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The New Normal for Member Experience. Hear How the Best Are Doing It Post COVID-19

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Here is the fourth in a series of roundtables we recorded from our recent virtual conference Glofox Connect.

Emma Barry, Global Fitness Authority and Author of Building a Badass Boutique, Barry Ennis and Shay Kostabi, hosts of The Fitness Career Mastery Podcast, Dr. Paul Bedford, Fitness Industry Expert on Retention, Attrition and Customer Experience and owner of Retention Guru, Chris Stevenson, IHRSA Board Member and Owner of Stevenson Empowers and Steve Pirt, CEO of Friction Free Fitness give expert insights on the value you need to be providing to keep members engaged.

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Kevin: How is it going everyone. Welcome to the Fitness Founders Podcast. I’m Kevin Mannion, VP Marketing here at Glofox. If you missed our recent virtual event Glofox Connect, where we claim some of the best discussion of industry experts here in the podcast. On this panel, entitled The New Normal for Member Experience. Retention and member experience experts Dr. Paul Bedford, Chris Stevenson, Emma Barry, Steve Pirt, Barry Ennis and Shay Kostabi shared detailed insights on how can you provide the best member experience and keep people in your gym for the long term. Let’s have a listen. 

Caroline: Brilliant. Hi everyone. I see we’re being joined by all of our panel now. We’re being joined by Chris, Emma, Barry and Shay, Steve, and Dr. Paul Bedford as well. Thanks so much for joining everyone. What I’m going to do first is I’m going to just intro the topic for today’s chat, and then I’ll move on to letting you guys introduce yourselves. 

To kick it off, today’s chat right now is all about the new normal for member experience. We’re going to get feedback, insights, and all the information we need from the experts on today’s panel to figure out how they’re doing it post COVID-19 and what you can start to implement in your studio to get this kind of success as well. 

Everyone should see everyone else now on the screen. And here we have, so I’ll pass it over to Chris first. Chris, if you wouldn’t mind to tell us a little bit about yourself, your business and maybe where you are coming from today.

Chris: Yeah. Chris Stevenson, Los Angeles, California. I’ve been in the industry over 20+ years, started as a technician, personal training, group exercise and then kind of work my way through a position to becoming an owner and operator for about 17 years. Right now, I run Stevenson Consulting, we help entrepreneurs and businesses of all shapes and sizes with all areas in the fitness business. We also are launching a company called Be Military Fit in California which I know is big in the UK. That’s our current project that should launch within a month or so. 

Caroline: Brilliant. Thanks for that Chris, and definitely great to get your insights on this topic here today. Next, over to you Emma.

Emma: Hi everyone. Just want to get a couple of shout outs actually. I’m thrilled to see some people who’ve joined us in [unclear – 2:25] It’s fantastic to have you guys on from all over the world. Emma Barry, also from California and I spend a full-time job just being basically being on… that’s my whole reason for living right now. Go for some – just manage to get squeezed this book out just before COVID hits, so all about building a badass boutique. Kevin happy to get one of those, sorry I didn’t get back to you sooner, been on a few conferences. I consult to the innovative age of fitness so that’s boutiques to budgets and boutiques startups. Some of those are doing better than others in these times but we’re going to come through strong, so really happy to share some thoughts with you guys.

Caroline: Brilliant. Great to have you with us, Emma. Thank you. Next, we are going to go over to Barry and Shay from The Fitness Career Mastery.

Shay: Hi, Good Morning, Good Evening.

Barry: Good Morning.

Shay: You or me? 

Barry: Go for it.

Shay: We are international master trainers and boutique fitness consultants. We host a podcast called Fitness Career Mastery, and we also have a consulting services, one on one coaching services for independent trainers and fitness entrepreneurs and online courses available. We just launched a course called Learn to Livestream; and over the pass 5 or 6 months now, we’ve been helping boutique fitness studios pivot during this time and launched their online platforms. 

Caroline: Great. I’m going to go over to you, Paul.

Paul: Okay. Paul Bedford, based here in the UK, been in the industry maybe 30 years now. I, similar to Chris, started off as an instructor/personal trainer, running clubs and managing clubs. I spent full 10 years training people to be personal trainers before. Headed off here in academia to study Behavioral Psychology and I’ve spent all of my time on Zoom calls working some of the biggest operators on the planet particularly around behavioral change, how they keep their customers for longer and improving their customer experience. It’s been an interesting day already. I started the day in Tel Aviv. I’ve been on a call with Russians via New York, and now I’m globally here, so looking forward to it. 

Caroline: Covering a lot of bases there Paul. Thanks so much for joining us here today. And then finally over to you, Steve.

