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By Andy Hall, Sales Director, Volution Fit

As fitness facilities and health clubs prepare to reopen, many operators are moving at warp speed to implement new procedures that will enable the safe and happy return of members.

With a range of tactics beginning to appear across the sector, how best can gyms re-engage with their customers? 

  1. Tap into the digital market

A survey by Savanta ComRes, commissioned by Sport England, found that 44% of people are doing home-based activity (including 23% doing online workouts). In comparison, gym membership penetration – although at an all-time high – is a mere 15.6% according to the 2019 State of the UK Fitness Industry Report. Savanta ComRes also found that 27% of people without health club memberships are likely to join. So, think of all those prospective sign-ups.

Given that people have been working out online or digitally during lockdown, and more of us than ever have been taking part in regular fitness activities, how do you capitalise on this trend to keep existing members motivated and engaged while attracting the new band of potential gym-goers?

The answer could be the creation of your own bespoke virtual hub built to engage your members and drive new ones.

Virtual hubs allow you to provide digital content (classes and PT sessions) to your members via a purely ‘digital hybrid’ membership. However, this isn’t the same as offering Facebook or Instagram Live classes. Each virtual hub is completely bespoke, measurable, and created to deliver commercial returns from day one.

It enables you to offer both a ‘bricks and mortar’ and virtual service, bridging the gap between home exercise and the gym experience to successfully unite the ‘fitness ecosystem’ and create a highly effective and engaging, joined-up member experience. One that drives commercial return.

  1. Offer tiers to suit every member

Every members’ experience of lockdown will have been unique to them, therefore, they will all be at different stages physically and emotionally in terms of their willingness to return to a gym environment.

A virtual hub enables you to stay in touch with members every step of the way. It also allows you to offer different tiers of membership to suit members with varying needs, expectations, personality types, and comfort levels.

  1. Generate leads

Some people may be working from home for the foreseeable future, or spending less time at the office, and, therefore, are searching for facilities closer to home. Others may be looking for that ‘hybrid’ model, allowing them to mix physical gym sessions with virtual sessions to continue what they started — and enjoyed ­­­— during lockdown.

So, alongside battling to retain existing members, you’ll also be competing to acquire the ‘new pool’ of potential customers that have cancelled their memberships elsewhere, or who now want to join a gym after reigniting or discovering their passion for fitness during lockdown.

Virtual hubs can offer a ‘shop window’ into your facility to attract these new leads, allowing potential members to take virtual walk-throughs of a facility, watch or test out classes, see what the people and community are like, and build up their confidence levels at home before even stepping foot on the gym floor.

Offering everyone within your area(s) and target demographic(s) a free trial of your virtual hub through an integrated marketing campaign, could potentially draw members in.

  1. Showcase your superstar coaches and PTs

A virtual hub gives your members access to the superstar coaches and trainers they’ve built relationships with at your facility. With additional opportunities for member-trainer interaction and engagement through online training, coaching, classes, and support, this can significantly boost customer satisfaction and retention rates, driving people back towards your gym.

  1. Leverage your facility through influencers 

Having a virtual hub gives you the power to stream live or recorded classes from any instructor, anywhere in the world to complement your gym team(s).  Why not have an amazing, Insta-famous Yoga teacher stream one class a week to all of your members.

  1. Do more of what’s working

Virtual hubs show which classes, PTs, and equipment have the highest and lowest attendance and usage levels. From there, you can swap low performing classes with more high performing classes (online and offline) and see the direct effect this has on club attendance and lifetime value of members.

You’ll also be able to learn who is attending your clubs, classes, PTs, and more importantly, who isn’t attending, helping you to adapt your strategies and act early to retain and acquire members.

  1. No need to change your whole system

Virtual hubs are designed to complement, and bolt-on, to the systems and services you already have in place and are bespoke to each facility or business. Each virtual hub is made to look and feel like your brand for perfect integration.

  1. A bold new world

Don’t get left behind when the sector re-launches. Instead, create new revenue streams, new ways to maintain members, and new ways to attract and convert prospects. Importantly, make sure that the technology people are using is pointing back to your facility to avoid missing out on potential business.

To learn more, email Andy Hall at Andy@volution.fit

Look out for the latest stories and blogs in our Together series on the ukactive News page and Journal. For the latest sector guidance and daily analysis, visit the ukactive COVID-19 hub.

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