Posts by Hazel Frank

We are excited to announce a new strategic alliance with Wellbeats

We have entered into a strategic partnership with virtual fitness innovator Wellbeats that will make Wellbeats’ on-demand fitness classes available to gyms and health clubs through the Wexer platform.

 

Content sharing is the basis of this new alliance, as Wexer CEO Paul Bowman explains, “This important new partnership allows us to offer the excellent content Wellbeats has produced to our approximately 4,000 gyms across more than 50 countries. This is exciting for us as it sits perfectly with our mission: to make world-class exercise accessible to everyone, getting more people active by harnessing the power of technology.

 

The strategic alliance will give our clients access to a collection of classes from the Wellbeats’ platform, across all categories; cardio, conditioning, cycling and mind & body.

 

Wellbeats has many years’ experience in creating compelling content, with particular expertise in appealing to those new to group exercise. This is therefore an incredibly valuable addition to our content portfolio: our virtual classes already act as a confidence-building stepping stone for many, with 32 percent of people currently using them to prepare for live classes. The availability of Wellbeats classes on our platform will no doubt push these figures even higher.

 

On-demand, virtual fitness is a new, but rapidly growing category that can help club owners engage members and contribute to member retention efforts,” said Jason Von Bank, president and CEO of Wellbeats. “Together, Wellbeats in the US and European-based Wexer play significant roles in that growth and bringing virtual fitness into the homes across the world.  We are excited to be able to bring two powerful and influential brands together in this way.

 

The Wellbeats content will be available on the Wexer platform from 1st May 2019.

 

For further information please contact us at: info@wexer.com

Carpe diem – why the fitness future doesn’t have to be futuristic

The future of fitness is digital. You’ve no doubt heard that said a million times.

But the problem with this sort of comment is that it seems so, well, futuristic and intangible – hi-tech to the point of feeling like science fiction. Artificial intelligence, augmented reality, virtual reality… It all seems a million miles from the nuts and bolts of running a health club.

In actual fact, the fitness present is also digital – and it isn’t anywhere near as confusing as all these alternative realities suggest.

Our advice is this: Don’t look too far ahead. Don’t worry about all the future possibilities being dangled in front of us by the start-ups of Silicon Valley. In short, don’t let yourself be intimidated by tech.

Instead, look simply at what’s happening right now and identify ways in which it can enhance and complement your business today.

We thought we’d share four key trends that are here and now, relevant to the way people are choosing to consume fitness, and immediately applicable to the health club model:

 

#1 – Be mobile

Consumers are used to doing everything from the palm of their hand, whether it’s booking a holiday, ordering groceries or buying tickets for an event.

Increasingly, they’re also seeing the internet as the first port of call for their fitness needs – but this doesn’t have to be a threat to your health club model. Instead, make your programming and expertise available through your website or app too, and embrace the mobile phone as a bridge between the physical and digital facets of your club’s offering. Allow members to access your products, services and expertise either in-person, or through digital channels, or both; let them mix and match to suit their needs. Own the entirety of the fitness experience, both in and out of the club.

The Wexer Web Player is a great starting point: a password-protected portal that offers on-demand access, through any internet-enabled device, to 500+ top-quality virtual group exercise classes. It gives consumers what they want – 24/7 access to great fitness content that allows them to work out whenever they like, wherever they may be – but, by integrating with a club’s existing website and/or app, the club retains clear ownership of the experience.

 

#2 – More content, on-demand

In today’s on-demand economy, consumers don’t expect to wait. Just look at how television is being consumed nowadays: instead of waiting for your programme to start at its scheduled time each week, we all binge on a whole box set via providers such as Netflix and TV channels’ own catch-up players. And there’s so much to choose from!

Fitness need be no different, and again Wexer can help. Its in-club virtual group exercise offering allows operators to leave on-demand periods in their studio timetables; members can choose their own classes from a pre-recorded library of over 1,000 titles during these times. Meanwhile, as noted above, the Wexer Web Player provides on-demand access to 500+ classes, anytime, anywhere.