Steve: Hey everybody! Thanks for the opportunity. Yeah, my name is Steve Pirt. I’m CEO of Friction Free Fitness Incorporated. We are a globally fitness focused firm that is really driving the build of what we call ecosystems. Taking together innovative technology. Just like Paul, we’re working right now in Israel. Japan as well with our main markets, and of course here in United States, soon to be Brazil. Technology, operations and design concept in taking the three and enabling operators and fitness professionals to enhance their capabilities in different ways. I’ve been on the industry well over 20 years working for five of the largest operators in the United States. Most recently accommodating in the National Director of Operations and Technology for UFC gym. It’s been a fun journey and I think we’re in our, not our new normal. I think we’re in our new evolution when it comes to the fitness here post COVID. We’re excited to see what we’re about to achieve.

Caroline: Brilliant. Thanks, Steve. And indeed thanks to all of our panel for joining us here today. I don’t think anyone can argue with the fact that we have a really, really stellar panel. I think there’s going to be a lot of questions coming in to pick your brains on this. We’ll make sure to make some time for questions and answers at the end. Just relating to housekeeping and some exciting news with giveaways that we’re going to giving out. We will be giving out from the Fitness Career Mastery, Barry and Shay are offering a free 1-hour consult. We’ll be giving that out to one of the best questions from this session. And then also as Emma touched on as well, we will also be giving away Emma’s new book Building a Badass Boutique to another great question get in. So get your questions in now and get your chance of getting either the book or the consult. 

Without further ado, let’s kick it off. So, the new normal; I know we touched it here Steve. You were talking about it. It’s like this new evolution. I guess everything has changed over the past couple of months. So, member experience, in the midst of the environment and everything else that has change, have the characteristics of what makes a good member experience have they actually changed? And I’m going to go to you first, Chris. 

Chris: Obviously, we know that following the guidelines with social distancing and cleaning standards are all going to be elevated. I think we’ve always said that cleaning gyms were important whether gyms actually followed through and keep theirs clean is debatable. I mean, some did a great job, some didn’t. That will definitely be an amplified part of the customer experience. But I do think just the way things are trending in general, COVID or non-COVID related, it’s personalization; and I think that’s the key. We’re in an environment where more trust is necessary so I think finding ways to personalize the experience so that every member don’t feel like a number in just one of many members. They feel like that they are singularly important as a member. That’s everything from you yourself as a leader and then also heavily engaging your staff in training, best practices like warm welcomes, fun farewells, consistent engagement with members on the floor, owning questions, building strong relationships through social media. Just that real true engagement and building real relationships. Again, getting your staff out from simply standing and hiding behind the desk or an office and having them on the floor. Being proactive not reactive, “How can I help you?”, “Is there anything you need”, “Is there anything we can be doing better right now?” When people leave, I actually learn this from Paul Bedford who’s one of my mentors. When somebody leaves your facility we always talk about asking the question when will you be back or when we will see you again. And Paul have mentioned one time, you also say, “How was your experience today?” So, it is proactively seeking out feedback. There’s a presentation I do often called that stop guessing and start asking what your members want. It’s about really going out proactively surveying, Net Promoter Score, things like that to gather data. But then also things like, I just mentioned that Paul taught me, as far as just simply being on the floor, “How’s your experience right now?” “What can we do better?” The more that we can build a real relationship with our customer that increases their confidence, it builds trust, and builds a real relationship. That’s what I think is going to be the most important thing.

Caroline: I guess the keywords I’m getting from you there is like personalization, and having that personal relationship with your members, and ensuring that your staff can build that relationship as well. I’m going to go over to you, Emma, next. From what Chris has said, do you have similar perspectives on this? 

Emma: Yeah, thanks. Obviously great points. I think the other thing is no one really knows what’s going on so I think a good dose of transparency is really good as well. People have tried to hide the fact that they don’t know what they’re doing and things like that. I think there’s definitely something in it. We’re in this journey with… 

Caroline: I think Emma may have just… I thought that it was just on my end.  

Kevin: Emma is still on the list here so she might just have lost audio. 

Caroline: Okay.

Paul: We all just freeze to help her.

Chris: I think she muted her microphone because she was on fire. 

Shay: Emma, come back. 

Caroline: Maybe for now we hop on the next and then we’ll come back to Emma when she’s back with us which I think might be it. Emma, you’re back.

Emma: I’m so sorry guys. We’re a little bit dodgy here in the South California. I compete with all the schools. So yeah, transparency and also personalization. I love the point that Chris made earlier around surveys. The clients I worked with they ask their members a bunch of things, and sometimes they were came back with delightful answers that really weren’t what you were thinking. Sometimes people are actually evolving in a different way and you don’t know. Different things matter to them, so keep asking. People love to see themselves in the solution and they love to think that they had a part to play in where the company is going. So, treat people, everyone today is going to be an entrepreneur or entrepreneur; they’re either guiding the business from within as one of its constituents or they’re actually leading the ship. Either way, you should feel like you are part of the future. And that’s one of my what my big all around feeling. I need to feel like I belong here. I like to feel like I matter. I want to be with you because I just feel so damn good. That’s the piece of behavioral change that we need because motivating and joining in gym that’s when I’m the most motivated and then it’s all downhill and that’s why we see this attrition. We’ve got to keep that motivation. I’ve got to be wanted to be here and not even explaining why. It’s this feeling. I’m just all about that. Thank you.

