Everything you need to know about keeping your gym safe from coronavirus

After months of isolation, gyms, clubs and studios around the world are have tentatively opened their doors. If you’re like most other fitness professionals, it was probably extremely exciting to be able to finally get your business back up and running (and see your members come physically running back through the door).

We’ve now all come to realize that it may take a while for society to adjust to the new safety precautions that will likely stay in place for the foreseeable future. At least, this is what we’re currently seeing in many states in the US.

This will impact gyms, studios, and fitness clubs and shape the way that they continue to serve their members. In order to ensure that your return to normalcy is as smooth-sailing as possible and that you keep your gym free from the coronavirus, you should set yourself up with the software that will allow for a seamless transition.

Virtuagym is a software provider for fitness businesses that gives fitness business owners a personalized branded app, providing members with access to a community feature, a virtual 3D trainer with over 5000 animated exercises and both nutrition and exercise tracking.

It’s an essential tool for engaging and retaining members in normal times but during the crisis and the post-pandemic transition, it will equip your with the crucial equipment needed to manage your business.

So how exactly can Virtuagym software help fitness club owners with reopening?

Regulate the amount of members inside the facility

No matter where you live, the chances are that to comply with new government regulations, you will probably have to limit the capacity of your gyms. This will mean a lot less people inside your gym than usual, all operating at a safe social distance.

Businesses across all sectors are devising ways to monitor and control the number of people inside their businesses. For gym owners, software is key.

  • Class scheduling

A class scheduling system can be used not only to decrease and limit the number of participants in group classes but can also be linked to your check-in system. You have the option to book a two hour slot with your gym’s maximum capacity and then members have the option to sign up in order to enter the gym.

If a member tries to access the gym without booking-in, they can then be denied entry.* This is an effective way to ensure that members sign up and register for work out slots ahead of time, ensuring that maximum capacity rules are always adhered to.

Many fitness clubs are expected to be able to allow members in for individual training sessions but not for group classes. This may mean that more clubs will be offering group classes outdoors, in order to comply. If you are a fitness professional offering outside classes in order to cater to more members, you can create separate schedules for inside and outside your facility.

  • Check-in feature

Using Virtuagym’s check-in feature is another impactful way of making sure that capacity limits are not surpassed. Members check-in and out of your facility every time they come to the gym or studio and this way you can ensure that there’s never too many people inside.

Check-ins can be done via QR code scanning, RFI ID cards or a barcode scanner. You can also use a simple card reader to check your members in and out of the gym too, so turnstiles are not necessary. By using a check-in feature you are also able to see exactly who is in your gym at a given time, this is an important safety feature, and will also help you keep track of how often individuals are coming to your gym.

  • Business analytics

With Virtuagym software, you also have easy access to all of the business analytics relating to gym entry, class participation and credit usage. By looking at this easily digestible data, you have insights on which individuals are entering the gym and how often they come. Graphs are clear and easy to use and also offer insights into your client and member’s coaching and nutrition plans.

Data is a powerful and useful tool. And having a system in which you can analyse your business analytics is crucial, whether we are living in a post-pandemic world or not.

By using a software system with this capability, you can find out where the biggest opportunities exist for your business. This will help you realize spaces for growth and can help bring your business to the next level – something that is crucial as the industry scrambles to get back on track.

  • Utilize a credit system

By utilizing credits, fitness professionals have the option to limit client’s entries into the gym. This can be created as an add-on option and you don’t have to create new memberships for this.

For example, if your gym only has space for members to visit three times per week under social distancing measures, you could give members enough credits to book in these three slots.

If they try to book more than this, they will have to purchase more credits. It helps ensure that members don’t visit the gym too often will new coronavirus safety measures are in place.

How else can Virtuagym help my gym stay free from the coronavirus?

Of course, it’s not just the amount of people in your facility that you’ll need to consider. Business owners will have to go out of their way to make sure that members are complying with regulations. In order to help you get your message across, you could use your own branded personalized app.

Create a ‘Rules’ tile within your personally branded mobile app

When Virtuagym creates an app for your company, it gives you the ability to customize what appears to your members. Members will see ‘tiles’ on the homescreen and these tiles can link to various places.

