Business Strategies – How to deal with the Corona outbreak

What’s in this guide?

Due to COVID-19 we’re left asking what the future holds for our industry and how clubs, gyms and studios, that rely heavily on physical attendance, can weather the storm.

This paper explores the current fitness landscape brought on by COVID-19 and will highlight how businesses can use this time to adapt their business strategy. This includes, how to best serve customers in new ways via digital training solutions, innovative content and much more.

How to successfully start your first yoga retreat center

Yoga is soaring with popularity right now – which means it’s a great time to invest in developing the yoga retreat center you’ve always dreamt of opening. That’s not to say it will be as easy as a post-Vinyasa child’s pose. There are a lot of retreat organisers and specialist travel companies competing to attract your target clientele.

This means if you want to build a yoga retreat that is successful and results in a return of interest that is high enough to make all of your hard work worth it, there are a few things you should be sure to consider:

  • Develop a business mindset
  • Offer value and more than what clients expect
  • Use social media to your advantage
  • Prepare to work hard
  • Maintain excellent communication skills
  • Estimate funds
  • Invest in the ambience and decor of the center

Develop a business mindset

Even though this seems like an obvious concern for anybody wishing to start a business, it’s important to consider the business side of your yoga retreat endeavour. Any Yoga instructor planning to open their yoga retreat center must have business and accounting skills or even just know the basic rules. Do some research or bring on board partners that have a sound business mind. Hiring people with the same values and dedication as you is also necessary if you want to successfully start your own yoga retreat center.

Do your homework and research while building a business-minded team

Many well-seasoned Yogis advise aspiring yoga instructors to take their time in choosing the right support team. Many people don’t get what they expect and this could lead you to lose out in the long-run. It’s important to do your homework and research while building a business-minded team and make decisions over time – much like a yin yoga class, it’s best when taken slowly.

Offer value, dedication and more than what clients expect

When you open a yoga retreat center, it is useful to know the language of the people you need to interact with, and this will help with more fluent instruction delivery. Especially in the Yoga industry, students often have a deeper connection with their instructors. That means that value and dedication are required from the Yoga instructor. Your future retreat center should have a friendly, warm and welcoming vibe to it – and this begins with the staff.

Fostering a positive atmosphere will help the Yogis or yoga students to feel at home and well-cared for. Yoga instructors should make sure they have everything on the menu that their clients enjoy eating. Encouraging Yogis to eat healthier and organic foods should also be done, but they shouldn’t feel like they’re being pushed into it. Overall, a very relaxed, calm, and soothing vibe should be sought after. Staff and organisers should embrace this to make sure the student’s experiences are memorable.

yoga eagle pose woman forest retreat center

Use social media to your advantage

A yoga retreat center has the potential to be economically rewarding if you use certain tactics to gain maximum business benefits. Social media plays a huge part in any successful yoga retreat. It all comes down to this question: why do people go on yoga retreats?

Some reasons may include:

  • For a change of scenery
  • To embrace a healthy lifestyle
  • To be surrounded by nature
  • To escape their busy lives
  • Simply because they LOVE yoga

So how does social media come into this? First, make sure you don’t miss out on any of the best practices to build a website. Since our world is dominated by the internet, Yoga instructors should take advantage of conducting free marketing on sites like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Facebook also allows people to review and rate their experience which builds a good reputation for any business, so make sure your yoga retreat center has a Facebook and Instagram link as well. It’s also a great way to connect with potential Yoga students and inspire them to begin practising Yoga. Having maximum social media coverage will definitely provide a successful kick-start to your yoga retreat center.

Although breaks, weekends and holidays exist, you must be prepared to accept the fact that most of the “off days” will be spent preparing, bettering and improving your Yoga retreat center

Prepare to work hard

Owning and starting your own Yoga Retreat Center is certainly different than just working for one. When working for an organization, Yoga instructors have the luxury of taking a few days off and some time to themselves. However, you may not have this luxury when it comes to running your own retreat business. You could be on your feet for more than 18 hours a day, and dealing with people with varied mindsets. Although breaks, weekends and holidays exist, you must be prepared to accept the fact that most of the “off days” will be spent preparing, bettering and improving your Yoga retreat center.

As a Yoga instructor aspiring to open a yoga retreat center, you should expect busy schedules, long-drawn out and hectic days and long periods where you’ve felt like you haven’t taken a break in forever.

Three women doing yoga gymnastics

Maintain excellent communication skills

If you’re planning to open your very own retreat center, you must know already that your communication skills should be at their best. Be prepared to construct brochures, cold-call emails, ads, and even personal meetings with interested clients. It’s also important maintain a positive attitude, no matter the personality of your client – so where possible, always remain calm, pleasant and upbeat.

Emotional bonding with clients will make them come for more, attend retreats and look up to you as a teacher and a guide.

While the retreat is taking place, people may face difficulties in their personal lives. As yoga acts as a release for many suffering with mental health problems, you should ensure that you are sensitive to these issues. Try to take an empathetic approach to relate to their issues. Emotional bonding with clients will make them come for more, attend retreats and look up to you as a teacher and a guide. But always refer clients to a professional if you think the need arises.

Women yoga classes meditate

Estimate funds and your budget for the center

While it may seem like an obvious piece of advice, any Yoga instructor wanting to begin their own retreat center must consider the monetary aspects of the trip. Laying the foundation of your dream venture costs you money and not having adequate financial flow is a major reason for small businesses failing at a premature stage. Some things to analyse are permits, rent or hire costs for the location, general facilities like electricity and water, insurance, legal support, financial/human resources, permits and security.