 

#3 – Live streaming

There’s one name that’s really driven the visibility of live streaming, and that is of course Peloton. But while Peloton could ultimately replace gym workouts, Wexer’s technology enables operators to harness the power of live streaming for their own gain.

It’s the perfect tool to maximise the reach and retention-boosting influence of your best instructors, at the same time creating an additional buzz of excitement around classes in those shoulder periods where you want to offer a little more than a standard virtual class.

Even better, going back to the on-demand economy, our ‘Wexer Broadcast powered by Fortë’ package means that – in addition to live streaming popular classes across your estate, or even to other studios within a club – the best classes can also be saved into an on-demand, pre-recorded library, effectively turning your club into a virtual class content provider.

 

#4 – The Quantified Self

Exercise is always more motivating when you can see how you’ve progressed and can understand how your workouts have driven these improvements. This has driven a boom in fitness trackers and apps – but what role does your club play here?

Health clubs are certainly a veritable treasure trove of member data, but – particularly with the advent of GDPR – the emphasis is on recognising that members own their own data.

That said, you still have the option to improve members’ training experiences, by providing opportunities to capture valuable training data in-club. This is where Wexer Beat comes in: a highly accurate, and crucially brand-agnostic, heart rate monitoring system developed in partnership with the experts at Motosumo. Provided a member’s existing heart rate device has an open Bluetooth signal, it will work with Wexer Beat. Your members therefore get an enhanced experience in-club, and get to choose where the data is sent at the end of the workout; you get loyal members who attribute their success to your club.

 

Could some, or all, of the above be applied to your business?

At Wexer, we often talk about ‘digital transformation’, but you don’t have to transform your club overnight. Look strategically at the tools at your disposal, work out which could help you – and how – and take one step at a time in incorporating them into your business.

We’re here to help. If you’d like to discuss potential strategies to get started on your digital transformation, please get in touch: info@wexer.com

Harness the power of your rockstars – go live!

Live streaming of group exercise classes is creating a real buzz across the sector, both for the end consumer – it’s a fantastic way to add excitement to classes in those shoulder periods, just outside of peak times, when you still want to offer them a little more – and for operators who, quite rightly, have identified a strong opportunity to maximise the reach and retention-boosting influence of their best instructors.

But it can be very expensive to set up and run a production studio that creates class footage of high enough quality to engage exercisers.

This is why Wexer has partnered with live streaming specialist Fortë to bring a new, cost-effective live streaming solution to market.

Wexer Broadcast powered by Fortë has been designed to make high quality live streaming accessible to smaller operators who may not be able to afford to set up their own production studios.

Ideal for mid-sized chains – operators who could gain significant value from live streaming superstar instructors’ classes across the rest of their estate – the new product offers a turnkey solution to make a studio ‘streaming-ready’.

A minimum of three cameras provide different angles on the action for dynamic, engaging content. In-depth instructor training and specialist choreography is also provided to ensure the best possible results on-screen.

Operators need only set up one studio for recording and streaming, as Wexer and Fortë’s software and hardware fully integrate to live stream to any club or studio in the estate that has a Wexer Player.

The Wexer-Fortë integration also means that – in addition to live streaming popular classes across an estate, or even to other studios within a club – the best classes can also be saved into an on-demand, pre-recorded library, effectively turning the operator into a virtual class content provider.

It’s the perfect way to harness the crowd-pleasing power of superstar instructors and celebrity partners and maximise their impact across the business.

Share the excitement in real time. Live stream your classes!

For more information please contact info@wexer.com

Intelligent Cycling powered by Wexer: A new, influencer-led workout every time

When it comes to the member experience, one of the biggest issues with group fitness can be the repetitiveness of the class content – all those pre-choreographed workouts that are the same each week until a new release comes out.

Given you can now go online and, in just a few clicks, find a new workout to do each day… well, why would your members settle for same-old same-old?

It becomes particularly challenging in a hi-tech digital world, where continued advances in technology mean there’s no perceived excuse for repetition. Nowadays, consumers quite simply expect dynamism, innovation, excitement, variety. Jumping on a bike and seeing exactly the same virtual footage rolling away in front of you every time isn’t going to inspire or motivate in the way such futuristic footage could – and should.

