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