Once the adequate investment is done, all Yoga instructors can do is wait for their sales to boost up and reward them.

Invest in the ambiance and decor of your center

Any yoga instructor knows this is very important and essential to a successful yoga studio or a retreat center. Although it is natural to be excited for the very first Yoga retreat venture of your life, you should remember not to get carried away with the decor. That covers things like the the wall paintings, the decorations and the furniture. That’s not to say you shouldn’t put a little effort in. These elements all lay the foundation for the ambiance which should be subtle but comforting. Your attendees are searching for a sense of tranquillity and time-out from their regular lives. This means you should try to make sure that every part of the retreat center hints at calm and serenity. Aromas can be useful in achieving this.

Another way to achieve the perfect ambience could be to host classes outside in nature. You could run a class in a field, forest or even on a beach.

Beach yoga woman sunset

Last, but not least, is investing time to work on yourself. After all, you will have a determining influence on the ambience of your retreat. Adopt a ‘you-centred’ approach and do not behave in a way that people would expect you to or superficially. Try to be open and don’t try to put on too much of a show for your audience. Authenticity is always best, so be true to your style of teaching and provide honesty and clear communication and no doubt you’ll have a waiting list of attendees.

What is nutrition coaching software and why do I need it?

Creating exclusive and personalized diet plans manually can be a very tedious and stressful job. Since every client’s body is different and fitness goals vary all over the world, the same nutrition plans can’t be applied to different clients. Luckily for you, we have just the solution, in the form of fitness technology. Fitness technology can help you make your clients happier and more satisfied with their bodies, as well as coach them to reach their goals. That speaks for nutrition software too.

So, why is nutrition software so important in a personal trainer’s life? Generally, investing in nutrition software has many benefits. Specialized nutrition planning programs can be used to create bespoke plans for each one of your clients. For many personal trainers all around the world, nutrition planning/coaching software is essentially the key to dealing with most responsibilities that they have.

Nutrition coaching software is a daily must-have for personal trainers wanting to boost and improve their business because:

  • It’s cost-effective
  • It works for everyone
  • It’s easy to use

It’s a cost-effective solution to deal with daily responsibilities as a personal trainer

The lifestyle of a personal trainer can be extremely rewarding. But that’s not to say that it doesn’t take its toll. Having nutrition software to assist you can prove to be a huge relief. Nutrition coaching software can be a cost-effective and time-efficient option that allows you to focus on your core fitness and business activities, while the app takes care of your clients.

Nutrition app on phone - Virtuagym

Creating and assigning custom meal plans for individual clients requires a heap of your time and energy – time and energy that could be spent bettering any other aspects of your business, such as improving customer retention or finding ways to increase your revenue. Nutrition coaching software takes the burden of generating meal plans for your clients off your back and allows for bespoke customization of the diet plans, all from within the software.

Creating a personalized meal plan doesn’t have to be difficult and time-consuming. With Virtuagym’s nutrition coaching software, you can access a database with over 100,000+ products.

It offers fitness and diet plans, improves nutritional habits and is inclusive of every body type!

No matter what your client’s fitness goals are, nutrition coaching software can help. Taking into account body compositions, lifestyles, and fitness goals, nutrition coaching software allows your clients to produce or customize dietary plans according to their goals. It helps your clients on their fitness journey and it can boost both client acquisition and client retention.

The popularity of health and fitness is growing every year and has most recently been estimated to be a $100 billion global industry. This means more clients – but it also means more competition. To distinguish yourself from other trainers working in your local area, you should be offering clients the full package – that means weight loss or muscle building programs that include meal planning and nutritional advice. Usually, personal trainer software offers benefits including nutritional coaching, training plans, and management of administrative tasks.

Combining your fitness services with dietary and nutritional services makes a lot of sense. From a client’s perspective, the two often go hand in hand. Other than the time and money-saving perks for you, it benefits your clients as well. They will achieve better results in less time as combining both nutrition and exercise is the most effective way to reduce body weight. Your services will be more convenient (and more sought after) if they can help a client keep their fitness and diet in check, side by side!

It is convenient to use with the help of apps and tracking using food diaries

Encouraging your client to keep a handwritten food diary can be tricky. Who carries around a notebook and pen these days? They could keep track of their notes on their phone. But then they will have to look up the calorie content, micros and macros of each product individually. Plus, for this to work they’ll need to be motivated to do the math on their own.

A nutrition app offers a much simpler solution. It can be accessed via mobile phone anytime, anywhere. Nutrition coaching software such as Virtuagym offers you the opportunity to have your very own branded app along with coaching software. This is perfect for personal trainers who sell meal plans or nutrition programs along with fitness programs. Clients can choose to follow the diet given to them by you and they have the luxury of editing it themselves (with some nutritional guidance of course).

Food diaries with meals and items are logged in and your client can automatically figure out the healthiness of their meal. With such a simple module and layout, even your most technophobic clients will find it easy to track their eating. This will take a vast amount of the work off your back so that you can focus on bettering your business.

Conclusion

Investing in nutrition coaching software is bound to bring exponential growth, increase customer retention, and bring new clients to your business. Personal trainers don’t realize how much of their work can be automated and handled by software. If you’re looking to generate new streams of revenue and need to invest your time and energy, nutrition coaching software is the way to go.

Fitness business owner: Why isn’t your January income as good as you’d hoped for?

In the fitness world, January is framed as a big moment for gyms and studios everywhere. With the trend for getting-fit (thanks to New Year’s resolutions) reaching its peak this month, it can feel confusing and disappointing to be left with little revenue increase. 

Your gym could be suffering from one of four key problems.

