Is Virtual Fitness the Painkiller for Social Distancing?

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has driven the fitness and leisure industry into an unprecedented situation. Everyone has had to adapt and endure, which has spawned a market for new types of virtual services. Is virtual fitness the answer to serving customers during social distancing measures and beyond? We think so, and here’s why.

The adoption of digital fitness services among dryland fitness operators, such as gyms and fitness studios has skyrocketed during ongoing social distancing and restrictions. Virtual exercise classes are a lucrative option for both the gym operator and exerciser. The flexibility and cost-effectiveness of virtual services have become increasingly clear today. 

Thanks to recent advances in water-resistant technology, virtual workouts can now also be offered in a pool environment. Pool operators can get to the same level of service availability as local gyms or fitness studios and the customers can enjoy the same virtual services at the pool.

A virtual wave of fitness – Finnish pool operators tell their story

Finland has been the forerunner in adoption of virtual aqua fitness services. Almost 50% of Finnish pool operators offer virtual fitness services to their customers. During the past months, we have actively helped them restart operations with a broader service selection. Our clients consider virtual aqua fitness as one of the main services that will help them re-open and allow them to provide continuous activities throughout the upcoming season.

Based on interviews with over 30 clients, here are the four key drivers to reopening successfully:

  1. Virtual fitness is an incredibly effortless and flexible way for the operator to complete the service selection. 
  2. Virtual service is completely schedule-free, which enables on-demand exercising for the customers. This also facilitates a steadier customer flow throughout the day. 
  3. Virtual aqua fitness is a cost-effective service, even when it’s used by individuals or small groups.
  4. Virtual aqua fitness attracts new audiences to the pool, such as middle-aged men and young adults that typically don’t attend aqua fitness classes.

The biggest benefits of virtual content is that the workouts are always available by the pool, on-demand, for your customers. Virtual exercise is an easy way of raising the daily usage of the pool. It’s an effective activator especially during the off-peak hours, making virtual aqua fitness an optimal service for filling empty slots between instructed swimming or aqua fitness classes.

Things to consider during the new normal

There’s been a lot of talk about new customer expectations and how to meet them. How will you adapt your business and operations to attract and inspire both old and new customers?

We summed up some things to consider:

  • Virtual and online fitness have become hugely popular during the last months out of necessity.
  • As customers have become accustomed to on-demand virtual services, they start expecting a similar offering at your pool to complement instructed water fitness classes.
  • Customers are more cautious about their safety and social distance when visiting the pool and attending water workout classes.
  • Unstable economic situation, general uncertainty and lower class attendance discourage recruiting fitness instructors.
  • Social distancing, maintaining customer safety and more thorough cleaning is still required at facilities.

Moving forward and getting ahead

Virtual fitness content eases the transition phase towards the new normal. It enables people to work out with proper instructions on their own, without being in a group or hiring a personal trainer. Virtual classes will never replace live classes as there’s always going to be a demand for competent instructors. However, adapting a hybrid strategy where the virtual services complement live classes, will help you maintain continuous availability of fitness services at your pool.

Even if the situation persists and new restrictions must be complied with, you will be well prepared for the future. Your customers will want to maintain their workout routines, so show them you are there to support them on their goals throughout the journey!

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