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Health Club Management

Health Club Management


Tech: Virtual worlds

Things are moving fast in the world of virtual. HCM checks in for an update

Published in Health Club Management 2019 issue 5
Rachel Young
Head of training and education
Supplier: Escape Fitness
Product: MARS
Rachel Young

Escape just launched MARS (short for Multi-Activity Resource Station), which gives touchscreen access to a library of exercise videos and pre-loaded workouts for people of any ability and demographic.

MARS gives basic instruction on every Escape product, as they launch, along with a range of workout options, so even if there’s no one available to help, gym-goers will have the inspiration and guidance to safely and effectively do their workout.

It instructs on a range of equipment, including balls, bags, barbells and dumbbells, as well as aerobics, strength, upper, lower and full body activity.

The MARS screen features workout inspiration and exercise options. Gym-goers can get started immediately, with clear instructions and on-screen video.

"Escape has launched into the virtual market with MARS – Multi-Activity Resource Station – which gives instruction on how to work out with every Escape product"

Gyms just need a power socket and the internet to offer MARS. The system is also suitable for unsupervised gyms, enabling them to stay up-to-date with the latest functional training offerings.

There are three options: MARS Rack Pack consists of a Rack5, stocked with Escape equipment with the MARS screen as the centrepiece; MARS on a Frame can be mounted on any Octagon frame leg with a separate bracket 1.5m from the floor, so it’s easily visible and; Mars on the Wall is available with a wall bracket to create a consistent branded look with Escape’s equipment.

Why should health and fitness operators choose your service?
MARS bridges the gap between education and exercise, provides ROI for both operator and members and is ideal for everyone from members who don’t know how to use functional equipment to experienced trainers learning about the newest Escape products.

The system reduces the confusion that can prohibit people from joining gyms – the ‘intimidation barriers’ that Paul Bedford talks about in our Escape Your Limits podcast.

It also helps members exercise safely, getting the most benefit and reducing the chance of injury. Navigation is easy, so anyone can use it.

MARS bridges the gap between education and exercise
Jen Zygmunt
VP sales and marketing
Supplier: Wellbeats
Product: Running and Recovery channels
Jen Zygmunt

Wellbeats continues to add new content, for example, we’re launching a new running channel featuring Olympian Carrie Tollefson, and a Recovery channel that focuses on stretching, which is an important, but often overlooked element of fitness for many people.

In December, we launched a consumer app that is available in the Apple App Store and in late 2018, we also introduced our platform to the employer market for use in workplace wellbeing initiatives.

What are the biggest trends in virtual fitness?
The ability to access different types and levels of fitness at any time, from any location continues to be a dominant trend. This market is projected to reach US$2.6bn by 2022.

In addition, as our knowledge of behaviour change increases, there’s more of a demand for “Fitness that fits.” This is what we strive for with our programming – to meet people at all ages and stages of life with fitness that allows them to be active anywhere, doing things that interest them.

"The ability to access different types and levels of fitness at any time, from any location continues to be a dominant trend. This market is projected to reach US$2.6bn by 2022"

Why should operators choose you?
Wellbeats makes it easier for health and fitness clubs to extend the member experience and to keep people engaged well beyond the four walls of their club.

In 2018 Wellbeats launched a consumer app, and entered the workplace wellbeing arena

By integrating with the Wellbeats virtual fitness platform in a variety of ways, operators can create membership continuity and free up staff to focus on acquisition and retention.

Wellbeats content is also a perfect complement to group exercise programmes and is a cost-effective way for clubs to expand their class offerings.

Clubs can pay a licensing fee to offer Wellbeats content in the club via a per-site subscription fee and charge a per-member, per-month fee to offer the Wellbeats app to their members.

Wellbeats content is an ideal complement to group exercise programmes
Wendy Coulson
CEO UK & Ireland
Supplier: Les Mills
Product: Les Mills Virtual
Wendy Coulson

Les Mills Virtual allows clubs to offer convenient, accessible workouts for time poor members and exercise newbies at off-peak times. Our research shows that three in five members are influenced to join a club based on the number of exercise classes available. This is where virtual really shines, allowing clubs to maximise studio space and provide high-quality service throughout the day.

Timetables with both virtual and live classes ensure members can find a class that suits their schedule. Research shows there's a 12 per cent average increase in attendance at live classes when virtual is available and 75 per cent of virtual users also attend live classes.

We suspect that this is because virtual helps people overcome the initial intimidation they feel by being new in an exercise class. Having the option to attend virtual classes has a positive impact on the number of times people work out each week and how long they stay as club members.

What are the biggest trends in virtual fitness?
As technology evolves, and more virtual features become available, members' expectations increase. To answer this demand, we've developed an immersive cycling experience called The Trip, which combines a 40-minute multi-peak cycling workout with a journey through digitally-created worlds, inspired by cinema, live concert experiences and interactive gaming.

"Research shows there's a 12 per cent average increase in attendance at live classes when virtual is available and 75 per cent of virtual users also attend live classes"

Clubs have the option to run The Trip as a virtual class with a voiceover, as well as a live class with an instructor. It's been shown that immersive experiences like this increase satisfaction and decrease the rate of perceived exertion for new exercisers, meaning they find the intensity of exercise more sustainable and easier – even if it isn't.

Why should operators choose you?
Empty studios are a drain on ROI, especially for cycle studios. The average studio is idle for 50-80 per cent of the day and can mean up to £120,000 per year in lost revenue.

Virtual helps maximise studio assets and lighten the load on peak periods. Considering 40 per cent of people say they'll join a club when virtual is on offer, it can make an immediate impact.

Les Mills Virtual builds on the fresh music, scientifically proven workouts and trained instructors that make our live classes so widely loved.

Virtual can offer a greater range of workout options throughout the day
David Packman
Marketing director
Supplier: Wexer
Product: Wexer Web Player
David Packman

The Wexer Web Player allows clubs to create a club-quality, 24/7 group exercise experience, from club to home, giving members access to on-demand virtual classes when they can’t make it to their club.

All they need is a log-in and an internet-enabled device and the password-protected web portal allows them to stream their choice of workout from Wexer’s library of 500 pre-recorded virtual group exercise classes. There are also workouts in multiple languages.

Wexer’s library offers 500 pre-recorded group classes

For members, the Wexer Web Player offers an online experience that mirrors the quality of programming they expect from their health club. It also provides another source of workout inspiration for those training on their own in the club. For non-members, it’s a chance to test-drive a club via a quality-guaranteed online product – a first step towards full membership.

"The new Wexer Web Player offers members a 24/7 online experience that mirrors the quality of programming they expect from their health club"

What are the biggest trends in virtual?
With so much competition, it can be very hard for health club operators to ‘own’ a member’s entire fitness journey, from in-club to at-home and elsewhere. Yet that ownership is important to maintaining their loyalty.

Operators must recognise that fitness has moved beyond just bricks and mortar. Members enjoy the in-person gym experience, but they also want elements of that experience and expertise to be available to them outside the club too.

Wexer’s library offers 500 pre-recorded group classes
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