Problem one: People are still in holiday-mode

Problem two: You’re having issues with payments

Problem three: They’re signing up with your competitors

Problem four: Members leave after a trial period

💪 Let’s fix that!


This blog post will unpick some of the reasons revenue may have slowed down this month and then give you the tools to turn things around. 

Problem #1  People are still in holiday-mode 

The weather is cold and people are still recovering from all of those mince pies and Baileys. This may account for class cancellations and a limited number of new members coming into your gym. 

How to fix it: Give them an incentive to leave the house 

Hold a fitness challenge and encourage people to get out of the house and onto the gym floor. This is an effective way to target gym-lovers. After all, what fitness-fanatic doesn’t love an organised challenge? 

The best way to track a challenge like this is to use an app with a digital community feature. This way the participating members can keep up with what one another are doing and see each others progress. This challenge could be anything from learning to do the splits to increasing deadlift weights. 

Australian gym F45 are excellent at rolling out challenges for their members. This image shows how they use their website to build excitement around their 8-week challenge. They include a countdown to push more members to sign up. The F45 challenge includes a meal plan and workouts are done at the F45 gym. This ensures that members leave that Christmas-feeling behind and step-up their game when it comes to fitness. 

Learn from F45 and make it easy for members to sign up to email notifications via a landing page on your website. 

Offer incentive prizes for challenge winners and participants. Make sure that you push out advertisement of this challenge on your social media and encourage your members to spread the word. 

F45 uses platforms such as Instagram to share the results of challenges and get members fired up for upcoming ones. 

Problem #2 You’re having issues with payments 

Sometimes, it can be the payments themselves that are causing you bother. You could still be trying to manually organise payments – or perhaps you are struggling to keep track of members that have not paid or whose credit cards have been rejected. 

How to fix it: Find a software solution 

The easiest and most effective way to solve this issue is to use a membership management system to control your payments. Software such as the fitness membership management tools created by Virtuagym can provide you with an all-in-one solution that not only helps you manage and coach members but will also help with payments.

Problem #3  They’re signing up with your competitors 

The fitness industry is saturated with great businesses and brands that may provide tough competition. It’s possible that while people are looking for a gym to help them fulfill their New Year’s resolutions this January, yours hasn’t made the cut. 

How to fix it: Build your brand 

Making sure that potential members choose your gym over the one down the road means investing time and effort into driving new customers into the building. This is most effectively done by building brand awareness. 

Consider what makes your business stand out from others locally. Then spend time advertising these features to those in your local town or city. Engage with your immediate geographic area and posit yourself as part of a wider community. Y Club gym in Manchester uses Twitter to stay engaged locally and paint themselves as a key voice in the city’s fitness scene. 

Foster this feeling of togetherness within your gym too by using an app to create a digital space in which members can chat and share updates. This way gym-goers will be part of something bigger. Creating a community that holds members accountable and allows them to share their progress is a key selling point and could be the difference between them choosing your gym over another.  

You could also build an online presence for your brand by offering visitors to your website and social media pages access to e-books, newsletters and infographics. Keep them updated with the kinds of content that position you as the authority of all things fitness in their area. 

US based-gym-brand Equinox uses Twitter to share blog posts that help gym-goers improve their workout sessions. People will look to them and their page for information. This helps them to stand out against their competitors.

By introducing challenges and incentives, building brand awareness and better organising your payment systems you can ensure that your January disappointments turn around in February. 

Problem #4 Members are leaving after a trial period 

You’ve got a load of people through the door by offering new years trial period incentives. But after opting for the discounted membership, they stop visiting your gym. 

How to fix it: Grow your community 

The best way to retain members after a trial period is to give them a good reason to stay. You could have the best equipment and training plans but if your members don’t feel as though they are part of your fitness community, they will have little good reason to stick around. 

By fostering a sense of community amongst your members you can keep them from ending memberships prematurely and develop new leads. 

One of the best ways to do this is to ensure that your members feel part of the gym after they leave the building. By using an in-built digital community, like on the Virtuagym app, you can provide an online space for members to contact one another, share progress pics and statuses and receive updates about your gym. 

Ultimately, you shouldn’t be too disheartened that January wasn’t the mad rush you had hoped for. According to reports, March is actually the busiest month for many gyms, with January running behind as a close second. So regardless of January results, stay positive for now. This year could be your biggest growth in revenue yet.

The 2020 Gym checklist – are you ready for the first quarter?

It’s the first month of a new year and in order to prepare for the first quarter, there are a few things you should consider in order to make 2020 a year of huge growth for your business.

One of the biggest January cliches is that gaining and attracting new clients is the most important thing you can do this season.  Yes, getting more people through the door will lead to more sales. But don’t overlook the importance of engaging with your current customers and making sure they stay with you even as the new-year-new-me January crew pour in. And of course, you also want to make sure that your brand new customers like your gym enough to stick around.

This checklist will help you find new ways to engage with your customers and give them an experience that will make them glow as though they’ve just exited a 7 am spin class. Get yourself ready for new years with the latest update of our gym software.

1. How to attract new customers

Okay, so let’s deal with this biggie first. Attracting new customers is the best way to scale up your business. Luckily for you (and thanks to new year’s resolutions), every Instagram influencer and his uncle will be hitting the gym extra hard at the start of this quarter. This is the perfect opportunity to bring in new leads and score yourself some year-long memberships. Now is your prime time to get those customers in!

Step one in attracting new clients is to implement an effective social media strategy.

