There’s no doubt about it, the expansive growth of fitness technology is shaking things up for gyms and studios of all sizes. A quick search for fitness or exercise apps on the Apple App Store or Google Play yields hundreds of suggestions ranging from boutique yoga and spin classes to stretching apps to full body, high-intensity workouts.
There’s a reason online fitness is a billion-dollar business. More and more people are opting for online workouts when they can’t make it to the gym. It’s not necessarily because they don’t want to be there, it’s because they simply don’t have the time.
Growing trends in fitness technology have many gym and studio owners biting their nails, worried about how this will impact their business. How can local brick-and-mortar gyms compete with online fitness providers who offer services at a fraction of their membership prices?
The truth is: you don’t have to.
Mike Rucker, vice president of technology for Active Wellness, reassures gym and studio owners and operators that they should use fitness technology to their advantage; as another tool to engage and retain members. In a recent article published by Club Solutions Magazine, Rucker said, "If health clubs embrace [virtual fitness] I think it could have a huge, huge upside. Put 10 of your master instructors in a platform that allows you to scale virtually, that could be a massive offering to folks that are traveling or limited in their ability and/or desire to come to your physical location."
Rucker has been a leader in the fitness and wellness industry for almost twenty years and holds a Ph.D. in Psychometrics. It is safe to say he has his finger on the pulse of technology and trends that are here to stay.
A hybrid approach to fitness, where members are working out in person and online is the new normal. Virtual fitness gives people the freedom to exercise when they have the time and the ability to try group fitness classes they wouldn't necessarily go to in person.
Rucker sheds light on this growing trend saying, "Take me – I’m a 230-pound guy and I don’t want to go do yoga with people I don’t know, because I have no mastery in that subject," he said. "Something like BurnAlong can get me to a point where I don’t feel like a complete idiot and when I am ready to enter the physical location, I already have familiarity with the people in there, as well as the instructor.’
Gym and studio owners who are embracing this reality are seeing a tremendous difference in retention, recruitment, class participation, and customer satisfaction.
Your members are most likely working out online when they can’t make it to your classes, whether it’s free YouTube videos or a paid subscription service. But they’d much rather be exercising with you – the instructors they know and trust. The bond between trainers and members is strong and you can take advantage of that relationship by offering your top exercise classes online.
Not all fitness technology providers are competitors. Many online fitness platforms – BurnAlong included as Dr. Rucker points out – partner with gyms and studios of all sizes to stream their fitness classes online.