8 Programming design musts for successful virtual delivery


Virtual delivery of fitness

AMSTERDAM, The Netherlands, September 2020 – COVID-19’s gym shutdowns and slow re-openings have prompted clubs worldwide to stream content for members to use at home – of varying degrees of quality – so to help clubs level up, digital fitness technology company FunXtion is sharing its top tips for designing irresistible programming for virtual delivery.

Designing programming for virtual delivery is different from designing it to be consumed live. Part art/part science, virtual workout content keeps a club connected to members when they’re not in the gym so they can retain them once normalcy returns. 

Dylan Watzeels, product manager of in-club solutions at FunXtion, has spent years designing programming for both live and virtual delivery. “As master trainers, we often think about live experiences. This is a high touch industry with a longstanding live tradition. But, over the past several years, technology has invaded the clubs just as it has our lives. And, COVID accelerated its acceptance. True connection with members today means providing them with both exceptional live and virtual opportunities to reach their fitness goals. A great home experience is about more than filming your most popular live classes and streaming them out. It comes with additional considerations.” 

  1. Super solid digital offerings target all types of fitness. People crave variety, so offer a range of workouts – strength, functional, cardio, and mind/body (yoga and Pilates) etc. FunXtion’s analysis of 450,000* FunXtion workout plays showed that among these types of programs, there was nearly equal division. However, keep in mind that not all of these modalities are easy to design for home users given space, equipment and device limitations. Along with limiting complex choreography and forgoing multiple pieces of equipment per routine, things like descriptive verbal cues and selecting instructors who truly connect with their audiences are also important.

*FunXtion’s App usage during COVID analysis

  1. Everyone’s different so offer something for all types of learners. Not everyone learns the same way. Some prefer visual instruction, some verbal, and some kinesthetic. You can only provide two of the three for the home-user, so make the most of them with choreography that provides clear verbal instruction and good visual instruction from all angles – angles that clearly show proper form demonstrated by the instructor and that offer a verbal balance of instruction, comradery, and motivation. 
  1. Tap into the need for achievement by designing programs that progress. Create content that can build and combine to reach a tangible goal. FunXtion’s research showed that while 75% of users started with 7-minute workouts, 60% of them progressed to longer, more challenging regimens the more they logged on. Having easy to attain small goals is more important in a COVID world because consistency and structure are essential but have gone missing. In your gym, think about how members perform an 8-week training plan on the same days; mirror this with digital training. 
  1. From the soccer mom to the soccer star, creating modifications matters. Design programs that are full of options. When your members are at home, you don’t know who is working out when and in what environment. Create workouts suitable for multiple skill levels and with limited equipment, just one piece per routine. When filming, make sure you give your advanced pros and modifiers camera time, too. Every exercise needs to have two options – one regression and one progression – no matter if it’s a beginner workout or an advanced one. 
  1. Stuck at home can mean struggles at home, anticipate and design for them. For example, FunXtion has created workouts like “Silent HIIT” without jumping and “Sorry Neighbors” with jumping.  
  1. Deliver a “whenever/wherever” experience by streaming content across various media. Optimize workout content to be available via an app, tablet or television platform and also create a version that’s available in the gym (whether that’s live or streamed on a screen) for the ultimate cohesive 360-degree experience. 
  1. Don’t mess with the music industry; cover the music rights. When you create classes or livestreams with music, the rules for online music usage are much stricter than using music in a fitness facility. 
  1. Real people use this stuff so make digital personal. In a time when social contact is limited, a personal connection makes all the difference in your digital programming. Do this through livestream workouts and also with online coaching enabling members to connect with a trainer personally for tips, tricks and motivation. Preferably all in one platform. 

During the COVID-19 lockdown FunXtion analyzed over 450,000 workout ‘plays’ through its platform – 100 different workouts from four to 30 minutes – and found beneficial insights on program usage, difficulty level and duration to help club owners better meet heightened fitness consumer expectations as gym doors start to open.