How to combine in-studio and livestream fitness classes to build a thriving business.
As people in the United States begin to emerge from lockdown, the state of the post-COVID fitness industry is starting to take shape. While most of us are ecstatic about the thought of getting back into the studio to resume business as usual, it might be worthwhile to spend time reflecting on what programs will bring you the most success as you reopen. Is it possible that some practices adopted during the pandemic may be fruitful going forward?
During mandated closures, it is likely that your studio invested in technology to livestream and digitize your classes. Why walk away from everything you’ve built? There is a way to reopen your studio to traditional classes and continue offering livestream fitness classes. A hybrid model can be a helpful resource for transitioning out of COVID lockdown as well as expanding your community and revenue opportunities.
Here are five benefits of offering a hybrid model this summer:
- A smooth transition to in-studio classes. Even though many people are antsy to get back to the way things were, some are also still feeling nervous about heading into the world. Keep in mind that the pandemic was a significant, life-changing event for most people. Making abrupt and major changes to your class offerings might overwhelm your clients and discourage them from returning. With a hybrid model, you can continue to offer livestream fitness classes, while welcoming people back into the studio as they feel ready.
- Additional revenue streams. Chances are that before COVID lockdowns the bulk of your revenue was coming from filling your studio with people. By continuing to offer livestream fitness classes, you can now monetize both in-studio and online clients at the same time. You never know how many people have been wanting to join your Thursday night class but haven’t because they simply couldn’t make it to the studio at that time.
- Something for everyone. During the pandemic, some customers may have learned that they actually love being able to do their workout classes from the comfort of their own homes. Additionally, many companies are reopening with scheduled work from home days and people may still want the opportunity to join your classes without having to make a special commute. Other clients might have learned that virtual fitness just isn’t for them and feel that they must get back in the studio to thrive. Josh McCarter, CEO of Mindbody, recently told Fast Company that according to their research “about 90% of consumers say they’re going to go back to their prior workout habits and regimen, but about 46% of those are saying that they’re going to tack on a virtual aspect.” He concludes, “if you’re not focused on this hybrid model, you’re probably going to start losing some of your clients.” By offering both livestream and in-person classes, you will be able to serve all of your clients’ needs.
- Connect with your students on a deeper level. There are benefits to connecting with your clients both in-person and online. In terms of relationship building, nothing beats in-person connection. You can nurture these deeper bonds with your clients and between students when they come into your studio. When clients log in from home, it gives you access to data about their experience. The FitGrid platform provides data such as class attendance, goals, injuries, and connections that you might not receive in face-to-face communication. The better you know your clients, the better you will be able to create programs that keep them coming back.
- Extend your community beyond your city. One of the wonderful things about offering digital classes is that it opens up your studio to a whole new pool of customers. During the pandemic, many studios have reported expanding their community beyond the boundaries of their city, which is just not possible with an in-studio experience. Not only does live-streaming allow your clients to invite their friends from all over the world, platforms like FitGrid Class App also allow your studio to be discoverable through a search by class type, interests, and time slots. Students may attend your livestream classes from afar because you have the most authentic class in your methodology or because you simply offer exceptional workouts. The benefits of a global community extend far beyond class sign-ups, the FitGrid Class App also allows attendees from all locales to connect, creating an engaged global community centered around your class experience. With a hybrid model, you can strengthen and build your membership base outside of the confines of your physical studio.
Before offering your classes in a hybrid model, it would be beneficial to assess how you can set up the program in a way that best suits your clients, business, and instructors.
A few questions to consider:
- How will you set up your classes to strike the right balance of in-studio and virtual? What is the right mixture of times and availability to make your schedule work for your clients? Send around a poll to your customers and ask them what they prefer!
- How will you price the hybrid classes? Will they be the same price as pre-COVID classes? Will you offer benefits to get people back into the studio once it’s safe?
- How will you train your instructors to split their attention between the classroom and the screen? How will you make sure that they engage both in-studio and online students during hybrid classes?
- How will you manage follow-ups with people from your livestream fitness classes and in-studio attendees? (hint: FitGrid offers automated client outreach tools that make segmented communication simple. These tools have been proven to increase customer retention).
It might take some trial and error to set up successful programming in a post-COVID fitness industry, and that’s okay. A hybrid model offers you the ability to create programming that best suits the needs of all of your clients as you transition into a new way of business.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jacqui Somen is a health and wellness writer and NASM certified personal trainer who simply loves being in motion. She has been working in the industry for more than 14 years. When she’s not writing or working out, you can find her outside exploring the local trails. Follow Jacqui’s adventures at @vivamafit.
FitGrid is a community management system designed for boutique fitness studios to engage clients on a personal level