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The Leisure Media Company Ltd | Fit Tech promotion
The Leisure Media Company Ltd | Fit Tech promotion
The Leisure Media Company Ltd | Fit Tech promotion
features

VIRTUAL CLASSES: Les Mills is using virtual classes to smash all attendance records at its newest club

Les Mills has opened a club in Auckland, New Zealand, which proves the powerful impact virtual classes can have on attendance and bottom line. Manager Carrie Kepple talks to Kath Hudson

Published in Health Club Management 2016 issue 6

Ninety-three per cent member retention, 4,200 group exercise attendances a week, and smashing its annual target just six months after opening: the new Les Mills Newmarket club, which opened on 2 November 2015, appears to have found the perfect model. And what’s driving its success? Group exercise, says manager Carrie Kepple, with virtual classes a vital component to build usage during off-peak hours.

Putting GX first
The club spans 1,900sq m and 70 per cent of the exercise space is given over to group exercise. There are two studios: one with capacity for 110, and the other for around 70, as well as an immersive cycle studio with 28 bikes. “Group exercise is our bread and butter, so we decided to try a different model, putting group exercise first and the gym floor second,” says Kepple.
This model wouldn’t be viable without a virtual offering, which allow classes to be scheduled throughout the day without creating a huge wage bill.

“Most club timetables are designed around catering for the peaks in usage, but we knew we needed to manage capacity throughout the day to make the club work,” says Kepple.

“What we’ve tried to do is pull people away from the peak times and create an even spread throughout the day. Virtual has empowered us to sell memberships to an audience we couldn’t reach before, because their personal timetables didn’t fit with our classes.”

To achieve its goals, Les Mills has come up with a concept of capacity management called ‘spread and churn’. “Spread is about attracting customers more evenly throughout the day, which means we can service them better, so they get a better experience and retention is improved,” says Kepple.

“Churn is an efficient turnaround of classes, like turning tables in a restaurant.”

Smashing targets
Incorporating virtual technology has allowed the club to offer an extra 500 classes a month, with no further set-up or staffing costs. All of the virtual classes are scheduled and promoted on the programme, rather than allowing people to choose their own exercise class, as this can limit the appeal and drive down participation numbers.

The annual target for visits was originally set at 100,000, but after just six months the club had already reached 150,000 visits and 2,340 members. Group fitness – live and virtual combined – accounted for 99,000 of these visits. Of the 66 per cent of all daily attendances accounted for by group fitness, 19 per cent have been for virtual classes.

“During the month of March, virtual accounted for 3,379 extra attendances. Annualised that equates to a lot of money,” adds Kepple.

Although live instructors are retained for the peak classes, virtual technology means the class programme starts at 5.30am and runs until 10.00pm.

“I went into the small studio at 9.40 this morning and there were 15 people doing Virtual Pump. Given there aren’t many overheads for that class, it’s awesome,” says Kepple. “It’s good to have a club that has a nice energy all day long.”

Most of the virtual classes have somewhere between 10 and 20 participants (see ‘Compare & contrast’, left), but the 7.30pm virtual BodyPump class was regularly pulling between 40 and 50 exercisers, so Kepple decided to install an instructor.

Meanwhile the virtual RPM classes are often busier than the live classes, as a NZ$5 booking fee is charged for the live classes, while virtual is free.

Social night out
As well as boosting the bottom line and driving higher usage of the club throughout the day, virtual classes also provide a marketing hook. “We’re promoting the fact that we’re running more classes, more often,” says Kepple.

“It’s also another lever to pull in the referral game. We’ve run a social media campaign where you tag a friend to come for free to try virtual – we’re trying to make it like going to a fitness movie with friends.”

Sign up here to get Fit Tech's weekly ezine and every issue of Fit Tech magazine free on digital.
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features

VIRTUAL CLASSES: Les Mills is using virtual classes to smash all attendance records at its newest club

Les Mills has opened a club in Auckland, New Zealand, which proves the powerful impact virtual classes can have on attendance and bottom line. Manager Carrie Kepple talks to Kath Hudson

Published in Health Club Management 2016 issue 6

Ninety-three per cent member retention, 4,200 group exercise attendances a week, and smashing its annual target just six months after opening: the new Les Mills Newmarket club, which opened on 2 November 2015, appears to have found the perfect model. And what’s driving its success? Group exercise, says manager Carrie Kepple, with virtual classes a vital component to build usage during off-peak hours.

Putting GX first
The club spans 1,900sq m and 70 per cent of the exercise space is given over to group exercise. There are two studios: one with capacity for 110, and the other for around 70, as well as an immersive cycle studio with 28 bikes. “Group exercise is our bread and butter, so we decided to try a different model, putting group exercise first and the gym floor second,” says Kepple.
This model wouldn’t be viable without a virtual offering, which allow classes to be scheduled throughout the day without creating a huge wage bill.

“Most club timetables are designed around catering for the peaks in usage, but we knew we needed to manage capacity throughout the day to make the club work,” says Kepple.

“What we’ve tried to do is pull people away from the peak times and create an even spread throughout the day. Virtual has empowered us to sell memberships to an audience we couldn’t reach before, because their personal timetables didn’t fit with our classes.”