Step forward Intelligent Cycling powered by Wexer, a revolutionary new system that uses AI to deliver a unique member experience every time. And when we say ‘unique’ – that much over-used term – we actually mean it.

 

So, how does it work?

 

In a nutshell, Intelligent Cycling’s immersive classes use futuristic on-screen footage – footage that directly correlates with the intensity of the workout – to motivate participants.

So far, so familiar perhaps. But here’s where it differs.

First of all, the workouts are designed by your instructors, for your members – and that in itself means four things.

 

  • Firstly, you’re tapping in to your instructors’ fan-bases within the club; the rides can be attributed to specific instructors and will appeal to members who follow those instructors.
  • Secondly, because classes are designed by instructors who know them, your members know they’re getting a workout that’s tailored to their requirements, not a generic ‘catch all’ programme designed by a remote head office.
  • Third, there’s infinite scope for the creation of new classes – no waiting for a new release to give members something new to get their teeth into.
  • And finally, instructors get a great new tool to inject even more excitement into their live classes – a motivational backdrop that’s perfectly tailored to the workout they’ve designed.

 

The second, equally exciting, USP is that every on-screen journey is different. That’s right. Members need never cycle through the same terrain twice – even if they loved the workout they got last time and want to benefit from it again.

Here are the nuts and bolts of it.

Instructors log in to a password-protected portal to build their own workouts. They choose the intervals and intensity they want for their class; Intelligent Cycling then uses AI to overlay appropriate footage, creating what we call a ‘journey’ – an on-screen route that travels through futuristic virtual worlds of water, air and space, all perfectly synced to the intensity of the workout.

This journey is uploaded into the Wexer Player for seamless delivery into the studio, ready for the instructor to use as a highly motivational backdrop to their live class. It’s the perfect marriage of live instruction and virtual entertainment, adding a whole new dimension to live classes.

And if a member can’t make it to the live class, that’s fine. The workout itself – the intervals and intensity that sit behind the journey – are stored in the system, accessible at any point as an on-demand class. Even better, each and every time that workout is called upon – whether by an instructor or a member – Intelligent Cycling overlays new footage to ensure every single class experience is different, fresh… unique.

What better way to enhance the member experience in your cycling studio: constantly fresh, engaging workouts that harness the power of your influencers – the very people who drive member loyalty to your club – all delivered reliably and seamlessly by Wexer’s market-leading technology.

This is the retention-boosting strength of Intelligent Cycling powered by Wexer.

 

For more information please contact info@wexer.com

What will happen to your business if you don’t embrace tech

We talk about ‘digital transformation’ of the fitness industry – but what happens if it doesn’t transform?

Having recently watched a fascinating video by Jack Delosa, in it, he stated that Amazon didn’t kill retail – poor customer service did. Netflix didn’t kill Blockbuster – slow delivery and high customer effort did. And Uber didn’t kill taxis – waiting times and poor customer service did.

Technology, he explained, is not the disruptor in itself, but rather the vehicle through which we can do one thing: enhance the customer experience.

This absolutely echoes what we’ve been saying for a long time now: technology is not the strategy in itself, but the tool through which you can future-proof your health club business by making it more customer-centric.

Without wanting to sound like doom and gloom merchants, we thought it might help bring this to life if we shared three things we see happening to the health club industry if it doesn’t digitally transform.

 

#1 – The product will become too hard to consume

As customer effort goes up, customer loyalty goes down – and that opens the gates to competition coming in to undermine you.

In this digital age, we all have to make it absolutely frictionless to consume our product. In a gym context, that can mean anything from online joining to promoting last-minute PT availability through your app to enabling RFID payments on vending machines.

It can also mean making your club’s expertise and programming available to members when they’re away from the club, via an app for example, for those days when they can’t make it in for a workout.

Fail to do this and customers will seek easy-access alternatives that deliver what they want – fitness programming and advice – without any of the barriers they currently associate with gyms.

