While virtual operators such as Peloton might be seen as rivals to gyms, live streaming can also be used by clubs to improve retention and extend the gym experience outside the four walls. One live streaming provider that helps clubs achieve this is US-based FitCloudConnect.
“I was a member of a club but also a frequent traveller,” says FitCloudConnect CEO Brad Weber. “One day I asked myself the question, ‘why, in this age of technology, shouldn't I be able to take my gym with me wherever I go?’. I realised that someone would eventually come up with a solution, so thought why not me?"
Two years after his eureka moment, Weber launched FitCloudConnect with the aim of partnering with fitness clubs and enabling them to offer a mobile version of their gym to members.
The company acts as a third-party and hosts ‘virtual gyms’. Its cloud-based service can be adjusted to each club’s needs.
“Our system provides complete flexibility to the fitness club or wellness provider to set it up how they please,” Weber says. “We use non-proprietary tech so any device – phone, laptop, tablet or desktop – with a browser and internet access can access the live streams.
“The platform is licensed to fitness and wellness providers, who then white-label the technology and offer it to members. Clubs can stream third-party programming, or their own. We’re just a delivery platform for whatever they want to offer.”
FitCloudConnect’s live streams follow a clubs’ class timetable, so consumers can schedule and plan their attendance, pick regular classes and even get to know the instructor. “Having access to the instructor on a regular schedule is a key aspect of member engagement,” Weber says. “Watching videos of celebrity fitness classes doesn’t enable a connection between instructor and member.”
THE WAY FORWARD
Both Weber and Foundos say that rather than seeing live streaming as a threat, clubs should see it as an opportunity: “Clubs have traditionally relied on members visiting their physical club,” says Weber. “This has been the business model and it will continue to be the foundation of the sector. However, with cloud tech there are now numerous companies offering fitness directly.
“Demographics are changing too, with Millennials and an active ageing population living connected lifestyles. Clubs need to embrace digital fitness.”
Fortë’s Foundos agrees. “Live streaming is a huge opportunity,” she says. “It enables clubs to focus on their core business while leveraging technology to build a bigger audience and strengthen their brand awareness globally without the risks involved with taking on expensive bricks and mortar growth.”
Foundos says that having an attractive virtual presence can also improve numbers at the physical club. “There’s evidence that streaming actually drives users into the club,” she says.
“We’ve seen many users visit their favourite streaming studios in person. There’s also another subset of users that are uncomfortable checking out studios on their own, especially when they’ve never done that type of workout before, so allowing them to get confident by doing the workout at home first has also been found to drive club visits.”