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fibodo Limited
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Health Club Management

Health Club Management

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UNITING THE WORLD OF FITNESS
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Health Club Management

Health Club Management

features

Insight: Rapid response

Professional mystery shopping outfit, Proinsight, set its shoppers the task of evaluating a range of online workouts to see how they measured up. David Hopkins reports

Published in Health Club Management 2020 issue 7
Mystery shoppers tested 50 online fitness classes / Gorodenkoff/shutterstock
Mystery shoppers tested 50 online fitness classes / Gorodenkoff/shutterstock
Two operators scored over 90% for their online workouts – BOX12 and David Lloyd Leisure

When the lockdown was announced on the 20th March 2020, the stark reality of freezing 10.4m gym memberships hit home to fitness operators everywhere. The immediate question was, how could the sector – which is so crucial to so many people – stay relevant with the doors shut?

Almost without missing a beat, many operators started up a programme of online classes. Luckily for them a lot of their younger staff are digital natives and understood how they consume content. What followed was an object lesson in rolling up your sleeves and getting on with it, with the majority pivoting to digital.

Hatching a plan
After the initial shock of having to manage the lockdown of my own business had passed, my colleagues put forward the idea of mystery shopping the wide range of new digital workouts that were coming to market.

We realised we had a unique opportunity to ‘live test’ the response of the industry and to gauge how customers were feeling to capture this moment in time and learn from it, so that we had insights to share.

We all wanted to keep fit during lockdown, so it was logical for us to tackle online workouts and at the same time, generate information that would be of use to our clients and to the the wider health and fitness sector.

Our report on how the market reacted – The quickest pivot in business? – is aptly named – we were astonished at how quickly health club operators responded and ultimately, we were able to test 50 classes in all.

Before we started mystery shopping, we evaluated the digital landscape for the industry prior to COVID-19, so we could make comparisons. Before lockdown, there was a lot of content freely available, mainly on YouTube and Facebook, while some of the better-known brands in the sector offered paid subscriptions. However, within our large client base of operators, the provision of remote or online classes was either a long way down the development pipeline or just not considered a realistic part of the strategy, making the speed of the pivot even more astonishing.

About the mystery shops
One of the company benefits we offer to our mystery shoppers is a free Myzone belt and this proved to be very helpful in our quest to understanding the digital offerings we were going to be testing.

Our mystery shop of online classes covered things such as class instruction and provision – in the same way we do with on-site classes, but with the addition of obvious questions about getting online. There were also a number of Myzone-related questions which were developed in collaboration with the team there.

When it came to choosing operators to mystery shop, there were two caveats, they had to be offering their own original content and it had to be either free for our mystery shopper or they had to already have a membership with that health club brand.

Getting down to it
Four mystery shoppers were used, to help with consistency – three men and one woman. All were young, were experienced fitness class users and they each wore a Myzone belt for every class.

Out of the 50 operators we mystery shopped, 17 had the Myzone system. All the classes tested were either HIIT, boxing, circuits or body weight training and all were booked using the means available to general consumers.

The biggest section in the mystery shopping process related to the instructor and we can see now how important this is from the Joe Wicks phenomenon; Wicks has a natural warmth and inclusive style that comes down the line, straight to the person doing the class and really resonates with people.

How instructors performed
Their engagement scores were high, but there were also areas for improvement and it was clear more can be done to improve instructor orientation with digital.

Some were not briefed up to prompt on technique or to share information about the muscle groups being used, while others missed opportunities to extend the connection with consumers by giving shout outs or inviting them to attend future classes. Many did not invite consumers share their experience on social media.

If operators are to develop a hybrid offering that includes digital classes alongside their in-house classes, there is a need to review, learn and look at the specialist skills set required by the new breed of instructors that will be involved in delivering the online classes.

Lockdown made finding professional environments to film in a difficult challenge for operators. Going forward it would be advisable to consider some basic guidelines about audio, lighting, branded clothing and clean and tidy spaces. The branding of these classes represents a huge opportunity to cement identify with new customers.

Before I go into the detail about overall performance, some honourable mentions: Two operators scored over 90 per cent – BOX12 and David Lloyd Leisure – both performed well across the five sections tested. For context, the average score was 62 per cent across the 50 operators. Third place was tied between Myzone’s own virtual classes and Rowbots, both on 87.8 per cent.

The first key finding is one that relates to the inclusion of the Myzone technology in the process. The mystery shoppers wore their belts for every class, not just for the 17 operators that utilise Myzone in their programmes.

