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Technogym: gym floor evolution

Virgin Active has upgraded its gym floor proposition to maximise consumer trends in partnership with Technogym

Virgin Active is transforming its gym floor in partnership with Technogym photo: TECHNOGYM
Virgin has a focus on strength training photo: TECHNOGYM
The partnership includes Technogym digital content photo: TECHNOGYM

With 237 health clubs around the world, Virgin Active has enviable access to fitness trend data and customer feedback and in early 2023, the group began reimagining the gym floor experience in its UK clubs, with investment in cutting-edge equipment and a new approach to zoning.

A data-led approach
Virgin Active is at the forefront of fitness experiences, using these member insights to guide innovation. Following a substantial investment in its group fitness, the company turned its sights to the gym floor.

Responding to shifts in wellbeing trends, Matt Harras, head of fitness at Virgin Active UK, wanted to create spaces that are aspirational for its PTs, as well as its members – a Virgin Active Academy plays a key role in developing careers in fitness and the group wants its clubs to support a best-in-class experience for both members and staff.

Harras and his colleagues worked with a data analytics company to analyse the use of gym equipment across its clubs, and shared early development plans with individual clubs and PTs so they could make local suggestions.

Gym spaces that meet fitness trends
The investment project started in 14 UK clubs early in 2023 – including its largest club in Sheffield – and will continue to roll out across the estate over the next two years. Together with equipment partners Technogym, Virgin Active has redistributed the weighting of its gym zones and upgraded its equipment and digital offerings.

“All the data we received indicated a shift in consumer aspirations away from cardio and towards strength training,” says Harras. “As a result, we reduced our cardio provision, focusing on the most innovative pieces of kit, and almost doubled our strength training equipment.”

Investing in Technogym’s latest cardio equipment not only introduced cutting-edge cardio technology, but also helped Virgin Active make smarter use of space, as the newest Technogym cardio equipment has a significantly smaller footprint, freeing up space for a bigger weights zone and creating a better flow around the gym floor.

Technogym Excite Live equipment was the natural choice for an upgrade to best-in-class cardio with advanced digital content for a premium user experience.

Investment in Technogym Ride indoor bikes helped Virgin Active increase the scope of its performance training zones for members and PTs.

“Technogym is market leaders in the cardio space,” says Harras, “we don’t see them being beaten on innovation, design, functionality and use of digital content.”

Investment in Technogym Bike has helped Virgin Active optimise the launch of its indoor cycle programme – Power. The advanced level of functionality on the bikes is helping drive the class metrics, as participants can utilise screens to access more of their training data.

Future-proofed gym spaces
As strength training and bodybuilding grow in popularity Virgin Active chose to build out its Technogym Selection strength range with new items of Technogym Pure Strength – in response to member feedback and in recognition of its ergonomic design and exceptional durability.

“We see Technogym as best in class for strength equipment,” says Harras. “Virgin Active operates in the premium space, and Technogym supports us with that vision through the quality of its equipment, its innovation, digital developments and research.”

Virgin Active is also working in partnership with Technogym to develop its Virgin Active Revolution digital offering which will be rolled out using Technogym Bike.

“Virgin Active Italy has led the way through its work with Technogym’s content studios which has seen the teams layer our Revolution digital workout content with Technogym’s digital content to create a bespoke digital experience for our indoor cycling offer,” says Harras. “This will be a first for our UK clubs and it’s all been made possible thanks to our partnership with Technogym.”

A healthy future
Virgin Active’s investment in its gym floor experience suggests an exciting future for the health and fitness sector, which is attracting a new generation of consumers who are highly engaged in health and fitness.

“The industry is in a strong place and we’re seeing new trends in consumer behaviours that suggest they’re developing more of a educated attitude towards wellbeing,” says Harras. “That’s one of the reasons we’re proud to continue our partnership with Technogym – like us, the company is committed to supporting wellbeing by getting more people engaged with physical activity.

“We’re excited to roll out this new investment across the Virgin Active estate and continue to develop fitness spaces that act as social hubs for people to get involved in healthy activities with their communities,” he said.

"This will be a first for our UK clubs and it's all been made possible thanks to our partnership with Technogym" – Matt Harras, Virgin Active

Originally published in Health Club Management 2023 issue 10
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