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Interview: Blurring the lines

Les Mills has launched a suite of digital solutions to help gyms future-proof by expanding their reach in the booming online fitness space, while complementing their live offerings. Steph Eaves talks to Les Mills International’s CMO Anna Henwood to find out more

Published in Fit Tech 2021 issue 1

Tell us about the development of Les Mills’ digital solutions
We’ve worked closely with our partners to develop a suite of digital solutions to help future-proof clubs by expanding their reach in the booming online fitness space, while complementing their live in-club offerings. Leveraging 52 years of group fitness expertise, we’ve created a range of LES MILLS™ On Demand (LMOD) and livestream products designed to support clubs in driving new revenue and meeting growing consumer demand for a ‘blended’ fitness offering. This combines the best of digital and live fitness to produce a connected member experience enabling members to work out however they choose – whether in-club or at-home.

How do you envision these solutions will help clubs to recover post-COVID and also stay relevant in the coming years?
There’s no getting away from the fact that Big Tech – Apple, Google, Amazon and Facebook – are sizing up the fitness industry and represent a major threat for clubs. COVID-19 has changed the game forever, making digital fitness a core expectation of every club member in the world in just a few months – and that’s precisely why Big Tech is preparing to strike.

Clubs may not have the financial might or brand power of major tech firms, but they have assets that Big Tech can’t yet match: highly-engaged communities centered around authentic, live experiences. For those willing to be bold, the digital fitness boom can fast-track club growth and help operators thrive in the new age of fitness by enabling them to combine the best of live workouts with the scalability and convenience of digital – a compelling proposition for consumers.

How will these solutions help clubs who don’t yet have a digital offering?
First and foremost, it will help them to stay relevant. Since lockdown, the phrase ‘Innovate or die’ has shifted from being a fitness conference catchphrase to the harsh reality of operating a club in 2020. Digital fitness is becoming a basic expectation among consumers, so clubs that fail to provide a solution will struggle to compete.

And with health and fitness now a top-tier priority for people of all ages, there are big opportunities for clubs to grow their business by offering a connected member experience encompassing both live and digital solutions. Digital tools help clubs to reach more potential members and a connected member experience ensures that they keep them for longer.

How does Les Mills work with clubs to tailor a solution to their needs, and then help implement it?
Technology has understandably dominated the fitness industry discourse in recent months, but technology isn’t the answer to our challenges; our people are. Technology is still just a tool to help us deliver motivation to members beyond the club. It’s our people – the faces our members know and love – who remain at the heart of these solutions, and that’s the approach we take when supporting our club partners. How can we use technology to enhance their existing strengths and support their goals?

Whether it’s LMOD Affiliate (where clubs can upsell LMOD to their members and receive a share of the revenue), Les Mills workouts clubs can embed into their existing app, Virtual, Immersive Fitness, livestream or live, we have a host of solutions to support clubs, and a wealth of experience in how to implement them. As operators of a successful chain of clubs in New Zealand, we understand the problems that operators face and we only bring our products to market once they’ve proven to be a success in our own clubs.

Do you think Les Mills’ digital solutions can act as a gateway to getting more members coming in for in-club workouts?
Digital offers huge opportunities for clubs to reach beyond their traditional local catchment. Now, anyone with an internet connection is a potential target for digital memberships. By taking the club experience into people’s homes through digital solutions, operators have the chance to reach huge swathes of the population who wouldn’t typically visit a club and help them start their fitness journey. We can support people to build their fitness skills and confidence at home, so they can then graduate into clubs.

There’s clear appetite for such fitness progression among non-gym members using LMOD, with 53 per cent stating they’re interested in trying live Les Mills classes in a club (research from May 2020). Providing digital stepping stones will be key to gyms driving up the penetration rate and reaching mass adoption.

How can clubs integrate their digital offerings with their physical offerings, ensuring one complements and supports the other?
I’ve mentioned it already, but offering a connected member experience really is key – and a big component of that is consistency. Are you offering digital versions of the workouts that members love doing in your club? And conversely, are you offering better live versions of the workouts on your digital channels, so that users are enticed to come to the club more?