Caroline: Great. And with collecting this feedback, so obviously you can do it in person and then through surveys. How often or how regularly? Is there certain point in the member’s journey that you’d want to get that survey out or is this at any stage? Yeah, Paul… I think you want to…

Paul: I was just going to say I’m advising my clients to do it while they are at the facility. You don’t want to do it retrospectively when it’s 2 weeks or 3 weeks after about what was your visit like because then they are relying on memory and they are going to fill in and smooth out information. You’ll going to be asking them while they’re there as much as possible. And as Chris alluded to, we always prompted this, “How was your workout today?” as they are leaving so you can get the feedback straight away. If it was a good workout, they get to talk positively about business as they are leaving. If it wasn’t a good workout or they have issues, you get a chance to say, “Look, we’re going to deal with that and rectify it.” And that’s make them feel good before they’ve even left the building. 

Traditionally surveys have been done like here a cross or a tick about your experience that I’m collecting once every 3 months. Well, that’s rubbish. I describe it as in-time surveying. Survey them while they’re doing the activity. How do you feel now about our class you’ve just done? You don’t wait. You do it now. There are other types of surveys because there are surveys that go, “What’s been your overall experience in the last 4 weeks?” Or your overall experience since joining. You can also survey elements of the customer journey not just at that point in time. You need to be full picture. 

Caroline: Yeah, and I like what you’ve said there, Paul and Emma, like with that sense of checking on someone, and Chris as well, when they’re leaving, and that they have the opportunity to share like, “Oh yeah, I nailed that session.” That ego boost. They’re going to connect that positive feeling with that experience at the gym and overall enhance their experience. I might go to you, Chris, and then we’ll go to the Fitness Career Mastery, and then we’ll go to you, Steve. 

Chris: We’re not talking to you, Steve. 

Steve: Yeah, that’s good. I’m just going to sit here with a big smile. You know, while we’re talking about here is data, right? And Paul that’s your lane and certain our lane. Data is useless without being able to collect it in a meaningful way, organize it, and then concisely provide that awareness to the right fitness professional. I’m sure we all heard this whole chum about four walls versus technology like it’s zero some game now all of a sudden where this is just like supplementation. It’s an addition to. It’s another choice. It’s another tool, another lever that we’re able to pull as fitness professionals to enhance human capacity. The greatest way that we can enhance through awareness. So, surveys are one tool. I mean, I remember back at 24hour, we used shady power, right? And that was 15-17 years ago. But I could tell as an operator; how many sneezes per person came in that per month, it was a drown of data that you didn’t really. My point being is having that information is one but make sure you can collect it and provide it in a meaningful way that enables us to take action. Without the action, it’s just another spreadsheet that sits on the table and is useless. 

Caroline: Brilliant. Yeah, thanks for that Steve. I guess like we’re in the age of technology now as well especially with online classes and everything like that, YouTube, have that data there available to use and it’s up to you to choose how you use it as well. And then to you guys, Shay and Barry, how about you for creating that member experience? What are your best practices? 

Shay: Yeah, I love Chris and Emma’s thoughts on transparency and establishing a culture of trust is really, really important. As things are changing especially now like we’re learning new things and it’s the rules and regulations are different in every single state, city, country. We have to remember like at the core the thing that really makes your business standout is your product. And your product is your programming and the delivery system of that product is your instructors. You really want to make sure that you’re investing in new cutting edge, smart, safe, fun programming that people want to keep coming back to you over and over again, that they’re getting results, and also that it’s been delivered by passionate, intelligent, engaging instructors. Investing in their education and their growth is going to be really important especially when you’re not just competing with the studio down the street anymore. You now have to compete with the like Netflix library of workouts online, and that really comes down to really investing in your own business and not worrying so much about what everybody else is doing, and going back to surveying your clients. Your client is your boss. You just want to make sure that you are serving them and that you’re delivering exactly what they want and not what you think they want. 

Caroline: Okay. Great points there. Yes, Steve.

Steve: On that it’s good. I think as operators, all of us have multiple years; that was an amazing point. But I think we’ve all come to a time in our experience where our customers don’t know what they want. And so sometimes, it’s us being able to present such a clear. I believe purpose is the answer to this question. Having purpose to fitness whether it’s tiny individuals into a community where they fit in. They can be themselves that we are talking about that’s enhanced by coaches, and culture, and connection which a lot of great brands have really tied into whether all those pieces were just single. That’s the greatest success of a boutique and studio. They really available on handset, not just by size and proximity. It can be really tied in deep understanding of their why, and then clearly conveying to their audience both their fitness professions that are delivery system and the influencers of it. Also, their customers were making these choices of why here versus there. I think it’s really tying in purpose. And moving forward, tying purpose into fitness, individuals having purpose in their fitness versus to just opening up the door and providing access and maybe a fun, clean class is really going to be the differentiator not only for thriving but that retention piece as well. 

