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TA L K I N G P O I N T

How can clubs get the most out of virtual? HCM’s Steph Eaves gets tips from our panel of experts

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t took years for virtual to be accepted by the market, however, things have reached a tipping point recently as operators have been adopting it in earnest, in a bid to get an edge over the competition and reduce costs. As with all new things, implementation brings expected and unexpected benefits, such as the power to experiment with new classes without financial risk and a straightforward way to connect to the fast-growing home fitness market. However, there’s a balance to be stuck between virtual and live classes, to ensure it works for the benefit of all, as our experts explain.

Wendy Coulson LES MILLS How can clubs maximise the potential of virtual?

The average cycle studio stays idle for 83 per cent of the day, meaning up to £120,000 a year in lost revenue. Adding virtual helps clubs maximise their studio assets and lighten the load during peak periods, by offering more workout options across the day. We encourage operators to include virtual messaging in their marketing, as our research shows that providing an ‘always-on’ group exercise timetable is a great way to attract members. People want to choose when they work out. Six out of ten members surveyed said the number of group exercise classes a gym offers – live and virtual – influences their decision to join. Clubs also need to consider the quality of the content and the technology, as this can be the biggest determinant of success. For example, an immersive class such

The Les Mills RPM – one of three cycle workouts from the company – is now available on virtual

as The Trip [the Les Mills experiential cycle class] is made more effective by cinematic-quality screens, innovative lighting and hi-tech sound: for virtual to work, experience is everything.

Tell us about the benefits

There’s a common misconception that live classes could become a thing of the past, as virtual asserts its place in the gym. However, operators are noticing a positive correlation between virtual and live classes, with virtual helping increase the number of people attending live classes.

“There’s a 12 per cent increase in live class attendance when clubs timetable both virtual and live workouts” 88

healthclubmanagement.co.uk September 2018 ©Cybertrek 2018

Research shows 75 per cent of virtual fitness users also attend live classes and there’s a 12 per cent average increase in live class attendance when clubs timetable both virtual and live workouts. We suspect this is because virtual is helping people overcome the initial intimidation they feel when they’re new in a group exercise class. Virtual also enables clubs to build a bigger base of regular participants, increasing class sizes, and this has a positive impact on the number of times people work out each week and how long they stay as members. Research by ukactive shows members who attend three or more Les Mills classes a week maintain membership nine months longer than non-attendees.

Profile for Leisure Media

Health Club Management September 2018  

Health Club Management is the magazine and online community for decision-makers in the global health club, fitness and gym industry.

Health Club Management September 2018  

Health Club Management is the magazine and online community for decision-makers in the global health club, fitness and gym industry.

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