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 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.
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.
How can clubs ensure that virtual classes are safe?
We’ve been filming our classes for decades to educate instructors on how to deliver a great, safe class, so filming these experiences for virtual isn’t a leap into the unknown and we use bespoke camera angles to film for virtual to demonstrate the moves more clearly.
We’ve also adjusted the editing so we give participants more time to change their equipment and get their set-up right.
Our virtual class presenters also make an extra effort to engage the audience in virtual, so they feel more connected.
The product design of Les Mills classes – both live and virtual – uses a coaching model with three layers. Layer 1 is designed to establish technique and motivation. Layer 2 starts more slowly, but the exercises gradually build in intensity or complexity. This ensures people are warmed up and not jumping into something too complex too quickly. Finally, Layer 3 is about dialling things up. Now the user has nailed the exercises, they can increase the intensity.
The classes are designed to help people ease into the programme.
Any other tips?
Clubs should measure attendance. Many don’t and it makes it difficult to measure value. We know group exercisers attend more frequently and are 26 per cent less likely to cancel than gym-only members.
Virtual can help operators reach beyond the four walls of the gym and be a more consistent touchpoint in their members’ lives through at-home platforms like Les Mills On-Demand.
Clubs know members are going to try online videos at home, so they might as well support them with a high-quality offering that complements the in-club experience and generates revenue.
It’s also a retention tool for keeping members in the exercise habit and can serve as a funnel, drawing members to the club who’ve formed a love of fitness online.
Today’s consumer expects to be able to access anything, anytime, anywhere and clubs need to be able to cater for this.
About Les Mills Virtual
Les Mills classes are now available in virtual, and work alongside live classes.