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Virtual Memberships – How Operators Can Move Memberships Online

Given everything that’s happening in the world today, it’s difficult to comprehend what the full impact of the coronavirus outbreak will be when we’re out the other side. However, one thing is certain, gyms and leisure facilities need to find alternative ways of connecting and retaining members. This is why it’s more important than ever to pull out all the stops to keep members active and engaged.

Although acquisition and retention strategies can be extremely difficult and can take a lot of time, staff, or resources, it is definitely worth the effort. A Bain & Company report has shown that increasing member retention rates by just 5% has been shown to increase profits by between 25% and 95%. But how can operators increase membership retention when rules are changing rapidly and social distancing is still encouraged?

Virtual membership options are becoming increasingly popular as a means to provide fun and innovative ways to support members to stay fit and well without having to physically attend a facility. This blog will discuss how businesses can build and maximise virtual membership to become a permanent fixture to boost member retention rates and profit.

Providing value to your members

Virtual memberships allow members to stay connected no matter where they are. Maybe even more so when they have the option of engaging with your club from the comfort of their own home and the eradication of time or location restrictions. That is why it is important to develop your brand’s outlet to deliver quality content and services that is of benefit to your members.

Although virtual memberships are growing in popularity, you still need to provide something special and of value to entice members in.

This means that your content needs to be easy, convenient, and simple to access. If you’re planning on offering virtual memberships to your gym or leisure facility, perhaps consider workout videos that are easy to do remotely.

Good examples of these remote workouts include the Nike Training App, which offers a varied video series of gym workouts which are available for free through the app, or the new PureGym At Home scheme, which gives members virtual workouts to try at home during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Of course, there’s also Xn Move, which allows you to promote your own branded livestream site, maximise conversion and retention of members, publish your virtual timetables, stay connected with your members, and share reviews. This allows you to reap all the benefits of the previous examples, but to cut down work and time by using an out-of-the-box solution.

Tips for successful virtual memberships

  • Identify the services that you can offer virtually. Exercise classes are a clear option, but you could also consider:
    • Personal training sessions that are tailored to the specific member and any equipment that they may have in their home
    • The most in-demand exercise classes or types to maximize engagement
    • A mixture of lengths, intensities, and types of classes to suit a wide variety of members and to give them choice
    • ‘Accountability Coaches’ for individual members that might need extra positive reinforcement to stay motivated
  • Choose the instructors and trainers that will build online communities. Keeping members informed is one thing but keeping them moving is equally vital for boosting engagement. Many members will have formed new habits during lockdown and may decide to use your site differently in the future. Now is the time to foster two-way conversations between your club and members. Prescribing tailored fitness challenges around members interests is a great way to encourage engagement, then ask your audience to share their photos and videos to ramp up the sense of community.
  • Film all fitness class content. If staff need to film teaching materials from their homes, you will need to make sure they are equipped with the right fitness equipment. This may mean that instructors have to borrow benches or weights. You will also need to consider whether these instructors will need additional support from other staff, such as for filming, sound, or editing.
  • Set up a members-only area – this can be on your website, or a member-only app. It gives you a place for all your virtual membership content. You could even have a virtual members-only website that will allow access to your valuable content resources, such as video content, discussion forums, expert guidance, and news and updates on club developments.
  • Make sure your joining system can allow virtual members to sign-up and pay their memberships online. You don’t want new members to have to physically come into your facility to sign up for a virtual membership; it defeats the point and turns customers off.
  • Engage clients before, during, and after classes. You could consider sending SMS messages to your members to encourage them to workout with one of your virtual classes, and then send a follow up afterwards.

In summary

The one good thing to come out of the Covid-19 crisis is the pioneering new digital content to keep members engaged during these unprecedented times.

At-home workouts have been one of the defining features of 2020, and it’s becoming clear that virtual membership can be extremely useful for engaging members and stopping cancelled memberships.

If you offer valuable and useful content to your members at an attractive price, then your virtual memberships are likely to be successful.

To find out how Xn Leisure could help you improve your gym business, please contact us via

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