Not a Technologist? You are Not Alone. Cloud, SaaS, PaaS, and the Right Vendor Partner are the Key
Not a Technologist? You are Not Alone. Cloud, SaaS, PaaS, and the Right Vendor Partner are the Keys to Your Fitness Streaming Success! Carpe Diem!
So you are a fitness club or studio owner with a background in training people and health and wellness. I guess that means you don't have a computer science degree or 20 years experience in technology... (or maybe you do...in that case stop reading :) Among the many challenges of owning and/or operating a fitness club (or any business for that matter) is finding the time to DO MORE. Particularly in current times, it's about doing more with technology to differentiate yourself from everyone else. But how?
Up until this last decade, to implement a new technology at any company, you needed to get yourself some servers and some software and put those in a server rack or closet at your club and do your best to get someone affordable to set it up, keep it running, do the updates and upgrades and generally save your life when the whole thing crashes...HELLO CLOUD!!!!
With Cloud and PaaS (Platform-as-a-service) now readily available you can easily "lease" or "rent" servers that other people host, manage, update, and ensure are available for use as per an agreed upon service level agreement. Of course because that company provides this service to hundreds or thousands (or more) customers, there are tremendous economies of scale and efficiencies provided to those who use these services. You can always have current servers and security updates and patches and all that good stuff for a reasonable monthly fee. Phew, that's one part of the puzzle solved!
Now there is the software itself. Even the best software available has it's challenges from time to time and often the efforts to setup, update and upgrade and perhaps even the day-to-day operations of that software require hand holding (which you neither want to do or have time to do). SaaS stands for software-as-a-service and generally means that you don't have to manage any software but rather, the software and hardware and everything is run somewhere else by someone else and again all you do is pay a monthly fee and use the software without any headaches. Okay that sounds good.....
Prepare the cherry! 2018's hot topic for fitness clubs and studios asking the question, can we do this? The question is "can you afford to not do this?"
Many have heard of or explored Virtual Fitness solutions that allow you to enable members to view recorded fitness classes on in-club kiosks or mobile devices. In this case there are myriad of pre-recorded workouts filmed somewhere in a studio by someone totally unrelated to your club, your brand or your way to interacting with your members. This model is a glorified DVD player and in many cases will fill holes where group fitness is not something you normally offer.
Fitness Streaming as part of Virtual Fitness involves the streaming of LIVE or Recorded classes and content to kiosks, mobile devices, etc. The difference in this case is that the live streams and recordings are done BY YOU, YOUR INSTRUCTORS, with YOUR BRAND. Not only is this more cost effective but it represents YOUR BUSINESS BRAND and builds customer loyalty TO YOU! Watching videos done by someone else, that has nothing to do with your brand doesn't build your business, it builds their's. Not to mention that if the member goes to another club there's a good chance they can do that same third party class there.
"BUT THAT SOUNDS LIKE A LOT OF WORK!...."
Perhaps one of the number 1 concerns we hear when investigating fitness streaming... It sounds like a lot of work"...... The surprising answer to this is "not really" provided you go with the right partner providing a "set it and forget it" type solution. Perhaps the 2nd objection is "we don't know anything about producing professional videos and editing and fitness models....." It's time to change the industries thinking on this. Let me explain....
FitCloudConnect provides you with a fitness streaming PaaS that has everything you need as one single self-service offering. From self-service online enrollment, to payment processing, to member management, statistics and insights, to upgrades, downgrades, ratings, cancellations, scheduling and tracking fitness goals and achievements. And the best part is that it is all branded to your look and feel and can be easily linked to your existing website or mobile app. AND being a PaaS (reference above please), we manage the technology, servers, upgrades and service level agreements and you focus on your classes and content. Which brings us to that question of content. How do you create it? What about models? What about quality?
PRODUCING GREAT CONTENT
Gone are the days of requiring expensive video recording equipment to produce high quality video and audio. This is why television companies and movie producers are sweating big time because now people or companies can produce amazing quality videos, live streams of events and possibly even movies with a few hundred dollars of equipment. Take the smartphone for instance, the new Apple iPhone X has a video camera that records up to 4K video recording at 24 fps, 30 fps or 60 fps. Whoa baby, that's enough video quality to satisfy the most fussy fitness workout seeker! As far as fitness models go, STOP with that thinking! When members come to your club, do they see fitness models teaching workouts or do they see you and your staff? (I'm sure in some cases they are one in the same:, but they are there for the workout and your clubs unique experience!) )
On to editing.... there really is not a need to do editing on workout classes provided they are being provided on a regular basis because people are only going to watch them once and move on to the next one. Would they rather have 1 video a month with editing or 30 a month with no editing? My money is on 30 a month.... If you do feel compelled to do some editing there are numerous highly effective apps on the app stores that will allow you to trim, snip, add titles, logo's and more in minutes for as low as $2.95 for the app. For live streaming using the FitCloudConnect FITUP1 or FITUP2 can get you live and also do recordings for you with almost zero setup. So how do you create those 30 classes a month? Well, you can easily record your instructors teaching your existing in-club classes (which kills 2 birds with one stone and satisfies the LIVE streaming trend also) or you can record content in off hours very easily using something as simple as a smartphone or handycam on a tripod. FitCloudConnnect has tested a lot of difference video recording setups and we can easily provide you with our Gear Guide and help to create a great video experience with equipment you already have and perhaps a few inexpensive add-ons. Don't be shy! Smile! Be your Brand!
EXPANDING YOUR REACH
Often in speaking with club owners we are always discussing the needs of the regular fitness member and trust me they are the reason clubs exist, so yes they are important! But let's talk about a concept I recently re-read which was "blue ocean strategy" which is a book and marketing concept written by W. Chan Kim and Renée Mauborgne back in 2005. The theory argues that companies can succeed by creating "blue oceans" of uncontested market space, as opposed to "red oceans" where competitors fight for dominance. If you relate that to the fitness marketplace, clubs have been fighting over the "fitness club regular" member for decades. We continually try to entice a secondary market of casual members to join but their attendance and renewals are spotty at best. Low cost clubs have developed a model that services the blue ocean strategy by appealing to people that want a low price, probably will not use the club very often and also won't likely cancel because the work to signup again is more than the $10 a month to just let it keep being charged to their credit card. Does this sound familiar yet? Fitness streaming has the ability to service the regulars who need options for working out anywhere, anytime that they are not in the club but also for "the other 80%" who have commitment issues with going to the club or perhaps never even considered it because they live too far away or simply don't have the personality style to attend a club. There is a massive blue ocean of both of these types of potential members out there, so who's going to capitalize on it? 2018 should give us a good idea but 2017's breakout player Peloton certainly sees the vision as does their equity investors. We've built the technology for you to compete. We can lead a horse to water, but we can't make you drink. "CARPE DIEM!!" (seize the day)
You are your brand, and nobody is going to be able to create the experience for your members better than you! With FitCloudConnect, we take care of all of the technology and you do what you do best, train! There were over 35,000 fitness clubs in the U.S. coming into this year and over 180,000 globally. Anytime Fitness alone has over 3,000 clubs in 30 countries and growing like wild fire. What is your plan to DIFFERENTIATE your club from everyone else? There is a growing desire for anywhere virtual fitness streaming and the first 10%-30% of clubs and studios to adopt it stand to make big money and big gains for membership growth! With service plans starting at $99 a year, FitCloudConnect is here to get you going.
It's time to "THINK OUTSIDE THE WALLS!"
CEO, FitCloudConnect Inc.