In recent months, the vast majority of fitness businesses have been forced to adapt and take their services online. As a result, online fitness has become a more competitive market than ever before.
While longstanding brands, including Beachbody and Peloton, have experienced success with paid digital fitness subscriptions for years, there’s even greater competition to stand out against the thousands of free online workouts available.
For the foreseeable future, delivering online workouts to your members or mixing it with a limited capacity onsite offering, is the only way you can keep your fitness business running. And with so many options available online, it’s essential that you’re getting your members the results they want to keep them loyal.
Many components give your studio an edge over free online workouts. It’s a combination of the community, service, guidance, and value you can offer. Alongside these, there’s one crucial aspect that you provide for your members that a stranger in a pre-recorded Youtube video can’t, and that’s accountability.
In this article, we’ll outline why accountability is essential to getting your members’ results and how to implement it virtually. Before we dive in, we’ll look at the typical journey of a person using free online workouts, so we can understand the problem they create and how you can avoid it at your studio. Skip ahead to:
The Structure of Free Online Workouts
As Alex Hormozi points out in a recent episode of our podcast, a workout is mostly the same for every online offering. In theory, a free online workout gives someone the instruction they need to make progress. A generic free online workout will include:
- 5-10 minute warm-up
- 30-minute workout, using a selection of exercises, repetitions, and timed intervals.
- 5-10 minute cool down
Your workouts likely follow a similar structure – and that’s because it works. But when it’s a free class, people can dip in and out of it as they please. The fact that it’s free means they won’t lose out if they “don’t feel like it today.” They can put in as much or as little effort as they like, and no one else needs to know, and if they’re always doing the bare minimum, they won’t see results. So after they’ve completed a few weeks and seen little progress, will they keep coming back for more?
The Problem With Free Online Workouts
Perhaps initially, someone is aiming to do three workouts a week. They’re excited to begin their journey, and they’re motivated, so they give it their all in the first week and feel accomplished. But after a while, a pre-recorded workout can fall flat – especially if you’re doing it by yourself in your living room. While a free online workout is handy to use as a trial, you begin to notice how repetitive the classes are, when you don’t like an exercise maybe you’ll give yourself a little extra rest or even skip it. By the time the next workout rolls around, you’re not seeing progress and not motivated, so you skip it altogether. You’ll try again next week – and the circle will repeat.
From this, it’s easy to understand how a lack of accountability leads to a lack of motivation. And it all ends in a lack of results. Ultimately that person will give up and cancel their membership.
But luckily for the people who’re struggling to make progress using free online workouts, there’s you. Accountability and results go hand in hand – and that’s what you’re there for.
The Key to Getting Your Members Results Online
Keeping members accountable is likely something you were doing at your brick and mortar studio. It’s simple enough to transfer accountability in a virtual setting, and it can be the difference between retaining a high or low number of your members. Below, we’ve outlined 5 ways you can keep members accountable while your business is online.
Live Stream Your Classes
There are two options for running your online fitness business: live stream your workouts, or pre-record them. Your best bet is to do both, as each comes with its benefits.
Creating on-demand workouts is useful, as you can build up a library of content that can be divided into specific programs for members who need flexibility. To make things easier, it’s good practice to record your live workouts. This way, people who can’t make class can still access the same session later.
The downside to offering on-demand workouts alone is that they don’t keep members as accountable. Perhaps you can tailor your pre-recorded programs, so that members have a week to complete a set of individual classes, and you can view their attendance. But this still makes it a lot easier for them to skip out on class. Similar to free online workouts, with on-demand classes, there’s no one to motivate members or make sure they’re giving it 100%.
Accountability is the reason live streaming is so popular when it comes to online fitness. Having members sign up for a live class at a set time creates accountability from the get-go. Instructors can spur members on in real-time, call them out when they need that extra bit of motivation, and praise them when they’re doing a great job. As Alex Hormozi points out in our podcast – people pay for you to pay attention. And this isn’t something they can get from a free online workout.
Live classes also encourage group accountability, as members will know that others are joining at the same time, and everyone’s in it together – just like they would be at the studio class. If you’re using a platform like Zoom, ask members to keep their cameras on so you can check their form and shout out encouragement.
