27 May 2024 World leisure: news, training & property
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Health Club Management
2021 issue 8

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Leisure Management - Full circle


Full circle

The Gym Group has taken its digital hybrid strategy full circle, piloting in-gym workout pods and studios with its home workout delivery partner, Fiit. HCM talks to the team driving the project

Each Fiit Pod takes up the same space as two treadmills PHOTO: The gym group

The Gym Group has extended its partnership with digital fitness platform Fiit – provider of its hybrid home workout solution – becoming the first budget gym operator to offer members branded hybrid club-in-club options.

Merging the world of digital fitness with traditional brick-and-mortar health clubs, the deal sees the piloting of the first Fiit Pods and Fiit Studios.

Launching at three flagship Gym Group clubs – Oxford Street and White Hart Lane in London and Altrincham in Cheshire, UK – the new offerings will be the first time Fiit has been accessible outside the home and within the walls of a health club.

What’s inside?
Two options are being piloted – Fiit Pods are individual workout spaces where members can access Fiit content on-demand and exercise in privacy, while Fiit Studios offer group HIIT training with Fiit equipment and bodyweight group classes scheduled throughout the day, accommodating up to 20 people per class.

Fiit will be deploying its newly-launched interactive fitness technology, which is capable of creating a fully interactive fitness experience.

It’s the latest example of how the pandemic and consumers’ shifting training habits are influencing the way fitness operators look to attract, engage and retain members.

The pandemic has resulted in a large percentage of gym members seeking hybrid solutions which provide convenient access to workouts – whether at home, in the gym or on the go.

Partners in fitness
Barney Harrison, CCO of The Gym Group, told HCM: “Our purpose as an organisation is to break down the barriers to fitness for all and the introduction of Fiit Pods and Fiit Studio classes helps us bring expert instruction, added motivation and an immersive fitness experience to our members around the clock.

“We’ve worked hard to be in a position to be the first UK gym operator that can host the Fiit live leaderboard HIIT classes alongside its extensive library of classes.”

Dan Shellard, CEO of Fiit, said: “As we seek to transform the lives of many by providing a credible and affordable solution to working out wherever you are, this is a natural evolution of our ongoing partnership with The Gym Group.”

The partnership between Fiit and The Gym Group has already seen Fiit being made available – at home – to those with a Gym Group membership.

Dan Shellard
Dan Shellard
How does the tech work?

The Fiit Pods have been introduced to support members who don’t know where to start in the gym or who prefer individual training sessions over group classes. They give members the opportunity to be guided through classes based on their fitness levels, allowing them to learn new skills and movement patterns.

They can be used by all Gym Group members at selected studios, giving them the same experience as with their gym log-in details.

Whether members are existing users or are new to Fiit, they’ll have the ability to work out on-demand with Fiit at the touch of a button.

The Fiit Studios have been launched to bring Fiit’s live leaderboard classes into a gym environment, giving Gym Group members more flexibility and choice as to how and where they work out.

With no trainer present, members connect and follow digitals workout running off a large screen.

Classes are scheduled throughout the week allowing members to book in advance. This can be done using a QR code on the screen once the ‘10 minutes till class’ warning is displayed or they can book via the app. Users can track their heart rate and reps (provided they’re wearing a tracker which supports rep counting) to earn Fiit Points on the leaderboard. They’ll also be able to connect with the wider Fiit community taking on the classes, allowing users to work out from all over the world at the same time.

Tell us about the trackers

Those attending a scheduled Fiit class will need to bring one of the 25 fitness trackers Fiit is compatible with if they are looking to connect to the leaderboard.

The functionality is the same, however, the leaderboard is designed to push them harder, challenging those in the class to race to the top.

The leaderboard only displays Fiit Points, rather than reps or calories burned, bringing an added level of competition to the interactive format. It measures how hard members are working based on their heartrate. The harder they work the more points they accumulate.

Fiit Studios will offer group HIIT training with Fiit equipment and bodyweight group classes scheduled throughout the day

Fiit is working across many channels – interactive TV for the home market, in-gym with the Fiit Pods and Studios. How do these relate? Might members cancel their membership and work out with Fiit at home instead?

We’re not seeking to replace the gym, but rather to provide a convenient solution for those who choose a hybrid. The gym will always exist, but with working from home the new norm, gyms must make both physical and digital services available.

So we see the two working simultaneously together. At Fiit, we’re committed to providing a convenient solution for those looking to work out. Whether it’s at home, in the gym, or outside, Fiit gives members the flexibility to work out at a time and place that suits them.

Peoples’ workout habits have changed. Technology has given consumers more autonomy than before the pandemic and we don’t believe they’re going back. Research shows around 50 per cent of digital fitness users are planning to adopt a hybrid approach alongside other fitness activities even after the pandemic ends. A multi-channel approach has always been part of Fiit’s vision for the future of fitness.

