Virtual on-demand guided workouts are rapidly becoming a programming staple at not just studios and clubs worldwide, but also within the hospitality and multifamily sectors – for very good reasons.
One enthusiastic proponent of VF is Chris Griebe, the senior vice president of lifestyle and fitness at WTS International, based in Rockville, Maryland. Founded in 1973, WTS is a high-end leisure and spa consulting and management company that’s worked with some 300 facilities around the globe. Griebe oversees seven of the company’s facilities, including commercial, community, hospitality, and multifamily properties.
Because WTS provides a wide variety of services, Griebe has many gaps to fill, and he’s discovered that VF can successfully resolve a number of scheduling and programming issues.
For example, one of the questions that vexed operators at the dawn of VF was whether it would appeal to different demographics. That was an issue for Griebe, since he oversees some facilities in age-restricted communities. He found that older exercisers warmed up to VF quickly. “Some of these sites don’t have the large payrolls required to employ instructors,” he notes. “Virtual offerings allow members and residents to take part in classes that, otherwise, they wouldn’t be able to enjoy unless they joined a large commercial or private club.
“They feel they’re getting great information, great content, and great results from a virtual class.”
The stuff of success
One major reason that VF is steadily achieving greater market penetration is the innovative product lines of suppliers such as Beachbody, BurnAlong, CSE Entertainment, FitnessOnDemand, Wexer, Wellbeats, and Les Mills that, with their thousands of titles to choose from, have emerged to meet the industry’s needs.
Among the players is Aktiv Solutions.
Bryan Green, the firm’s founder and CEO, reports that he spent years laser-focused on designing functional training (FT) spaces, but, as he visited facilities throughout the U.S., he realized operators had programming needs that ranged well beyond FT and HIIT. To fill the perceived void, he developed AktivTV, a digital platform that delivers a selection of boutique-style, guided exercise options.
“AktivTV has an à la carte, on-demand library of the sort of session you’d expect in a studio setting,” he explains. “We also have more progressive workouts, such as aerial yoga.”
VF systems not only provide users with a virtually endless menu of choices, but also, according to cost-benefit analysis, optimize space utilization. “Real estate is often the most expensive line item for operators, so they need to find ways to increase the ROI on the space they have,” explains Green. “They have to figure out how to switch the space from format to format, theme it, and provide coaching within it most effectively.”
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