23 Sep 2021 World leisure: news, training & property
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Fit Tech
2020 issue 2

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Leisure Management - Paul Bowman, Wexer

The way I see it

Paul Bowman, Wexer

The future of fitness is hybrid, says the CEO of Wexer. He shares his thoughts on why and how the industry should embrace this change

Paul Bowman, CEO of Wexer
People have become accustomed to working out at home Shutterstock
Home fitness should be delivered on your own platform, says Bowman Shutterstock
Variety is key online: exercisers seek a new class more regularly than in-club Shutterstock
Wexer Virtual enables clubs to increase group exercise provision
Retention for digital offerings is higher than for physical ones

• "If you don’t have a hybrid digital / physical model, you won’t survive."

• "Think about how disruptive low-cost was for those who didn’t respond quickly enough. Digital will be equally disruptive"

• "It’s no longer a question of ‘do we go digital?’ Now the only question is: do you merge digital into physical, or physical into digital? Which approach is most likely to succeed? I genuinely believe it will be the latter."

• "Instagram and YouTube offered quick, easy solutions, but in using them, clubs have effectively given away their contacts, their opportunity to gather insights and their ownership of the customer relationship. They now have to wrest it back."

• "On-demand retention figures beat most traditional operators: about half of online fitness customers are retained for nine months or more."

• "Digital fitness was already growing fast. Then COVID-19 happened and things accelerated exponentially: we had clients whose online user base grew 10-fold almost overnight."

• "Home fitness must be delivered on your own platform, not a third-party channel – like Instagram or YouTube – which you can’t monetise or use to generate brand loyalty."

• "The shift towards online is not a temporary measure: 43% of Mindbody survey respondents want to continue with at-home classes as well as going back to the gym; 60% of these expect to add 2-3 live streamed workouts a week."

• "Digital opens up bigger audiences. There may be less revenue per head, but there are many more heads to go after."

• "Clubs should start with the home fitness journey and work out how to gain a competitive advantage here, before working out how to dovetail physical visits into this."

• "Online requires strength in depth to be sustainable, because people only do the same online class twice before they look for something new. In-club it’s about the social. Online it’s all about variety."

• "Clubs want to create their own content, so on 1 June, Wexer launched Web Player Connect – a new solution that gives operators their own TV channel."

• "During lockdown, 40% of all spend on live streamed and pre-recorded workouts went to businesses those individuals had never physically visited."

• "In clubs that have re-opened, we’re seeing higher demand for virtual classes. This is the only way to take part in group exercise in many clubs, and with social distancing, classes are regularly full."

• "We’ve talked about personalisation for years. Digital fitness is the way to speed it up – it’s both the tool to gather the data, and the channel through which to deliver it. That’s hugely exciting."

• "Training at home is so convenient, it’s where the bread and butter of fitness will now happen."

• "People will still be willing to pay for programming, expertise and support in-club, but the baseline will be delivered online via convenient, high-quality, personalised fitness content."

Originally published in Fit Tech 2020 issue 2

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