Finding the fastest way back

It’s fantastic news that group exercise has finally returned to leisure facility timetables. Bringing much joy and relief to people in England, as pre-Covid, 4.86 million people took part in group exercise each week. A significant proportion of UK residents rely on group exercise to improve their health and wellbeing, not to mention that unique feeling of camaraderie that working out alongside others brings.

After multiple lockdowns in the UK, it was revealed in a recent report that the two most important drivers of gym and studio exercise returns are the community and incentives these provide. This sentiment has been echoed in a survey commissioned by leisure specialists TA6, which revealed that 96% of people who tried a workout from a club during lockdown said they would use that facility once it re-opened.

Community and shared experiences will be a key factor in people’s happiness once the pandemic subsides. While digital has been a great channel and growth market for the fitness industry during the pandemic, there’s no denying that the in-studio, live experience with instructors and other gymgoers provides the pinnacle workout experience.

A recent study published in the Lancet also highlighted that the prevalence of clinically significant levels of mental distress rose from 8.9% to 27.3% in April 2020, just one month into the UK lockdown. The greatest increases of mental distress were found in 18-24-year-olds, 25-34-year-olds, women and people living with young children.

Now it is time for our industry to come together and help our communities. NHS guidelines state that regular exercise can boost your mood if you have depression and exercise is especially useful for people with mild to moderate depression.

Creating social connections among safe club environments are vital to winning back members. As the driving forces behind the industry’s recovery, instructors are at the heart of engaging participants and reminding them why live group fitness delivers on the all-important motivation, sense of inclusion and, of course, group exercise endorphins.

With capacity barriers to overcome, many clubs have taken their class timetable outside by optimising spaces such as car parks, tennis courts and open grass areas. By immediately widening the scope for more class attendance, operators can use outdoor fitness classes as an opportunity to market to new demographics.

But it’s not just outdoor group exercise that clubs can maximise during this re-opening period. There’s still a strong appetite for a blended approach to online and live group fitness. Ensuring the value of a membership is maintained beyond a club’s four walls creates a future-proof foundation for lifetime customers with the freedom to pick when and where they work out.

I am proud to announce that to celebrate the re-opening of the sector and return of group exercise, on Saturday 12 June the industry will unite for ‘The Fastest Way Back Launch Event’ with an exclusive livestream of the brand new Les Mills releases. Led by our Les Mills Master Trainers, the day will include livestreams of some of our most popular workouts including BODYPUMP, BODYCOMBAT and BODYBALANCE.

Complementing in-club launch events and live classes, the livestreams will be available for the entire industry to share and add to their timetable thus connecting with even more of their members beyond their four walls.

The launch event also marks the start of our ‘Fastest Way Back’ campaign designed to support our club partners with their reopening and recovery plans. If you’re planning on hosting an event in your club, we’ve also launched a great support package, which will give you all the marketing tools you need to promote it, including copy and images. By making this process easy for clubs, we hope to help you get back to doing what you love and do best.

Group exercise has the power to bring people together. After months of isolation, we want to see members step back with confidence into a live fitness environment and get back to the thrill of connection among their fitness communities. We’re looking forward to helping the industry find their fastest way back to group exercise delivery, starting with our event on June 12th.  A celebration in itself, this date will be the start of a group ex recovery that we will continue to  support with many more events over the coming weeks and months.

To find out more and to get involved please get in touch with us at lmuk.clubs@lesmills.com, and help spread the word to your members – they can sign up to the live stream here.

Posted in Expert Opinion, Martin Franklin.