This could be as simple as regular posting and could be as advanced as paid advertisements. Around 45% of the world’s population use social media, with an average of 2 hours and 23 minutes spent per day on social networking platforms. Use incentives such as discounts, giveaways or a referral system to make your advertisements stand out. For more information on how to improve your social media marketing strategy, click here.

Here’s a great example of a fitness brand that is getting it right when it comes to online advertisements. Ashley Galvin has built her brand as a yoga instructor that runs online fitness classes. She perfectly exemplifies how social media can be used to target an audience and drive them to subscribe to classes.

Ashley yoga advertisements on Instagram collage

These images feature a video advertisement created by Ashley and shared on Instagram. The short video shows a combination of yoga poses and then cuts to bold white lettering that tells viewers they can achieve goals such as to ‘tone and define’ their whole body. It also invites the viewer to watch a longer video to get more information.

This ad is shown to a target audience as they scroll down their Instagram newsfeed. While a video may require more budget to produce, this method can also be used by creating attractive graphics for your target customer profiles to view instead.

Remember that creating a call-to-action is key

You should make it easy for social media users to sign up to classes or for membership directly after seeing the ad. When viewers click on Ashley’s page, they see that her bio also includes a call-to-action. She provides a link to her website, details her latest class launch and the paid ad also means that a link to watch more on the website is also provided at the bottom of the page. It’s easy to focus on lead generation. But remember that the flow of potential customers quickly increases management and conversion costs.

This is where Lead Management comes in. This will help you figure out how to communicate and who to communicate with. It will determine your messages and when you send them. Understanding leads and effectively managing them is a great way to increase profits and drive more sales.

The moment a person subscribes to a membership they should receive an email of confirmation with information on your gym and how it works there. Leave a week before sending a secondary email so that you don’t inundate them with marketing.

In this second email, you should redirect them to another point of sale. That could be premium membership, classes or a point of sale online such as a webshop. Include a call-to-action button and links in your email so everything is easier for them.

Use a lead management tool to keep track of your actual and future members so you can focus on marketing and sales. You’ll have the data of all of your leads in one place. You can also easily interact with them via automated emails and messages – saving you a ton of time in the process. And we know your time is worth GOLD in January.

2. Engage the customers

Once the new customers have arrived, you have to offer the best service possible so they stay in your gym and don’t go running off to your competitors.

You can have the best marketing strategy possible but if the service you offer doesn’t live up to the hype, you’re going to lose your clients faster than you can say ‘power snatch’. For starters, having the right and most qualified teachers for the job is essential. You could also try offering advanced personal training. If you pair this with tracking to encourage motivation, it could place your gym above the rest.

Engaging customers is all about motivating them to keep going to the gym and the best way to do this is to allow them to keep track of their evolution and see the results for themselves. For this, you need a complete app that can offer full tracking of what you are doing at the gym but also exercise plans that you can customize. This means your teachers can focus on motivating clients, while they are equipped with the best tools to drive results (and keep people coming back for more).

3. Create a smooth client experience

Creating a seamless client experience is paramount to keeping clients motivation up. This will keep them coming back to your gym and they will act as social proof, telling their friends and family about their positive experiences.

You need to give the best tools to work out so your gym becomes a second home to them. You have to make it as easy as possible for them, which will end up making it all easier for you too.

That means implementing great equipment inside the gym – but also great equipment outside the gym. That’s where software comes in.

Utilize up-to-date software tools like a QR code check-in. This means that gym-goers don’t need a card to check themselves in (which means no forgetting cards), making the experience simpler for both customers and staff.

This is just one great example of how you could improve your customer experience. Another way is by implementing a system of credits to book classes. These credits can be bought on the app to have a clear system of payments, for both the client and for you.

The system of credits is compatible with an online schedule, which allows clients to book classes directly and have it marked on a calendar.

Small adjustments like this will make you stand out in your local market. Creating an easy, enjoyable experience will drive customers to your gym or studio. Show them what unique features you can offer will encourage them to stick with you, rather than head for the other gym at the end of the street. Implementing your customer experience vision in your business development plan is one of the most efficient ways to retain clients.

4. Create customer loyalty

Bringing in new customers is great – but studies have shown that retaining customers instead of acquiring new ones is actually 6 times cheaper. That means that working on building customer loyalty and keeping the customers you already have is the most effective way to build a business.

This is because there is more probability that an existing customer will generate a sale and so they also have a better conversion rate.

Although that doesn’t mean giving up on attracting new customers altogether. It just means dedicating more of your resources to retaining the loyal gym-lovers that you already have.

To improve brand loyalty, you should also try to build a community within your gym and outside of it. This can be done by making sure that engagement doesn’t end when your client exits the building. Encourage your customers to talk and share things between them but also with you.

Group class inside a gym - Virtuagym

This can be done using software such as an online community feature, which helps build a stronger relationship with your clients, keeps them motivated and engaged with your club 24/7, and increases retention as a side-effect.

Ways to interact with customers include mass communication, targeted communication (e.g. only members interested in specific classes), or one-on-one messaging. This is all accessible via your web portal or mobile app, so you can engage with your clients anywhere.

We believe that you never leave a gym that is filled with people you care about.

Conclusion

So while gaining new clients might be at the top of your priority list this for the new year. Remember not to lose sight of what the whole picture.
Giving your current clients a winning service and building a real sense of community within your gym (and outside of it) are sure-fire ways to foster a business that will see exponential growth in 2020. Making sure that the customer journey is seamless from the start will ensure that your customers stay with you much longer – so that money spent on a Facebook ad won’t be going to waste. Check our all-in-one software that could help you to tick all the boxes and get your free demo today.

