GUEST EXPERT INSIGHT: Mixing Live and On-Demand Programming
You don’t need me to tell you the fitness content world has exploded in the last year. Live classes blend with mobile content in the club; social media live streams at home, and on-demand classes or technique tips wherever and whenever we all want to experience it. That means two things: ultra-convenience for members, but also a lot to juggle for content producers, fitness brands and club operators. As we all look to get the content blend right, let’s check in on the latest developments and trends across the fitness world that influence the results.
Universal Fitness for Everyone
Not that long ago fitness content focused on one kind of person: the active club member. People already engaged with regular classes, exercise and workouts. But in the past couple of years we’ve seen the start of new trend – toward universal fitness content: classes, workouts and techniques designed for every ability and fitness level. That includes fitness for all ages. As people live longer and stay active well into their 70s, we’re seeing a rise in functional fitness – specialist exercises, classes and programs that help older people with core strength, balance, mobility and maintaining muscle mass. Stretches and conditioning versus a focus on high intensity. The next step for the content mix will be a greater representation of members of all ages, abilities and fitness levels so that we can all see ourselves in the room. That means a wider and more realistic representation of all kinds of body shapes and sizes on screen too. A far cry from the “perfectionism” of the past few decades.
A lot of fitness brands, by necessity, started producing their own content last year. One year in, many new producers are realizing it’s easy to make missteps and incur unneeded expense. If you’re a new content creator or are starting out as a small boutique fitness space, it’s essential; to do it thoughtfully and inexpensively until you build a following. Most people are going to access your content right now over social channels or via Zoom, so you don’t need an expensive camera. An iPhone works well, paired with Bluetooth headphones for great audio quality. Take advantage of free platforms like Instagram and Facebook Live to keep your costs down, or you can also set up a private group for viewers in Vimeo. Lastly think about storage – you are going to need it, so it’s a good idea to invest in a little cloud storage to get content off your devices and hard drives but make it instantly shareable.
More people than ever are getting into fitness. That’s partly due to the pandemic creating an intense focus on wellness and overall health. But it’s also due to greater and easier access to fitness experiences beyond the gym with on-demand and social channel content availability. With more members comes a need for instructors, whether in club or on-demand, to really understand their class make-up. Different ages, ability levels, mobility and familiarity with the class or workouts. Instructors are starting to use cheat sheets on class participants so they can suggest more tailored alternate moves to help members grow within the class while protecting joints from injury. It’s easier to do this live, in-studio, but there’s a trend toward making this an online protocol too, helping optimize member experience wherever they work out. More personalization is coming; instructors will someday soon get access to member performance metrics, heart rates and other health feedback as well as calorie burn and fitness backgrounds to tailor experiences accordingly.
Getting the Programming Mix Right
It doesn’t matter if you are a small boutique or a larger multi-club chain, you can’t produce enough fitness content for your needs. You will never be able to do it as consistently, as well or as cost effectively as, say, Apple or Peloton. But you can create a mix that offers the best of all worlds to your members. You have to have some form of your own brand in your digital mix but producing at scale is very expensive and incredibly time consuming. Boutiques where brand identity is important to the member experience, should lean a little more toward own-brand content, but other clubs will be far more efficient and provide a greater, more consistent supply and diversity of high-engagement content by working through a content aggregator like FitnessOnDemand. Look to create a library of all kinds of 3rd party content that synchronizes with what members experience live in-club for a fully rounded offering.
Engaging and Growing Membership
Once you’ve got the balance and mix right and are thinking about all types of member ability, it’s time to really engage and grow your audience. Create links to sample workouts and classes and post to Facebook, Instagram and other social channels. Add sample workouts too your website and a link to registration for live or on-demand classes and work hard to gather emails for members and prospects. Successfully engaging members comes down to frequent, personalized and relevant messaging. Take your time to grow as a producer and content provider and be authentic. It will make all of the difference to your brand and business.