The marketer in me is going to insist on a slick customer experience and journey that takes an omnichannel approach – using the club as a promotional channel for digital and vice versa. How are you demonstrating the value of your total membership package (with digital included) and pricing it attractively to encourage the upsell? Does the digital user experience match the standards you set when people visit your club? Is your app/website consistently branded and easy to navigate? Is it bug-proof? These are the basic elements that need to be executed well for the offering to be considered a total package that the member sees value in.

How do you plan to keep LMOD fresh and exciting moving forward?
We’re constantly working on ways to enhance LMOD and raise the bar. We added our 1,000th workout to the platform in June and our audience has never had a greater choice of world-class programmes than they do today. These are the workouts you’ll find in clubs around the world and we’re working hard on new features to encourage more LMOD users to go out and experience live classes at their local club.

We’ve recently introduced daily workouts led by rockstar Les Mills Trainers – these are proving really popular as they’re short, sharp workouts that have never been seen before. We’ve also ramped up our range of challenges and workout plans designed to support specific user goals and we’re starting to include more diet and nutrition advice to support this. Personalisation is becoming ever more important – both for us and the industry as a whole.

What are your predictions for how the fitness industry will change over the next few years?
The growth of digital workouts isn’t a sudden shift in consumer behavior sparked by COVID-19, it’s actually the acceleration of a trend that’s been taking hold for some time. The 2019 Global Consumer Fitness Survey showed that 85 per cent of gym members also exercised at home – and that was before COVID-19 – so this is a longstanding trend which I fully expect to continue.

That said, live workouts in a pumping club studio will always be the most motivating fitness experience because we’re pack animals, so working out in groups is in our DNA. Our research has shown that group workouts produce increased levels of individual enjoyment, exertion and satisfaction – we call this the group effect.

After months of isolation for much of the world’s population, people are craving connection more than ever, so the opportunity for clubs is to be the bridge between the digital and the physical fitness space by taking an omnichannel approach. Fusing the best of digital (innovation, accessibility and scalability) with the motivation of live fitness experiences will be the key to stealing a march on Silicon Valley and setting up clubs for long-term success.

Les Mills’ newly-launched digital solutions include:
Enhanced livestream workouts

Clubs offering live Les Mills workouts can now deliver the latest versions of many of the world-famous classes to their members via livestream. Clubs can livestream using whichever platform they prefer, provided the necessary music licences are in place with their local performing rights societies.

App workout content

Clubs can bring the world’s best workouts into their own member app without the need for CapEx and mass content creation. Spanning 12 Les Mills programmes, clubs host the content via their own branded ecosystem and set the price members pay them for access.

LES MILLS On Demand Affiliate Programme

Clubs can support their members’ entire fitness journey by providing home workouts via LES MILLS On Demand and receiving a share of the revenue for each sign-up. Members have access to the full LMOD ecosystem, including Les Mills workouts, training programmes and community support.

Online training

Les Mills Instructor training and Group Fitness Management (GFM) training have now been digitised, making it easier than ever for clubs to upskill their teams and improve their business with world-class training.

Les Mills Body Pump on-demand and live virtual classes can now be offered to members directly via a club’s own app
Sign up here to get Fit Tech's weekly ezine and every issue of Fit Tech magazine free on digital.
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Interview: Blurring the lines

Les Mills has launched a suite of digital solutions to help gyms future-proof by expanding their reach in the booming online fitness space, while complementing their live offerings. Steph Eaves talks to Les Mills International’s CMO Anna Henwood to find out more

Published in Fit Tech 2021 issue 1

Tell us about the development of Les Mills’ digital solutions
We’ve worked closely with our partners to develop a suite of digital solutions to help future-proof clubs by expanding their reach in the booming online fitness space, while complementing their live in-club offerings. Leveraging 52 years of group fitness expertise, we’ve created a range of LES MILLS™ On Demand (LMOD) and livestream products designed to support clubs in driving new revenue and meeting growing consumer demand for a ‘blended’ fitness offering. This combines the best of digital and live fitness to produce a connected member experience enabling members to work out however they choose – whether in-club or at-home.

How do you envision these solutions will help clubs to recover post-COVID and also stay relevant in the coming years?
There’s no getting away from the fact that Big Tech – Apple, Google, Amazon and Facebook – are sizing up the fitness industry and represent a major threat for clubs. COVID-19 has changed the game forever, making digital fitness a core expectation of every club member in the world in just a few months – and that’s precisely why Big Tech is preparing to strike.

