After a year of COVID, more and more gyms have had to close their doors. However, with the shift to working from home and to socializing online, digital adoption of online services is higher than ever before. That means that gyms and studios have a unique opportunity to reach more people than ever before with a digital fitness brand.
Benefits of Going Digital
As a gym owner or operator, you’re used to having the most important goal being how many people are coming in your doors week after week. And when you run digital platforms, usage rates will still be an important metric. However, when you offer a digital fitness brand, you will have access to so many more data points to track business success, monitor progress, and identify opportunities to either further engage active members or recapture the interest of people who aren’t using the platform.
When your gym offers any kind of fitness technology – whether it is an online fitness class or the ability to track health metrics – you get to learn a lot more about your members than if they simply walked in the door of your class. For instance, some video platforms allow you to see in real time how many people are watching a video, who is watching, and how far they watch or what areas they fast-forward through.
Thanks to the proliferation of fitness wearables like the Apple Watch and FitBit, people have more access to their health data than ever before. Whether you’re working with fitness platforms that allow you to directly sync that data or ask people to self-report, you’ll be able to learn a lot about who your most active clients are and who could be in danger of cancelling. Even without seeing their specific data, just by identifying who is and isn’t tracking data, logging workouts, and watching classes, you’ll be able to know how people are doing.
For those who are most active year over year, you can send messaging around referring friends, upgrading their membership, or just congratulating them on being a power user. And for members that are less engaged, you can send alerts about new home workouts, motivation to get back to classes, or offer one-on-one coaching.
What People Want from Fitness Brands
When you’re moving from being exclusively a gym into becoming an at-home fitness company, people are looking for more than just a workout video. After all, social media websites like YouTube, Instagram and Pinterest are already full of online workouts for free. Think about what people will miss about going to the gym and imagine how you can bring that to people.
For instance, a lot of people love the sense of camaraderie with their classmates and the community built around going to the gym. While your members are working out in their living rooms, how can you replicate this? Perhaps you build a private Facebook group for your members to connect and share successes and struggles. Maybe you schedule live group fitness classes over Zoom instead of offering just videos on demand.
The other obvious benefit of going to a gym is access to a wide range of fitness equipment. While some people may have a home gym and there are more people than ever investing in a stationary bike, the fact remains that home fitness equipment is an expensive investment that takes a lot of space.
It’s important that fitness brands offer home workouts that are accessible to every member. Consider what items you can suggest from around the house that people use for strength training, like a gallon of water or a backpack with books. Offer cardio activities that won’t disturb downstairs neighbors of apartment-dwellers. Whatever your home exercise plan is, remember to adapt it to people’s real lives.
At the end of the day, the fitness industry is a competitive space. In many ways, managing a digital brand will be much more difficult than running an in-person only studio. Here are a few ways you can establish and grow your brand:
- Develop a social media presence on Instagram, TikTok, and Facebook to help members stay connected and reach new potential members
- Explore how email marketing can reach prospects, connect with members, and re-engage less active members
- Think about your branding – is it catchy and memorable? Think about if it’s time to overhaul your colors, logo, or even your name before you expand
- Update your website to make it easy for members to schedule consultations, sign up for special classes, and pay their membership fees
- Diversify revenue by offering branded workout gear, finding referral partners, and developing personalized classes
Even as people stop social distancing and start returning to the studio, you’ll find that a lot of people have come to prefer the flexibility that at-home workouts provide. By investing in digital marketing and operations, you’ll be able to maximize both in-studio and online memberships.
You’ll want to ensure that you have time to focus on all the channels your brand appears on. One way you can do this is by simplifying your administrative tasks. All-in-one platforms make it easy to manage memberships, relationships, and finances all while getting access to a customized app and website for your fitness brand.