Overall, a live class creates a more engaging experience for your members. But most importantly, it creates accountability for all aspects of the workout: from showing up, to putting in maximum effort. They can work well alongside on-demand workouts, and they’re the best way to get your members the results they’re capable of.
Regularly Check-In With Members
When it comes to your members, you understand their goals and what motivates them. You’ve built a relationship with them over time, and that’s what has kept them loyal to you for this long.
So don’t let it slip just because you’re online.
When you’re seeing your members regularly in person, you have the chance to check-in with them: how’re they finding the classes this week, any setbacks they’re experiencing, and so on. Now that you’re virtual, you need to actively go out of your way to do this. Whether it’s a phone call, email, text, or all of the above – they need to know that you’re there supporting them and helping them stay motivated and on track. Plus, while lockdown restrictions are still in place, members will likely appreciate hearing from you just to have some human interaction.
At LadyStrong Fitness, the studio calls its members daily to check in on them and keep them on track. When we spoke with founder and owner Brittany Welk on our podcast, she stressed that her key focus was ensuring that members were making the same progress online as they would be in person.
“We knew we had a responsibility to these people, more now than ever, to make sure that when they’re at home, they’re making progress and not going backwards.”
When you check-in with members, you keep them motivated and accountable. It means they turn up for your class ready to give it 100% – and that means they’re more likely to get results.
Implement Fitness Challenges
Fitness challenges are a great way to engage members and keep them accountable. Generally, a challenge has a goal and an end date, and when you’re running one online, this can be something straightforward. Think along the lines of a ’30 day push up challenge’, which is as simple as it sounds: Members will make time in their day to do 30 push-ups, 30 days in a row.
Challenges are excellent for really helping members to see their progress and results – the difference from day one to day thirty will be noticeable. When you have a group of people all working toward the same goal, your members are more likely to keep going, hold each other accountable, and get results. For more inspiration on running an online fitness challenge, check out this blog post.
Create Support Groups
Creating support groups is an excellent way to keep members accountable together. Try and create a support system using platforms like Facebook or Whatsapp, where you can create a private group.
Seeing posts from members sharing progress pictures, or even messages saying they’re excited about your next class will remind others in the group that they’re in this together and encourage some healthy competition. Sometimes, seeing a simple motivating post like this will be the difference between a member showing up to class or skipping it altogether.
It’s important for you to contribute to the group as well, to keep everyone engaged and communicating with one another. Write up a message after class telling everyone they did a great job and make a point of calling out members who went above and beyond with their efforts. If you have everyone’s consent, share a screenshot from the virtual class to add a personal touch. With any messages you send, include a reminder of anything else that might be coming up and let everyone know you’re there to answer any questions they might have, and always be as personalized as you can:
Great job today everyone – special shoutout to Amy for crushing those burpees. Get some food, get some rest, and I’ll see you on Wednesday for HIIT Live! We still have a couple of spaces for tomorrow’s quiz night, so if your Zoom calendar is free, join us.
Now more than ever, it’s crucial that your members feel truly supported. Building a space where you can do this and involve your whole community means your members can keep each other accountable.
Champion Member Success
There’s never been a more important time to champion your members: it spurs them on and keeps motivation high. Highlight the results members are getting, call out those who never miss a class, and give a shoutout to people making big contributions to your gyms community or the wider local community.
Consider creating a weekly or monthly opportunity for officially shining a member spotlight, like sharing a ‘member of the week’ newsletter or social media post. You can make this into an event that engages your community by encouraging members to nominate each other for some recognition. Instagram’s questions feature is a great way to get this going, you can ask members to send in their nominations and get everyone involved.
The idea behind championing your members is that it creates a ‘full circle’ process:
1. They feel valued as a member because you support your community and keep everyone on track.
2. They’re motivated by seeing other people’s progress, and it’s a reminder that they’re accountable for their own.
3. They stay motivated and loyal because they can make progress – they’ve seen other members get results.
4. Back to point 1 – and the circle repeats.
Checking in with members regularly is how you keep them accountable. Live streaming classes, fitness challenges, building support groups, and championing your members is how you provide them with the tools to become accountable for themselves.
Whichever strategies you use to achieve it – accountability is the key to getting your members results. And that’s what sets you apart from the online competition.