The studios are dense. That is why Belly-Burn-Antonia and Six-Pack-Tobi motivate their customers via Zoom and Youtube. People still understand.
No question, it would be important right now: sport. In order to do something against Lagerkoller, to arm your body and mind against the virus. Scientists are already warning of the consequences of a lack of exercise. But the gyms are closed and the clubs cannot offer their sports programs either. The studios literally bring this into existence. While many customers have long-term subscriptions, they can suspend their contributions as long as they are closed.
Many studios therefore rely on online courses, such as the fitness chain for women, Mrs. Sporty. The trainers now advise and accompany the members on the phone, via Skype and other social media channels. This is made possible by an app that contains the individual training plans of the members and the individual training videos even in normal times. This means they can keep fit even on vacation or on business trips. The trainers would already know the members well. Therefore, they could also look after and accompany them from a distance even in Corona times, explains Marion Meytadier, owner of the Mrs. Sporty Club in Munich-Solln and Pasing. “The trainers motivate the women, for example by phone, Whatsapp or Skype, to keep to the training times or inquire how the last training went,” says Meytadier. “Especially in the turbulent times, it is important to maintain continuity so that the training routine is not lost,” she explains.
“Belly Burn with Antonia” and “Six Pack Intense with Tobi”
In an email, she asked members for solidarity. “I am a sole trader and of course rely on your membership fees to continue to be able to pay the fixed costs, which all continue to run in full,” she writes. “I want to offer my employees, partners and suppliers the financial security that each of us would certainly like. This can only be done together and with consideration for one another.” The Munich chain “Fit Star” also relies on digital content. Videos were uploaded to Youtube in which the trainers do exercises for at home – “Belly Burn with Antonia” or “Six Pack Intense with Tobi”. In addition, paying members can take part in courses from home via an online platform.
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“It is a smart move to bring the customer experience in the current situation out of the studio,” says Jens Hogreve, professor of service management at the Catholic University of Eichstätt-Ingolstadt. Because if the gym suddenly doesn’t open anymore, there is a risk that customers will forget it – and sign out sooner or later. “On the other hand, if you continue to interact with them, you will maintain personal contact and thus the bond,” says Hogreve.
At the Urban Sports Club, a platform that offers flat rates for gyms and many other organizers of leisure activities, there is already a wide range of online courses in which you can be connected to a trainer via the video conference platform Zoom. From Berlin you can also take part in a course in Stuttgart. “More than 300 studios are already participating,” says Moritz Kreppel, one of the co-founders of the Urban Sports Club. There have already been more than 5000 courses, and more than 10,000 participants have checked in. Kreppel wants to pass on 80 percent of the income to the studios, because “if the studios don’t survive, nobody will be helped”. Nevertheless, the studios miss a lot of money, they also sell things like energy bars and protein shakes – which of course is not possible now.
Urban Sports Club has contracts with around 12,000 studios in Europe, customers can use certain services depending on the subscription model, but are not bound to a studio or a chain. Kreppel believes that the digital offering will remain even after the crisis. How it will be designed, however, is open.
The Cyberconcept platform, which it claims to be Europe’s market leader in the field of virtual fitness, relies on voluntariness: It opens its portal free of charge to everyone, but asks the customers of fitness studios not to interrupt or cancel their subscriptions in return, but to keep the membership fees running and thereby stabilize the industry.
So far, customers have shown great understanding of the special situation
By contrast, many smaller companies are still in the learning phase when it comes to digitalization, as Wolfgang Stein’s case shows: “This is a digitalization crash course that we are all doing.” Stein owns a dance school in Hagen, a family business with about 20 employees. It has been closed since mid-March, but customers do not have to do without their courses entirely: his daughter Lena quickly recorded videos and even streamed some Zumba courses live. However, this is not that easy – because various legal questions have to be clarified, it is primarily about music licenses and the question of how to ensure that only paying customers get the videos.
There is also an important difference compared to the fitness studios, Stein says: There, members often pay a fixed monthly fee and can use the offers as often as they want. In the dance school, on the other hand, customers pay a price for a specific service. For example, a basic course with six units or a Zumba course with one hour per week. “We cannot close the first dance season from January to Easter,” says Stein. So move everything backwards. “Of course we are worried about how it will be. At the moment, every day is a loss of sales day.”
So far there has been no negative feedback from course participants, on the contrary: the understanding is great. This is one of the reasons why Lena Stein is looking forward to the time after the crisis when she no longer only dances with her participants in the virtual hall: “The dance school thrives on the local atmosphere. When the crisis is over, we will again offer significantly fewer digital courses. “