As gyms and studios re-open and the excitement of in-person live fitness classes is celebrated by fitness business owners and their clients, many are still finding value in continuing to offer and take online classes. What started out as a solution to lockdowns and stay at home restrictions, resulted in opening the door for many businesses to grow and expand, welcome back customers who lived in distant locations, as well as invite more members to classes at once. There is no denying that gyms, studios, and their clients have found many ways to benefit from online classes, so much so that they're not done with them just yet (or ever).
Fran Flin, owner of Flin's Fitness is a great example of a fitness business owner who has seen that delivering virtual fitness classes and on-demand content has given more value to her clients and her business. Between herself and her staff of coaches (including two of her daughters), Fran strives to deliver something for everyone and has worked above and beyond over the past year to ensure that not only the quality of her service remains high, but that her clients experience something fresh in every single class.
We sat down with Fran to ask her about her experience running online classes and now delivering on-demand content, and how she keeps her online services engaging and fresh. Follow along to read what she had to say and to get some of her ideas on running in-person classes and live classes side by side. They may even inspire you to take the hybrid approach in your own business.
I'm Fran and I run Flin's Fitness in England and I have been running it for about 25 years now. I am a firefighter and just recently left the service, but all that time I was running my business alongside my firefighting role. Originally I started it as a way to stay fit as a firefighter but my business ended up taking over and I ended up being really passionate about it.
What was your initial response to online classes and how did having the tools in your software ease the transition?
When the pandemic began, I had to find a way to make online classes work. Almost as fast as I was able to get my classes to transition to Zoom, TeamUp had an integrated system with Zoom up and running. Now Zoom went right through TeamUp and it took away all the anxiety of getting people into rooms, giving them a code, it was all embedded within TeamUp. I pivoted fast and TeamUp pivoted just as fast and that was brilliant.
The feature is amazing and I would say I have not had one problem with Zoom integrated with TeamUp. I have not had one problem with a single class in a year. It's been so seamless and so faultless.
The second is on-demand. I was messing around with my Wix website and setting up a subscription service on my website for on-demand and it was very time consuming just to even upload the videos. However, while I was figuring it out, TeamUp offered on-demand and I could tell straight away how easy it was. Again it was just so good, so quick, so simple, and we've had a really great response from that. It's been fabulous.
How has including on-demand content in your offering benefited your customers?
I have two ways you can access on-demand. I have bundled up all our Zoom recordings and bearing in mind how much free content there is out there on Youtube, priced it as competitively as I could so I have a low priced rolling subscription for just on-demand. For my clients that take my timetabled online classes, there is a monthly membership for unlimited online classes and the on-demand is included in that membership.
If members miss an online class, it will be one of the latest additions listed in the on-demand library. Although I have hundreds of great classes from ages back on there, it’s the most recent ones which get the most views at the moment.
What are your major takeaways from running online fitness classes and on-demand content and what advice do you have for other fitness businesses offering online services?
Things have changed. It used to be a single class a week in a church hall back in the day, but things have greatly evolved in community fitness and we in particular offer a lot of niche classes. We can be a little bit different with what we offer and it's not really good enough for us to be doing old-style workouts anymore. We want to keep things fresh and move with the times.
Allow your team to add in their specialities
I have 10 instructors, some of whom focus more on live face to face classes, as well as a smaller group that host online classes with me in the studio. Two of them are my daughters who are personal trainers and they run their online classes here in the studio. It's great because they have different approaches and that keeps it fresh. They are able to bring in a younger crowd along with our older clients too!
Look at trends and what's new
I am always looking at fitness trends. I am very busy on Instagram and I will look at what's going on and always try to hook onto something that catches peoples' imaginations and think about how to bring it into a class.
Update your offering and classes to incorporate what your clients have at home
I try to never do the same thing twice, so even if you're doing the same weekly class, you can package it differently. People are limited to what they have at home, so online we use just dumbbells or do equipment free. It's all about thinking outside the box and keeping things fresh. In face to face classes, people enjoy a planned programme, whereas online you have to tweak it, change it and avoid it being same. Even changing the music helps keep it fresh.
Find the platform and format that works best for you and your clients
Personally speaking, I know lots of instructors have had success doing online classes via Facebook and Instagram Live, but I like that over Zoom you can see each other. You can chat before, talk after, with plenty of banter during the class! For me, this is better than a one-sided class run over social media.
Be professional about your delivery and services, especially pricing
People don't like it when you give them something for free and then you try to charge them for it after a period of time. Keep your business as is without too many price changes and keep it as professional as it can be from the get-go! Know your worth and do the absolute best to offer these services at good value for money. I did some NHS fundraisers and some free stuff, but these were special masterclasses.
Stay positive for you and your clients
I really did look at it and say it has to be Zoom and it has to work. There were a couple of weeks at the very start where there were mistakes and it wasn't smooth, but people stayed with us and stayed positive and that really worked for us. Lots of people embraced online classes, some people didn't, but they tried it, and that's really all you can ask!
What are your plans for resuming your live classes alongside your online classes?
I am excited but nervous because people have become really self-sufficient with their exercise. Lots of people are walking or they have started or returned to running, so it’s hard to know how many people are coming back to classes. Also, I have had to reprice because of Covid restrictions on the number of people allowed to be inside. I am carefully floating out 20 live classes which is reduced from what I used to have, and I am also offering 20 online classes. I will have hybrid options with class bundles including a certain number of live classes, unlimited online, and on-demand access that's included in every package. I am trying to give value for money to people and still encourage them to use online because I want that to last.
What is your advice for fitness business owners who are unsure of continuing with their online classes now that live in-person classes have resumed?
As you’ve seen, I’m a firm believer that online and on-demand fitness is here to stay, however it’s quiet at the moment while people are going out, or enjoying their face-to-face classes once again. It’s easy to think that people are sick of online! My main thought is that you have all this great online content you could bank and use to set up an On Demand library. Even if it was all on a Facebook group, you can save these classes and convert to Youtube or Vimeo using an app designed specifically for this. Don’t close the door to online as I’ve found that despite being keen to come back to live classes, lots are loving the mix of live, but the convenience of online to slot in a quick workout where they may have not been able to do a live one. Maybe tick over with On Demand and revisit the online as the winter draws in and people are less inclined to go out.
Thank you for sharing Fran!
To learn more about TeamUp's online class and On Demand features, check out our guide to using your online services, here.
To hear more from other TeamUp customers like Fran and their experiences running their online classes and on-demand content, browse through our TeamUp customer stories, here.