Winning as a Hybrid, Virtual-ish Fitness Professional

Hybrid fitness workout with a woman lifting weights and doing cardio on a treadmill at gym.
Taking digital seriously will give you a concrete advantage: reaching consumers where they make their buying decisions.

Build for the Future

Let’s talk numbers.

More than 45% of consumers intend to make virtual fitness a part of their weekly routine going forward.

Since March of 2020, 85% of Mindbody consumers are now attending livestreaming classes weekly versus 7% in 2019.

Virtual sessions allow athletes to explore a wider range of experiences, avoid the hassle of a daily commute to the gym, and customize their fitness schedule to meet their availability. 

This is a massive opportunity for you and your organization, but it also could require a seismic shift in how you think about your business.

In a hybrid world, fitness brands that recognize the importance of building exciting, high quality virtual experiences for their communities will retain members and grow faster than their competition. 

Reach this new market

A recent Mindbody survey showed 40% of consumers are booking virtual workouts with studios they had never physically visited before, which means a large segment of the market will be reachable through first-time remote experiences. Taking digital seriously will give you a concrete advantage: reaching consumers where they make their buying decisions.

The question is: are you confident that your digital workout experiences will stand out against the competition?

That competition is only growing, and it includes digitally-native brands like Apple Fitness+ and Peloton.

It’s not easy to deliver a digital fitness experience that lives up to the expectations of the modern consumer, but the pandemic accelerated virtual fitness adoption, which means you can take advantage of a recent explosion in tools and best practices that will improve your offerings quickly.

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How serious are you about virtual?

There are some high level questions to answer right away...

Are you offering live or pre-recorded on-demand workouts to your community - or both?

What software will you use to livestream classes and make your on-demand content available?

What software or platform will you use to keep your community engaged - with you and with each other?

Virtual can compete with in-person

At Exer, we’ve now seen thousands of virtual workouts - livestreamed and pre-recorded - from fitness brands all over the world. This vantage means we have seen a lot of innovative approaches to differentiating a virtual workout experience - including a lot of things that you should probably avoid.

Only a small percentage of the options consumers have for virtual workouts are doing more than what we’d consider the status quo - simply running the classes that were previously in-person on a platform like Zoom or Facebook Live.

Rapidly growing brands recognize the remote experience is nothing like an in-person one. Virtual workout sessions deserve to be designed in ways that take advantage of what makes them unique.

It's not too late to upgrade your digital strategy while your competitors are exploring similar options. 

Build a top tier virtual experience

The right toolkit for virtual fitness is an important foundation to start with.

Best-of-breed streaming platforms, a metrics solution for accountability, and a social layer that allows members to connect with one another are three areas you should be thinking about deliberately. All of these areas have benefited from the innovation explosion we mentioned above, so now is the right time to review your technology choices.

Here are eight areas of virtual workout experiences that you should be thinking about:

  • Offer multi-platform access to athletes and broadcast to more than one streaming platform at once to meet them where they spend their time.
  • Choose a broadcast location that reflects your brand well, and consider backscreens or wall art that reinforces your mission or mantras.
  • Be deliberate about your video streaming platform choice - this area has seen a ton of innovation in the last two years.
  • Leverage breakout rooms and other ways to motivate small groups to compete with one another.
  • Optimize how you’re sharing music with the audience - pipe it directly to athletes so the workout is more immersive.
  • Explore AI-powered tools that help with workout metrics, form correction and post-workout summaries.
  • Invest in better cameras and stage lighting for a higher quality production.
  • Consider a two-coach approach to virtual training, allowing one coach to focus entirely on attendees, social engagement and targeted instruction.

The brands who thrive in tomorrow’s increasingly hybridized world will be the ones who ultimately leverage modern tools to craft better remote experiences.

Going the extra mile will help you strengthen your communities and enhance the experience you can deliver virtually, which will lead to a strong, growing business.

No extra hardware, no sensors.

Exer software runs on mobile devices that patients and healthcare providers already own.

It's finally possible to drive business and patient outcomes with verifiable motion health insights that don't require up-front hardware costs or invasive, clunky sensors.