How to deal with the January madness in your fitness studio in 2020

New Year celebrations have come to an end and like clockwork, the January fitness rush begins. Luckily for you and your studio, that means more leads, revenue, and potential for growth. It also means a busier studio and a need to level up your organizational skills. After all, you don’t want to give the wrong first impression to your new members.

While the January spike in gym or fitness studio attendance is very much real, it doesn’t take long before the New Year’s resolutioners give up on their plans to get in shape. If you’re like most fitness studios getting ready for the influx of studio attendees, this means you probably need help with:

  • 1. 🔥 Generating leads
  • 2. 💪 Keeping new members motivated and engaged
  • 3. 🙏 Retaining current members

When the dust of optimism has settled, it’s important to ensure that your fitness studio has effectively held the interest of new prospective studio members AND not scared off or neglected your current loyal customers.

This article will address these main points so that you and your studio see exponential growth in 2020.

Generate more leads

There are plenty of New Year’s fitness newbies out there in your local area. But how do you convince them to come to your studio, rather than the one five minutes down the road?

#1 Set up a referral program

This is a great way to generate new leads for your fitness studio as it will see your current members doing most of the work for you. According to statistics, word of mouth is the main driving force between 20 – 50% of purchasing decisions.

men in gym working out together weight lifting blue shirts

Set up incentives for current members and for newbies – especially when they join in January.

Setting up a referral program is your cheapest marketing channel so be sure to utilize it.

#2 Upgrade your social media strategy using video

Ensuring that you have a strong and active social media presence over the winter period is a great way to attract new members that may have started researching potential studios online.

Good social media practice that you should already be following include:

  • Posting frequently
  • Engaging with others in your local area and your fitness niche
  • Creating minimum-effort, high-impact copy – this should be either funny, informational or emotive

If you have no time to produce your own content (it is January after all), simply resharing content posted by others is sufficient.

Fitness community for Facebook - Virtuagym

But you should remember when it comes to content, video is 50 times more likely to drive organic search results than plain text.

That means that using video to generate more leads will double your digital efforts.

This can be tricky to get right. To see a brand that is effectively doing this, check out gym chain Jetts. They upload videos taken within their fitness studio to Instagram, demonstrating exactly how to do an exercise and detailing the move in the caption too. This encourages followers to comment and ask questions. They position themselves as an authority in their niche and provide additional value to their members and prospective members.

#3 Make sure your website and app are running smoothly

To make sure that your studio stands out, you should have a visible, easy-to-find branded website.

Your website should have:

  • Strong visuals of (or relating to) your studio
  • A branded domain
  • Great SEO making it easy for members to find

Ring hands typing laptop woman website phone marble case pencils

In addition to a website, you should also have a branded app to ensure that the onboarding process is as easy as possible.

An app like Virtuagym can be used to manage, coach and track your member’s activities.

Keep your new members engaged

So you’ve bagged yourself a whole host of new members, now you just have to make sure they don’t give up too easily.

By creating a positive environment in your studio and fostering a sense of community amongst your members you can make sure that new members stick around.

#1 Develop a community spirit

There are a number of ways that you can develop the community of your fitness studio and ensure that it encourages members to stick around. But the most important is creating strong relationships between members and staff as well as amongst members.

Train staff to be inclusive and look out for newbies. Make sure that they feel encouraged and are not left behind.

Utilize activities such as a competition or training program that will bring members together and form friendships. Studio members that make friends with fellow members are much more likely to keep coming back – and in turn, keep buying into you and your business.

women laughing in a gym

You should also make sure that your members remain engaged when they leave the studio. An ideal way to do this is to develop an online community via social media or on an app. Doing this will encourage members to post fitness updates and developments and create a buzz and conversation around your studio.

Tip: City Fitness uses the Virtuagym Touch in their facilities to inspire, coach and engage their members. The Virtuagym Touch is a new software solution that allows operators to turn any screen into an in-gym service kiosk or digital training station.

#2 Host an event in your fitness studio

Hold an event, encouraging all new members to come along – and old ones too. This will create a more sociable atmosphere in your club and lead to more loyalty amongst members. You could host a day of free classes, drinks or invite guest speakers.

Think outside the box when it comes to creating an event that is unique to you and your studio.

One great example is the immersive events ran by the Ministry of Fitness. They pair up with coaches that are popular with the Instagram crowds and put on events alongside brand partners in the health and wellness industry. The events offer so much more than a simple workout. Participants can get hair braiding, goody bags and enjoy influencer talks and interactions.

ministry of fitness screenshot website

#3 Don’t ghost your members

Nobody likes being ghosted. Communicating with members isn’t only crucial while you are inside the studio itself, but also after members go home.

Communicating with them via an online app will make sure that they stay in touch with the studio and remain committed to their workout goals.

You can answer any of their questions and they can share progress and discover more about the community at your studio.

Use emails, phone calls as well as push notifications to contact your members. All of this can be done using a software management system. Set up email flows that get in touch with your members after a certain amount of missed sessions.

Retain your current gym members

Finally, you should ensure current members feel appreciated, despite the January influx. If you focus all your efforts on new members, your most loyal and high-value customers may end up feeling left behind.

Personal trainer coach client in the gym with Virtuagym

#1 Provide additional resources off-site

January is a busy time for any fitness studio. This can be annoying for long-term fitness lovers that feel they are left competing for space in classes or a busy studio. To make sure that these members can still gain value from their membership with you, make sure that they have resources available to them when they are working out off-site too.

Develop home-workout plans, nutrition plans or use an app like Virtuagym to do it for you.

The more advantages your studio provides them with outside of their designated studio-time, the more likely they are to stay with you for the long-run.

