As Canada enters our second summer of battling COVID and coping with pandemic restrictions, we are all growing tired, frustrated and fatigued. While physical activity opportunities are limited or unavailable, we know that being active helps significantly with managing stress and depression. This year especially we want to highlight the ways people can get active and how important activity is for physical and mental health.
National Health & Fitness Day is June 5, 2021. To help Canadians be more active and stay safe, LIV North’s Fitness Management team is launching outdoor, audio guided workouts on their virtual platform – Optimal by LIV North.
These audio guided tracks include:
Walk/run tracks (great for beginners and advanced runners alike);
Mindful walks (combining mindfulness and activity, ideal for a break or at lunch) and;
Outdoor workouts (take your fitness class outside with the instructor in your ear).
From June 5th to 11th, LIV North is letting everyone try audio guided workouts!CLICK HERE to learn more and to try some of the audio tracks out in celebration of National Health & Fitness Day!
LIV North Fitness Management division has always included elements of wellness into our programming. With COVID raising concerns about mental wellness, stress management and employee burnout, a few of our LIV North Account Managers set out to address these concerns.
In the Spring of 2020, a few of our facilities took part in a virtual health fair that received great reviews from the participants and our clients. Now that we are 16 months into this pandemic the need for wellness has increased dramatically, hence the idea for a Wellness Week was born.
Wellness Week 2021 is a virtual event that takes place from Monday, June 7 to Friday, June 11th and includes 5 daily live sessions and activities. This service is available on the Optimal by LIV North platform as well as through several of our management projects that are hosting the event.
Below are some details about the 2021 event.
If your organization is interested in taking part and having access to the live sessions, you can reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The impact of 2020 has reshaped how we live, play, and work; the imposed restrictions, put in place due to the pandemic, have created a new reality that we have had to, and will continue to, adapt to. Some of these new behaviours will stick beyond Covid 19, while others will fade. Although we know that restrictions will extend deep into 2021 in some form, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Change exposes us to different perspectives, new opportunities, and time to reflect on what we need and what we truly value.
A few of my thoughts on how I believe fitness has, and will continue to evolve post pandemic.
#1 A larger portion of the population will make activity a higher priority.
Although Covid will eventually fade, the vulnerability felt by those who had underlying conditions, and to those whose health was affected directly or indirectly, will last. The messaging about how being active can help with and prevent chronic conditions, improve immunity and aid in mental health are hitting home during this pandemic. The realization that activity, even in small amounts, can provide major benefits is here to stay.
Movement is Medicine Less focus on abs and buns and more focus on heart and lungs. All health professionals agree that physical activity is essential to one’s well being. No longer is fitness viewed primarily as a body transformation activity (washboard abs, weight loss). Instead the aesthetic results achieved through fitness is now secondary. Wellbeing (current and future health status) and Improved Performance (productivity, energy, mood) are equally as valued from those who participate or intend to participate. This shift in perspective will be a key message in attracting the right clientele to your facility.
More people moving Walking is a great starting point for the inactive population (no prep, no learning curve or special equipment) and during the lockdown we wanted/needed to get out of the house so many people began walking. Beyond walking the pandemic has also broken down physical activity barriers for many with a plethora of online fitness options. People can participate in the comfort and anonymity of their home without feeling self conscious. The opportunities to explore and try a variety of activities online without buying a membership or specific equipment has been extensive. With more inactive people being introduced to activities, building confidence and realizing the benefits moving more provides it translates to an expanded market. This emerging untapped demographic will be purchasing professional fitness services/memberships both online and in-person in 2021contributing to the rebound for many facilities.
#2 Social Connection is Vital
We have an innate need to belong, to be part of a community that provides a sense of acceptance, inclusivity and sharing common interests/goals. The Social Connection has long been a key component for many fitness participants because it provides another reason to attend,(it’s fun, it’s motivating and it feels good to sweat and accomplish with others).
The social aspect is the key to virtual success. The emergence of Virtual Fitness skyrocketed in 2020. The need for people to feel connected to a familiar instructor or workout group was evident as people flocked to Zoom and recorded workouts. For many facilities this began as a band-aid solution until the return of in-person fitness could resume but there is no doubt that Virtual Fitness will remain as a permanent and popular option even after all restrictions have been lifted. Although Zoom fatigue and excess of screen time is a challenge, facilities and professionals who continue to embrace the social aspect of online workouts, and refine ways to connect with people online, will separate themselves from the crowded field of virtual fitness options.
Working out (together) in-person will return and thrive. The impact of social distancing and lockdowns became and remains a heavy burden for many people. The lack of connection and social interaction due to working from home is a major dilemma. The need for a hub, for people to come together, will heighten and fitness facilities will become a popular option. During the lockdown those who valued and relied on this in-person element and did not make the switch to stay connected online struggled with consistency. Whether it is working out and bumping into fellow members, planning a workout with a friend or attending a scheduled group workout, the positive reinforcement, shared challenge and accomplishment in a place that you are comfortable and feel you belong, is a much more powerful element then the actual workout itself.
#3 In-Person Facility Experience gets a reboot: It has been a devastating year for the Fitness Facility Industry, the lockdowns and safety protocols have made it extremely difficult for Studios and clubs to stay afloat. During the shutdown phases, fitness facility owners and operators quickly pivoted showing ingenuity by renting equipment, offering existing and new services remotely, and staying connected to their members.
