Steal these 8 Ideas to Achieve the X-Factor (at any budget)

In part 1 of this series, we outlined the 4 components needed to gain the X-Factor and win the fitness market. But, what are some ways you can incorporate these elements into your business plan?


High/ Low Budget Ways to Compete with Digital Fitness

From Peloton to Barry’s Bootcamp, there are some brands that seemed to have “hit the nail on the head” in terms of creating memorable and engaging fitness experiences.

The rise of on-demand fitness throughout the pandemic has not replaced in-person fitness, however it has certainly challenged brick and mortar studios and gyms to raise the bar of consumer experience.

But, very few businesses have the budget these big box gyms boast. So, how can you replicate production, distribution, talent, and technology at your studio to continue to compete locally and give your business the competitive edge?

Here are some specific ways you can incorporate the X-Factor into your business model, no matter your budget.




The first component to consider is the production: the experience your members have from their first impression to their last. The businesses who are able to produce and motivate a great workout will be able to attract consumers and drive repeat bookings.

Peloton has been known for its production of its live and on-demand classes. Not only does Peloton operate in-person studios, but they also know how to produce a high quality digital experience that brings fitness to your home, as if you are in the live studio. Similarly, the lighting and music of Barry’s Bootcamp contributes to a “club-like” experience, with the added benefit of getting in a challenging workout.


How to Compete:

Low Budget: Many colleges and universities are looking for experiential learning opportunities. Collaborate with a group of students that are majoring in or taking a class in video production or event management. Work with them over the course of a semester to produce a fitness class.

High Budget: Convert your studio or a part of your facility into a production location to build out and produce your own content. Run live in-person classes during production, and build out a digital extension of your brand. This will elevate the in-person experience while also giving the illusion that at-home viewers are also training in your studio.



Next, it’s important to look at how people can consume your content. Generally speaking, there are two main modalities: physical (in-person) and digital (virtual, app, remote, video) consumption. Make your programming accessible to your target audience. For brick and mortar businesses, you should consider finding ways to leverage both in some capacity.

Peloton is the gold standard as it relates to distribution. Although they do not have the same physical presence that boutique fitness studios have, they have determined a way to unconventionally bridge the gap between physical and digital consumption with their physical equipment (the bike) and the software and mobile app.


How to Compete:

Low Budget: Download a Peloton Conversion Chart for your bike stations and offer other conversion charts throughout your facility. You can still preserve your in-person distribution model while making your facility digital fitness friendly. This is a vital first step, especially as many consumers find themselves balancing a hybrid on-demand/ in-person fitness regimen.

High Budget: Embrace your physical locations, but develop a strong hybrid fitness distribution plan. Supplement your in-person offerings with access to digital fitness equipment to develop a long-term strategy and gain a deeper understanding of why people are so bought in on Peloton, Tonal, Tempo, Mirror, and other at-home fitness equipment.



The third component of the X-Factor is talent. Talent includes your instructors, trainers, and coaches — the single greatest asset at your studio. If you’ve ever played a sport or taken a personal training class, you’ve likely had a coach or trainer that you were loyal to and loved.

Peloton was one of the first and only brands to truly understand the value of a high quality instructor. But, this value has also been seen at the local brick and mortar level. Think back to a few years ago, during the height of Zumba. People were traveling 20-30 minutes to take classes with a particular instructor, even if they weren’t a member at that gym. These instructors were like local celebrities, bringing in people throughout the community.

Related: Steal these 3 Strategies to Improve Trainer Retention by 8x


How to Compete:

Low Budget: Host a “media day” with your staff and trainers to produce strong, high-quality photo and video assets. This content can be repurposed into ads, videos, and social media content. It can also be used by individual trainers or coaches to build their personal brand online. As a result, you build your staff into local celebrities.

High Budget: Influencer marketing has been a rapidly growing phenomena. Reach out to popular fitness influencers and bring this individual in to teach an in-person class at your studio. While this could be used as a one-off opportunity, you can also contract this individual out to have a more consistent presence. This will bring more members through your door, and encourage them to stick around. Or, make these events exclusively for members to encourage memberships and secure some additional recurring revenue.



To pull everything together, it is important to leverage technology to deliver on your value promise. Technology allows you to merge the in-person and digital channels together. Many brick and mortar businesses are slow to adopt technology, however it’s extremely important to understand how to leverage technology to enhance your business and client experiences.

Whether you are looking for software to optimize your business operations and deliver a premium client experience, or you are looking to invest in some of this digital technology that is currently on the market, technology will help you bridge the gap to the modern, digital fitness consumer.


How to Compete:

Low Budget: Train your staff to become experts in analyzing data for popular wearable devices or equipment. Add value to your current offerings through providing an in-depth analysis of a client’s Whoop or Fitbit data. The ability to show progress, aid in recovery, and quantify results will help you prove the value of your offerings.

High Budget: Invest in technology tools or data-driven equipment to continue to modernize and enhance your in-person fitness experience and add value for your clients. Invest in a couple of Peloton bikes or Tonal machines for use by your members. Be known as the facility that always has the most up-to-date equipment and technology. Create a frictionless workout experience for both on-demand and in-person fitness consumers.


What this Means

Despite the draws and flashiness of digital fitness, it is important for brick and mortar locations to balance the adaptation to industry change with the value of an in-person offering. It can be tempting to want to go digital or grow globally through leveraging on-demand fitness. But, at the end of the day, those people on the other side of world aren’t going to be the ones coming to your facility. So, when looking to implement digital into your physical location, remain intentional about the tools you choose to invest in. First impressions and touch points can make or break a client’s experience.


Upper Hand is what studios, gyms, and academies use to grow their business. Get a demo today.

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