Opening in late 2021, after the strict Victorian COVID restrictions were lifted, Keilor East Leisure Centre has grown to include over 5,000 members. Located in north-west Melbourne’s Moonee Valley, the facility has members of all ages and fitness levels and its’ popular group exercise timetable includes 11 different Les Mills live classes and 5 LES MILLS® Virtual classes.
LES MILLS Virtual, enables workouts such as BODYPUMP®, BODYBALANCE®, SH’BAM®, LES MILLS CORE®, and BODYCOMBAT® to be available on-demand for members, and are included as part of their group exercise timetable, even when instructors are unavailable.
What are the benefits of offering LES MILLS Virtual fitness classes to members?
The 2021 Global Fitness Report showed that group exercise is by far the most popular gym activity, with 67% of gym members preferring to work out in groups. What’s more, 58% of members indicated that they’d likely cancel their membership if their favourite classes were no longer available. While nothing can beat the personal connection that happens between a really great group exercise instructor and their attendees, there are several things virtual fitness classes can offer that are very attractive for both gym operators and members;
Off-peak sessions offer members flexibility and maximise group exercise space use.
An average fitness studio sits empty for 58-80% of the day. Ryan Hogan, CEO at Les Mills Asia Pacific says, “Running Les Mills Virtual classes in off-peak times brings group fitness to entirely new markets, such as shift workers and parents.”
Keilor East Venue Manager, Penny Palman says, “Most members are used to working in front of screens now, so the decision to include Virtual was a flow-on from that; as well as having the ability to offer more classes in the off-peak time. It’s proven to be very successful… We include Virtual as part of our induction process, so members understand how to use it and they absolutely do. It’s a fantastic way for us to put classes on at less popular time slots and offer an on-demand service where members can come in and choose to put on a class that suits them.”
One such example is member, Julie, who said “I love having the option to come in during the day. If I miss my morning PUMP, I can pop it on the screen! It keeps me motivated to do my daily workout as I have that option.”
Members love the centre’s Virtual system for its convenience. “We have been very clear with our instructor team that Virtual classes are only on until the numbers are big enough to justify making it a live class; which has happened several times – so our Virtual classes are never taking any classes away from live instructors. We have actually converted several classes from Virtual to live, based on popularity.”, says Penny.
Avoid cancelling classes due to staff shortages or sudden illness.
Penny says that having Virtual classes as a backup option has been well received. “Virtual is also fantastic on the odd occasion when an instructor can’t make it – it gives us the option to play a Virtual class, so the members can stay and get a workout. Unfortunately, in days gone by we would have had to send them home or down to the gym to fend for themselves! Using our Virtual for last-minute covers is very well received by members. We normally call all the members to let them know about the change, and we found about 75% still attend the class. Instructors also feel good that their members are getting a workout. It doesn’t happen often, but there’s nothing worse than being stuck in traffic and not being able to get to class and then stressing out about the members waiting in the studio for you.”
Some clubs use LES MILLS Virtual to cover periods when Instructor shortages are more likely such as during Christmas, New Year, and Easter holidays. Penny says, “Sometimes we do put Virtual classes on to flesh out our holiday timetable, but we also always have live instructors teaching. It’s really important to me that we have a live offering as Virtual isn’t the go-to, it’s there to enhance!”
Less intimidating for newcomers
Les Mills programs are designed to be inclusive and can be tailored to fit many different fitness levels and abilities. For new joiners, Keilor East Leisure Centre’s Guest Experience team prescribes fitness solutions, which include at least one Les Mills class a week. “We also run ‘come and try it’ days in line with our Quarterly launches, where we invite members to try all the classes on offer; and often this results in them becoming regulars. A great example of this is BODYBALANCE®. We had several men come and try the program and at the start were a little hesitant; however, at the end of the class, they were all converts and now attend one or two classes regularly. They comment and how much quicker their recovery is since incorporating BODYBALANCE into their weekly routine.”
The on-demand functionality of Virtual classes means members can come at an off-peak time and get a feel for what a live class will be like, without committing themselves to an instructor. With the idea of walking into a fully booked live class daunting for some, a Virtual workout experience is a great stepping stone.
Virtual Fitness Enhancing your Group Exercise Offering:
Ryan Hogan explains, “When offered in conjunction with live Les Mills classes, LES MILLS Virtual is an ideal way to expand your current timetable and optimise your studio space.”
The most popular Les Mills programs at Keilor East Leisure Centre are BODYCOMBAT®, BODYPUMP®, and BODYBALANCE®. The cardio-heavy BODYCOMBAT and BODYPUMP are particularly popular Virtual classes too. When asked about the return on investment for LES MILLS Virtual, Penny says;
“I highly recommend getting Virtual into your studios. The Les Mills system is by far the most seamless and easy to use. It’s important to not flood your timetable with Virtual classes though; your live classes should be the sessions that are singing out to your members. I think if you find the right balance, Virtual is a great way to grow your group fitness timetable… At the end of the day, the instructors who are trained in these programs make or break a class. We hire rockstar instructors who generate a following and whom members absolutely adore. This, combined with fantastic Releases [workouts], equals packed classes!
I believe, having Les Mills at our venue helps our members feel confident in the programs we offer because Les Mills has such a strong reputation and brand awareness. The fact that Instructors are constantly upskilling with new choreography every three months also gives us a higher Instructor quality, which translates to greater member enjoyment and attendance.”
Lucy H is a member of Keilor East Leisure Centre and a hardcore Les Mills fan who said, “Keilor East Leisure Centre has the best classes and Instructors in our area! They do the best songs, they are always really motivating and keep it fun. I enjoy the Les Mills launches we do every few months, they are so good!”
To find out how LES MILLS Virtual and a partnership with Les Mill Asia Pacific can help your club or facility gain a competitive edge contact your local Business Partnership Manager in Australia or Southeast Asia.
About Les Mills Asia Pacific
Les Mills is the global leader in group training and creator of over 23 programs including BODYPUMP® and BODYCOMBAT®. Les Mills workouts are delivered by 130,000 certified Instructors in 21,000 gyms across 100 countries, as well as via the LES MILLS+ streaming platform and Virtual Reality (VR). For 25 years, Les Mills Asia Pacific has been meeting the group fitness needs of clubs and Instructors in Australia and Southeast Asia.
Les Mills Asia Pacific offers the Ultimate Group Fitness Solution to keep members connected to your club, and to reach new audiences with omni-channel fitness solutions. These include live and LES MILLS® Virtual classes in fitness facilities; on-demand classes for use at home or while travelling via LES MILLS+; LES MILLS Content (enabling you to host 100+ Les Mills workouts on your own website or app); award-winning SMART TECH fitness equipment (for use in facilities or at home); live-streaming solutions; comprehensive marketing support; world-class Instructor training; a proven Group Fitness Management system to help clubs achieve maximum business potential; and dedicated business support.
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