Caroline: Okay. Yeah, really interesting points, so knowing your why and being sure of your brand, and yourself, and your offering. In that way, you’re going to be sure of who your members are and how to speak with them. 

Steve: And making sure that everyone else knows about it. It’s not just a hidden secret that you and your team have because… right?

Caroline: Yeah. Brilliant. And then I guess when you are looking at gyms and studios as a whole, obviously the boutique concept is quite new to the scene. With how gyms and studios are run, what would you say are the things that traditional gyms and studios are doing really well? And what are those elements that are there that they may need to improve on? So, say, when we’re looking at boutique fitness we are seeing obviously like member experience and engagement. I don’t know, Chris. For you, what do you see gyms and studios doing well enough? 

Chris: Well, I think it’s all over the place. Because if we talk COVID related, there are couple clubs of where I live they are doing a great job. You know they’re doing the social distancing, everything’s mapped out, great signage, making all these great adaptations, do it right. And then I have a friend go to another down the street and then I go, “How was it once it open.” He’s like, “Wild west.” There are people sweating at each other, no mask, everybody is on top of each other. I think they unplug every treadmill with their big statement. 

Unfortunately, there’s not a level of consistency, and I do believe that hurts our industry. I think sometimes we, especially the panelists and the people on this webinar, we live in sort of a small world that we assume it’s the entire world because everybody on this is doing things right. Everybody that’s listening is like how can I do things better and improve. But we just forget there’s a lot of sort of operators who don’t attend these things and don’t learn. That didn’t really answer your question but I think that’s something important to realize. But, like I said, COVID related, the good operators are following the guidelines whether it’s social distancing, it’s cleaning; they’re out there. I think one thing is really important is I would say treat it like a restaurant. Normally, you would spend more time in the office or working on task or any stuff. Right now, especially know your peak times, when is the busiest, and you as a leader are on the floor simply doing all these stuff that everybody in the panel that has talked about so far as far as engagement goes. 

I think the good clubs are communicating really, really well. They’re being transparent as Emma said before. They’re building those levels of trust. They’re asking for feedback on a regular basis. All those best practices that we talked about already, they’re actually doing them. One thing I was thinking as Steve was talking some really brilliant stuff. I wrote an article awhile back called Feel vs. Real, and people often base decisions on feel, and that’s often a terrible way to base a decision. Real is well let’s look at the data, right. We’re actually going to look at the data and the feedback and use that all information. I think, Steve also said, if you don’t do anything with all the data you collect, it’s just a piece of paper on your desk. Think about the message that says. I say, hey, Caroline, it really matters what you think. So, tell me and then you just don’t do anything with that info, that’s worst. If you are not going to do anything with the data you collect, don’t even ask for it, in my opinion. 

What Paul’s saying about asking people on site for feedback. I wrote a study, I think it said, 1 out of 26 people will actually tell you why they are upset or what they’re complaint is. You may have 26 people that walked out your door and never come back because they had some sort of bad experience that day, and they just didn’t tell you because that’s not in the human nature, not the one person as well. But if you’re asking, you’re going to prompt that so you can save a lot of memberships. You may have had a random one of bad experience for whatever reason, and when you ask them, it gives them a chance again. You can solve that problem or maybe it is just great feedback which is fine. But if it’s a problem and you actually have that data to act on it. Again, the COVID specific protocols, the great clubs are treating… they’re personalizing experiences and they are going out of their way to make it the best experience possible and the bad clubs aren’t. 

Caroline: Okay Yeah, really good points and I guess, again, it’s nice to hear the data perspective on because that what’s we obviously do have access. Over to you, Paul, on this one? 

