Member Experience: Is Self-Service the New Full-Service?

Fitness Studio Member Experience

It’s clear to see. The world has gone digital. 

With screens allowing clients and members to do everything from obtaining initial information about a gym or studio, registering for classes, and checking in at the location, the need for personalized, face-to-face communication is vastly diminished. In the midst of a pandemic that has forced would-be gym goers to stay home, it’s become more obvious that many of the things we previously accomplished in a facility or studio can be done without personalized interaction with instructors or front-desk staff members. We live in a world of instant gratification, and on-demand is what the world now expects. 

In response to the constantly changing landscape, the fitness industry has taken to social media channels, on-demand services, and in-app streaming platforms to provide digital opportunities for members to interact with their businesses in a completely virtual manner. 

Many businesses in the fitness industry were already moving to a digital experience prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, but now the challenge to embrace digital tools has become critical. But by moving fully virtual–allowing clients and members to do everything from signing up, to scheduling sessions, and participating in classes–we explore the question: is self-service the new full-service for fitness businesses moving forward? 

Human connection and community in fitness

The popularity of boutique studios and big gyms has grown rapidly over the past few years, largely in part by the community, encouragement, and accountability developed in group fitness classes, small group training sessions, and personal training appointments. In fact, it is partly because of the influx of technology that members are craving social cohesion and community more than ever. This is what has enabled the large-scale growth of studios and gyms, and what will continue to bring in new members in the future.

While studios have been forced to temporarily transition to an entirely virtual experience, what’s important is that our fitness instructors, our business owners, and the community of clients are still showing up, illuminating our desire for personalized human interaction, whether it’s via an interactive video workout or a livestream. 

Today, when we are forced to stay away from a fitness community that was built from group interaction, the need for human connection is even greater. With many studios taking to live workouts on social media outlets, we’ve seen that sense of community stand strong. 

It’s one of the things that is keeping us together while we are asked to stay apart.

Learn more about Upper Hand’s video analysis tools

Build relationships in the digital age

Though the digital fitness revolution was well on its way prior to March 2020, the Coronavirus pandemic has clearly been a catalyst for major change in the industry. But because studios and gyms have grown out of a need for community, encouragement, and accountability, we expect that moving forward, we will see businesses incorporating a hybrid approach to member experience services that combines cutting edge technology with a human touch. 

As we expect to experience a fully digital fitness world for the next few weeks or even months, fitness clubs and studios have a unique opportunity. In order for their member communities to survive, a new client experience will have to develop. However, this experience doesn’t have to be one that lacks human interaction. 

Clubs, studios, facilities, and gyms will need to embrace digital platforms and software that helps run their businesses. This pandemic has proven that facilities will be unable to continue without a platform that gives clients and members the ability to gain information, schedule, check-in, and experience workouts, though it’s equally imperative that we maintain that human interaction to continue the sense of community and belonging that comes with joining a new gym.

In order to do our part, and stay at home, we need those outlets that make staying at home even easier. With movies, books, music all available to us on-demand, our fitness should be as well.

As we navigate uncertain times like today, it’s important to think ahead and be ready to hit the ground running when things blow over. This is temporary, and it’s important your clients know that as well. Think outside the box and find ways to check in with your clients and find ways to continue to help them achieve their fitness goals. For ideas on how to continue providing value for your clients and members, check out our list here. 

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