(Editor's Note: This sponsored story is part of Club Industry's report, "Fitness Industry Trends to Watch in 2021," which can be downloaded for free by going here.)
2020 was a year of problem solving, as club operators pivoted operations during mandated shutdowns and weathered financial challenges totaling $15 billion in industry losses. 2021 is quite different. A primary goal for club operators now is to reshape and supercharge the member experience in a rapidly evolving fitness landscape that has shifted member expectations.
Here are four important things for operators to consider:
1. Parity between in-club and at-home experience. Working out at home and accessing club fitness content on a device cannot be treated as a secondary option or as an offering of lesser value than an in-club offering. If the pandemic taught us anything, it’s that members have an appetite for streaming content from their club, and streaming offers many ways to serve members. As clubs have reopened after mandated shutdowns, at-home streaming numbers have not significantly diminished.
In 2021, club success will increasingly come down to the adoption of a truly hybrid model of operations, ensuring that members who stream a class at home feel the same quality experience or intense workout that they do in an instructor-led class at the club. Total experiential parity means investing the same resources, time and care into on-premises and on-the-go member offerings.
2. Focus on small group experiences. Large group fitness classes may be slow to return to pre-pandemic levels. Expect both a continued focus on small group training as well as a surge in members returning to gain access to cardio equipment, machines and free weights unavailable at home. The six- to 10-person in-studio group classes necessary during pandemic restrictions will continue to be popular, with members appreciating the personalized attention that a small class size enables. This will have an impact on class scheduling, instructor bookings and availability, with an ultimate need for more classes to cater to demand. Plan for increased interest in both on-site and virtual instructor training for one-on-one sessions.
3. Indoor/outdoor workout experiences. We will see growing member interest in an indoor/outdoor club experience. First, member engagement in club-organized outdoor running and walking clubs will return, blending opportunities to socialize with other runners with pre-and post-run club facilities and instructor-led runs. Second, the outdoor group classes and workout spaces that many clubs experimented with during the pandemic created ongoing interest in an indoor-outdoor club model. Take advantage of flexible club areas that open to the outside, converted exterior parking lots and other spaces that enable outdoor group fitness or solo workouts.
4. Socialized experiences. Members are eager to re-establish routines of working out and engaging with their club communities. Club operators must recognize and encourage this need for connection. Share highly usable content via email and social channels: nutrition tips, diet plans, workouts from instructors, classes to stream at home, promotion of new classes and club updates. Going forward, it is important to integrate all virtual, social and in-club opportunities for members to engage with your staff, instructors and others in a truly 360-degree experiential environment.
Andrew Evenson is senior director operations and brand strategy at FitnessOnDemand, a world leader in curated fitness content. FitnessOnDemand partners with world-leading fitness brands, content creators and specialist instructors to bring the best in HIIT, core strength, cycling, specialty and other fitness classes to managers of clubs and fitness facilities across the world. FitnessOnDemand is available in studio, on any club display system and via FLEX by FitnessOnDemand, streaming to member smartphones, tablets and other devices in club, at home or on the go. For more information visit www.fitnessondemand247.com or email [email protected]