By Patrick Craig, Special FBA Contributor
In several of my articles over the last two years, I have written about ongoing and changing trends in the Fitness Industry and every time I sat down to write, I had a whole new list to present. Because of the unexpected events that started in 2019, the Fitness Industry is not even close to being the industry we knew back then. In fact, I would venture that our industry has changed more than any other.
In order to reach clients who had become more concerned about health AND fitness than just fitness, and were more inclined to stay home than come to a facility, clubs and franchises desperately looked for new formats, new techniques, and new equipment they could add to their list of offerings. And because our country is filled with innovative and creative people, they found them. Gone are the days of “No Pain, No Gain.” We have seen a new era ushered in: an era that works holistically using workouts, health and medical guidance, home gyms, lifestyle medicine, mind and body training, virtual fitness, exercise specifically for weight loss, immune system strengthening, live stream and much more.
But the most radical development, the one that really caught my attention, was something that I predict will be the coming thing for 2022—It’s called Hybrid Gyms. What’s that you say? Let me explain.
A Hybrid Fitness Business or Hybrid Gym is a combination of in-person training and online offerings. For example, you have a gym and a digital fitness platform, such as Zoom, where you stream your classes and offer archived on-demand workouts for members. It can include in-person and online personal training sessions and one-on-one coaching. This variety of offerings creates several new membership types: In-person, for the member who uses the facility exclusively, Hybrid for the member who uses both the facility and online offerings, and Digital, for the member who only works out online.
In a hybrid gym, your digital offerings not only complement the rest of your business, but for many club operators, the digital portion of their business will become their biggest money-maker.
In a hybrid gym, your digital offerings not only complement the rest of your business, but for many club operators, the digital portion of their business will become their biggest money-maker. Although club operators are keen to get members back in the gym, this is not 2019. A lot of water has gone under the bridge—restrictions, shielding, shutdowns, etc., and because of that, live-streaming and on-demand workouts are now the way forward.
In a quick search online, I came up with at least 50 providers of online fitness: everything from full-body fitness to Yoga to Pilates and Barre. I found Burn, Sculpting, Boxing, Strength Training, Live Classes, One-on-one training—everything the fitness buff could ask for. There were also Tele-Health, Holistic Practitioners, Diet and Nutrition experts, and a host of other offerings.
Now, I’m not one of those prophets like Elijah, but I can sure tell you which way the wind is blowing, and it’s blowing right toward Hybrid Gyms. In fact, I’m a day late and a dollar short when it comes to getting the scoop on this topic because, in that search, I also found about twenty blogs already talking about Hybrid. Businesses that can adapt and pivot to a hybrid business model can cater to a growing home workout crowd while taking care of their current members. So, if I owned a fitness business, I would do one of two things: I’d get the equipment necessary to set up a nifty studio where I could do live streaming and also record classes to archive on my website. If I wasn’t prepared to go to that expense, I would get online and contact as many of these providers as I could track down and make affiliate deals to access their offerings through my website.
Okay, here’s my last question: Does your gym software support a hybrid model? Can you offer, schedule, and book simultaneous online and in-house classes and accept payment for them through your software? Do you have offer live-stream capability from inside your software? A digital fitness platform supported by an all-around robust gym software/payment gateway allows you to reach out to your community and grow your customer base, while collecting payment for all your products. If you’re not seriously thinking about a professional and smooth online offering backed by great club software, you’re behind the curve. Because your competition is already there.
Patrick Craig has worked in the Marketing Industry for the past twenty years. He is a published author and has written extensively about the fitness industry, particularly the gym software aspect of it. He has been with Money Movers, Inc. for the last six years where he serves as the Marketing and Operations Manager, web designer and coder, and maintains the custom websites Money Movers, Inc. develops for their Online Business Manager gym software clients.