Of course the resilient and committed people of the fitness industry found ways to keep moving forward toward their goals even in 2020.

We caught up with our resident expert and industry pulse-taker, Chris Gallo, to get his take on how businesses are flexing and evolving to meet the current conditions and what it means for the future. You can watch the first part of this series and read an excerpt below. 


Get a deep-dive into the current state of the industry in the ebook Building New Growth.


Question: Are hybrid fitness models here to stay?

Answer: A hundred percent. It's a $45 billion industry in the United States, a hundred billion dollars, I think worldwide. We've already seen how the pandemic has negatively affected the industry here in 2020, but like with the rest of the economy: medical care, learning, and higher education, office jobs are now made remote and hybrid, fitness will be virtually based. There is no doubt about it.

Even if a vaccine comes out here in the next month, that over the next year, fitness is going to continue to rely on virtual exercise.

So it comes down to the psychology and behaviors of people. And when you really think, by and large, why people are coming and why they join your studio, take that into consideration as you create your playbook. I think if anything has been beneficial with COVID operators it's that they have learned not only how to be more clean, and more economical. They've certainly learned how to embrace technology into their playbook and go to a more virtual play.


Question: Can studios actually create a competitive advantage with the new hybrid model?

Answer: There is no doubt about it. And I'm not talking about the surge in at-home fitness. I mean that existed. It is certainly taking on a life of its own growing exponentially. However, what I'm talking about, the brick and mortar studios and gyms incorporating virtual and on-demand into their playbook. I look at it as if it's kind of the mantra of "let your software be an extension of your clubs or studio, and your studio be the epicenter, or maybe even your nucleus, so to speak of your own fitness community."

I think that's truly the most relevant point here is this is all about creating a community. If you have a strong virtual playbook, you can actually save time for the member. They may feel more comfortable. Some of them are doing certain workouts at home, they have more control of the workup. They actually create their space and environment. So if you give them the tools to succeed, you can reach more people. There may be more people who embrace this type of tactic. 


Question: How should studios decide on their mix or offerings?  

Answer: We track at home or virtual workouts versus in club and about 20% are still remote. That's not going to change, but the software allows you to track it. So I can tell you our stats, but a gym or studio owner could actually say, Hey, by the way, we had 75 people show up to class today, 20 took this class, tend to those 11 that took that standard booking, with statistics for scheduling, but I can take it a step further. I can tell you that 17 out of the 20, did it in club, and that three, did it remotely. So we can actually gauge who, when, why or people exercise remotely and cater packages to them. So again, using your software to execute and to make your club better and more efficient and more economical, I think those are the things we're learning.



Question: What are some of the pricing advantages studios have in this new model?

Answer: With my panoply of membership options, a hybrid membership that allows at-home and in-club activities becomes part of my playbook. So maybe I can extend my reach to people that wouldn't join because they didn't have the time to drive to the club every day or three days a week. Maybe they'll go one day a week and do things at home. So there's a whole attractiveness to this, where if you're smart, you can really change what you offer based on how you've done during COVID and what members want.



Question: What advantages will this provide to their community as a whole?

Answer: You can reach a wider audience, right? Those that may be intimidated, not only about the exercise, but about COVID during this time period you can reach them. Maybe they have the fear of failure, fear of being sick. With virtual memberships, you can overcome that, and there are a lot of benefits. You can create steady earnings, with sales packages, and a membership-based model that makes it easy to buy. You gotta have software that can do this: easy sign up from a mobile app, easy sign up from a website. And it may not be a gym in-the-door-membership. It may still be a package. But they're still buying it remotely. And they're able to then login and engage with you and your staff without having to go into the facility.


Question: Is this new?

Answer: So this is not new. We all will work out at home. We always have. It's how much will we rely on that home workout? And how much of us will miss that brick and mortar that, that in-person experience and because of that in-person experience in the maintaining of those bonds in that community, how many of us will maintain a membership-based on that club, that studio truly making me feel like I'm a part of something bigger? That's going to come from communication and that's going to come from incorporating workouts that can be done at home for many, many reasons, depending on who the person is in the population.


Question: What is a unique experience members could have with this model?

Answer: There are all sorts of fears that we're now faced with. Those individuals can work out from home and guess what, you know, those that are really executing on the virtual stage right now,  they're smart. You can have it where it's interactive. And I do a one-on-one workout. That camera is on, right? I'm training you. And I'm watching you, I'm analyzing. Most people that do virtual in a group environment, many of them, I shouldn't say most, but many want the camera off. They just want to look in and see the instructor and feel a part of the class.

But if I don't feel comfortable with you watching me do my squats in my pajamas, or I just don't feel comfortable with you watching me work out, period, I have that capability of feeling a part of the community from home. Now it gives them more flexibility. So when time is an excuse, right, I'm working from home. Now I can just wake up, not at 5:30 to get to the gym. For my 6:00 AM class, I could wake up at 5:57 and do the workout in my pajamas.


Learn more and get some of the most current stats in the industry in the ebook Building New Growth.