#2 Consider adding new classes

New studio classes in the first month of the year are another effective way of keeping older members happy.

Talk to your members and find out exactly what they think would benefit them. Question them on their needs in your digital community space or approach members in the studio and find out first-hand.

yoga class woman working out fitness exercise

If you deliver the classes your members have been hoping for, this makes them feel heard and valued. Ultimately, this will result in them feeling part of the studio community and reluctant to move elsewhere for their fitness needs.

#3 Hold a fitness challenge

Every fitness fan loves a fitness-themed challenge. Make the most out of this and implement a winter training challenge in your studio.

Choose a time frame, such as ten to twelve weeks. Create a specific goal and develop a training and/or nutrition plan to set out for your members.

The challenge could be anything from learning to do the splits or losing weight, to gaining a set amount of muscle.

Three women doing yoga gymnastics

Track the results of this and encourage participants to share their progress in your digital community. You could also offer a prize incentive for the winner of the challenge – or gifts (such as a protein shaker or tote bag) for all of those that stayed on track throughout the full course of the challenge.

Follow the steps above and we are confident that you will generate new leads, engage members AND keep all of your current members happy. With these tips, 2020 could be a year of huge growth for your fitness studio.

 

The biggest 2020 fitness trends that will boost your business

It’s almost that time of the year, the trends of 2019 are getting old and the new ones are just getting started. Nowhere is this more pronounced than in the fitness industry. And you might not be surprised to find out that for the third year in a row, wearable technology is still topping the trends lists. Let’s look at what else has changed from last year to this one.

To sum it up, the biggest trends in fitness this year are:

  • Wearables
  • Smart clothing
  • HIIT and personalized personal training
  • Corporate health
  • Fitness as medicine
  • Cortisol-conscious workouts

Wearables top the list! (again)

Let’s hear it louder for the people at the back – wearable tech is doing it again. How do we know? Because it is still number one on the annual industry report that ACSM publishes every year. Wearables were already number 1 in 2016 and also in 2017. In 2018 we saw wearables fall to third place. But this year they are back with an almighty bang. But that doesn’t just mean watches and heart rate monitors…

Wrist wearable working out run

The rise of smart clothing

Instead of trackers that you wear on your wrist or chest, sensors of the future are increasingly integrated into your clothing. Smart clothing is expected to become a billion-dollar industry. A new report by Juniper Research predicts that by 2022, around 30 million smart pieces of clothing will be sold, surpassing sales of devices such as smartwatches and classic fitness trackers.

There are even smart bikinis that can tell you when you need to top up your sunscreen.

Under Armour has already paved the way for smart clothing, introducing clothes for sleeping that enhance your recovery post-workout. But now, there are even smart bikinis that can tell you when you need to top up your sunscreen.

Wearables are the fitness industry’s lifeblood – and sensory clothing will be no different. Using smart clothing for fitness could help make it clear to trainers how far a client is straining muscles during a workout. This is possible during a PT-session, but it is also possible at a distance, where the personal trainer has continuous insight into the training data of such a customer.

HIIT and Personal training

High-intensity interval training (HIIT), is a type of workout that doesn’t seem to be slowing down in popularity. This training usually lasts between 5 and 45 minutes and involves high-intensity exercises to less intense ones with short periods of resting.

“We’ve been talking to many customers over the years and recently more and more prospects ask if we can help them with this type of training. Of course, we can.” – Oliver Johnson, Virtuagym Account Executive

Nowadays, getting personalized attention for working out can be more accessible than ever. Personal training can be found in many different forms such as online coaching, fitness centers, working places and at home. It is characterized by its individual attention to establishing personalized goals, needs and training plans. This trend has always been on the top 10 ranking list.

Working out women personal trainer gym

We are a technology-driven society. Personal trainers can take advantage of this to engage more with customers and give them more personalized attention. An app can drastically improve your capacity to do this.

Using an app can also help you provide personalized nutrition and training plans. Trainers can also use apps to send their bills out automatically, which means they have more time to actually train people, rather than spending all their time on administrative tasks.

A rise in corporate health

More and more employers realize that sickness and mental health can be connected to working out and a healthy lifestyle. This issue has become an important matter for companies as they realize it is important to the well-being of the employees in order to be more productive and succeed. Virtuagym corporate health sales have tripled in 2019!

The trend of fitness as medicine is becoming recognised internationally

If they are healthy, they’re much less likely to call in sick. Plus, keeping your employees fit and healthy can be fun. Employees will engage more and become loyal to the company. Well-being programs are usually available in the workplace or fitness centers. You can even say that exercising is like medicine. This trend gets recognize internationally. And speaking of medicine…

Fitness as medicine

The latest development in boutique fitness is a rise in fitness centers, which combine working out with medicine and wellness. This is becoming particularly prominent in the US, where centers are combining gyms and yoga studios with chiropractors’ offices and physiotherapy offices.

man hand on shoulder injury physiotherapy

Places such as SculptU in Houston offer ‘medical fitness training’, using physical therapy to tackle injuries and other body pain, as well as nutrition and gyms such as London’s BXR boxing gym, is holding specialist classes for people with Parkinson’s disease.

Capitalize on this trend by working out what unique additions you can add to your gym or studio to cater to your client’s medical needs as well as their fitness goals. Are your clients largely women? Perhaps you could tailor your services to women going through the menopause. Are your clients prone to specific injuries? Offer an in-house massage and physiotherapy treatment clinic.