Paul: Yeah. I was going to say… I’m talking to clients this week. We obviously just have opened in the UK. Five days I think we’ve been opened. I’m getting feedback on busy volume and things like that. But one client who’s only had 25% of their customers return, I have another one who’s got 68% return. And they seem to be doing the same thing. In our group we’re discussing this. I did point out to them that customers have a life outside of the fitness environment that they also have to take care of. As a panel here, while they doing health fitness, they have other parts of their live. We’re a share or part their life. For a lot of them we know their whole life. Today, it’s the hottest day of the year in the UK today. I bet any gyms are open are going to be require because this might be summer for us today. I think there are lot of operators. One of things I comment to someone earlier this week was there’s a very big difference between putting hazard tape around your equipment to make a distance and putting like little flags and bunting around it to do the same job. You see a lot of operators who come from a very operational perspective. It’s all about what you can’t do. You must stay 2 meters apart. You must do this so it becomes really very officious. Whereas you can actually say, “Thank you for staying 2 meters apart.” I’ve been visiting a few clubs you are seeing some almost like the exercise police. And in others, it’s almost a Ronald McDonald version of a clown going, “Oh good to see you! You will wipe down the equipment won’t you.” And because it’s done in a friendly way, you feel obliged to do it. Whereas someone says, “Don’t forget. You need to clean your equipment.” Yeah alright. I think that’s where some of the operators are missing trick with their experience. There’s no, and not that they shouldn’t be, so COVID aware, they’ve gone one end of the spectrum in terms of enforcement and thought that they have to be almost police like to do it rather than you, how do I get someone to wipe down the equipment. Well, the first thing I do is, I see someone to do it and I say really loudly, “Chris, it was great to see you clean that equipment. Thank you!” Because another people go, I want that compliment, and they’ll do the same. You get that ripple effect. 

Caroline: Yeah. Really good point. And I think it’s interesting as well. I guess COVID put such a curve ball into things that people don’t really know how to act with other people at times and certain social situations. You’re riddled with fear when you’re interacting with other people, and especially when someone is coming into your studio it’s about I guess pitching your tone right. Make them feel comfortable, and safe and secure. I might go to you next, Steven. I see you have a point on this. 

Steve: Yeah, I wanted to tail off some really good stuff that’s happening. Paul, my comment was really tailing off of you. I think the things I’m seeing right now, and I’ve got perspective in Japan, where a lot of customers are right now but never close… so there might be some alignment there if you set a clear guideline and expectation. I know for us in the States that would be amazing. They actually for the most part will follow that and adhere to that. But what I’m seeing is the operators who are thriving and doing well… In fact, some of are doing 160–140%. I was just in Chicago two days ago; enrollments are year over year huge. Now, utilization is a little bit lower but they are thriving and people are grateful. It’s communication. And it goes back, start to being a broken record, but it goes back to purpose and awareness. Some are communicating very well with their customers. They’re taking the time and they’re investing the resources into they know who their customers are. Chris, you pointed this out. We’re all, I hate to use the word expert, but we’re all seasoned and good of what we do, and certainly have some good knowledge about the process and procedures. But the vast majority of fitness professionals in the world don’t even come from fitness let alone have that competency. The only way that they can gain that and sound like Paul just did and be able to have that perspective instead of fear and punitive action. It’s more about rewarding and enhancing like a good coach typically does appealing – that’s our language. That comes from having a game plan. That comes from sitting down and communicating that game plan to our teams. Having the right teams even there to receive and fill that game plan; and then practicing that. And that takes time, that takes competency, that takes thought, that takes resources. I’ve seen the groups, organizations, individuals and brands that have done that; even if the messages are little off, it’s still conveying a greater sense of trust and compassion. So, members are coming back or start kind of giving people a little edge to make mistakes. Because like you said, like restaurants. I’ve gone to restaurants that the day it opens, and I’m not always expecting it to be 5-start. I’m okay with a couple of bumps in the road as long as it feels like they’re putting it there, their time and their effort, and the steak is not to cold. 

But on the other end though, what I’m saying is the customers or the brands are not communicating, they have not put in that time, who have not done that, it shows. I’m a… by background and you can’t fake. When you’re on the map, you either did the work in the room or you didn’t, and it’s going to highlight when you step out there by yourself, and I see it a lot of these brands in that way. Unfortunately, they’re relying on their older systems of just opening up the door, peering your head, putting on a few spray bottles and hoping that it’s all going to work out and this COVID thing’s going to pass. So, it comes back to communication, preparation, and really enacting that. 

Caroline: Yeah. Thanks for that Steve. Yeah communication and being prepared is obviously key at the time like this. I know it’s been touched on already the importance of transparency. Emma, what about you? What are you seeing people do well and not so well during this time? 

Emma: I just want to left the conversation a little bit for a second. Just to bring attention and thank you pass it on to me. There’s a fantastic report [unclear – 28:06] understanding Armageddon. If you haven’t seen it, it gives you a really good. It was a real time data done by all the beach clubs basically in New York City. Basically, looked at the industry and showed the financial impact and economic impact on each, everything from luxury right down to budget. I just want to throw that and it’s a great resource.  

Secondly, health has never been more important. I just think as we reopen, think about, guys this is a bigger conversation then am I going to into a club once or twice or 3 times a week. This is about your health. My parents both came from medical community and 70-80% of people who end up emergency who die are overweight. They’re unhealthy. They have underlying health issues because they’ve made ill life choices. All that’s been in the environments. I just want to make that point. We all talk in the industry. We’ve done such a poor job of marketing fitness as an actual solution. Les Mills packages from US. We have to beg our way onto all sort of things like it’s ridiculous. I just think everyone needs to think of a broader. It doesn’t need to be scary medical. It needs to be guides. You made this to be a fully functioning contributing human being, so can we lift the level. 