One option Virtuagym is currently recommending, is that fitness professionals use this space to post their new hygiene rules and in-house protocols. The app is something that all of your members will use in order to book workout slots and classes, this means that everyone is sure to see it.

Ultimately, Virtuagym is well equipped for helping your gym prepare for reopening. Beyond the functionality of the software’s practical business management system, it will also help prepare you for the new needs that your customers will have, after becoming used to working out at home.

For more on how Virtuagym can help you engage and retain members through a hybrid at-home/ in-gym membership style, click here.

Tips to adapt your custom home screen

Due to the current Coronavirus crisis, members are likely to navigate to your app to get new information on your policies, as well as additional content and expert advice. Within your Virtuagym portal, you can easily adapt the content and design of your custom home screen to answer these needs.

Benefits of a custom home screen

If you are not convinced yet on the benefit of having a tailored home screen, these are the reasons why this feature is so important:

  • Your custom home screen is the online business card of your brand. Updating the design and content is a practical way to meet the changing needs of your members.
  • Regular updates show your members that you’re involved with their experience, and striving to improve on your product offering.
  • Not all members use the community module as a tool to stay engaged. Updating the home screen allows you to expand your reach to anyone that opens your app.

Online Memberships

With physical locations unavailable, you may be concerned about the number of membership cancellations. Online memberships may provide a solution for remote members and will generate revenue for your business. You can use the PRO functionality in Virtuagym to segment your member base into basic and PRO users. Aside from the default PRO benefits, such as access to all workouts, meal plans, in-depth progress tracking and more, you can create added value by making certain tiles accessible to PRO members only.

Make sure you stay on top of your reporting – if members do cancel due to the current situation, you can always reach out in a month to see how they are progressing with their goals, and if they would like to consider rejoining.

How to update your app

Follow these steps to easily update your app and personalize it:

  • Navigate to your portal, go to ‘System settings’ and select “Mobile App Design.”
  • In the first section, select up to three colours for headers, bars, accents and buttons. Make sure your colours aren’t too light, or the menu options won’t be visible.
  • The “App logo” image is displayed above your tiles, and is the eyecatcher of your custom home screen. This can be your brand logo, but can also be a logo created specifically for your app.
      • If you use tags or handles on social media, you could include these on the logo within the app, to generate more awareness.
      • If you use challenges or temporary hashtags, you can periodically update your logo to generate additional engagement.
  • Scroll down to the “Custom Home Screen” section to further customize your app and content.
  • Play with the background, colours and tile distribution. Make sure to save any changes you want to make, otherwise the app won’t be updated.
  • Click the ‘+’ on the app screen to create a new tile, or use the pencil icon to edit an existing tile.
    • For your tile image, you can choose any of the Virtuagym default icons, or upload a custom design.
    • Choose a title for your tile, and define the visibility:
      • All users
      • PRO-users only
      • Non-PRO users only
    • Add a URL for both Android and iOs, which will direct the tile to the correct module within Virtuagym, an alternative app, or to an external webpage.
  • Drag and drop tiles within your app screen to change their placement.
  • Save your design, and re-synchronise the app on your phone to review the update.

Suggestions for tiles

  • A tile can directly link to your YouTube videos
  • Instead of connecting the tile to your YouTube profile with an overview of all videos, you can also link directly to a video or livestream. By updating these on a weekly or daily basis, members will always know where to find your latest content.
  • Members will look for guidance and information during these uncertain times. By adding a tile with a direct link to this info on your website, you can keep them up to date without ever having to look further than their home screen.
  • Link to a Google Form or Typeform, for polls or as a tool to gather member feedback.
  • You can link to your social media pages to encourage social activity.
  • Add a tile with a link to a new email draft, directed to your team. Once a member clicks the tile, this will open in the default mail app on their device.
    • iOs example: virtuagym://app.virtuagym.com/fitness/app/mailto:info@virtuagym.com?
    • Android example: mailto:support@virtuagym.com

Updating your banners

Another customizable component within your home screen are custom marketing banners. These carousel banners are not just to promote, but also to communicate. Use them to highlight new tiles and other noteworthy content. Websites like Canva offer free and premium accounts with a huge variety in templates, graphics and images.

