As the fitness industry recovers from arguably the toughest couple of years it has ever suffered, a new kind of fitness customer has emerged with a growing expectation from their local fitness provider. Namely, that they should be able to access both in-club and at-home fitness experiences from their local club provider.
“The home, virtual, remote fitness will continue to expand and change at a fairly rapid pace, and we need to figure out how to continue to build that into our operations, budgets and programming moving forward or we will be left behind.” Keith Knox, Manager at Parkside Fitness
With big brands like Apple and Peloton all making moves in the digital fitness space, clubs still have the advantage to meet their members’ needs when it comes to offering a true hybrid solution. Not only have they built up long-established member communities, but help is at hand to enable them to deliver the highest quality at-home content to keep members engaged with their brands when they step outside the four walls of the club.
“It provides us with another “sales” tool for something we can provide that our competitors do not. Any advantage in today’s market is welcome.” Keith Knox, Manager at Parkside Fitness
One of our clients in the US, Parkside Fitness, has done just this by implementing our Virtual Studio platform, fully integrated with their club management software provided by Jonas Fitness. Using Virtual Studio, Parkside hosts hundreds of workouts in their own branded virtual environment that their members can access 24/7.
“I just did the kickboxing on the new at home workouts and love it. It had me sweating. I am going to do yoga later this afternoon. Thanks for setting this up for us” Mary Ann W, 76 years old, member Parkside Fitness
We recently caught up with Keith Knox, who has been the Manager at Parkside Fitness, Pekin, IL for over 20 years. At work, he loves to help people achieve their goals through health and fitness and out of work enjoys travelling with family and friends, fishing and the great outdoors. He wanted to share with us how Virtual Studio has impacted their hybrid experience….
So, Keith. Obviously the pandemic has had a big impact on many businesses, especially in the fitness industry. What were the biggest challenges Parkside Fitness were facing coming out the other side of it?
After the pandemic, we faced the challenge of getting our members and guests re-engaged with the facility, programs, and routines that they thrived in pre-pandemic.
Getting over the “fear factor” of being back in public, working out with others and that it is ok to be back at the gym were and still are hurdles for us to overcome.
In an effort to re-engage these members and guests and find ways to help them get over this “fear factor” of coming back to your facility, what encouraged you to look specifically for at-home solutions to this problem?
We were interested in keeping the lines of communication open, continue to build our relationship with them and keep their fitness going when they are not able to come to the gym physically.
Some of them still aren’t back yet due to personal reasons, others get busy with work or life and don’t make it in as much as they would like, so this provides them another avenue to stay fit and healthy.
On top of that, it provides us with another “sales” tool for something we can provide that our competitors do not. Any advantage in today’s market is welcome.
You ended up choosing Virtual Studio as the ideal solution to these problems. What was it about the Virtual Studio technology that drew you to it in the first place?
We liked that Virtual Studio is integrated seamlessly with our club management software, Jonas Compete. Being able to bolt-on Virtual Studio to this seemed like a logical and easy step.
It's great that it was so easy for you to implement a solution so quickly, but what do your members and guests think about this technology?
Our members and guests are really enjoying the new experience. Below is one email I received from a member recently.
“Keith - I just did the kickboxing on the new at home workouts and love it. It had me sweating. I am going to do yoga later this afternoon. Thanks for setting this up for us” - Mary Ann W, 76 years old
That’s some pretty awesome feedback! Sounds like it’s definitely ticking some boxes for your members and guests. But how about from a business perspective, what are the biggest benefits Parkside Fitness are seeing?
The ability to provide quality home group fitness programming that compliments our live class schedule keeps our members and guests engaged and active at a very affordable price.
In the future, I anticipate we will also see a new revenue stream begin when we start to get conversions from the free platform to the premium platform.
What advice do you have for other clubs looking to implement a hybrid fitness solution?
I would recommend prior to launching that the club manager know what their users want and know who they want to target from their database. Then, promote it through their social media channels, website, in-house advertising, at sign-up/enrolment and any other way they can to get the word out.
Great advice there Keith, thank you! What do you think your members and guests will want next from the Virtual Studio technology?
I think they will want us to expand the Virtual Studio to be accessible in the club during down times in the fitness studio.
I also think our members will want to connect with other members/guests from our club and take classes together.
Finally, we’d love to hear your thoughts on the future of the fitness industry and any predictions you have, having been in the industry for so long.
The pandemic closed around 20% of the clubs in the US and crippled a good many more. If there is another round like what we previously saw, I would predict that less than 50% of the clubs that are currently operational will be so afterwards.
Assuming no more shutdowns or restrictions that require gyms to limit usage and programming, I feel the industry will adapt and change the way it provides services to people.
There will still be an onsite physical component to fitness as we are in need of live human interaction, but the home, virtual, remote fitness will continue to expand and change at a fairly rapid pace, and we need to figure out how to continue to build that into our operations, budgets and programming moving forward or we will be left behind.
Thanks so much Keith!
To find out more about the Virtual Studio solution or to explore how offering a hybrid solution can help your club check out the Move Technologies website or speak directly with your account manager.