Now, COVID has done two things, it has accentuated our strengths and it has exploited our weaknesses. And if we would have a try, we’ve been able to lead into it. Where we haven’t had a try, we’re going shit, there’s no one listening and we’ve got nothing to tell them, so we have been exploited. What I’m saying is the boutiques and the small gyms and very connected gyms have come back strong because they’ve got this relationship. People who just have a membership and they’ve got 10,000 members that don’t really know them, they’re not coming back. When I look to our friends in Asia, and I look friends in Europe, we will be opening for a while and just been closed down again in Belgium. You see, there’s a big start of people having that community. There’s a slow start if they don’t. Okay, so that just being said. If this is an opportunity for us to turn over every single touchpoint in our business and make a mindful decision if it serves us or not. We’ve all been doing this every six months anyway but especially now. Okay, turn everything over, does it serve? Turn it off. Put the resources over here. Turn that off. Tweak this, ask the members, tweak that, make them a part of the solution. I’m just looking at the chart and the questions are being, “Should we do a video? Should we get testimonials?  Yes, yes, yes, whatever it’s going to do to make people feel good. Here’s what we are doing show safety but sell joy. You’ve got to sell people hope. They’ve got to want to become back to the journey because it’s going to give them a piece of yourself that they’ve forgotten. We’ve all lost ourselves in this. We’ve has some of the most horrific days. I’ve lost my like I’ve never seen before. I’ve become a horrible human being. And then I was sort of go, right, we’ve got to get forward and help people get out of this. We’ve never had this moment. 

And then my last comment would be the new club I believe is pulling the best of the categories. Okay, so the budget is fantastic, value for money. The boutiques have given us experience, the clubs have given us membership and variety. What does your new offering look like? We’re in the lifestyle game now guys. We are not competing against each other. You are competing against Amazon, [unclear – 31:21] who just bought Mirror. You are competing against everyone who has an audience and especially people who have deep pockets. Looking at people are going to pay a lot for health and wellness. Okay, so they are all coming into our space. 

My favorite club model right now is boutique approach to fitness programming, is it on trend, is it awesome, is it cool, and then am I digitally enabled? Do I know what all my members are doing because I can track the data whether it is wrist band, whether I know what they are doing, whether I’ve got some sort of recognition technology, am I using AI? This is the new world, guys. And if we don’t do it, trust me, other industries are beginning to pile in and they will. Thank you. 

Caroline: Brilliant. Wow, so many points there. I hope some of the attendees are taking notes. I was trying to scroll down a few of your points there, Emma, and really, really powerful and impactful lines. There is one you have show safety but spread joy, share joy. 

Emma: Sell joy. I mean, show joy. People want a positive feeling. I want to be pulled into my positive future self. I don’t want to be reminded of the shit that I’ve leave at home and unsafe clubs and gyms everywhere. We are being conditioned to think that we are not human anymore. That’s the biggest disaster right here. Yes, we’ve got to be safe but don’t forget we are social. We are going to come back. We are going to have live experience. We are going to stand, and kiss, and have sex, and all those good things again because there’s a lot of people pushing but that’s not going to happen. We are not going to be just that. 

Caroline: Hello gorgeous baby! Oh! Brilliant. 

Shay: Barry in the back. 

Barry: … 

Caroline: Thanks so much. There’s so much that everyone has touched on so far that I will go back to, but I just want to go over to you, Barry. I know Shay is busy there with the little baby. But, for you and member experience, there is obviously all of those different element that you spoke about but how would you boil it down? What are these key elements that you think people are doing well?   

Barry: Yeah, absolutely. First of all, I’m going to completely with you, always speaks our language. We have COVID right now. To your point on how are we communicating fitness to everybody. We just learned today how essential it is for us to be moving every single day make sure that this doesn’t progress. 

Shay: There’s a huge difference in neuro recovery as well as strengthening your immune system so that you don’t catch it. Obviously we are super fit and work out all the time, but it is really, really important and it’s going to become even more important. 

Barry: Right. But, to answer the question, to paint a broad spectrum we are seeing some gym owners are literally doing the ostrich thing and putting their head in the sand and hoping that everything just eventually goes back to normal and hope that if they open their doors everybody is just going to come show up. And then, at the other end of the spectrum we are seeing some really incredible initiative from people. They are taking the time to educate themselves. These are things that have been said already. They are not being reactionary to what’s going on. 

I think one thing that hasn’t been said yet that we are seeing from incredibly successful studio owners right now is that they are stepping up as leaders. Whether they feel prepared to do so themselves or not, they are showing up for their clients, for their members, and for their team in way that like lights a torch for them and shows them this is the path forward. I’m not entirely convinced that this is the right way but I’ve done all the work and this is the way that we are going together. And that kind of attitude and energy just brings so much more confidence and assurance within the community that you have. 

