by Michelle Cook, Wellbeats
The power of a credible live group fitness instructor who is able to captivate, engage and connect with a large room of people can offer a one-of-a-kind effect on retention. But many facilities who excel in this area are now also choosing to supplement their live programs with virtual classes to achieve new, different, but complementary goals. When done successfully, virtual group fitness can supplement live programs to do the following:
1. Attract new participants into group fitness who wouldn’t otherwise join. Scheduling conflicts, lack of variety, lack of targeted solutions, or simply fears about the experience can hold participants back from participating in traditional group fitness programs.
SUCCESS TIP: Use an onboarding consultation to offer suggested advice based on individual’s needs. Virtual programming removes barriers and provides solutions for participants, whether they have unique physical, emotional, or scheduling needs.
2. Create a “bridge” for those intimidated by the live group fitness experience. Virtual programming can offer a safe, non-threatening environment to use tutorial or basic-level classes for participants to learn and practice the fundamentals before joining a larger group.
SUCCESS TIP: Put a cap on some non-peak hour classes as small as three to five people. Advertise times that tutorial classes are offered to attract beginners and give them a place to find affinity groups that they are comfortable with.
3. Improve the experience in your live group fitness classes. Provide another tool for participants to continually progress so they can return to a live class and feel more successful each time.
SUCCESS TIP: Encourage group fitness instructors to “prescribe” virtual classes as homework to participants that would benefit from extra technical coaching.
4. Spread out participation. Accomodate more participants and offer a more robust schedule. Many facilities are using virtual classes to “trial” new time-slots that are being considered for a live instructor-led class.
SUCCESS TIP: Schedule a live instructor or auto-start virtual classes to consistently occur at peak times. Use the rest of the day to trial new time slots or leave schedules open for participants to take classes “on demand.”
5. Give live instructors a tool to develop skill and get ideas.
With world-class training accessible at their fingertips, your live instructors have access to an incredible resources that they can use to develop their skills and improve live class experiences for participants.
SUCCESS TIP: Incentivize instructors to participate in virtual classes on their own time in formats similar to those that they teach.
Despite fears about the negative relationship between live and virtual group fitness programming, the industry is recognizing new opportunities for facilities to scale their programs more effectively and achieve new measures of success through the combination of live and virtual offerings.