Clubs may not have the financial might or brand power of major tech firms, but they have assets that Big Tech can’t yet match: highly-engaged communities centered around authentic, live experiences. For those willing to be bold, the digital fitness boom can fast-track club growth and help operators thrive in the new age of fitness by enabling them to combine the best of live workouts with the scalability and convenience of digital – a compelling proposition for consumers.

How will these solutions help clubs who don’t yet have a digital offering?
First and foremost, it will help them to stay relevant. Since lockdown, the phrase ‘Innovate or die’ has shifted from being a fitness conference catchphrase to the harsh reality of operating a club in 2020. Digital fitness is becoming a basic expectation among consumers, so clubs that fail to provide a solution will struggle to compete.

And with health and fitness now a top-tier priority for people of all ages, there are big opportunities for clubs to grow their business by offering a connected member experience encompassing both live and digital solutions. Digital tools help clubs to reach more potential members and a connected member experience ensures that they keep them for longer.

How does Les Mills work with clubs to tailor a solution to their needs, and then help implement it?
Technology has understandably dominated the fitness industry discourse in recent months, but technology isn’t the answer to our challenges; our people are. Technology is still just a tool to help us deliver motivation to members beyond the club. It’s our people – the faces our members know and love – who remain at the heart of these solutions, and that’s the approach we take when supporting our club partners. How can we use technology to enhance their existing strengths and support their goals?

Whether it’s LMOD Affiliate (where clubs can upsell LMOD to their members and receive a share of the revenue), Les Mills workouts clubs can embed into their existing app, Virtual, Immersive Fitness, livestream or live, we have a host of solutions to support clubs, and a wealth of experience in how to implement them. As operators of a successful chain of clubs in New Zealand, we understand the problems that operators face and we only bring our products to market once they’ve proven to be a success in our own clubs.

Do you think Les Mills’ digital solutions can act as a gateway to getting more members coming in for in-club workouts?
Digital offers huge opportunities for clubs to reach beyond their traditional local catchment. Now, anyone with an internet connection is a potential target for digital memberships. By taking the club experience into people’s homes through digital solutions, operators have the chance to reach huge swathes of the population who wouldn’t typically visit a club and help them start their fitness journey. We can support people to build their fitness skills and confidence at home, so they can then graduate into clubs.

There’s clear appetite for such fitness progression among non-gym members using LMOD, with 53 per cent stating they’re interested in trying live Les Mills classes in a club (research from May 2020). Providing digital stepping stones will be key to gyms driving up the penetration rate and reaching mass adoption.

How can clubs integrate their digital offerings with their physical offerings, ensuring one complements and supports the other?
I’ve mentioned it already, but offering a connected member experience really is key – and a big component of that is consistency. Are you offering digital versions of the workouts that members love doing in your club? And conversely, are you offering better live versions of the workouts on your digital channels, so that users are enticed to come to the club more?

The marketer in me is going to insist on a slick customer experience and journey that takes an omnichannel approach – using the club as a promotional channel for digital and vice versa. How are you demonstrating the value of your total membership package (with digital included) and pricing it attractively to encourage the upsell? Does the digital user experience match the standards you set when people visit your club? Is your app/website consistently branded and easy to navigate? Is it bug-proof? These are the basic elements that need to be executed well for the offering to be considered a total package that the member sees value in.

How do you plan to keep LMOD fresh and exciting moving forward?
We’re constantly working on ways to enhance LMOD and raise the bar. We added our 1,000th workout to the platform in June and our audience has never had a greater choice of world-class programmes than they do today. These are the workouts you’ll find in clubs around the world and we’re working hard on new features to encourage more LMOD users to go out and experience live classes at their local club.

We’ve recently introduced daily workouts led by rockstar Les Mills Trainers – these are proving really popular as they’re short, sharp workouts that have never been seen before. We’ve also ramped up our range of challenges and workout plans designed to support specific user goals and we’re starting to include more diet and nutrition advice to support this. Personalisation is becoming ever more important – both for us and the industry as a whole.

