Skip to content

Why Virtual Fitness Classes Need Interactive Video

Allan Maule Feb 25, 2022 7:25:31 AM


The popularity of virtual workouts exploded during the COVID-19 pandemic. While only 7% of fitness consumers used weekly livestream classes in 2019, 85% streamed a weekly online workout in 2020. And though most in-person gyms have reopened, McKinsey reports that 70% of online exercisers intend to maintain or increase their use of online fitness programs post-pandemic. However, it’s also noteworthy that McKinsey found a staggering 95% of pre-pandemic gym members say they miss at least one element of working out in the gym.

The clear takeaway is while the coronavirus pandemic got everyone used to working out in home gyms, nearly everyone still misses the fitness center experience. Exercise consumers want the live energy of working out with others in real time—minus the gym commute or anxieties about COVID-19. This means there is a real opportunity for online fitness providers to deliver the social energy of a live workout using two-way streaming in which trainers and students can see each other and interact. Here’s how adding two-way video to online fitness apps can deliver a better streaming fitness experience.

How interactive fitness streams deliver better personal training

No matter how you like to work out, there are an abundance of online fitness classes. With more than 30 million online fitness videos on YouTube alone, differentiation is essential for online fitness providers. Offering live virtual workout classes is a good start, as attendees know they’re getting new exercise content that’s only available in real time. However, there are already many livestreaming exercise channels out there. For a streaming fitness program to stand out, it needs to offer something the others don’t.

The best way to ensure a virtual exercise experience stands out is to make it interactive by adding two-way livestreaming. This makes for a more dynamic experience for attendees, who can ask questions, make jokes, and respond to the class instructor in real time. For instructors, interactive video workouts allow them to correct student form to prevent injury and help students better engage with the class. While it may seem difficult to add two-way video to existing workout apps, WebRTC technology makes integrating bidirectional video easier and more cost-effective than one might think. 

Use interactive fitness coaching to improve prerecorded classes

Interactive livestreaming is an exciting evolution of online fitness, but it doesn’t mean virtual fitness programs have to abandon prerecorded workouts altogether. On the contrary, if an online fitness program already has prerecorded video workouts, adding optional live video coaching can offer more value for customers. 

Here’s how this could work: Premium streaming workouts would be paired with a live coach who will monitor students in the class and offer help as needed. A yoga teacher could follow along with students doing her pre-made yoga class and offer specialized tips to students learning new positions and forms. A streaming pilates teacher might notice a student getting a cramp or injury, then modify the session in real time to help. And by using biometric data from virtual fitness sensors like heart rate monitors and smartwatches, an online trainer could encourage a slowing student to pick up the pace of their workout.

Improve customer loyalty with interactive fitness sessions 

Beyond helping to differentiate online fitness content and improving existing video workouts, adding two-way video to virtual exercise sessions also deepens the connection between trainer and trainee. The bond between the best personal trainers and their clients is a special one, and it creates a lot of loyalty. Customers keep coming back for the richness of that human connection, not just the health benefits of exercise (though those improve as well).

This in mind, interactive fitness programs have the potential to win similar loyalty and engagement from fitness customers. The result is a more enthusiastic customer base who are more likely to invite friends to join live fitness sessions and stick with those programs over the long term. By integrating two-way video into your existing fitness streaming, you can deliver better results for your clients and win their lasting loyalty.

Learn more about how leading fitness innovators are integrating live video into their workout programs to deepen customer engagement.