Digital isn’t Just for Home: How to Give Members Best of Both Worlds
Across the country clubs are busier than they’ve been in a year or more. Live instructor classes almost at capacity, personal trainers booked out again and the buzz is that clubs are back big time. That’s the good news. The less good news is that clubs lost 500,000 employees during 2020 and operators now report problems juggling the need to re-hire and find staff and instructors with member demand for more classes on the rise daily. But as things heat up in person at clubs this summer, one answer still might be what keeps clubs and their members connected: Digital. Here’s how:
Getting the Digital Balance Right
70 percent of Americans worked out and streamed at-home fitness content during 2020 using FLEX by FitnessOnDemand, similar platforms or social media streams. Now that members are back in studio and classes are filling up, it’s a good time to review your club’s digital offering. Members don’t want to lose the always-on convenience of working out at home or accessing content on the go on their phones. But that virtually-anywhere access should be balanced with just as convenient in-club offerings featuring the same variety of digital classes and content members have grown to expect. First, make sure your in-club and at-home content libraries match across popular categories: HIIT, core-strengthening, bike, lower and upper body workouts and specialties like Yoga and celebrity brand classes, so members get a continuous class experience. Next, look at your studio scheduling. Are lesser-used studios or off-peak times being optimized for small-class and personalized on-demand sessions?
Shortcutting Staff Shortages
During the pandemic the nation’s clubs lost 500,000 employees that were either laid off or furloughed and 48 percent of instructors lost revenue. Now with the surge in member returns, clubs are facing two challenges. How do you find, recruit and train-in or refresh personnel very quickly to meet urgent demand, and how do you even stretch pandemic-impacted staffing budgets to fund those team hires in the first place? Optimizing and promoting access to your club’s portfolio of instructor-led, on-demand classes and specialty training sessions can certainly help. Consider committing unused studio time when instructors aren’t available to run full-size on-demand, virtual classes. Be sure to schedule these by class type and popularity and integrate the virtual class schedule with your mix of live-classes during different times of the day for maximum member access.
Make Sure Members Know their Club Goes with Them
Everything has changed for members – and very quickly. They’re not confined to their family rooms and apartments to take their favorite classes anymore, but they do love the convenience of classes and content on their terms and schedules. Make sure to double-down on your member communications on-site and via email and newsletters to let members know that some things won’t change: seamless access to the best live and virtual classes so they call the shots how, when and where they take a class or workout. Our industry talks a lot about this hybrid model operationally, but it’s important to make sure every member understands your club’s brand and their experience with it starts in their favorite, familiar club location but goes wherever they do in a new member-first, workout-anywhere world.
Integrate Classes, Competition and Challenges across Platforms
If an instructor sets a goal for his or her class, or if your club issues a month-long challenge for members, make sure that it’s also a truly seamless experience for all, whether in club or at home. It could be a pre-event marathon club training challenge, bike class rewards for weekly miles, or a leaderboard contest between members. For every challenge, as well as club offers and other member-engagement promotions, enable members to complete in class, in club or on the go/at home with on-demand content and home equipment as they choose. Take every opportunity to help members understand that miles on a treadmill, an on-demand class in the family room, a virtual session in their club or a live class with an instructor is all valuable and valued. Doing that will help not only ease in-club surges but truly integrate all of your digital offerings for long term member engagement.