This turned out to be an inspired move, as it allowed comparison of class intensity using hourly averages in three key metrics; Myzone MEPs, heart rate increase and calories burned. This protocol was underpinned by checking the resting heart rate for comparison.

We found a correlation between mystery shopper score and the intensity of the class. Classes in the top quartile had an average intensity of 198 MEPs per hour, while those in the bottom quartile were 142 MEPs per hour.

The same applied for average heart rate increases and calories burned, with top quartile classes displaying, on average uplift of +16 bpm and +161 more calories burned when compared with the other classes.

What does this mean? Do well-run classes achieve more for the consumer by giving them the results they want? It looks that way from our findings, although more data would be welcome to test this hypothesis further and to extend into other types of user groups.

Another key finding relates to the thorny issue of payment for online content. As referenced, there was a lot of free content available and produced by instructors and brands from around the globe. You can do a HIIT class with a funky New York instructor, or a yoga class with a yogi based in India, all at the click of a button.

Results were valued
Shoppers said they would pay more for classes they felt they were getting more out of – those of higher intensity.

The average our shoppers were willing to pay for content was £15 per month. For the better-scoring classes in the top quartile, the shoppers were – on average – willing to pay £4.73 more per month than for those in the bottom quartile.

What can we draw from these initial findings? First that we need more hard data on how customers are feeling about online classes, as this survey did not check every class type, workout type or consumer type.

There are many more questions to be answered: Does a pre-recorded library of content fulfil members’ needs, or do they crave the interaction provided by live broadcasts? Do consumers see digital as a part of their ongoing health and fitness journey, beyond lockdown? How should operators position their online offering – as a pure retention tool, or as a commercial proposition? Should operators train staff to become superstars, or should they revert to using third party providers?

We don’t have all the answers, but we’re committed to supporting the industry on the new path to normality.

● You can access the report in full here: www.HCMmag.com/mysteryshop

Insights
David Hopkins, Proinsight

Most popular day: Monday

Least popular day: Tuesday

Instructor acknowledged user: 80%

Average class duration: 30 minutes

Highlighted health & safety: 62%

Classes started late: 25%

Most popular channel: Facebook

Average classes offered per week: 15

The results showed a direct correlation between mystery shopper score and the intensity of the class
Source: Proinsight
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Sweat sells – higher heart rates correlated with stronger mystery shopper scores / Gorodenkoff/shutterstock
Sweat sells – higher heart rates correlated with stronger mystery shopper scores / Gorodenkoff/shutterstock
https://www.leisureopportunities.co.uk/images/2020/543461_815003.jpg
Proinsight has mystery shopped and reported on 50 online workouts. We take a look at what they found...
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features

Insight: Rapid response

Professional mystery shopping outfit, Proinsight, set its shoppers the task of evaluating a range of online workouts to see how they measured up. David Hopkins reports

Published in Health Club Management 2020 issue 7
Mystery shoppers tested 50 online fitness classes / Gorodenkoff/shutterstock
Mystery shoppers tested 50 online fitness classes / Gorodenkoff/shutterstock
Two operators scored over 90% for their online workouts – BOX12 and David Lloyd Leisure

When the lockdown was announced on the 20th March 2020, the stark reality of freezing 10.4m gym memberships hit home to fitness operators everywhere. The immediate question was, how could the sector – which is so crucial to so many people – stay relevant with the doors shut?

Almost without missing a beat, many operators started up a programme of online classes. Luckily for them a lot of their younger staff are digital natives and understood how they consume content. What followed was an object lesson in rolling up your sleeves and getting on with it, with the majority pivoting to digital.

Hatching a plan
After the initial shock of having to manage the lockdown of my own business had passed, my colleagues put forward the idea of mystery shopping the wide range of new digital workouts that were coming to market.

We realised we had a unique opportunity to ‘live test’ the response of the industry and to gauge how customers were feeling to capture this moment in time and learn from it, so that we had insights to share.

We all wanted to keep fit during lockdown, so it was logical for us to tackle online workouts and at the same time, generate information that would be of use to our clients and to the the wider health and fitness sector.

Our report on how the market reacted – The quickest pivot in business? – is aptly named – we were astonished at how quickly health club operators responded and ultimately, we were able to test 50 classes in all.

Before we started mystery shopping, we evaluated the digital landscape for the industry prior to COVID-19, so we could make comparisons. Before lockdown, there was a lot of content freely available, mainly on YouTube and Facebook, while some of the better-known brands in the sector offered paid subscriptions. However, within our large client base of operators, the provision of remote or online classes was either a long way down the development pipeline or just not considered a realistic part of the strategy, making the speed of the pivot even more astonishing.

