LONDON, United Kingdom — According to new research by Wexer Virtual, fitness operators offering virtual classes can drive significantly higher levels of member engagement and retention.
The study, which analysed the habits of 1,400 gym members found that 52.2% of virtual users visit the gym at least three times a week, and stay for longer periods. It also concluded that 21% of virtual users have been a member of their current gym for more than one year, compared to only 15% of non-virtual users.
In addition, while six out of 10 members said their decision to join the gym was influenced by the number of group exercise classes available, four of those members specifically named the availability of virtual classes as an influencing factor in their decision to join. This Wexer argues, proves that “offering virtual fitness classes directly correlates with higher levels of customer acquisition, engagement and retention.”
With the average virtual class size doubling over the past three years— in 2016, around 55% of timetabled virtual classes had over seven participants, compared to just 5% in 2014 — Wexer argues that the market is enjoying an upwards trajectory. Combined with the fact that more clubs than ever are offering more virtual classes, and that 75.7% of non-users say they’re likely to try virtual fitness in the future, Wexer’s CEO Paul Bowman, feels confident about the future.
“This new study provides compelling evidence that virtual fitness boosts retention, driving more regular visits to the gym and extending the longevity of membership. It’s further proof of the huge value virtual fitness can bring to a fitness operation,” he told Health Club Management.
At present, cardio HIIT remains the most popular category of virtual class, chosen by 67% of users, but in line with the growing interest in meditation and mindfulness, mind-body is also on the rise, the study revealed. However, according to a statement on Wexer’s website, “the ability for content providers to make money through virtual fitness is directly related to the quality and quantity of the content being produced.”
For Wexer, this means collaborating with only the best virtual content providers in the market, such as Sleek, The Boxx Method and ClubVirtual Cycling, as well as developing new and innovative products and services.
Currently operating installations in 35 countries, Wexer is the most globally spread provider of virtual fitness. The business, which uses technology to make world-class exercise accessible to more people, helps fitness operators connect with members both inside and outside the four walls of the gym.
Keen to anchor virtual fitness as the new ‘must-have’ for gyms, the company aims to make virtual fitness as simple and effective as possible. However if online fitness is to hold a crucial place in the future of fitness, fitness operators must implement it successfully — which is where Wexer fits into the equation, argues Bowman.