Cortisol-conscious workouts

In the UK and US, it’s also becoming more popular to address your stress levels when it comes to working out. ROWBOTS, a new gym in the UK, co-founded by footballer Gareth Bayle and Olympic rower Ben Tipney is touting itself as the country’s first mental health workout.

man on rowing machine gym

Pulling on psychological data, the information already available about the brain’s reward system as well as recent research on neuroplasticity, they have come up with a workout that works in tune with the body’s own hormones.

A new focus on mental health and better wellbeing in the workplace will pave the way for what’s trending in 2020

Activities like dancing, boxing, and martial arts are also seeing a growth in popularity due to their mental health benefits. Men’s mental health charity Humen recently partnered with Barry’s Bootcamp to put together a HIIT class and ‘gym for the mind’. It included stories from inspiring men and focused on the theme of mental wellbeing alongside physical fitness.

So there you have it. Smarter tech, combining workouts with medicine and a new focus on mental health and better wellbeing in the workplace will pave the way for what’s trending in 2020.

9 essential pieces of gym equipment for all age groups in your fitness studio

If you’re a fitness pro, it can be easy to forget that some fitness equipment might intimidate or put-off some of your clientele. While having heavy weights and the latest gadget is a must in staying ahead of your game, using hardcore exercise machines fit for the Olympics could mean that your gym scares off beginners or seniors.

Similarly, if your gym just has basic equipment that is only utilised by the less experienced or older, the seriously dedicated gym-goers will simply pick another gym that is stacked with the latest and greatest gear. To maximize profits and get more people through the door, a mix of equipment should be used to attract and keep customers.

The gym equipment mentioned in the list below are suitable for:

  • beginners
  • young athletes
  • seniors

working out in a gym red leggings arms workout

When picking the best equipment for newbies you should first ask what their goals might be, in the same way that you might do with seniors. A person wanting to join the gym might aim to lose weight or maintain a healthy physical appearance, which means they’re more likely to engage in cardio. Someone older might aim to undertake exercises that will help them maintain muscle mass and a healthy heart. They are also likely to use equipment that is kinder on their joints.

To make sure you keep everyone happy (but without spending a wild amount on fitness equipment), integrate these nine essential things for your gym or studio.

1. Training bench

A basic but multi-purpose training bench is a must-have in your gym. Definitely suitable for beginners, the training bench is a diverse piece of equipment that serves it’s purpose for seniors and young athletes as well. It is used for performing weight training exercises or even sit-ups. You should be able to adjust the backrest so you can move it from the flat position to an incline. You’ll find a range of benches online but look for a well-constructed and easily adjustable bench. A personal training studio may need at least two of these.

training bench kettlebell working out lilac and black leggings

2. Dumbbell set

Also an important necessity for beginners, young athletes and seniors. The dumbbell set should range from light to heavy in order to accommodate for everyone. Dumbbells come in a variety of sizes, shapes, and materials these days, from plastic-coated to colourful to straight-up metal, so take your pick. Get a set with a rack and save time and space, too.

3. Treadmill

For beginners who are looking to lose some weight, the treadmill is the way to go. A fantastic form of cardio exercise, your gym should have a treadmill that has varying inclines, speeds and provides heart rate monitoring. Get a sturdy, commercial gym-standard treadmill if you can afford it, and check out the machines with virtual tracks or other add-ons if you’re willing to spend more later on.

treadmills in gym running equipment

For young aspiring athletes, the gym equipment somewhat varies. Instead of focusing on the basic gym equipment, these people might choose other machines to use to help themselves with cardiovascular exercises and also aid them in strength training as well.

Check out the machines with virtual tracks or other add-ons if you’re willing to spend more later on

4. Stationary bicycle

Also a great form of cardiovascular training, the stationary bike is an alternative to the treadmill for working cardiovascular endurance. The nice thing about the bike is that it provides a low-impact way to get the heart rate elevated. Looking at it as a sort of upgrade from the treadmill, this cycle is a must-have for younger athletes.

5. Barbell Setbarbell set gym weights heavy tyre

Younger athletes also tend to focus on heavy strength training and do not just aim for simple weight loss. They aim to tone their bodies with weight training. The barbell set has several options: the Olympic bar (that’s a 55-pound bar for men and 45 for women), squat rack, bench press rack and removable plates or a set of fixed or easily adjustable barbells with a smaller bar will serve you well, along with a rack for storage. This also comes in handy for beginners who want to begin strength training and seniors who wish to increase their bone density to prevent fracture by lifting.

6. Rowing machine

Athletes can do a lot with a total-body rowing machine, especially a strong aerobic workout. Unlike the bike and treadmill that focus more on the lower body, the rower offers a head-to-toe workout, engaging the legs, core and upper body. Plus, it helps burn a ton of calories and is also a low-impact way to get in some cardio exercise. Having a rowing machine in your gym is therefore highly necessary.

A rowing machine offers a lower resistance workout for those that are suffering from join injuries

For seniors and people of older age, these machines are suitable when not used too strenuously. However, it is important to have certain machines in your gym specifically targeted for such an age group.

7. Low-impact treadmills

This type of treadmill is a must-have for seniors who come to your gym. As a gym owner, it is common to know that as you get older normal treadmills, running on concrete and tracks can prove to be hazardous for the knees. Low-impact, pressurized treadmills are designed to spare vulnerable joints, which means they’d also be a great machine to keep in your gym.

