated content to boost brand awareness and authority.
11. Leverage Technology
The majority of successful gyms leverage technology. They use technology-centered solutions to create exceptional experiences for their members. Leverage technology in all aspects of your hybrid gym. From health and fitness apps to smartwatches and member management software, think about how technology can help you streamline and scale up your business. Fitness technology is already transforming the fitness industry. As app downloads continue to increase, consumers rely on technology for many actions. For in-person gyms, the effective use of technology will set brands apart from others.
There’s no guidebook for a pandemic. But the fitness industry is resilient. Although some digital brands were in a strong position to take on the COVID-19 crisis, many in-person gyms had to adapt and evolve into hybrid businesses to survive. Now, almost a year since the first case of coronavirus, a hybrid way of working is the future of fitness. With online classes, live streaming, and virtual personal training, the pandemic has changed the way people exercise. As digital fitness becomes the norm in many lives, building a successful hybrid gym is now a priority for many gym owners.
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