To update your banners, go to “System Settings,” and “Marketing.” Within the Promotional Banners section, upload your image and add the URL it should direct to.

3 Easy steps to pause your clients’ contracts

These days members are asked to avoid crowded places and want to workout from home. To accommodate you and your members, Virtuagym lets you suspend contracts so your members won’t cancel and you will maintain the same duration of the initial contracts after pausing.

Virtuagym offers you flexibility in time of need. You can easily pause the subscription of your clients or give them a discount on their monthly fee. This flexibility greatly increases the retention of your members as they feel that you care about them, which can help you retain your members longer. This helps your business grow and saves you time in the following three ways:

  • When a subscription for a client is paused, the contract duration is automatically extended by the same duration as the pause.
  • Don’t miss out on your contract value and have clients stick to their signed contract.
  • While contracts are paused, you could consider charging your members a monthly fee for online digital training services using Virtuagym. We are expanding the default Virtuagym workout database for you for free with Virtuagym @Home workouts, so you can offer those to your members.

Virtuagym will send you automated weekly updates about members whose paused contract is going to become active the upcoming week.

How to freeze contracts

You can pause contracts individually or mass pause contracts for your entire facility. Mass contract pausing can be done for you (also retrospectively) by one of our staff, so please get in touch if you want this implemented.

In order to pause contracts one by one, follow these 3 easy steps below:

1# Go to the Clients & Staff module, click on the relevant client.

2# On the client profile page, click on the “Products” tab.

3# Then, click on the membership you wish to suspend.

In the top right corner of the Contract agreements box, you will see 3 dots, click on those dots and from the drop-down menu select Pause contract.

A pop-up window will open, where you can fill in the start date, the end date of the suspension and the reason. Also, you can indicate whether the suspension of a contract involves costs.

After this, you can see that the suspension has been added, along with the number of days of the suspension and the cost. Also, the status of the contract will change from “Active” to “Paused”.

It’s important to know that:

  • The pause should always have an end date. If the contract needs to be paused longer after the initial period, just add an extra pause from the end date on.
  • The contract end date will change depending on the number of days of the suspension period.
  • The cost of the pause will be added to the invoice that’s generated after the suspension is added.
  • If the pause has a duration of less than a month, the following invoice will have a discount for the days the contract was paused for, plus the cost of the pause (if that was applied).
  • If the contract has a pause of a complete month or more, the system will generate an invoice or more invoices with a total value of 0.00, until the full discounted amount has been deducted from the invoice amounts.
  • During the pause of the contract, if the membership has credits, these will not be assigned to the client during the period of the pause.
  • It’s possible to end a pause directly in the contract if the pause needs to be ended before the end date. Once the pause has ended the contract will change the status to “Active”, the invoices and credits will also continue to generate automatically to the client.

How to add discounts or adjust pricing

It is possible to adjust the price per membership. By adjusting the price in the memberships, all the invoices created by the assigned memberships for the next invoice period will have the new price. This only works for renewing memberships.

  • Go to memberships in System settings.
  • Select the membership you want to edit by clicking on the pencil icon.

  • In the membership scroll down to the Price section.

  • Edit the regular price of the contract and also the prolongation price for renewing contracts.

  • Save the new price by going through all the steps.
  • Do this for all your memberships.

Good to know:

  • This will not show as a discount on the invoice, just as a new price.
  • For the total amount memberships, you can edit the invoices if they are still pro forma to adjust the price to a discounted price. This will not work for invoices with an invoice number.

Live Streaming via your Virtuagym Community

Innovation is key in today’s fast-paced fitness industry. Building on our first best practice guide for home workouts, this guide will focus on live streams via your Virtuagym Community. With many of your members wishing to keep up their fitness regimen from home, live streams are a great replacement for your classes and a worthy supplement to the new home-workouts. Together, these initiatives will help you to increase retention, and could potentially lead to new member acquisition and revenue streams.

Why are live streams beneficial?

