Why does group fitness matter?
This is one of the subjects we spoke about to Tine Samdal Olson & Tonje Johannesen from Studio Nor in Knarvik, Norway. These ladies manage the full-service fitness club with decades of experience and a finger on the pulse of what is happening in the fitness business today.
Studio Nor has 2 full-service locations and a Yoga Studio, that are run by 65 employees. The members are typically aged 18 and up to seniors. The age group that has increased the most recently is generation Z. Traditionally the largest customer group at Studio Nor have been generation X and specifically in the group fitness members, mostly women. This has now shifted, and they are getting more young people to join the group fitness classes. This is largely thanks to the rethinking of the group fitness concept.
Renovations and new services
You have recently made big renovations to your group fitness studios and not just the studios, but the services as well. Can you tell us more about that?
Tonje: Before the pandemic, we had very loyal members. After the pandemic, we lost 30 % of our members, especially the group fitness suffered and that was one of the reasons why we renovated and got new equipment. At the same time, we decided to rethink the whole group fitness as a service and really think about how to get our members to return and maybe attract new members as well. We wanted to change the way we look at group fitness activities. How to get the members to see that it is safe and fun to return to the classes and get together again. We know people love getting together. We could see that the attendance was going down and now we are getting it back up again and the things we have done are starting to pay off. We have among other things renewed the floors and equipment, educated more instructors and we are doing something new in form of program formats and connecting them in a new way in the classes. We have many 30-minute classes, for example, Les Mills SPRINT® that members can combine.
"Group fitness customers are the happiest and most loyal members." Tonje Johannesen/Studio Nor
Tine: As for investments on equipment, we can see the members appreciate it but it has been surprising that it has also had a positive effect on our instructors. the instructors feel that we are investing in the services they are offering so they feel more motivated and that we are investing in them as well. We can also see that if we offer 1 class per week of a certain concept, that class will not be successful and we can really see that now. Because if you have just one class, the customers will think why go to that class, it must not be very popular since there is just one class. We still need to work on bringing more instructors to for example BODYPUMP® to be able to put more classes per week. We like the 45-minute concept of BODYPUMP. It is a great functional class.
Marketing for the new generations
What marketing tools do you use and are you doing anything specific to attract the younger generations?
Tine: We have both internal and external marketing via social media. The biggest part of marketing is of course social media. We have a fun competition for members to encourage them to try out more classes. It is 2 week competition that encourages our members to try out at least 5 different classes. We focus on younger people as well via Snapchat.
Tonje: Customer onboarding starts with a walk-through of our services from the reception. Most new joiners say yes to a meeting with a personal trainer. The PT then tells them about the different classes we have, the exercise they can do on their own, and PT services. We do also have an online registration but even then, the joiner will be offered the opportunity to meet the PT. We are also updating our web pages with more information on the classes and services.
Tine: We significantly improved the onboarding when we hired a PT who is also a group fitness instructor to do the onboarding. Because the PT are always the first contacts at our club, they need to be able to recommend the full scale of services to the members. What classes to take, what they can do on their own, and what PT services can they recommend. If the PT is only interested in PT services, then the member will not get recommendations for classes. Group fitness is so important because group fitness customers are the happiest and most loyal members. They are most motivated over time; it is easier for them to make fitness a regular habit. That is why it is so important to get people back into the classes.
New concepts in group fitness
You mentioned renewing the programs and formats in group fitness earlier. What kind of renovations are you doing there?
Tonje: We are investing in HIIT. We are building a HIIT studio and focusing the promotion to the younger generations. We will have a room within our gym floor that will be dedicated to HIIT training. We want to get the young gens in and see the value of group fitness. We have changed the doors of all the studios and made them see-through, so everyone can see into the studios and see how fun the classes are.
Tine: I think we held on to the old-fashioned group exercise, like aerobics and step for a very long time. Offering new innovative concepts is more modern. Programs like BODYCOMBAT® have become very popular.
Tonje: Working with Les Mills supports me in managing the group fitness and coaching the instructors and knowing what they have to work with. We know the product we are delivering to our customers is solid and high quality. I think the customers are more interested now in the quality of the products they are buying and that means we also have to maintain a high quality in our services. Having had a long partnership with Les Mills, we are able to maintain that and renew the group fitness to fit the standards of today.