About the mystery shops
One of the company benefits we offer to our mystery shoppers is a free Myzone belt and this proved to be very helpful in our quest to understanding the digital offerings we were going to be testing.

Our mystery shop of online classes covered things such as class instruction and provision – in the same way we do with on-site classes, but with the addition of obvious questions about getting online. There were also a number of Myzone-related questions which were developed in collaboration with the team there.

When it came to choosing operators to mystery shop, there were two caveats, they had to be offering their own original content and it had to be either free for our mystery shopper or they had to already have a membership with that health club brand.

Getting down to it
Four mystery shoppers were used, to help with consistency – three men and one woman. All were young, were experienced fitness class users and they each wore a Myzone belt for every class.

Out of the 50 operators we mystery shopped, 17 had the Myzone system. All the classes tested were either HIIT, boxing, circuits or body weight training and all were booked using the means available to general consumers.

The biggest section in the mystery shopping process related to the instructor and we can see now how important this is from the Joe Wicks phenomenon; Wicks has a natural warmth and inclusive style that comes down the line, straight to the person doing the class and really resonates with people.

How instructors performed
Their engagement scores were high, but there were also areas for improvement and it was clear more can be done to improve instructor orientation with digital.

Some were not briefed up to prompt on technique or to share information about the muscle groups being used, while others missed opportunities to extend the connection with consumers by giving shout outs or inviting them to attend future classes. Many did not invite consumers share their experience on social media.

If operators are to develop a hybrid offering that includes digital classes alongside their in-house classes, there is a need to review, learn and look at the specialist skills set required by the new breed of instructors that will be involved in delivering the online classes.

Lockdown made finding professional environments to film in a difficult challenge for operators. Going forward it would be advisable to consider some basic guidelines about audio, lighting, branded clothing and clean and tidy spaces. The branding of these classes represents a huge opportunity to cement identify with new customers.

Before I go into the detail about overall performance, some honourable mentions: Two operators scored over 90 per cent – BOX12 and David Lloyd Leisure – both performed well across the five sections tested. For context, the average score was 62 per cent across the 50 operators. Third place was tied between Myzone’s own virtual classes and Rowbots, both on 87.8 per cent.

The first key finding is one that relates to the inclusion of the Myzone technology in the process. The mystery shoppers wore their belts for every class, not just for the 17 operators that utilise Myzone in their programmes.

This turned out to be an inspired move, as it allowed comparison of class intensity using hourly averages in three key metrics; Myzone MEPs, heart rate increase and calories burned. This protocol was underpinned by checking the resting heart rate for comparison.

We found a correlation between mystery shopper score and the intensity of the class. Classes in the top quartile had an average intensity of 198 MEPs per hour, while those in the bottom quartile were 142 MEPs per hour.

The same applied for average heart rate increases and calories burned, with top quartile classes displaying, on average uplift of +16 bpm and +161 more calories burned when compared with the other classes.

What does this mean? Do well-run classes achieve more for the consumer by giving them the results they want? It looks that way from our findings, although more data would be welcome to test this hypothesis further and to extend into other types of user groups.

Another key finding relates to the thorny issue of payment for online content. As referenced, there was a lot of free content available and produced by instructors and brands from around the globe. You can do a HIIT class with a funky New York instructor, or a yoga class with a yogi based in India, all at the click of a button.

Results were valued
Shoppers said they would pay more for classes they felt they were getting more out of – those of higher intensity.

The average our shoppers were willing to pay for content was £15 per month. For the better-scoring classes in the top quartile, the shoppers were – on average – willing to pay £4.73 more per month than for those in the bottom quartile.

What can we draw from these initial findings? First that we need more hard data on how customers are feeling about online classes, as this survey did not check every class type, workout type or consumer type.

There are many more questions to be answered: Does a pre-recorded library of content fulfil members’ needs, or do they crave the interaction provided by live broadcasts? Do consumers see digital as a part of their ongoing health and fitness journey, beyond lockdown? How should operators position their online offering – as a pure retention tool, or as a commercial proposition? Should operators train staff to become superstars, or should they revert to using third party providers?

We don’t have all the answers, but we’re committed to supporting the industry on the new path to normality.

