Is Virtual Fitness the Painkiller for Social Distancing?

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has driven fitness and leisure industry into an unprecedented situation. Everyone has had to adapt and endure, which has spawned a market for whole new types of virtual services. Is virtual fitness the answer to serving customers even during social distancing measurements and uncertainty? We think so, and here’s why.

The adoption of digital fitness services among dryland fitness operators such as gyms and fitness studios has skyrocketed during the ongoing social distancing and restrictions. Virtual exercise classes are a lucrative option for both the gym operator and exerciser. The flexibility and cost-effectiveness of the virtual services are ever more important today. 

Thanks to the recent advances in water-resistant technology, virtual workouts can now also be offered in a pool environment. Pool operators can now get to the same level of service availability as local gyms or fitness studios, and the customers can enjoy the same virtual services at the pool.

A virtual wave of fitness – Finnish pool operators tell their story

Finland has been the forerunner in adoption of virtual aqua fitness service. Almost 50% of Finnish pool operators are offering virtual fitness services for their customers. During the last months, we have actively helped them in restarting operations with broader service selection. Our clients have seen virtual aqua fitness as one of the main services that will allow them to provide continuous activities during the upcoming season. Based on our discussions with over 30 clients, here are the four key drivers that help them to reopen:

  1. Virtual fitness is an incredibly effortless and flexible way to complete your service selection. 
  2. Virtual service is completely schedule-free, which enables on-demand exercising for the customers. This also facilitates a steadier customer flow throughout the day. 
  3. Virtual aqua fitness is a cost-effective service, even when it’s used by individuals or small groups.
  4. Virtual aqua fitness attracts new audiences to the pool, such as middle-aged men and young adults that typically don’t attend aqua fitness classes.

The biggest benefits of virtual content is that the workouts are always available by the pool, on-demand, for your customers. Virtual exercises are an easy way to raise the usage time of the pool. The pool space can be activated even during the off-peak hours, making it especially fitting way to fill out empty slots between instructed swimming or aqua fitness classes.

Things to consider during new normal

How will you adapt your business and operations to attract and inspire both old and new customers? Here are some things to consider:

  • Virtual and online fitness have become hugely popular during the last months out of necessity.
  • As customers have got accustomed to on-demand virtual services, they start to expect similar offering at your pool to complement instructed water fitness classes.
  • Customers are more cautious about their safety and social distance when visiting the pool and attending water workout classes.
  • Unstable economic situation, general uncertainty and lower class attendance discourage recruiting fitness instructors.
  • Social distancing, maintaining customer safety and more throughout cleaning is still required at facilities.

Moving forward and getting ahead

Virtual fitness content eases the transition phase towards the new normal. It enables people to work out with proper instructions on their own, without being in a group or hiring a personal trainer. Virtual classes will never replace live classes as there’s always demand for a competent instructor. However, adapting a hybrid strategy where the virtual service complements live classes, will help you maintaining continuous availability of fitness services at your pool.

Even if the situation persists and new restrictions must be complied with, you will be well prepared for the future. Your customers will want to maintain their workout routines, so show them you are there to support them on their goals throughout the journey.

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