The forced closure during the corona crisis made a strong online presence for your sports club suddenly necessary. 24/7 online accessibility was suddenly the standard for every sports club. The agility and flexibility of many ensured that in a short time a form of online fitness was possible at almost every club. A tour around the fields shows us that many clubs choose to remain active online with their own content and content from suppliers.
Thinking outside the box has become very literal in this crisis. Therefore, do not think that everyone will immediately return to the sports club as usual and, no less important, keep in mind that many members have learned to appreciate the freedom of choice! For a fitness entrepreneur, virtual fitness at the club and also facilitating sports online will remain relevant. Both are likely to gain ground quickly.
House, garden and kitchen productions
The crisis hit like a bomb, panic set in and the home, garden and kitchen productions flew by. Because of the great power of local heroes, the members accepted the sometimes very poor quality of the work-outs and the way in which they were distributed. Upside down in the picture, poor intelligibility, limited skills in front of the presenter's camera and online malfunctions. Probably recognisable phenomena for you. Even the quality of online broadcasts of recognised suppliers and chains from our own country could sometimes be called downright poor. All a consequence of not being well prepared for the unexpected. Now that is not so strange. After all, who could have foreseen what was in store for us?
What did we learn from it?
If it doesn't kill you, it makes you stronger is a well-known saying. What have we learned from the past few months? What wisdom can we use to work further on future-proofing? In any case, that it is good to think carefully about the possibility of also offering online work-outs. We gained technical insights on how to record and/or broadcast video content and we worked on our presentation skills.
More importantly, we learned that we are especially vulnerable when members cannot use our physical facilities. We have also learned that members make the switch to the online options fairly quickly and easily.
As the author of this article, I hope that you have also come to realise that investing in a technical (online) virtual fitness infrastructure has become increasingly important in order to remain interesting to members as a supplier of fitness in your immediate vicinity. Not investing in a flexible (online) sports offering weakens your position compared to the big players. Large online initiatives, such as Peloton and Fit Channel, are gaining ground and are aiming at your members. At Basic-Fit you have the possibility to take out a GXR online subscription, without having to be a physical member of a location.
Even a company like Les Mills is moving fast with online memberships that your members can buy directly from them. You're really impressed. You've spent years helping to build a brand and now your members can buy directly from them...
In what areas can you beat such superpowers?
A number of components are important here: profession, local strength and the ability to combine.
Your professionalism and well-trained trainers ensure that athletes remain motivated, that a visit to your club is really worthwhile and that every sporting moment can be a real experience. But there is one big catch... If the basic conditions of professionalism, experience and personal approach are not met, online competition is lurking.
Your local power is unprecedented. I already mentioned it in the introduction to this article, but the sometimes very clumsy way in which videos were presented via a medium like Facebook was fully accepted because it concerned local heroes with whom members actually have a connection. So that pays off in a big way. The moment you strengthen local power and make your brand more important (instead of that of a supplier), you will be less vulnerable for the authority of recognised brands that will also enter your domain.
The combination of a physical location and a strong online presence also makes you stronger as a club in relation to external online superpowers. After all, you can do both: provide strong training sessions at your club, while also being available 24/7 through online work-outs.
Investing in virtual fitness pays off especially in these times
One topic I would like to dwell on, especially in the post-lockdown era we are now living in, is the introduction of virtual fitness at your club. With an implementation of virtual fitness you provide two solutions for a current challenge in one fell swoop:
- the distribution of your audience in the different halls. Members can start a favourite work-out at any time of the day and no longer have to join in exclusively during class times. Your group exercise room can therefore be used at any time of the day.
- A huge choice of workout variants at your club, to be started when you are there and whenever you want. Your members have grown accustomed to (and this will not diminish because of Netflix, On Demand TV and online TV channels) self-initiated (online) work-outs and can appreciate this freedom of choice.
Last but not least. Do not base your choices only on your own vision. Often, we develop several blind spots through years of routine, which no longer allow us to keep up with the spirit of the times. Just think about the way you buy your groceries, choose your holiday, or watch TV. Chances are that the way you consume has also changed in recent years. Don't turn a blind eye to this when it comes to your own proposition....Author: Marc NeijlandMARC NEIJLAND is director and co-owner of ClubJoy, Virtual Training Concepts, Start2Move and FitSnacks.TV. These companies serve over 1500 fitness clubs in the Benelux, Germany and Switzerland. Do you have any questions or comments about this article? Please send an e-mail to ClubJoy.