After the morning gym rush, Debbie Koekkoek meets us in the newly renovated SportCity location in Amsterdam. The layout is purposely designed to bring more fun and happiness to their member’s experience, a major focus for the 113-site Netherlands-based gym business. There’s a table tennis area, coffee station, and a communal bench, apt for pre and post-workout socialising.
“We see our members initiating community-building activities now. Recently after a group fitness class, several members brought in a cake and convened around the table to celebrate a member’s birthday,” explains Debbie.Debbie Koekkoek, Product Owner – Group Fitness at SportCity
What gym members want
Group fitness has been a part of Debbie’s life for as long as she can remember. The fitness industry veteran worked as a group fitness consultant for a major international brand for over a decade, mentoring coaches, managing personal trainers, and overseeing sales. For the last four years, Debbie has been the Product Owner of Group Fitness at Fit For Free (now SportCity), where half her time in this role has been spent navigating forced gym closures, several re-openings, and navigating changing member behaviour.
Her biggest takeaway from recent years? “Members want to combine virtual classes with live group classes, in-gym and at home. They want both, and they continue to demonstrate this behaviour even now that we remain open. I think that’s been our biggest learning,” she said. “That and: always be ready to pivot.”
Digital fitness improves member engagement
To keep their members happy at home, SportCity provided virtual group classes, combining content created by their talented team of trainers and Funxtion’s virtual group classes via their member app.
“Member feedback has shown they are really happy we continued to offer Funxtion’s virtual group classes via our member app. Providing this extra service has helped our members to increase their workout participation overall, and has supported their fitness goals and our member engagement target even more than we expected.”
Digital fitness boosts gym attendance
SportCity recently began implementing Funxtion’s Virtual Player in their group fitness studios and small group cycle areas with the plan to roll out across all 113 sites, enabling the streaming of Funxtion’s white-label virtual class content and CycleMasters content. While other fitness businesses are switching their live group classes with a solely digital offering, SportCity remain committed to their in-person staff and the connection they provide to their members.
“Our live group class offering is one of our unique selling points. We see that our members value our instructors and trainers as well as the interaction a live group class brings. We are cautious with how we present our digital offering in-gym, as we know our members and trainers might feel threatened by this and think that we will remove our live offering – but we aren’t, and we promote and want to promote the digital offering as a bonus that adds flexibility and variety to their workouts and membership. We will continue to offer our members the flexibility to enjoy the best of both worlds.”Debbie Koekkoek, Product Owner – Group Fitness at SportCity
Omnichannel delivery breeds success
SportCity’s omnichannel approach and virtual class services have removed the barrier for many members unable to join live group classes at the gym.
“We were seeing a lot of empty group fitness studios, particularly in the off-peak afternoon hours. We are now using virtual classes to fill the studios during these downtimes – and people are going! It has shown that our members are responding to that added variety and flexibility of digital content delivery and service. They can enjoy group classes on their terms, which adds to their overall satisfaction, quality of life, and happiness – and it’s great to see!”
SportCity integrates Funxtion’s virtual class content with their member app and has rolled out Funxtion’s Virtual Player across their 113-site portfolio. The organisation is currently trialling Funxtion’s MultiScreen Solution in four of their sites throughout the Netherlands.