For as long as we have known it. Fitness classes have always been done in person.
Whether you were going to a gym, yoga studio, or some other type of class it required a physical location where the coach or instructor could meet with their clients.
This however is changing, as technology improves, and the internet becomes more widely available throughout the world.
When the Coronavirus pandemic hit in March of 2020, it forced the majority of fitness professionals to move their businesses online. Everyone went from conducting classes in person to conducting them using Zoom and other video conferencing services. This was a major adjustment for everyone in the fitness industry. Coaches had to make virtual copies of their businesses within a matter of weeks.
Here we are a year later, and while some states have allowed fitness locations to open up. Many fitness professionals are still operating their businesses virtually.
Of course, operating a virtual fitness business over zoom has its limitations. You are not able to interact with your clients and share the same in-person relationship that would get in a physical setting. Also instructing and guiding your clients throughout workouts can be a challenge – watching them on a small screen as opposed to in-person, can be difficult.
Although there are some challenges with conducting classes virtually, there are also a lot of benefits.
Distance and Time
First off clients don’t have to travel to a gym, and can work out in the comfort of their own homes.
Commuting to a gym can be a very big time suck for people and often causes people not to go to the gym in the first place.
A study done by the data analytics firm Dstillery, determined a strong correlation between the distance of your gym and how frequently you went. This study analyzed anonymized data taken from 7.5 million mobile phones that were taken to and from different fitness centers across the country.
Those who went to the gym once a month lived an average of 5.1 miles away. However, those who went 5 times a month lived an average of 3.7 miles away.
As you can tell, distance matters, and may even determine whether or not you ever go to the gym in the first place.
Working out at home however takes distance, and time out of the equation.
Who you can work out with
Another major benefit to virtual fitness is you are not restricted to working out with the instructors in your local area. You can access different trainers and styles of training from all around the world.
On the other hand for trainers, it is also beneficial. The amount of clients you can access is practically unlimited. Trainers used to be restricted to working with clients in their local area, but now can work with clients from all around the world and build a much bigger audience/customer base.
Virtual Fitness is Judgment free and Private
Many people avoid going to gyms and fitness classes because they are insecure about how they look or how strong they are.
Customers may be interested in getting in shape and working out, but decide not to join a gym because they fear being judged by others.
Gyms have been dealing with this problem for years.
In fact, Planet Fitness has built its entire brand off of this idea called the “Judgement Free Zone”.
Planet Fitnesses Mission Statement “Our mission is to enhance people’s lives by providing a high-quality fitness experience in a welcoming, non-intimidating environment, which we call the Judgement Free Zone, where anyone – and we mean anyone – can feel they belong.”
They also have a slogan that says “no gymtimidation“ that is on all of their equipment and is posted all around their gyms.
Planet Fitness has gone to extreme lengths to stand behind this mission statement & slogan.
They removed all Olympic lifting equipment that you would find in a typical gym including benches, squat racks, deadlifting platforms, and dumbbells over 75 pounds.
They even have something called the “lunk alarm” which is an alarm that sounds throughout the gym when someone is being too loud. If you grunt, yell, or slam your weights – an alarm goes off and an employee gives you a warning. After several warnings, you are asked to leave.
This all has been developed to prevent people from doing intimidating exercises that make other members feel inferior and uncomfortable.
When you take a virtual fitness class, you don’t need to worry about being judged. If you are in a live class, simply turn off your camera and disappear. No one will be able to see or judge you.
Virtual fitness is usually cheaper
Virtual fitness is also a much cheaper option. Since instructors and coaches don’t need to rent a space to host the class, their overhead is much lower and therefore they can charge less.
Additionally, since instructors don’t have to commute back and forth to a gym they save themselves time and money as well.
The different types of virtual fitness classes
Any type of fitness class that requires little equipment can be done virtually.
This includes the likes of Yoga, Dance, Pilates, Barre, Mobility Training, and HIT (High-Intensity Training) among others.
How Virtual Reality will change Fitness
Although Zoom classes are pretty remarkable and you can achieve a lot by taking one. They still are not quite as good as the real thing, since the streaming and sound quality sometimes is not so amazing.
That however will change. It’s inevitable that virtual reality will eventually be common. Just as everyone now has an iPhone, not so long from now everyone will have a VR headset or glasses.
When this does in fact happen, individual trainers will be able to host virtual fitness classes that are as good, if not better than in-person ones. This will create a tremendous opportunity for individual trainers to have thriving virtual businesses.
If we look at the companies who have been the most successful with virtual fitness it’s the ones with the best technology and product. Companies such as Mirror & Peloton are great examples. Peloton went public within 5 years of being founded and Mirror sold to lululemon in June of 2020 for $500 million.
These companies have been so successful because their products are so good. Their classes are comparable to the quality that someone would get in person, with all the perks of staying at home.
For those running virtual fitness classes independently. Continue using Zoom, and building your customer bases. Virtual reality will eventually allow you to create an even better experience for your customers.
P.S Apple is rumored to be launching a VR headset in 2022