 

#2 – The product will be viewed as impersonal

Consumer demand for personalisation is growing: we expect tailored offers from retailers, we expect airlines to remember our preferences, we expect recommendations based on our previous behaviours.

And the fitness industry isn’t immune to this: we increasingly expect our programmes to be bespoke to us, reflecting our goals, our preferences, our interests, our progress to date. The challenge for many gym operators is this: the technology brands are responding, and they’re getting there faster than the health club brands.

Health clubs therefore need to take a big step forward, and that means embracing data. Put simply, the more data we collect – the more we know about our member – the more we can personalise and add value in an affordable way, having insight-based AI ‘conversations’ that will deepen their relationship with our brands and our products both inside and outside the gym, as well as driving significant upsell opportunities.

And the key to gathering data to enable this sort of initiative? Technology, and especially members’ round-the-clock mobile phone usage.

People often say tech is impersonal, but when used properly that’s far from true: it’s the primary facilitator of personalisation. Ignoring tech is the thing that will render your product impersonal.

 

#3 – Gyms will be undermined by businesses with better margins

Just as the low-cost clubs challenged and ultimately undermined the mid-market, so other competitors – quite probably not even health clubs – will continue to emerge, offering just enough value and service to exercisers at a price point they like, all enabled by technology.

Let’s go back to the previous two points to remind ourselves what tech can help us deliver: a frictionless, easy-access, personalised product. Ultimately, if a customer looks at your gym but perceives there to be a better, more responsive product on the market – at a lower cost thanks to its use of tech – which do you think they’ll choose?

In the end, a tech-enabled business will be able to deliver higher service levels at better margins. Fail to embrace this opportunity and your business is at risk of being swallowed up by those who have.

Ultimately, technology holds huge potential to strengthen and grow your business – but unharnessed, it will become your competition.

Importantly, though, this won’t happen because technology is there champing at the bit to steal your customers. It will happen because you’ve failed to seize the opportunities to focus on the customer and address their changing needs.

All of which might seem daunting, but remember, you don’t have to immediately go to market with a product as powerful as Netflix or Amazon’s. The important thing is to make a start – and there are providers out there, like Wexer, who can help.

 

Please get in touch if you’d like to discuss this further: info@wexer.com

Now you can experience the digital club of the future… first-hand

They always say the proof of the pudding is in the eating. You can only know how good something tastes when you try it for yourself.

Similarly, the proof of the concept is in the seeing. You can only really understand how good something looks when you see it with your own eyes.

The long and short of it is, most of us need to experience something first-hand to really appreciate it.

And that’s the challenge with any major gym refurbishment, especially when it involves interactive features and new technology: artist’s impressions only go so far in allowing us to understand how the experience will actually feel for members.

Step forward Wexer’s brand new, industry-first solution: a fully immersive, interactive virtual reality walk-through, whereby operators can actually step into the studio of the future.

Take a sneak peak at the experience below:

Slip on a pair of VR goggles, grab the controllers and walk into a virtual reality studio in which Wexer’s digital experiences are in full flow – and you’re in control. Change the type of class showing on the screen at the front of the studio and see how the whole environment, right down to the lighting, changes as you switch from HIIT to mind-body. Watch as a Wexer Circuit takes place, with each station guiding participants through a different exercise. Experience a demo of gym floor product Wexer Trainer, its touchscreen acting as the gateway to a vast library of exercise videos and workout building tools.

You’ll also spot screens showcasing other Wexer products: virtual class portal Wexer Web Player; live streaming tool Wexer Broadcast; and attendance tracking system Wexer Count. Walk over to any of these, read about the benefits, watch a demo, or pick out key stats you’d like to know more about.

You can even choose the size of the studio, to ensure your VR experience relates to the space in your own facility.

It’s the perfect way to explore the power of the full Wexer ecosystem, seeing how the various elements come together to create an ever-more powerful member journey.

It’s the perfect way to appreciate the enhanced experience your digitally transformed club could deliver.