To achieve its goals, Les Mills has come up with a concept of capacity management called ‘spread and churn’. “Spread is about attracting customers more evenly throughout the day, which means we can service them better, so they get a better experience and retention is improved,” says Kepple.

“Churn is an efficient turnaround of classes, like turning tables in a restaurant.”

Smashing targets
Incorporating virtual technology has allowed the club to offer an extra 500 classes a month, with no further set-up or staffing costs. All of the virtual classes are scheduled and promoted on the programme, rather than allowing people to choose their own exercise class, as this can limit the appeal and drive down participation numbers.

The annual target for visits was originally set at 100,000, but after just six months the club had already reached 150,000 visits and 2,340 members. Group fitness – live and virtual combined – accounted for 99,000 of these visits. Of the 66 per cent of all daily attendances accounted for by group fitness, 19 per cent have been for virtual classes.

“During the month of March, virtual accounted for 3,379 extra attendances. Annualised that equates to a lot of money,” adds Kepple.

Although live instructors are retained for the peak classes, virtual technology means the class programme starts at 5.30am and runs until 10.00pm.

“I went into the small studio at 9.40 this morning and there were 15 people doing Virtual Pump. Given there aren’t many overheads for that class, it’s awesome,” says Kepple. “It’s good to have a club that has a nice energy all day long.”

Most of the virtual classes have somewhere between 10 and 20 participants (see ‘Compare & contrast’, left), but the 7.30pm virtual BodyPump class was regularly pulling between 40 and 50 exercisers, so Kepple decided to install an instructor.

Meanwhile the virtual RPM classes are often busier than the live classes, as a NZ$5 booking fee is charged for the live classes, while virtual is free.

Social night out
As well as boosting the bottom line and driving higher usage of the club throughout the day, virtual classes also provide a marketing hook. “We’re promoting the fact that we’re running more classes, more often,” says Kepple.

“It’s also another lever to pull in the referral game. We’ve run a social media campaign where you tag a friend to come for free to try virtual – we’re trying to make it like going to a fitness movie with friends.”

Sign up here to get Fit Tech's weekly ezine and every issue of Fit Tech magazine free on digital.
Gallery
More features
Editor's letter

Into the fitaverse

Fitness is already among the top three markets in the metaverse, with new technology and partnerships driving real growth and consumer engagement that looks likely to spill over into health clubs, gyms and studios
Fit Tech people

Ali Jawad

Paralympic powerlifter and founder, Accessercise
Users can easily identify which facilities in the UK are accessible to the disabled community
Fit Tech people

Hannes Sjöblad

MD, DSruptive
We want to give our users an implantable tool that allows them to collect their health data at any time and in any setting
Fit Tech people

Jamie Buck

Co-founder, Active in Time
We created a solution called AiT Voice, which turns digital data into a spoken audio timetable that connects to phone systems
Profile

Fahad Alhagbani: reinventing fitness

The team is young and ambitious, and the awareness of technology is very high. We share trends and out-of-the-box ideas almost every day
Opinion

Building on the blockchain

For small sports teams looking to compete with giants, blockchain can be a secret weapon explains Lars Rensing, CEO of Protokol
Innovation

Bold move

Our results showed a greater than 60 per cent reduction in falls for individuals who actively participated in Bold’s programme
App analysis

Check your form

Sency’s motion analysis technology is allowing users to check their technique as they exercise. Co-founder and CEO Gal Rotman explains how
Profile

New reality

Sam Cole, CEO of FitXR, talks to Fit Tech about taking digital workouts to the next level, with an immersive, virtual reality fitness club
Profile

Sohail Rashid

My vision was to create a platform that could improve the sport for lifters at all levels and attract more people, similar to how Strava, Peloton and Zwift have in other sports
Ageing

Reverse Ageing

Many apps help people track their health, but Humanity founders Peter Ward and Michael Geer have put the focus on ageing, to help users to see the direct repercussions of their habits. They talk to Steph Eaves
App analysis

Going hybrid

Workout Anytime created its app in partnership with Virtuagym. Workout Anytime’s Greg Maurer and Virtuagym’s Hugo Braam explain the process behind its creation
Research

Physical activity monitors boost activity levels

Researchers at the University of Copenhagen have conducted a meta analysis of all relevant research and found that the body of evidence shows an impact
Editor's letter

Two-way coaching

Content providers have been hugely active in the fit tech market since the start of the pandemic. We expect the industry to move on from delivering these services on a ‘broadcast-only’ basis as two-way coaching becomes the new USP
Fit Tech People

Laurent Petit

Co-founder, Active Giving
The future of sports and fitness are dependent on the climate. Our goal is to positively influence the future of our planet by instilling a global vision of wellbeing and a sense of collective action
Fit Tech People

Adam Zeitsiff

CEO, Intelivideo
We don’t just create the technology and bail – we support our clients’ ongoing hybridisation efforts
Fit Tech People

Anantharaman Pattabiraman

CEO and co-founder, Auro
When you’re undertaking fitness activities, unless you’re on a stationary bike, in most cases it’s not safe or necessary to be tied to a screen, especially a small screen
Fit Tech People

Mike Hansen

Managing partner, Endorphinz
We noticed a big gap in the market – customers needed better insights but also recommendations on what to do, whether that be customer acquisition, content creation, marketing and more
More features