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Hybrid Fitness for the Holidays: How Virtual Can Improve Retention This Season

By Lauren McAlister

With most fitness businesses operating in person again, you might be slowing down on promoting your virtual offerings. But as the holidays near, there are a variety of reasons to maintain a hybrid approach—providing both in-person and virtual services—and even ramp up marketing efforts for your at-home options.

Tailor to busy holiday schedules

The holidays are an especially hectic time. Encourage clients to stick to their routines by offering shorter workouts virtually. Nearly half (39% of consumers say their workouts are 30 minutes or less, so keep classes especially short and sweet—even 15-20 minutes will do the trick. These shorter classes will give clients more opportunities to fit in their favorite workouts and the chance to potentially try something new.

Test (and get festive with) new class types

Now may be the perfect time to test out new offerings—especially as we head into the New Year’s rush. And with a majority of consumers saying they prefer a fitness studio or gym with a variety of workout types available, branching out will be good for long-term retention.

When testing new virtual classes, lean into the season. Thinking of adding a mobility class to your permanent schedule come January? Offer a 20-minute stretching/mobility workout to your on-demand library and promote it as the perfect solution for post-holiday shopping. Supplementing your HIIT-focused schedule with yoga? Schedule a quick “beat holiday stress” Vinyasa flow.

Afterwards, follow up with your clients to get feedback (Messenger[ai] can help automate the process) to decide what makes sense long-term.

Engage with clients as though they’re in person

Remind your team that creating a welcoming, virtual environment is just as important as doing so in person. For live stream classes, have instructors greet each participant by name, cue as they normally would in person, and send follow ups after class. Our Fitness Instructor’s Checklist for Live Streaming provides even more tips on creating an exceptional live stream experience.

With on-demand classes, your instructors won’t be able to greet clients individually or offer customised corrections. That said, they can still create a sense of community where participants feel supported, even when they can't be physically present in your space. Have instructors explain each movement thoroughly upfront and provide modifications. That way, a variety of levels can be a part of the action.

Encourage community

Throughout the holiday season, you can keep members connected no matter where they are. Here’s how:

  • Host virtual dress up days (like holiday sock day or pajama day) or themed workouts—at-home jingle (kettle)bells or a winter solstice sequence class
  • Put on an at-home fitness or social media challenge that keeps clients moving and engaging with your brand
  • Ask attendees who are home for the holidays to invite friends and family to join in on the fun—an opportunity to gain new virtual clients from afar and keep current clients accountable
  • Create a special “travel edition” workout for folks who are going out of town for the holidays—their muscles may need a little TLC after a long flight or car ride
  • Send out a holiday-themed playlist to customers ahead of time to set the tone for your classes

Get the word out

Before the holiday rush begins, promote your virtual offerings and any other holiday specials you’re offering. Share the benefits of at-home workouts (flexibility, community, accountability, etc.) on your social media, include links out to your on-demand library in your email newsletters, and update your website with your holiday schedule. For more ideas, download our checklist on how to promote your virtual fitness offerings with social media and email marketing or watch this video on how to perfect your virtual offering.

Done right, virtual classes can add to your studio or gym’s profitability, and can cater to your customers’ needs all year long. We hope you feel empowered to continue to connect with your clients virtually this season.

Looking for more virtual best practices?

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About the author:

Lauren McAlister

Lauren McAlister

Senior Marketing Content Specialist


Lauren is the co-owner of a fitness studio and a certified Nutritional Therapy Practitioner (NTP). Born and raised in California, Lauren has a heart for fitness, travel, and baking. She's also passionate about crafting meaningful content for others in the wellness space, which makes her role at Mindbody a perfect fit.


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