For fitness brands scrambling to adapt to life in lockdown, shifting to complimentary digital workouts has helped to keep consumers engaged and boost visibility. But now the dust has settled, Barry’s UK is getting creative in its bid to generate revenue, with the sale of branded fitness equipment.
In an email sent to customers on Tuesday 14th April, the boutique fitness phenomenon announced the release of a limited amount of branded fitness equipment, including weights and benches — the majority of which have already sold out. At a time when hard-to-come-by dumbbells and other forms of at-home fitness equipment have become the new currency for fitness enthusiasts, the move demonstrates how fitness brands are beginning to think about how they can monetize their assets within this ‘new normal’.
“We had some new equipment in stock and nowhere for it to go, as all of our studios are closed. So, after receiving a huge number of requests, we decided to open it up for clients,” Sandy Macaskill, Barry’s UK co-founder and master trainer told Welltodo.
“We want to continue to be the best part of people’s day during this very difficult time, so we see this as an opportunity to give back to the community which has given us so much support over the last seven years,” he added.
Like Barry’s, with the recognition that isolation and subsequent social distancing rules could be in place for the foreseeable future, other boutique brands are also starting to focus on longer-term innovations to help boost the bottom line.
In the US, hip hop yoga brand Y7 Studio, which has also been streaming its workouts free of charge on Instagram, recently introduced Y7 Online — a digital platform offering unlimited access to Y7 classes, both live-streamed and on-demand. Free for the first seven days, subscribers will then be required to pay $16 per month.
For co-founder Sarah Larson Levey, the decision to launch a paid-for service comes off the back of a challenging few weeks in which 96% of the brand’s staff were let go and leadership salaries cut. According to the brand, its Instagram workouts will remain free, however, if successful the new paid-for platform could play a significant role in helping it claw back some of its lost income.
Rebel Ride, meanwhile, has rented out 50 of its bikes to enable customers in New York to participate in digital classes. Owner Erika Brason told Business Insider: “This is the time to get noticed in ways you haven’t in the past.”
Adding: “You basically have to reinvent your marketing strategies, so that when the time comes you can give people a really good reason to come back.”
In the UK, London-based boutique 1REBEL has also launched a paid-for service ‘1REBEL TV’, featuring over 130 workouts, priced at £15.99 per month, while Frame has teamed up with wellness app Urban to enable its instructors to host paid-for one-on-one sessions for customers.
And despite the stream of free fitness content available, consumers appear willing to part with their money if it means gaining access to elevated at-home experiences from their favourite brands.
Hollie Grant, founder of The Pilates PT who has been offering live online classes priced at £10 since 19th March, says that after taking to Instagram to explain her reasons for charging — including her education, expertise and 10 years of experience in the field — the response has been “phenomenal and completely positive”.
“The numbers have been incredible, and the feedback consistently great. We are seeing an even share of returners and new clients with our class numbers growing week on week,” she revealed.
Adding: “Many of our in-studio clients have switched to one-to-one skype sessions with our trainers, however the live group classes have opened up a whole new audience for us which has been fantastic.”
In fact, Grant says the increased interest in at-home training has even provided the brand with the opportunity to launch a new prenatal concept: The Bump Plan.
“The feedback from clients from a payment point of view is they feel they are getting great value for money, the quality of teaching is worth the fee, and that they enjoy knowing they are supporting a small business,” she told Welltodo.
As a business owner forced to close two studios overnight, creating new revenue streams, including Skype one-to-ones, live group classes and REPS accredited online instructor workshops — all of which Grant says will remain part of the business going forward — isn’t just a survival strategy, it’s a long term benefit, hopes Grant.