For more information contact us at info@wexer.com

Wexer Body Bike: A new world-class indoor cycling experience

Your bike your ride – any time anywhere

In a first-of-its-kind partnership, Wexer and Body Bike have announced plans to unite their market-leading technologies to launch an exciting new product: the Wexer Body Bike.

The Wexer Body Bike has been designed as a standalone product that allows operators to harness the power of virtual group cycling – even where a full studio isn’t an option.

The bike features all the market-leading technology you’d expect from Body Bike, but with an important added feature: an integrated screen through which users can access a specially curated, pre-loaded collection of Wexer’s best virtual cycling classes.

Whether on the gym floor of a mainstream club, in a corporate facility, hotel gym or hotel room, the Wexer Body Bike delivers the full buzz and engagement of group cycling to those working out independently. The user simply jumps on, selects a class and rides.

For those interested in performance data, the tech integration with Body Bike means all user metrics – from power to cadence, calories to distance – can be shown on the screen.

Finally, there’s an optional 180° swivel on the screen, which allows for floor-based training in front of the bike where appropriate. Once again drawing from the extensive Wexer class library, these floor-based workouts – focused on strength and stretching – are specially curated to complement a cycling workout; the user is encouraged to select one of these classes on completion of their ride.

In this way, the Wexer Body Bike allows for a fully independent – yet expert-led and highly motivational – full-body workout, wherever the user may be.

Should operators wish to create a new revenue stream, they can also sell the bike – which can white labelled with the operator’s own branding – to any interested members. This further enhances and diversifies the workout options available as part of a digital or hybrid in-club/digital membership package.

The bike’s industrial-grade screen has been designed for durability and reliability, while the programming is supported by Wexer’s highly robust virtual platform. This combination of first-class hardware and software drives the same reliability in the bike as customers around the world have already come to expect from Wexer: 99.9% uptime across all clients in over 50 countries.

“We’re bringing together the best products on the market – the best bike, the best virtual system and the best cycling classes – to deliver an indoor cycling experience like no other,” says Kim Hessellund, Director and Owner of Body Bike. “Whatever the constraints of your club or fitness facility, you can now offer world-class indoor cycling to your customers.”

 

For more information get in touch at: info@wexer.com

Here’s how your hotel can not only live up to expectations, but exceed them

A 10% uplift in guest satisfaction scores, achieved in the space of months – not years.

How many initiatives could you imagine implementing in your hotels that would deliver this sort of impact – especially if your guest satisfaction scores already averaged almost 77%?

It’s the thing stretch targets are made of isn’t it – yet these are exactly the results achieved by Spanish hotel operator Meliá when it piloted Wexer Virtual, the market-leading virtual group exercise solution.

Meliá already had small studio spaces – around 25-30sq m – which were used only occasionally for activities such as yoga or relaxation. The hotels were keen to get much more from these spaces; offering virtual classes was seen to be the ideal solution.

Wexer Virtual has since provided huge added value for guests, allowing them to select exactly the class they want to do, at any time of day or night, from an on-demand library of over 1,000 classes. Suffering from jetlag and struggling to get going in the morning? Kick things off with a HIIT class. Need to wind down after a busy day of business meetings? How about a meditation or yoga class?

And the results speak for themselves.

The average guest satisfaction score for Meliá’s gyms sits at 78.6%, but the highest satisfaction score for an individual gym that doesn’t have Wexer is 76.8%; the overall average is pulled up significantly by Hamburg and Palma, the two Wexer pilot sites, where the gyms achieve satisfaction scores of 84.5% and 88.4% respectively.

Qualitative user feedback has also been very positive, with reviews on TripAdvisor and Booking.com raving about the virtual classes, the “modern studio” and the 24-hour gym that “offered everything needed”.

In this digital age, consumers expect fitness to be accessible any time, anywhere, at the click of a button. That expectation is only magnified in the 24/7 environment of a hotel.

Wexer helps you meet those expectations.

To find out how Wexer can help you meet guests’ 24/7 fitness expectations, please contact us at info@wexer.com

 

 

When it comes to hotels, why shouldn’t every room be a fitness room?

