Doesn’t it seem like the New Year’s ball just dropped? How is it that we’re already almost halfway through 2015? This year is flying by, and many of the fitness industry trend predictions made at the beginning of the year are proving to be true.

While several of these hot trends can be incorporated into many fitness businesses’ current offerings, there’s one that could potentially be a thorn in their sides. With a typically low cost and a huge convenience factor, online workout streaming has the potential to pull customers away from your fitness business over the next several years.

Web-Based Fitness Market

If you’ve read a current fitness trend report lately, you’ll likely find workout streaming and web-based fitness alternatives towards the top of the list. According to a recent report from CBS News, fitness app downloads have increased 87% faster than all other apps and video streaming increased by 60% last year alone.

There are numerous websites that offer inexpensive workout videos for users to stream. For $10 a month, Booya offers subscribers an unlimited supply of 30-minute workouts taught by instructors at boutique gyms. For the same price, the large gym chain Crunch, offers non-members access to Crunch Live, which provides different workouts like stiletto strength, to users in their living rooms. Yogis can access workouts ranging from five to 60 minutes from Udaya for $12 a month. There are several other sites, including Cross Train, DailyBurn, Connect Online Fitness and many others that offer great workouts at a low monthly price.

With this new trend in workout streaming, everyday people also have the opportunity to be instructed by celebrity trainers. Tracy Anderson, a trainer to celebrities like Gwyneth Paltrow, offers video workouts marketed as a “real in-class experience.” Membership at her brick-and-mortar location runs at a hefty $900 a month, but subscription to her video streaming service is $475 for six months. For significantly less a month, users can gain access to videos instructed by celebrity fitness guru Jillian Michaels.

From Jane Fonda, Buns of Steels and Tae Bo, working out from the convenience of your living room while following a sweat-inducing video is nothing new. What has changed, however are the offerings available to those at home. Knowing you have access to a wide-variety of awesome workouts at home without having to purchase a clunky DVD (or for a bigger throwback, VHS) collection, makes this alternative more appealing than ever before.

Currently, over 54 million Americans belong to a gym, and less than half actually use their membership consistently. In a recent IRSA trend report, people reported they typically cancel their gym memberships because they were too expensive or they could exercise somewhere else for free. Seeing that the nationwide attendance rate at gyms is so-so overall, and people are choosing to leave their gyms due to high costs, online streaming could be a very desirable alternative to this group. With the trend in streaming showing no decrease in popularity, what can you do to ensure you’re still getting members in your door?

Community is Vital

We’ve said it a million times, and we’ll probably say it a million more. A strong community is the key to success for fitness businesses. In a recent blog post, Zen Planner’s VP of Marketing discussed how the lack of a strong community almost led her to finding a new box. Get to know each and every newbie who tries out an intro class. Learn their name, follow up with them to ensure they’ll come back, understand their limitations and remember any prior injuries they’ve had. Sometimes classes might start late, but never skip introductions. Encourage current members to introduce themselves to the newbies. Making someone feel welcome from day one can be the differentiator between having a short term or long term member. Don’t forget to encourage cheering in your classes! There’s something so motivating about the atmosphere of an actual class, and this cheering and encouragement is something you can never get from an online video.

As mentioned in recent blog post, effectively using social media for your fitness business can help increase member loyalty and improve the community at your gym. Post pictures of your members participating in workouts and competitions and tag them on Facebook. Don’t forget to give public shout-outs to members on Facebook when they’ve hit big accomplishments like being able to do a certain movement for the first time, receiving a new belt color or completing a program such as elements. Finally, get your members to know each other and become friends by creating a Facebook group. This has been extremely effective at my gym; I believe it’s one of the biggest contributions to the incredibly strong and passionate community we have.

Personalized Instruction for Each Member

One of the best reasons to keep class sizes small is to give you with the ability to provide personalized instruction for each and every member in your class. This also happens to be one of the biggest advantages gyms have over online videos. Receiving personalized instruction and correction is one of the biggest reasons I visit my gym everyday versus doing workouts on my own. I just naturally have poor form and tend to do stuff incorrectly. Even when I feel like I have great form, I really appreciate instructors walking by to give me tips on how I could better my back positioning to have a more effective lift.

Make sure all of your instructors are taking the time to provide individualized attention to each member. Even if certain members have great form and don’t need to be corrected, take the time to talk to them about what they would like to improve on. This personalized attention, even if it’s a brief, 20-second conversion, can have a huge impact on your members.

Offer Enticing Equipment

Sure, anyone can watch a video and perform movements, but a lot of people can’t repeat workouts from the gym at home due to a lack of equipment. People can make coffee tables work for box jumps and can find fairly inexpensive kettle bells, but a lot of the equipment for HIIT training becomes quit pricey when replicating it at home. Having nice rowing machines that actually work, or splurging on an Airdyne bike to provide your members with a terrible, yet amazing workout can show them that continuing to pay their monthly membership dues to your gym is worth each and every cent.

Set Goals and Provide Advice

Another thing users can’t get from a recorded instructional video is solid, personalized advice. You decided to open a fitness business because you’re an expert in your field. Be sure you’re sharing this valuable knowledge with your members through monthly seminars and check-ins. Setting measurable, realistic goals also becomes more difficult for users to do when using online fitness alternatives. Anyone can write down a goal, but it becomes much easier to achieve when they’re constantly consulting with a professional about it. On a quarterly basis, be sure to set goals with your members and check-in with them frequently to see where they’re at. If they’re struggling to achieve their goals, provide recommendations to get them back on track.

Offer Your Own Alternatives

Fitness websites are raking in tons of money through streaming online videos. Why can’t you do the same thing? Offer alternative workouts that your members can do at home when they can’t make into the gym. These workouts can be delivered through emails, or you could make a short and simple instructional video on your iPhone. If there’s a day of the week that your gym is closed, or you offer limited classes, provide members with a workout they can easily do from home. Seeing that Crunch provides online workouts for a fee to non-members, this could be a good business plan for your gym to consider adopting in the future.

Sure, online fitness videos are appealing to a lot of people, but they don’t offer nearly as much as brick-and-mortar locations when you take individualized instruction, community and equipment into consideration. The fitness business that you’ve built is nothing short of a rare gem, so make sure everything you do delivers that message to your members.

Did you know it costs six to seven times as much to win a new customer as it does to keep a current one? Get new tips to keep your members coming back in our free Member Retention Guide.

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