- Mindbody unveils membership platform for Livestream fitness classes, exclusive to US consumers and studios
- Launch provides a timely boost to Mindbody’s 450+ studio partners, enabling them to tap into a digital fitness market that has almost doubled since March 2020
- Mindbody has seen a 400% increase in virtual bookings since the pandemic began, with yoga accounting for more than half of all online classes
- Mindbody Index: trend report suggests COVID-19 has made fitness more inclusive, with consumers seeing virtual solutions as a means to engage with fitness in a way they never would have before the pandemic
SAN LUIS OBISPO, United States — Mindbody, a leading booking platform for wellness businesses around the world, is hoping to tap into a booming virtual fitness market with the launch of its first Livestream membership programme.
Leveraging its vast consumer marketplace, Mindbody Flex gives members access to virtual classes from studios including The Dailey Method, Exhale, Wundabar Pilates, Modo Yoga, Barre3, Jabz Boxing and hundreds more under one monthly subscription.
Currently exclusive to US consumers and US-based studios, Mindbody Flex membership starts at $39 for five Livestream classes per month. Studios using Flex are paid a flat fee per Flex member class booking.
The launch will provide a timely boost to Mindbody’s 450+ studio partners, and enable the company to further tap into a digital fitness market that has almost doubled since the start of the pandemic. Last year, the company also launched a virtual wellness platform designed for boutique fitness, beauty and wellness operators to upload and share pre-recorded videos to their customers via direct, secure links.
However, with data from the World Economic Forum revealing that downloads of health and fitness apps increased by 46% and daily active users jumped up 24% from Q1 to Q2 last year, Mindbody is doubling down.
“One of the goals of Mindbody Flex has always been to offer another way to get new consumers to the studios on our platform,” Regina Wallace-Jones, SVP, Product at Mindbody told Welltodo, explaining product development on Flex began in earnest in June 2020.
“Not only will studios benefit by having this new revenue stream for their virtual offerings, but they also are getting their classes in front of new consumers across the country.”
Digital reservations doubling with every lockdown
Like Mindbody, ClassPass has also been delivering a similar solution.
Since March last year, the wellness aggregator has enabled studio partners to offer live-streamed classes and one-on-one PT sessions via its app and site.
By April, the platform was streaming 50,000 classes a week from 5,000 studios around the world, and ClassPass has recently added on-demand classes from top studios including StretchLab, STRIDE and Core Collective in the UK.
As a result, ClassPass’ partner studios were reaching audiences far beyond their geographical proximity, and generating an entirely new stream of revenue.
Helping the fitness industry get back on its feet
As consumers have come to terms with life under COVID-19, habits have adapted with virtual fitness becoming increasingly popular – either by desire or, simply, necessity.
In the UK, currently under a third national lockdown, ClassPass has seen reservations for digital classes at popular studios like BLOK, Bamboo Wellness and REVIVE double with every new tightening of restrictions.
Similarly, Mindbody has seen a 400% increase in virtual bookings since the pandemic began, with yoga accounting for more than half of all online classes.
Commenting on the launch of Mindbody Flex, Zach Apter, ClassPass’ Chief Commercial Officer told Welltodo that he welcomes any platform that helps the fitness industry recover from COVID-19.
“We have three goals at ClassPass: to help people work out whenever and wherever they feel most comfortable, to generate incremental revenue for fitness studios and gyms, and to do the same for spa and beauty centres through our newer wellness offerings,” Apter said.
“We are happy that many solutions now exist for at-home activity as this means sending more money back into the industry and helping it get back on its feet. Anything that keeps our partners in business and keeps the community active is good for the industry.”
Hybrid fitness is the future
The launch of Flex also signals that the Mindbody is backing virtual fitness, as part of a hybrid consumer trend, through 2021 and beyond.
“One of the clearest trends we’re seeing is that virtual fitness is here to stay,” said Wallace-Jones. “While in-studio workouts and services will remain highly in demand, our data shows us that virtual wellness isn’t going anywhere either.”
According to Mindbody’s recent Wellness Index survey, more than one third (37%) of Americans now join a Livestream workout at least once a week. Even more (40%) exercise to pre-recorded fitness videos.
“Pandemic disruption and a new global wellness imperative have ushered in a new wave of wellness that is defined by both in-person and virtual experiences,” Wallace-Jones continued. “Americans were forced to form new workout habits and now the possibilities are endless.”
Wallace-Jones believes the businesses that survive the pandemic will be those that can adapt to this emerging trend via hybrid memberships, combining both in-person and virtual options.
“We see hybrid fitness as the future and we’re excited to see the list of studios on Mindbody Flex continue to grow, providing Flex members with more options that fit their needs,” she added.
Mindbody Index: COVID-19 has made exercise more inclusive
Earlier this month, Mindbody also released its annual Wellness Index, highlighting the happiest and healthiest cities across the US.
While its research found Miami to win both accolades for a second year in a row, one of the most interesting trends it unearthed is how virtual fitness is making exercise more inclusive.
The research found that almost 60% of Americans have become more focused on their health and wellness since the pandemic started. Yet 17% say they rarely or never work out, and 18% are less focused on their wellness since March – something Mindbody has coined gym intimidation, or “gymtimidation”.
When asked what would make them less intimidated to join a gym or studio, 56% said getting in better shape first. “In 2021, virtual fitness offers a solution,” Katherine Wernet, Mindbody’s Senior Campaign Program Manager, wrote in response to these findings.
Nearly a quarter said watching informative video tutorials would lessen their intimidation and 21% said taking virtual classes first would make them more comfortable
“There’s a real option now for “gymtimidated” Americans to engage in fitness in a way they haven’t been able to before. With a virtual option, wellness is increasingly inclusive,” Wernet continued.
“Whether it’s taking time to refresh and recover with a beauty or wellness service or finding a workout that fits their schedule and comfort level, Americans will be more proactive with their overall health than they were in 2020,” she added. “They have to be.”
You can bet that Mindbody, with its launch of Mindbody Flex, is banking on it.