Shay: Right. Some of the most successful clients that we have are really focused on innovation and being creative. They are not afraid to let go of what worked in the past and look outside the industry and look at other leaders to see what is going to work for them. They are getting really… Two people I’m being particular are excited. They feel like they are back to when they first launched their business.

Barry: Yeah, their entrepreneurial spirit went on fire.

Shay: Yeah, so they are finding… You know, we have studio owners that are like, “I’m not just a club or a gym or a boutique fitness. I’m an Amazon fulfillment center. I am a Hollywood recording studio.” And they are finding new ways to bring in new revenue streams that are not just a band aid. These are going to stick with them moving forward. Again, they didn’t just do it in a reactive way. They sat back. They thought, okay, when we think about what’s best for myself as a business owner, what is best for my team, what is best for my clients in my community right now, I’m going to put the work in and I’m going to make sure they do it right to the best of my ability. I’m not just going to throw up my programming on IG Live which was like the biggest mistake. I’m going to sit back. I’m going to do the right thing. Because this isn’t a sprint, it is a marathon. And all we are seeing is a hyper. 

Barry: Hamster wheel. 

Shay: Well, whatever we are going to take a word for really fast. I have mum brain. But we are seeing the evolution of fitness like hyper speed basically. We were all going to get to this place eventually. We just have to do it really fast. And the people that are doing it well are the ones that are keeping their heads on and taking a little bit of time to breath and make the best decision for themselves and their business.

Caroline: Brilliant. Thank you for that. I think there is also a number of things you touched on there but one of the word that kind of resonated with me was this idea of innovation and evolution. I know we’ve all touched a little bit on trends that are emerging and I do want to leave time for some questions at the end. With as quickly as you can, if you could zoom around everyone that’s on the panel, if when I’m talking about trends emerging that could change member experience, what kind of things are coming to mind, Chris?             

Chris: Outdoor and virtual I think are the two most obvious. For example, in California clubs opened and they re-shutdown within a month, but they did allow people to move outside. I just think and with that trend, and I think you guys just mentioned it, it’s doing it well and doing it right. Because as everybody starts to do it the ones that are really, you know, I think it’s things like microphones, lightings, sound, using the right technology. You can just move your spin bikes outside and paddle behind your studio. It is the guys that are ordering pop ups and putting… and really going out of your way to make sure that that outdoor experience is done well and virtual. I do think that there will a group of people that stays with that, so even when your clubs are opened they don’t want to get back inside. They are going to be like, “I really like this outdoor thing.” Probably more so in California in California than in Scotland.         

Steve: Maybe not Arizona. 

Chris: Yeah, maybe not Arizona, right. I think it just a matter of doing those things, doing the research, taking the time and taking really pride in it and doing it well. Since everybody is currently doing it, the ones that really do it well, and create a great experience, and make it professional feeling are the ones that are going to be the most successful. 

Caroline: Brilliant answer. Thank you, Chris. Paul, trends emerging, how would you… give me a quick bla… bla… bla…

Paul: Okay. I would say watch where the money is going. By that I mean, we’ve just seen Gold’s Gym or a client mine go up for sale for a $100 million. We also seen Lu Lemon as Emma mentioned buy Mirror for $500 million. Now that tells me if the money is going online and through digital that’s going to drag the industry in that direction. It is not that the bricks and mortar operators can instantly jump across but they should be aware of the quality of what’s going on. Because I’ve been trying a number of different online programs. I’ve tried Peloton. I’ve tried the Les Mills on demand. There are elements or things that Peloton do where… session I use 30 different behavioral cues to build a sense of engagement, sense of community, and sense of achievement that other platforms are just nowhere near. When you look at it, you go, “How come no one else is spotting this?” I’m going, “We are just going to put our traditional coating out there and you’re going to love it.” And people are going, “Doesn’t engage me.” 

I think the trend is good or bad, well, good, really high quality content. But I think also the trend will be share of customer. I might have a health club membership, a Peloton membership, and I might add something else as well. And if you say to me, “Why don’t you do spinning in the club?” Because I don’t want to. I like doing my Peloton class. I think that’s what we are going to see, that share of customer. 

Caroline: Okay, brilliant. Quickly, I’d say we have one more minute to this before we go on to questions. But, Emma, what about you for trends?

Emma: There is a blending of the industry so everything is becoming lifestyle. Everyone is having a food conversation, and exercise conversation, and mindfulness conversation. That’s all happening. I would say right now is temporary, clunky phase in our development is we hybridize. So pretty soon think about how we eat food, thing about how we shop. All these things are already at the moment. Sometimes it is live, sometimes it is virtual. It is all going to become one. I then I think Paul’s subscription model is ultimately going to be feed into him so he’d gets exactly what he wants without having the clunkiness and having to subscribe 9000x, details, stupid forms all day long. All of that is going to be pulled in and automated. I think the good will scale, the bad will fail. Absolutely, this is going to turn anyone who is not running a good solid business is not going to survive. I think in the end the market is discerning. They want to know what your why is and if it doesn’t ring true they are going to go and find someone who does have a good intention and that they can see themselves as a part of in being a better human being. Those would be my predictions. 

