Maximizing ROI and the Personal Experience for Fitness Facility Stakeholders

One of the biggest challenges for fitness facilities is the need for continual innovation. Those who frequent fitness facilities often come (and come back) for the workout experience which is made up of two critical elements: the quality of the environment (meaning the space and the equipment available), and what you can do within that environment (meaning the exercises and programming that maximizes the use of the space and equipment).

Fitness centers are fueling amenity wars across the country in multi-tenant offices and housing communities, on corporate or school campuses and in public and private recreation environments as millions of dollars are spent to create modern, comfortable, accessible fitness spaces that attract visitors again and again. The investment in equipment, flooring, design and usage creates a substantial asset for any community where fitness and wellness are valued, but that’s only part of the equation.

Once these assets are created, the challenge shifts to maximizing the use of the equipment and space in innovative ways that keep community members coming back. Some facilities are staffed to lead classes and provide exercise guidance, which requires a significant ongoing investment, while many fitness facilities are unstaffed and in need of some sort of programming support. For either scenario, video-assisted fitness programming is becoming a required standard to go along with any fitness experience.

Now, there are literally thousands of instructional fitness video options out on the market. Anyone with access to YouTube or Instagram could conceivably create their own fitness programming following, and multitudes have. It seems like any personal trainer, nutritional consultant or fitness competitor has an app to promote their own personal brand of fitness and oftentimes books, clothing or other related items that go with it. Some brands like Peloton have invested millions in “celebrity” talent to drive fitness programming options, requiring subscription revenues from any facility or individual that accesses their programming. Equipment brands like Life Fitness and others have fitness programming options that relate to their own equipment platforms, but that can be limited to specific equipment lines. There are many instructional fitness apps that have been developed for individual users, though even a paid subscription to a fitness app comes with advertising and ties to other sales pitches through the apps that can decrease their appeal to consumers.

One breakthrough idea is to white-label fitness programming, so that those who make the investment in the facility and the equipment can also brand the programming – getting credit for providing the full fitness experience.

“It’s frustrating to spend considerable time and resources to build a state-of-the-art fitness facility to attract clients, and then have to pay for programming to build someone else’s brand outside of your own,” said K. Erickson, customer experience manager for a multi-tenant office facility outside of Tempe, Arizona.

New options are emerging from companies like Functional Solutions, offering custom fitness video programming that can be customized and branded to whichever club, gym, rec center, company or apartment community that offers it in their facility. “We keep it simple and put our customers’ brands first, and that’s why we’re different,” said Dave Hannum, Functional Solutions CEO. The company offers an extensive video fitness library, updated daily, delivered through TV, kiosk or mobile app however end users prefer. All of it is branded with the client’s logo. Clients can pick specific exercises that go with the space and equipment they have available, or theme particular periods of time, whatever they want. It’s drag-and-drop simple to design your own workout options for your specific community, and all of it is branded with your logo (building your brand identity instead of a third party’s). For companies who consider fitness assets a competitive advantage, it’s important to keep the branding strong and tied directly to that advantage.

“We found that facilities wanted to customize and claim the full fitness investment, so that patrons know how much their facilities managers care about them and how close and responsive they are to their tenants’ needs,” added Hannum. “With the growth of functional fitness trends, we provide a huge library of options that can be customized very quickly for particular spaces, classes or concepts that engage particular communities in unique ways.”

Unlike other video programming options, Functional Solutions delivers smaller video “snippets” that can be easily and efficiently delivered to any facility that uses their platform. These snippets can be combined together and put in different sequences for fitness end-users to follow as they work out. Actually being able to visualize the movements is so much easier than trying to decipher workout elements on a white board! Facilities can post a single workout of the day to a basic television screen, or have a kiosk with a menu of workout options, or even text chosen workouts to an exerciser’s phone.

At one point early in its development, the Functional Solutions team was given two weeks to create a custom TV interface for a national fitness club franchise that was introducing a new HiiT class. The programming was created and rolled out to numerous locations to accompany instructor-led classes, leading to increased engagement and appreciation by end-users. “We have the ability to make simple video solutions work specifically for the customer versus the customer having to adapt to new technologies,” added Hannum. Using an iOS platform with an easy-to-use dashboard, any facility can control their fitness programming from a tablet if they’d like. A simple television can offer a single workout of the day option, a kiosk can offer a library that can be sent to an individual user’s mobile device, or a custom-branded mobile app can offer additional flexibility for how fitness programming is delivered. Set up as a simple subscription model, facilities can offer custom-branded fitness programming for an inexpensive monthly programming fee.

Functional Solutions isn’t the only company offering video fitness programming to TV, kiosk or mobile app, but they seem to be the leader in white-labeling the content to put customer brands front and center. With different facilities and communities having vastly different audiences, demographics, and tastes, it seemed almost too simple to put full custom control into the hands of clients versus a cookie-cutter approach used by many other fitness programmers. “We give our customers the toolbox to design and deliver their branded workout content to any device, anytime, anywhere,” explained Hannum. “Customers can either record their own exercise snippets or choose from our library, they can sequence the movements any way they want and create custom combinations that fit their space, their equipment, their customer preferences. Our customers’ brands get full credit for the fitness experience they invest in and create for their communities. Functional Solutions just provides the simple technology platform to make it happen.”

As new fitness facilities are being built, or spaces are being upgraded, the tie between equipment and programming is not to be ignored. In fact, the sync is considered to be necessary as part of the planning process. As user preferences impact how fitness spaces will be used, they’re also driving equipment decisions and vice versa. “The needs of the user clearly define that programming is a necessity, so choosing the right equipment to support that programming is important when enhancing patronage and user experience. When facilities choose equipment before deciding programming, it’s backwards and they end up with equipment and facilities that they don’t know how to program effectively.”

“Whether people want to just use floor space for their work out, use accessories or put themselves to the test with advanced strength training equipment, it’s great to program workouts that lead our community members to using the equipment options we’ve made available to them,” offered Erickson.

“Customers often ask us about programming that can help new or less familiar exercisers use equipment and fitness accessories in new ways,” commented Tim McCarthy, EVP of Sales and Marketing for Advanced Exercise. “Having instructional fitness programming definitely adds to the accessibility, safety and flexibility that people expect from their fitness facility.”

Integrating video technologies into the fitness experience is definitely becoming standard practice, as people are visual learners and the vast majority of individuals prefer to have video accompany any learning experience. Whether it’s small group training, instructor-led classes or individual workouts, the video programming support is a recognized valuable addition to any and all fitness regimens. It’s just one more piece of equipment, in many ways, that can be used to strengthen the connection between end-user and provider.

To find out more about integrating video programming more effectively with your fitness facility, or how to create a fitness experience that pairs equipment with custom-branded video programming that maximizes its use, contact your Advanced Exercise fitness design consultant.

About Advanced Exercise

Founded in 1986, Advanced Exercise is a leading fitness equipment and facility design resource, representing more than 30 equipment brands to bring clients the best new or used equipment solutions to maximize the use of available space and meet the needs of a diverse community of fitness amenity end users. For more information on fitness equipment and facility design services, visit www.advancedexercise.com or call 800-520-1112 to connect with one of Advanced Exercise’s experts.