What are your predictions for how the fitness industry will change over the next few years?
The growth of digital workouts isn’t a sudden shift in consumer behavior sparked by COVID-19, it’s actually the acceleration of a trend that’s been taking hold for some time. The 2019 Global Consumer Fitness Survey showed that 85 per cent of gym members also exercised at home – and that was before COVID-19 – so this is a longstanding trend which I fully expect to continue.

That said, live workouts in a pumping club studio will always be the most motivating fitness experience because we’re pack animals, so working out in groups is in our DNA. Our research has shown that group workouts produce increased levels of individual enjoyment, exertion and satisfaction – we call this the group effect.

After months of isolation for much of the world’s population, people are craving connection more than ever, so the opportunity for clubs is to be the bridge between the digital and the physical fitness space by taking an omnichannel approach. Fusing the best of digital (innovation, accessibility and scalability) with the motivation of live fitness experiences will be the key to stealing a march on Silicon Valley and setting up clubs for long-term success.

Les Mills’ newly-launched digital solutions include:
Enhanced livestream workouts

Clubs offering live Les Mills workouts can now deliver the latest versions of many of the world-famous classes to their members via livestream. Clubs can livestream using whichever platform they prefer, provided the necessary music licences are in place with their local performing rights societies.

App workout content

Clubs can bring the world’s best workouts into their own member app without the need for CapEx and mass content creation. Spanning 12 Les Mills programmes, clubs host the content via their own branded ecosystem and set the price members pay them for access.

LES MILLS On Demand Affiliate Programme

Clubs can support their members’ entire fitness journey by providing home workouts via LES MILLS On Demand and receiving a share of the revenue for each sign-up. Members have access to the full LMOD ecosystem, including Les Mills workouts, training programmes and community support.

Online training

Les Mills Instructor training and Group Fitness Management (GFM) training have now been digitised, making it easier than ever for clubs to upskill their teams and improve their business with world-class training.

Les Mills Body Pump on-demand and live virtual classes can now be offered to members directly via a club’s own app
Sign up here to get Fit Tech's weekly ezine and every issue of Fit Tech magazine free on digital.
Gallery
More features

Funxtion: A brand new app

FunXtion and GoodLife Fitness are collaborating to help Canadians stay fit in the gym and at home
interview

Blurring the lines

Les Mills has launched a suite of digital solutions to help gyms future-proof by expanding their reach in the booming online fitness space, while complementing their live offerings. Steph Eaves talks to Les Mills International’s CMO Anna Henwood to find out more

Clubs without walls

Venueserve Fitness is working with the Health Club Collection to drive its digital customer engagement

Fit Tech Leadership Report

Fit tech is a growing, competitive sector. Executive search firm, Stronger Talent, recently analysed the backgrounds of more than 300 fit tech executives to provide insights into recruiting strategies, as Pete Leibman explains
people

Andy Etches

Founder and sports director, Rezzil
Rezzil was able to have an injured player learning his new manager's philosophy, positioning and playing style – all from a seated position

Digital retention top performers

Three digital fitness platforms tell Fit Tech how they work to achieve higher levels of customer retention

Virtual wellbeing check

Feelings of pressure, isolation and performance anxiety are commonly experienced by athletes, however it isn’t always easy for clubs to identify those who are struggling. Richard Lucas, founder of GoVox, explains how technology can help
interview

Preston Lewis, Black Box VR

It’s clear that combining VR gaming with fitness has the potential to decrease pain, increase enjoyment, and allow players to push their bodies further than they would normally, creating real fitness gains over time
interview

Robotic muscles

We identified the need to step beyond the current approaches to muscle weakness, and move instead to placing robotic muscles exactly where they’re needed – inside the body
people

Kevin Dawidowicz

President, CoachMePlus
Fitness apps are designed to train clients, without a trainer on the other side. We give coaches a tool for connection

Staying sticky

Bob Lawson explains how digital fitness platforms and apps can maximise retention and prevent churn
Editor's letter

Big (fit) tech

We’re entering the age of the wellness mega-corp, with the ultimate goal for investors being to dominate health and wellness markets in every channel. Prepare to expect the unexpected in this convergence of health, fitness and wellness
Uptivo
Uptivo