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Behind the Joe Wicks workouts, banana bread and beginner’s Mandarin, lockdown has been hard for everyone, not least leisure operators. The furlough scheme has a cliff-edge ending, and although gyms and health clubs in England and Ireland are now tentatively re-opening, it has been four months (and counting!) with little to no income. Scotland and Wales are still in limbo, however, and even once open, social distancing will mean that gyms are going to have to look very carefully at their business models and profit margins. Keeping classes full, and finding ways to top up those classes with extra participants, is going to be key.
In this article we’re going to consider what a gym’s real assets are: the physical site, with its equipment, locker rooms and saunas, the community of members, personal trainers and staff. Monetising the former is easy. But what if you could monetise the second, even whilst closed and at reduced capacity?
All throughout lockdown, we’ve seen time and again that community is key. Whether it be through laughing at penguins roaming freely through aquariums, downloading TikTok on your grandmother’s iPhone or virtual choir rehearsals on Zoom, we’re all missing feeling connected to each other. The gym is no different.
Leisure operators have been adapting to these challenges in different ways. My local health club has been loaning weights, steps and other equipment out to members. Many have been sharing routines on social media, uploading videos of trainers onto Youtube or trying to repurpose their mobile apps to push new content to existing members. These are all well and good, but it’s hard to track engagement, and even harder to monetise these ventures. Operators have no idea if their content is being consumed, or by whom, and whether they can make any money from it.
Scrolling through Youtube, Instagram or TikTok, it’s plain to see - people are switching en masse to exercising online. This boom in online workouts is fuelling a new habit of people engaging with fitness outside of leisure centres, which isn’t as good for consumers as it first appears.
Firstly, it’s very easy to over-exert yourself, especially if you’re unfamiliar with the positions or techniques you’re trying to achieve. There are no friendly trainers on the gym floor to point out that you should arch your back a bit more, or avoid certain muscle groups because of an existing injury or condition, or not be lifting heavy weights because you’re still a child.
Secondly, the Internet is a vast, open, lawless sphere, with no quality control. Surely everyone’s heard of certain Hollywood celebrities setting themselves up as ‘wellness gurus’, selling weird therapies and treatments with no evidence base? As an operator, you’ve built up a trusted brand and customers should be engaging with you and your experienced trainers to ensure that they receive expert guidance even over digital platforms.
This is where the new MoveAnywhere service comes in, allowing you to offer digital interactive classes with your own trainers, in their homes or in your studio spaces. Customers book in just the same way as usual, with no new procedures to navigate, new trainers to get used to or new routines to master. Once centres reopen, it’ll help you keep classes profitable with social distancing in place by allowing extra participants to take part online. This is before we take into account the social benefits.
Consider a fictional customer - we’ll call her Joanne. She’s a busy working mum, with three kids. Before lockdown, she was juggling her career with school runs, trying to keep fit and seeing her friends. A year ago, she signed up to the gym after a couple of her friends talked her into it, and just before lockdown, she’d got into a great routine. Her two friends, Paula and Claire, had got her into a HIIT class twice a week before the school run. In her busy schedule, it was an hour carved out of her day, just for her, and it was great to spend time with her friends as well.
Now, during lockdown, she’s been doing Joe Wicks on Youtube with the kids (when they get up early enough!) and trying to do the Couch to 5K on her phone. She’s a few weeks behind, and last time she remembered why she’d stopped running - her ankle really hurt from when she broke it skiing.
Wouldn’t it be much better for her to be back in her class online, with a timetabled slot that she can keep sacrosanct, with social interaction from seeing her friends, a return to some degree of normalcy with Dante leading the class and familiar routines? Not to mention, when the club reopens Joanne and her friends will feel connected and ready to come back.
So let’s get back to MoveAnywhere. What is it, what does it do, and how do you get it?
MoveAnywhere forms part of our future Marketplace services, and given the business disruption caused by the pandemic, we thought we’d bring forward the release to help our clients out. It’s a simple SaaS solution that can be installed quickly with a built in payment engine and a bespoke branded operator shop window.
It uses revolutionary technology, the customer sign-up process is streamlined by piggy-backing with their Connect login, meaning your customers can book classes in just the same way they’re used to, and your trainers can continue to deliver expert tuition from the comfort and safety of their own homes using a familiar, Zoom-style interface. In due course we plan to fully integrate into the Gladstone LMS and it will form part of the new consumer tools, where customers will 'go join' a club and 'go book' a class on any platform and enjoy exactly the same user experience that today's consumer has come to expect.
We recommend operators create free taster sessions for their customers to get them used to the system, this will demonstrate how blended class delivery through online and in-centre is the new flexible way to exercise anywhere.
We’ve also put together equipment packs for yoga, pilates and HIIT that operators can sell on to their clients at the same time as they take out a MoveAnywhere subscription or sign-up to a PAYG plan so their customers can make the most of their home workouts as well as increasing retail sales.
By default, a customer logging into MoveAnywhere will always see their branded club’s own range of classes front and centre. The platform facilitates search at the operators digression, meaning customers from outside the club can find and book your classes which will generate additional income and build brand awareness. Whilst fears of losing customers to alternate providers are understandable, those that excel in online delivery will achieve greater customer reach and incremental income on a platform that is frequented by thousands of active people.
It’ll help you keep your customers engaged, even if they can’t come into your centres at the moment. It’ll keep your brand at the forefront of customers’ minds, and set you apart from others delivering inferior content online. Once centres reopen, it’ll help you keep classes profitable with social distancing or even attract online members from across the world by allowing extra participants to take part online in these blended delivery models.
MoveAnywhere is completely configurable to suit individual operational needs. Sign-up can be fully integrated for your customers using Connect and offered in either as a PAYG or membership subscription model, where the operator dictates the price or inclusivity.
The MoveAnywhere platform is built with smart digital design it uses psychology, behaviour change nudges and continual A/B testing to optimise the AARR ‘funnel’ (acquisition, activation, revenue, retention). Operators receive regular metrics to determine success of the AARR funnel such as:
As you can see, MoveAnywhere really is the premier solution for leisure operators looking to expand their reach beyond the confines of their clubs and engage their members, whilst attracting new customers online from anywhere.
Gladstone are proud to be offering MoveAnywhere to its customers as part of our continued commitment to help the leisure industry get back on its feet and start earning revenue, whilst adapting to the new consumer workout habits in these unprecedented times.
If you’d like to see an demonstration and understand how easily you could get up and running get in touch today.
** For the integrated sign-up service the MWS Connector, EyeQ, BPM and Connect are pre-requisites.
Check-out our reopening toolkit for hints, tips and recorded webinars to help with all the necessary preparation for reopening. It's our mission to do what ever we can to bring our industry back online and profitable after this period of uncertainty.