We must adapt to give people the freedom to work out in ways that suit them best. Businesses that adapt to the hybrid trend are the ones that will survive. We’re hugely excited by what this partnership holds for both Fiit and The Gym Group – it’s paving the way for other gyms to follow suit.

The Fiit Studios have been added to the gym floor / photos: The Gym Group
Barney Harrison
The Gym Group
Barney Harrison / PHOTO: The gym group
Have you piloted the idea with any members and what was the feedback?

The pilot started at the beginning of August 2021. Prior to this, we engaged in extensive proposition testing as part of the ideation and design stages. Member feedback will be central to the appraisal of the pilot.

What’s the customer journey?

In the Fiit Studio, classes are timetabled – we’ll have up to 15 scheduled classes a day throughout the week, giving members increased flexibility and more choice to work out at a time that suits them.

The Fiit Pods have been installed to allow members to train independently – similar to the core Fiit offer – the 700+ classes are available on-demand.

For those who are looking for more variety, the pods give our members access to hundreds of HIIT, Pilates, Yoga, weights, mobility and breathwork classes in an efficient format. Whether they’re looking for a 10-min cooldown or a 25 /40min workout, Fiit’s range of classes are available at the touch of a button.

How much floor area do they take up and what has been taken out to make room for them?

Fiit Studios are integrated into our functional areas and are semi open plan and we haven’t removed any kit in the pilot gyms to make room. To help you visualise, in terms of area, Fiit Pods take up the space of two treadmills.

What are the COVID-secure SOPs for the Fiit Studios and Pods? Do they have air-con, for example?

Like all our studio spaces, class limits have been set to ensure there’s safe and adequate space to train and we’re providing the means for members to sanitise their hands and equipment before and after use.

The spaces for Fiit Studios and Fit Pods share the same fresh air ventilation and air conditioning as the rest of the gym space. Our HVAC systems provide our gym spaces with 100 per cent fresh air ventilation.

If people use equipment during the classes, who’s responsible for putting these away?

As with all kit in our gym we ask the members of gym communities to take responsibility for cleaning and returning kit.

As part of our ongoing commitment to members and teams we carry out robust cleaning regimes in all gyms, including equipment and high touch point areas, regularly.

Will these Fiit offerings be a new upsell and if so, how much will they cost?

This is something we’re working on, with further details being announced in due course.

Will they be marketed as part of The Gym Group offering to bring in new members?

Yes, the partnership will be marketed to new and existing members. We’ll be sharing further information across our marketing channels soon.

Do you expect these offerings to attract a new type of member?

Our research has identified a number of new and addressable audiences, as well as our current base and beyond. With over a third of UK consumers now owning a wearable device and with this number only set to increase, the introduction of the new Fiit Studio features and Fiit Pods allows us to respond to this increased demand for digital fitness.

How will your competitors react?

We’re responding to the changing needs of our members, as I’m sure our competitors are doing. We’ll be focusing on the things we can control as part of the pilot, reviewing the responses and adapting as appropriate.

The Fiit Pods enable users to chose their workout from a menu of 700 classes / PHOTO: The gym group
A new home workout option

In addition to its deal with The Gym Group, Fiit has recently launched a new interactive fitness app that is capable of creating a fully interactive fitness experience directly via a user’s TV.

​​By enabling access to their choice of fitness tracker within the Fiit app on Sky Q, Amazon Fire TV and Samsung Smart 2018-2021 TVs, users will see their live stats appear on screen as they work out.

Previously only visible by connecting a mobile phone to the TV, the new solution will allow users to link to their TVs directly and view their Fiit points, rep counts, heart-rate zoning, and the number of calories burned in real-time.

The new functionality adds to Fiit’s ecosystem and is part of the company’s strategy to “transform the living room into a fully immersive and interactive boutique fitness studio”.

Fiit CEO, Daniel Shellard, told HCM; “This latest function allows us to continue advancing the interactive fitness experience while ensuring we continue on the path of bringing the gym home.”

Fiit’s new app enables users to see live stats in real-time on their TV / PHOTO: The gym group
Fiit background briefing

Fiit was founded in 2017 by a team of former Google employees – the platform offers more than 700 workouts – either on-demand or in scheduled group classes with live leaderboards – plus 20 training plans tailored to different fitness goals.

The Fiit app is compatible with more than 25 fitness devices, including Fitbit, MyZone, Samsung Watch and Apple Watch. Users can also purchase a Fiit device, enabling them to track their progress, reps, calories and join live leaderboard classes.

Originally published in Health Club Management 2021 issue 8

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