If you are wondering “what is the purpose of live streaming?”, here are some of the benefits:

  • Schedule live streams of group classes to keep members engaged and active.
  • Offering this as premium content can be a boost to your membership sales.
  • Providing live streams and other video content allows members to participate in classes, at flexible times throughout their day.
  • Continuous updates and new content will make sure members feel connected to your brand, even from home.

How to set up your YouTube account:

YouTube is a great tool when it comes to be able to easily engage with your community. Although you cannot meet in real classes, you can definitely keep in shape via live streams and online workout videos.

  • Log in to your existing YouTube account, or create a new one:
    • Go to YouTube.
    • In the top right corner of the page, click Sign in.
    • Click Create Account. If you already have a Google account (for example on Gmail), you can choose to connect with YouTube.
    • Choose For myself or To manage my business.

  • How to live video stream on YouTube: Activate the Live-Streaming functionality on YouTube through the camera button, in the top right corner of the homepage. A dropdown menu will appear, allowing you to either upload a previously recorded video, or to start live streaming. Click “Go Live.”
        • For a new account, this will lead you to an authorization process: connect a phone number to your account for verification purposes, and your account will be approved within about 24 hours.
  • On the next page, you can add info about the stream you are about to create.
    • Add a title.
    • Decide on the visibility:
      • Public (open to anyone)
      • Unlisted (accessible to those who have a URL)
      • Private (visible from your account only)
    • You can choose to schedule the stream for a later time so that you can share the link prior to the class starting to get maximum attendance.
    • Click “Advanced” to add a description and category to the video. Select the correct microphone and camera.
    • Click “Next” and finalise your stream set up.

  • When you are streaming live, you will see what your viewers are seeing. You can end the stream at any time, by pressing the red button, “End live stream” on the bottom bar of your screen. You can also see a viewer count on the same bar, so you can keep track of the number of people watching.

How to set up the Live Stream in your community:

Go to your online portal, and start writing a new post in your community. Click the play button to attach a video URL. Make sure that you add the complete URL, using WWW.

Once you have ended the stream, you can edit your post to reflect that the live stream has ended. Members will still be able to watch the recording of the live stream, using the same URL.

Tips to make the most out of your live streams

Make the best of the current situation, and use your live video stream to stay connected and update your community with new workouts and challenges.

  • Make sure you have a good quality webcam and microphone available.
  • Be wary of light: a sunny day can lead to odd shadows or silhouettes.
  • Music can be a great instrument to make your classes more lively or rhythmic. YouTube has strict regulations on copyright, and when infringed, this may lead to your stream being disabled mid-workout or for the video to be taken down. If you are not sure, you can find a full list in this database and see what the current policy is for each song. YouTube also has an extensive audio library with music that you can use in your videos.

Custom Goal: the new Home Work-Outs

To motivate your members to stay active and engaged from home, you can add custom workouts with minimum equipment or using home surroundings. By adding “Home Work-Outs” as a custom goal, you can easily attach these workouts to this specific goal, enabling your members and coaches to find this within the workout overview.

How to set this up:

In order to set this new custom goal, you will need to add the goal first, and then add the new workout within that goal.

Adding the custom goal:

    • Navigate to your portal, and to “System Settings,” and click “Client Goals
      You can choose to do this from Superclub or Subclub level.
    • Add a new goal, or replace an existing one (you can have a maximum of 7 goals) with for example, “Home Work-Outs”
    • By dragging this goal to the top of the list, it will be the default and preferred goal, ensuring connected workouts display first in the app. Press “Save.”

  •  When changing this on Superclub level, you can now push the goal update to all subclubs by pressing “Update Goals also for Sub-Portals.”

Adding new workouts to the custom goal:

    • Navigate to the “Workouts” module in the portal.
    • Select “New Workout Plan” in the top right corner, and attach “Home Work-Outs” as a goal.
      •  Top tip: There’s plenty of exercises in the database that are optimized for home use: use filters within the equipment section such as “No Equipment” or “cardio” or use search terms such as “table,” “chair,” and “wall” to quickly find these.
      • Top tip: When creating a circuit, you can link all exercises, to create a “round” of all exercises.

  • Save the workout as a “Club Plan.”
  • The workout is now live in the app, and will show in the category “Home Work-Outs.”