As wellness becomes ever-more entrenched in people’s everyday decisions and lifestyles, we’re seeing leading hotel brands across the globe taking special measures to meet traveller demands. Fitness rooms are a great example. Essentially a room upgrade, these bedrooms offer a small selection of gym equipment – from free weights to Swiss balls and yoga mats, occasionally a bike too – to help guests keep up their workout regimes while they’re away from home.

But there are vital ingredients missing from the majority of these fitness rooms: motivation, guidance, workout variety… All boxes that can be ticked by group exercise.

So… how do you bring the power of group training to a solo exerciser in a hotel room?

The simple answer: Wexer Web Player.

This password-protected web portal provides access to 500+ high-quality virtual group classes, all led by the world’s top instructors. Fancy a core blast, a HIIT session or a chance to press re-set in a meditation class? Check, check and check. Don’t have time for a long workout? Choose from our selection of 10- and 15-minute classes.

Even better, the easy-to-navigate class library can be curated to reflect the equipment available in your guest rooms. You can also highlight guest favourites, based on automatically collated usage data, should you wish to offer a few tailored suggestions to get people started.

It’s the perfect solution for hotels behind the scenes too. A standalone product, the Wexer Web Player is simple and cost-effective to implement, with no tech integrations needed. And it’s easy to manage, with a wide variety of access options from which to choose: unique promo codes that unlock passes for a single class, a day, a week’s stay; plus an option to either charge for classes as a premium service, or else offer them for free as a way of enhancing the guest experience.

Want to offer virtual classes to hotel guests while they’re out of the hotel too? That’s fine: the Wexer Web Player can be accessed via any internet-enabled device, from mobile phones to tablets and laptops, and easily linked to from your hotel’s existing website or app.

Finally, the whole thing can be white labelled, so guests perceive it as a true value-added proposition from their hotel of choice.

To find out more, please contact us at: info@wexer.com

Introducing Wexer Beat powered by Motosumo: Heart rate monitoring without the handcuffs

Heart rate monitoring is becoming increasingly popular as a motivational tool in gyms, but it can be expensive for operators to implement. Meanwhile, for members, many systems are quite restrictive; even if they have a heart rate monitoring device of their own, it might not be compatible with their gym’s set-up.

This was the rationale for the launch of Wexer Beat, produced in partnership with Motosumo, who’ve created the only group-fitness solution powered entirely by smartphones. This highly flexible new heart rate monitoring system is brand-agnostic, which brings benefits for operators and end users alike.

For the operator, the key benefit is the cost-effective nature of the solution: Wexer customers can add Wexer Beat to their package for just US$76 a month. For that, they get a fully integrated heart rate monitoring system that can be used in any live and virtual class.

Most importantly, Wexer Beat can be activated instantly, at any club. There is no hardware whatsoever. The whole experience is powered by user smartphones and the Wexer/Motosumo service. “Scalability is a fundamental part of our philosophy, and one of the reasons we’re so excited to partner with Wexer,” says Kresten Juel Jensen, CEO at Motosumo.

As with other HR systems, participants’ heart rates are projected on the big screen at the front of the studio, with colour-coded tiles indicating how hard each member is working. In virtual classes, the tiles sit alongside the class content; in live classes, they fill the screen. Participants can also view their heart rate on their smartphone, should they have this with them.

Continuing on the cost-effective theme, the other benefit for operators is that there’s no commitment to buy a minimum number of belts from Wexer. In fact, as an agnostic system, Wexer Beat works with any brand of heart rate belt. Should operators wish to sell belts to members, they can source any brand they choose.

This is a clear benefit for members too: if someone already has a heart rate device, there’s no need to buy another one just to be compatible with the system their gym has chosen. Provided their existing device has an open Bluetooth signal, it will work with Wexer Beat. That’s great news for the member, as it ensures all their data sits in one place for ease of reference – and that this central repository is the one chosen by them.

Wexer CEO Paul Bowman concludes: “We believe exercise data should be available to all with as few obstacles in the way as possible. Wexer Beat is therefore heart rate monitoring as it should be: low-cost, reliable, flexible and highly accessible.”

For more information contact us at: info@wexer.com