8. Ellipticals

Ellipticals are also non-impact in nature which means the back, knees, and ankles will all be protected. This is very important when considering seniors at your gym as older people tend to stay away from equipment that could further harm their joints. Stepping into elliptical pedals, climbing on a stationary or standard road bike or using a rowing machine all let you work out without pounding your joints. All in all, this type of machine is really good for people who have any sort of lower-limb discomfort or osteoarthritis.

cycling indoors gym working out women fitness class

9. Balance trainers and resistance bands

Although these are not necessarily machines, many beginners, young athletes and seniors enjoy using these accessories in their daily workout. Resistance bands and tubes are simple, inexpensive, portable fitness items for gently building strength, which is great and convenient for seniors. Elastic resistance training is effective for increasing muscle strength in a low impact way.

The below equipment can all be used to help improve balance and body control, increase ease of motion and decrease the risk of falls for seniors, which also prove to be a must-have in the gym to accommodate seniors.

  • Agility ladders
  • BOSU balls
  • Step benches
  • Step cones

The best thing to do for your gym is to consider the audience and carefully observe which age group is mostly present. Buying equipment according to that will save money and you can slowly increase different types of equipment according to the people that join their gym in the future.

For more ways to improve retention and keep your clients happy, check out Virtuagym software.

Frequently asked Q&A regarding gym management software for fitness businesses

Owning a gym or fitness studio is a rewarding business venture, especially when you’re kitted out with the right tools to manage everything efficiently. When it comes to organising things like booking, payments and class schedules, using a software system will leave you feeling as relaxed as your clients post-yoga.

Why spend hours labouring over paper files or self-made excel sheets when you could use a software system that does everything for you? Using a gym management software means that you can spend more time running your gym and assisting clients and less time tied up doing manual administrative tasks. (more…)

5 ways to target new fitness studio members outside of your local area

Here in the Virtuagym sales team, we speak to hundreds of studio owners every day. Whether they are existing customers or prospective customers, we do our best to not only understand the biggest challenges in the industry but also try to help them overcome these challenges.

Interestingly, 60% of all studio owners cite marketing as their biggest challenge. And when it’s not topping the list of setbacks, it’s still coming in close behind as the other 40% cite marketing as their second or third biggest challenge. Basically, everyone is encountering challenges when attempting to market to prospective members.

Marketing is a tricky business and is essential in order to bring in more members, retain those you already have – and ultimately grow your business.

If you are an established business, you’ve been around for a few years and have invested a few thousand dollars in marketing then the second of the above is probably your bigger issue. The chances are you’re either losing these prospective customers because:

  • You’re too expensive and they can’t justify the price point
  • Your fitness studio sits outside of 4-mile radius and other competitors are more appealing
  • You’re losing to competition

Pins on a map aerial view 4 mile radius

So how can you be more appealing to these customers?

Expand your product offerings

If your facility is offering small group training, PT, classes and/or open training days, congratulations you’re offering the same services as your competition.

One trend we’ve helped our customers capitalize on and get ahead of the competition on is to implement online or hybrid training. This allows you to counter two of the setbacks detailed above and helps our customers to break the 4-mile radius and offer a more flexible service, at a lower price point.

Here is how some of our customers have done it:

features virtuagym

With the help of some of our most successful studios, we created an overview of some in-depth and proven online business models that have allowed studios to break through the 4-mile radius and also appeal to customers who are more price-sensitive while increasing their profitability.

Build your brand

Building up a distinctive brand image and voice is essential in marketing yourself in a way that encourages clients to travel the distance to your fitness studio.

Users typically travel around 5 and a half miles for high-end fitness centers such as Equinox and Soul Cycle. Marketing your club in a way that makes it unique, memorable and stands out from the other studios out there is an effective way to encourage members to travel.

When growing brand awareness you should consider exactly who your audience is and the best ways to target them

Some important things to think about are:

  • Developing a branded tone of voice
  • Creating a website and strong social media presence
  • Supporting this with additional technology such as an app
  • Consider content marketing

Create a community

People travel past the four-mile radius to visit friends, go to work or clubs that they care about. If you effectively create and engage a community of people that care about one another, you’ll have far more success in encouraging them to sign up for your studio.

resistance bands woman gym class working out

The best ways to develop a sense of community are to:

  • Put on events such as competitions and encourage participation
  • Post about members and their achievements on your website and social media
  • Use a community-based software system such as Virtuagym
  • Put on interactive classes and actively engage with all members – encourage them to partner up
  • Feature a studio member every month/week – create a member-of-the-month and make your clients feel special, highlight their achievements and goal realization

Check out the competition

If you’re losing customers both current and prospective to the competition in your local area or even just outside of it, it’s time to figure out why.

Conduct your own market research and approach the studio as though you were planning on joining. Get to know their onboarding process, equipment, style and class schedules. Figure out what it is about their company that draws in new clients.

Try and think from the perspective of clients and prospective clients.

You should also assess their shortcomings. What do you want from a studio that the competitors cannot offer?

Perhaps the heavy machinery and dark furnishings are intimidating to newcomers and older people that may prefer resistance training. Or perhaps the class schedule doesn’t cater to a particular group. Figure out what your competitors are missing and you will be able to develop a unique position for your fitness studio in the local market.

man on rowing machine gym

Reevaluate your price point

After conducting your market research you will have a good idea of what other studios in your area are charging for membership. If you feel that your prices are scaring people away, then it may be time to reconsider.

On the other hand, a higher price point paired with great facilities could position you as an elite training space and pull in more revenue in the long run. Take some time to research the best approach for you and your brand. Remember that a business is always evolving.

payment system someone buying with card debit

Conclusion

Ultimately, your brand is more than capable of breaking through the 4-mile radius and appealing to customers who are more price-sensitive while increasing their profitability.

Don’t just compete in your 4-mile radius, go out and break through it! For an example of a studio that has smashed their business growth, check out The Motion Room’s story.