NEW YORK, United States — Digital fitness platform obé has launched a feature allowing users to participate in remote ‘workout parties’ with up to seven friends, as pandemic living continues to shift consumers’ workouts online.
‘Obé Workout Parties’ aims to increase engagement and cultivate community by better replicating the in-studio experience. And according to Ashley Mills, Co-Founder and co-CEO at Obé, people are already using the feature to cultivate a more immersive experience — such as staying around after workouts for cocktails or via catch-ups pre/post-class.
“They’re really using this as a way to congregate around this shared experience,” Mills told WSJ.
Launched back in 2018, Obé is one of a growing number of digital platforms that offer live and on-demand workouts. And like so many of its peers, it has benefited from the emergence of the ‘New Digital Consumer’ — a trend we explore in our 2020 Consumer Wellness Trends Report.
According to the startup, its membership increased by 80% month-over-month between March and May when coronavirus first took hold, a figure that has since levelled out to a respectable 30% month-over-month growth.
However, despite its strong performance, the brand has recognised that in order to differentiate itself from the pack and keep its audience inspired in an era where virtual experiences have become the norm, it’s important to keep innovating and elevating its offering.
Obé Workout Parties comes hot on the heels of another new feature ‘Obé Friending’ which enables members to share personal insights and connect with other members on the platform more easily. And according to the brand’s blog more social features are on the way.
Since July, the platform has also been hosting themed live workouts including “Sex and the City” and “Game of Thrones via HBO Max. And so far, its event-style classes have had a viewership rate that’s 3-10x higher than its playback classes, reports Glossy.
“By ‘eventizing’ what we do, it makes our classes more of a celebration,” Obé Co-Founder and co-CEO Mark Mullett told the publication. “It’s fun for our clients, but it is also a drive to our live classes.”
But Obé isn’t alone in its pivot towards community and interaction.
Earlier this year, at-home cycling giant Peloton introduced a feature called ‘profile tags’ enabling riders to add public hashtags to their profiles based on their interests and workout goals — the aim being to encourage users to form more intimate communities based on their shared interests or commonalities.
Since then, for a limited time, it has also tested a feature called ‘Sessions’ which let users with Peloton bikes or treadmills start on-demand classes, as well as view leaderboards of others in real-time. A high-profile partnership with singer Beyoncé has also seen the brand take more of an immersive and culturally relevant approach towards its classes.
ClassPass, meanwhile, launched a feature that enables its users to invite friends to take classes together, while new platform FitGrid, which has enabled millions of virtual studio visits during lockdowns, was specifically designed to allow users to connect and message classmates, discover their friends’ favourite workouts, share photos and set goals so instructors can tailor classes to their individual needs.
According to Founder and CEO Nt Etuk: “Consumers today seek a connection, a memory, and an opportunity for meaningful interactions, in addition to an awesome workout” — a trend that has taken on even more value during the pandemic.
With that in mind, replicating the communities that have cemented themselves as the holy grail of in-person fitness offerings is fast becoming the latest opportunity for digital brands to differentiate themselves and drive future growth.