● You can access the report in full here: www.HCMmag.com/mysteryshop

Insights
David Hopkins, Proinsight

Most popular day: Monday

Least popular day: Tuesday

Instructor acknowledged user: 80%

Average class duration: 30 minutes

Highlighted health & safety: 62%

Classes started late: 25%

Most popular channel: Facebook

Average classes offered per week: 15

The results showed a direct correlation between mystery shopper score and the intensity of the class
Source: Proinsight
Sign up here to get HCM's weekly ezine and every issue of HCM magazine free on digital.
Sweat sells – higher heart rates correlated with stronger mystery shopper scores / Gorodenkoff/shutterstock
Sweat sells – higher heart rates correlated with stronger mystery shopper scores / Gorodenkoff/shutterstock
https://www.leisureopportunities.co.uk/images/2020/543461_815003.jpg
Proinsight has mystery shopped and reported on 50 online workouts. We take a look at what they found...
Proinsight, David Hopkins, mystery shopping, digital fitness, digitl workouts,covid-19, lockdown
Latest News
Nick Whitcombe, the independent gym owner who refused to shut his gym during the October ...
Latest News
This year's UK government Spending Review, announced in Parliament by chancellor Rishi Sunak on 25 ...
Latest News
Up to 100k people will benefit from the free gym and physical activity sessions, thanks ...
Latest News
To the relief of the sector, the UK government confirmed yesterday (23 November) that gyms, ...
Latest News
Closing gyms and leisure facilities during any possible future lockdown would be "unthinkable", according to ...
Latest News
The University of Stirling has opened its new £20m sports and fitness centre. The building, ...
Latest News
Gyms are right near the bottom of the list in terms of places people have ...
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UK Parliament will debate COVID-19 restrictions on gyms and leisure centres on Monday 23 November, ...
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Opinion
promotion
With January now close on the horizon your thoughts will be firmly focused on sales campaigns to attract new members through your doors in the new year rush.
Opinion: Sealing the Leaky Bucket – 7 Research-Based Tips for Retaining New Members in January 2021
Featured supplier news
Featured supplier: Primal Strength bolsters Scottish expansion with Matrix Fitness distribution win
Matrix Fitness has announced an exclusive partnership with Primal Strength to target an increased strategic focus on the Scottish market.
Featured supplier news
Featured supplier: Dr Paul Bedford announces Retention Convention will go virtual for 2020
Global retention expert, Dr Paul Bedford, will host his sixth annual Retention Convention virtually, bringing together global speakers to form a documentary-style event around turning customers into communities.
Video Gallery
Freemotion 22 SERIES Powered by iFit
FreeMotion Fitness
The only connected fitness experience in commercial fitness centers, powered by iFit. Read more
More videos:
Company profiles
Company profile: fibodo Limited
fibodo is the digital solution helping people lead healthier and happier lives. From grassroots individual ...
Company profiles
Company profile: Xn Leisure Systems Ltd
Xn Leisure is a provider of cutting-edge health and fitness software, offering exceptional service to ...
Catalogue Gallery
Click on a catalogue to view it online
Directory
Locking solutions
Monster Padlocks: Locking solutions
Whole body cryotherapy
Art of Cryo: Whole body cryotherapy
Lockers/interior design
Safe Space Lockers Ltd: Lockers/interior design
Trade associations
International SPA Association - iSPA: Trade associations
Software
Volution.fit: Software
Uniforms
Service Sport: Uniforms
Direct debit solutions
Harlands Group: Direct debit solutions
Hydrotherapy / spa fragrances
Kemitron GmbH: Hydrotherapy / spa fragrances
Exercise equipment
Technogym: Exercise equipment
Member feedback software
AskNicely: Member feedback software
Property & Tenders
11 - 25 Union St, London SE1 1SD
Bankside Open Spaces Trust
Property & Tenders
Waltham Abbey, Essex
Lee Valley Regional Park Authority
Property & Tenders
Diary dates
27-28 Nov 2020
Athena, Leicester, United Kingdom
Diary dates
03-03 Dec 2020
Virtual,
Diary dates
09 Dec 2020
Raffles City Convention Centre, Singapore, Singapore
Diary dates
02-04 Feb 2021
Ericsson Exhibition Hall, Ricoh Arena, Coventry, United Kingdom
Diary dates
23-26 Feb 2021
IFEMA, Madrid, Spain
Diary dates
03-04 Mar 2021
NEC, Birmingham, United Kingdom
Diary dates
03-06 Jun 2021
Expo Centre & Riviera di Rimini, Italy
Diary dates
16-17 Jun 2021
ExCeL London, London, United Kingdom
Diary dates
01-07 Dec 2022
tbc, Dunedin, New Zealand
Diary dates
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