If your goal is to engage more people, then running a fitness business that combines in-person and online can help you reach a wider audience, add resilience to your business, and grow a bigger community.
Typically, you’ll be in a space teaching clients in person whilst also live-streaming to clients at home. This means location becomes less of a restriction and you’re able to attract clients from further afield.
As for your clients, the hybrid model offers a great way to help them feel empowered and in control. Here is why everyone is jumping on the hybrid business model, and why you should too:
A business that offers both online and in-person adds to its potential to expand more rapidly. The ability to flex to changing customer needs, societal upheaval and to adapt to different consumer patterns provides a competitive edge and resilience.
With online delivery, the cost to you of adding online content is the same whether you have 1 client or a thousand clients. This scalability is why adding an online element to your business is so powerful.
With the right systems in place to automate bookings, payments client communications etc., you can scale with no additional time commitments and no additional costs. This isn’t the case for in-person delivery, which has greater logistical constraints.
Adding an online element to your offering can take the pressure off trying to push your in-person sessions and risk becoming unsustainable. Burn-out is a real issue in the sector, and if you rely on delivering absolutely everything in person and you push too hard, you can quickly find yourself taking two steps back for every step forward.
A hybrid model is a great way to future-proof your business model too. It’s more in-sync with current consumer behaviour and aligned to what is happening across other industries. It’s no surprise online training came top of the list at the Top 20 Worldwide Fitness Trends for 2021.
#2 Increased customer retention
Recorded content and online resources aren’t just an alternative to your in-person delivery. It is a great way of adding value to your services and improving your customer service. This, in turn, increases retention.
The bonus is that the content that you have created for clients can also be repackaged and monetised for an online audience. For example, you can charge a subscription model, such as a membership or a 12-week course that grants them access to your on-demand library, as well as in-person. Then you can repackage that content up as an online-only service to an audience who couldn’t attend the in-person sessions.
Like most things, unless you build a strong supporting community, your clients won’t stick. As a business, you want to build adherence and although this doesn’t depend entirely on the fitness trainer offering regular check-ins, access to resources and motivation can help. Your community is perfect to create an organic accountable channel and build commitment.
#3 Better customer experience
Without a doubt, giving your customers a choice can turn into a winner or sometimes a nightmare if you aren’t careful and overdo it. The risk of attempting too much too soon is that you cannot provide your clients with a consistent experience.
However, with the right kind of automation, you will find that your business can adapt to all your clients’ (new and old alike) needs. All of our customers are different, some may favour in-person training, others may only attend your Livestream events, whilst others may use a combination of both. However you run your services, each customer touchpoint carries your brand and adds value to their journey.
This includes your website, social channels, emails, bookings and payment confirmation messages. Taking stock of your customers’ touch-points will help identify any communication gaps and the opportunity to address them.
How can you get started with a hybrid business model?
The two main considerations with hybrid classes are a) the admin and b) the audio & visual experience for your clients both live in-person and online.
With most in-person classes, music is played on speakers in the room, but with hybrid classes you’re adding the online element and probably will use your laptop for Zoom. Placing your laptop near the speakers won’t make for the best online experience so here’s what you need to consider:
Getting The Best Audio & Visual For Hybrid Classes
Here are some things to think about:
- Is the WiFi at your location strong? If it’s not as strong as you like, are you able to connect via an ethernet cable?
- Using a mixer allows you to control the sound so it’s optimal and synced, for those in-person and online (check out my exact set-up for Zoom here)
- If you use a webcam, it’s easier to get the right spot for your online picture. I pop mine on a tripod which is easier to manoeuvre than the laptop.
- As part of the mixer set-up, you’ll use a head mic which means your voice is mixed with the music (which you can control) and is fed directly through Zoom so on-line clients can hear you perfectly.
- Making your set up portable. I bought this organiser case which fits my mixer, webcam, mic and all cables perfectly. The big speaker for in-person lives at the studio and for Personal Training Clients, I bought a small portable speaker to connect to the laptop so I could hear them better through Zoom. I did a lot of research to find a light, compact speaker with an old school aux output to make connecting less stressful – this is what I went for.
Your Booking System Should Support Your Business
It is difficult to run a business, market it, and get bookings on your own. Staying on top of each customer’s packages can be difficult if you don’t have the support of software that will handle the administrative tasks at the back end of your business
With a booking system like Gymcatch, you can automate most tasks including the onboarding process of your customers and enjoy some of its features geared for hybrid success without costing the Earth.
- Zoom integration – Create your Zoom meetings for virtual sessions from the Gymcatch Portal without having to navigate between Gymcatch and Zoom
- On-Demand tools – Sell your online content as a standalone product or as part of an existing package
- In-app messaging – Communicate, motivate and grow your own community
- Notifications and reminders – Customise reminders and push email notifications to keep your customer up to date.
For more information on Gymcatch fitness management software and how it can help your yoga, pilates, dance or personal training business, drop your comments below or start a free trial using the code below:
Have you been considering a hybrid model for your fitness business?