Flexible Memberships– No one is looking for long term commitments. Month to month options will become the new norm. It will not be uncommon for members to have memberships at multiple facilities simultaneously or throughout the year. Assessing the convenience of a facility, when working at home and/or when at the office, along with considering the interest in different activities and needs throughout the year, will shift consumers purchasing decisions.
“Working out at home isn’t the same!!” is a phrase I keep hearing. The value of having a dedicated time and place to workout has proven to be critical for many. Working out alone at home with distractions is hard to adhere to. The structure, atmosphere and social aspect will be a major factor in the return of members to facilities.
Access to equipment– Although we have been exposed to creative and effective bodyweight and minimal equipment workouts, the love of using equipment to get more from a workout will remain. Some have purchased equipment for home but notice the quality of their Treadmill/Elliptical doesn’t compare to commercial equipment. It is hard to stay motivated doing activities that don’t feel good, or the same way you remember them. To progress towards our goals we need to be challenged in different ways, however, purchasing high quality equipment, and a variety of weights for home may not be reasonable (space considerations) or affordable, making the existing fitness centres the most viable option.
Professional Instruction– There are an abundance of fitness ‘coaches’ online however, a fit Instagrammer, athlete, celebrity or someone who has had a successful body transformation, does not qualify them to competently coach others. Reports from participants doing generic online workouts that are either “too easy”, “too hard” or “unsafe” are unfortunate but not surprising. Certified Fitness Pros in clubs and studios have extensive training and several have many years experience. The realization is now more apparent than ever that trained professionals offer an abundance of value including being able to identify appropriate intensity, provide necessary adjustments to technique, modify for injuries, identify weakness/imbalances, provide timely motivation boosts, and create personalized workout design & instruction. All of these offerings will lead to improved results, reduce risk of injury and provide a better experience overall.
When COVID-19 hit, the fitness world was turned upside down. Facilities were closed, staff were sent home, and LIV North adjusted to the challenge and dove head first into the virtual world!
As we celebrate 1 year of being in the virtual market, here is a quick reflection on how we adjusted and what was born from our efforts.
Prior to COVID
While the pandemic threw the world for a loop, LIV North was already actively making plans to offer more virtual programming and services. There were already increasing levels of people working from home (growth of 10% 2015 to 18% of population by 2019) and there were fewer people going into the office on a regular basis.
Noticing this trend, we introduced our cloud based LIVx club management software in early 2018 and began offering on demand fitness classes to our club members that were accessible 24/7 through their member portal and app. In late 2019, some of our projects had also begun to offer live streaming fitness classes to meet the changing needs of our clients.
Friday, March 13, 2020
This day stands out in all of our minds. It was the day that Canada declared COVID-19 a pandemic and we all held our breath waiting to find out what it meant for the fitness industry.
Sunday, March 15, 2020
In response to the pandemic announcement and not wanting to waste anytime, we immediately pivoted and launched our first series of live streamed classes on Instagram live and Facebook live. Shortly thereafter, we transitioned to delivering most of our online services through our LIVx member portal.
As we continued through the early pandemic months, we developed a framework of planning that broke down into two primary phases:
Phase 1 focused heavily on virtual program expansion and enhancement. This included:
Small group training and PT services
Expanded group exercise classes
Lunch n’ learn series
Family fitness & wellness activities
Nutrition & wellness information
As we entered into June and with our virtual offerings running well at our projects, our efforts shifted to reopening plans. To preparing re-opening a post-COVID operating plans we worked very closely with our clients to prepare robust reopening plans that included:
Member communication plans
Health and safety protocols
Welcome back videos
We also continued to refine and define virtual programming during this time.
LIV North Virtual Services
Our virtual services were developed and designed to provide organizations, corporations and multi-tenant residential properties a comprehensive fitness and wellness virtual program. These services are:
Branded to organizations or property
Follow a High Tech – High Touch approach
Include a full program plan created to support a person’s physical and mental well-being
Programs to help build community and social connection
Designed to incorporate the realities of the current agile work environment
LIV North’s quick response to the pandemic set us apart. We were the first fitness management company in Canada to offer a virtual fitness solution to corporations. In fact, we are happy to say that because of this action, 95% of our clients moved to our virtual program plan and are still with us today. We continue to develop our virtual offerings based on client and member input.
Thus, Optimal – Your Corporate Gym Online – was created. Today, Optimal delivers a very wide range of services to over 150 000 people across the country, including:
Live Streamed Classes
On Demand Classes
Small Group Personal Training
Corporate Meeting Stretch Breaks and more!
Exploring the Future Post-COVID
While we navigated the challenges and rose to the opportunities presented of the past year, we continued to keep our ear to the ground and to watch the trends emerging across the country. For example, our 30% of Canadians will continue to work from home Post-Pandemic
Experience the LIV North Difference
If your organization has become more agile and traditional employee wellness programs will not work for you, let’s chat! We are happy to offer any organization a 2 week trial of our Optimal platform and prepare a proposal as to how LIV North can compliment your organization’s vision and goals. You can reach us at Virtual@livnorth.com and we will be in touch shortly.