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Retain customers with authentic on-demand content

With research showing most consumers want a 60/40 split between in-studio and digital workouts,operators must ensure their on-demand offer directly reflects customers’ expectations.

BEING authentic in your business and how you communicate with your customers is a key component for retention. From a simple smile or a hello as customers enter your premises, authenticity might be simpler to achieve face to face, in the bricks and mortar of a club. But with Les Mills recent Global Fitness Survey revealing that 80 per cent of those asked were keen to continue working out via on-demand offerings, it's clear your hybrid offer and how you communicate with your customers online is just as important.

In fact, competition for online fitness users doesn’t just come from gyms, equipment suppliers and fitness brands; the sector is also being squeezed by fitness influencers who have revolutionised and monopolised social media platforms during Covid.

So how can operators ensure their online offer matches their club's USP, with content that resonates with members whilst staying true to the brand?

understand your customer

“Now is not the time to be turning down your online provision – there has been a long term and fundamental shift in how people access physical activity,” says Anna Langridge, director of production at digital workout specialist, 1FitLife.

“Operators’ online content must go above and beyond what someone could access for free on You Tube, Instagram or Facebook. The on[1]demand provision needs to stand out, but more importantly it must represent the brand your customers already know and love. For example, the tone of voice of the content we developed for Slimming World is completely differently to the videos we have produced for David Lloyd Clubs’ signature classes. They’re targeting a very different type of customer and the brand values of each are the opposite too.”

For Slimming World’s online ‘Body Magic’ programme, 1FitLife presenters and the video setting were comfortable and cosy, and the content/exercise programme was developed without assuming a baseline level of fitness. In comparison, the company’s work with David Lloyd Clubs is high end, high impact, high energy, premium and in keeping with what their customers expect from signature classes in-club.

“It’s critical to understand who your customers are, because if your online content doesn’t resonate with them and doesn’t represent the brand they have already bought into, they will simply search online and find someone or somewhere that does,” says Langridge.

As one of the world leaders in group workouts, LES MILLS provides its customers and operators with an omnichannel experience, delivering blockbuster production digital content cinematically filmed by award-winning production crews and presented by a huge selection of its best instructors. Its on-demand offer has been created to ring true with its live LES MILLS experiences.

“We’re entering the age of omnichannel fitness, with research showing the majority of consumers worldwide want a 60/40 split between in-studio and digital workouts,” says LES MILLS CEO Clive Ormerod.

“With consumers keen to blend live and digital experiences in pursuit of better overall wellbeing, we’ve created LES MILLS+ to put world-class gym workouts in the palm of your hand and help you augment this with incredible live experiences.”

presenter skills

The LES MILLS+ fitness presenters have years of teaching experience and coaching behind them. In addition, its team in New Zealand supports each round of filming with the coaching in best presenter teaching practise, class filming and self-review to perfect the product, constantly up-skilling its global instructor community.

1FitLife has launched instructor training in the UK to enable all instructors access to top class training to become rock star onscreen presenters. Langridge explains: “Being a successful fitness/group exercise instructor in a club doesn’t necessarily make someone a good online instructor. Poor presenting will simply lead the end user to switch off. Common mistakes when filming include shouting and instructing instead of communicating their personality through the lens. Therefore, we developed our own bespoke presenter training bootcamps from our studios.”

1FitLife bootcamps coach the very specific skills fitness instructors need to transfer their skills to film. The bootcamps can be completely customisable to include specific operator brand direction, content and styling requirements.

Langridge says: “During our ‘Presenter Boot camps’, a fitness instructor learns how to deliver a class direct to a camera, understanding how to use different cameras to connect at the right time, where do stand, the impact of choreography and the set for a video, personal styling and how to successfully demonstrate the equipment. A presenter also needs to be confident in a studio setting with a full film crew. However, the most important skill we teach is how a presenter can connect and deliver that brand authenticity with customers through a camera. It’s no good just knowing which camera to look into, the real challenge for presenters is to build trust and credibility and be able to really connect on a personal level even though they are not physically present.”

It is more important than ever that operators understand their customers and make efforts to truly recognise what they want from their facilities both online and in person. Now is the time for operators to survey customers, to connect with them and to embrace how people are continuing to work out. The shift to a hybrid offer is sustainable to your business, but only if your offer reflects what your members want. The on[1]demand offer needs to directly reflect customers’ expectations of the brand, and the presenters need to be professional and relatable, to really engage and to get the very best from the end user.

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