Caroline: Thank you, Emma. Yeah, Steve?

Steve: There’s three brands that we’re building right now. – two in the States, and one in Japan. I’ll say in the next five years, I’ll call it immersive experience, is going to be a trend that we are going to see. I think it is going to come from the struggle that Paul and Emma have rightly put out there. Even though things, like, the digital experience are not necessarily new but the rush to it, evidence too actually start chasing that lead dog is new for the fitness industry that’s reluctant to kind of jump on the trends. But immersive experience is inside and maybe even possibly outside and then automation. Automation is going to take a whole new level and then you put in whether it is AI backed, machine learning, whatever it is going to be. But smart purposeful automations and immersive experiences are something that we are going to see and money is definitely falling into that.

Caroline: Brilliant. Thanks for that, Steve. And then finally, Shay and Barry, and I don’t have the baby’s name. Is there anything else that you could add to the trends here?

Shay: Her name is Nova. Everyone has said it beautifully. I think for us immersive experience just tops on the list as well whether that is in the studio or online. And really thinking about how you can create that experience online. Tell you one quick tip, it is not flashing the strobes in your studio while you are recording into the person’s house. That doesn’t work. But if you think about any of the things that we recently seen as novelty have now become necessity. Pop ups were novelty, AI is a novelty, gamification of classes is a novelty. I think we are going to start seeing more of that moved to the forefront and become a necessity in the coming months and years. 

Barry: An increasing focus on mental health, I think that’s definitely come to the forefront through all of this as well. So how can we make that a focus of our offering or something diversified. 

Caroline: Cool. Yeah, I guess we know people are going to be spending more money and more time on their health and wellness so how do you capitalize on this opportunity as well. Going to really quickly go through some of the questions. First from Zeal Performance, “What company did you say does behavioral cues very well? Is it Peloton?” I think that’s directed towards you and Paul. 

Paul: Peloton.

Shay: Peloton. 

Caroline: Great stuff. 

Chris: You have to know what you’re looking for to see it. Otherwise, the quality of the content, the programming, you look at some of the Les Mills content that’s out there, beautifully filmed, well structured, great content, doesn’t have any other behavioral cues. None of the things that I’ll be looking for as a psychologist if I’m going to be building an engaging community.    

Caroline: Okay. Jill is asking, “We love the boutique approach of programming. What are a couple of steps we can take to lean into that?” 

Chris: That’s not mine. 

Emma: You have to see what’s trending. I mean, my favorite business model right now would be style studio fitness it is in the Midwest. They’ve just opened. They’ve got four studios. They’ve got [unclear] is the number one performer right now. Data is pulling it in. When we go back to the gyms that’s the sexy category. I haven’t got my pull up bar. I haven’t been able to squat. I haven’t been able to swing my kettlebell. It is the equipment that is holding the sexy factor for that right now. But then, we know that’s cool. We know MINDBODY is trending. We know that aerobic type thing is another one. They’ve gone back in just category… And that’s what every club on the planet should be doing right now. Throwing all the crap that doesn’t work, starting again, and bringing in what’s trending. How do you know what’s trending? You can have a [unclear – 45:08] people are lining up the door. You’ve got to get beyond the whole model is not working. We can’t pay our instructors. They are not making enough because they are not pulling enough. We are not doing a good job with the marketing. So get on trend would be my first thing, and then get very good at it. Paul was talking about the topic, behavioral cues, get it programmed right, get the experience right. And it is always part science part art. It is all of that. If someone who doesn’t know what they are doing, you need to hire someone. Content is king, and it’s going to become more important not that we can eyeball anything on the planet. I mean, I can train with Thor. I can train with Kayla. I can train with anyone on the planet so the label has to live. 

Caroline: Okay, brilliant. Guys, I’m really sorry but I think that’s going to bring us to the end of today’s session. It was jam panel session, guys. There’s so many nuggets there. I’ll definitely be rewatching myself. Now, we will just give out the prizes a little virtual drum roll. First to Barry Ennis and Shay Kostabi, your 1-hour consult is going to go to Leo Lord. Leo, I will take note of your name and your email and we’ll get in touch regarding that consult. Really, really exciting. Thank you so much, Shay and Barry for that one. And Emma Barry’s new book, Building a Badass Boutique. There we go. There is the merch. That is going to Jill Drummond who asked the question about boutique approach to all programming. Hopefully, your answers are in there. Thanks for all of our panelists. Chris, Shay and Barry, Paul, Steve, and Emma, thank you so so much for joining us today.        

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