Fitness is one of the most popular genres of subscription networks. And as online fitness becomes more popular, consumers are increasingly expecting virtual fitness or fitness subscription video on demand (SVOD) as an option.

And why wouldn’t they? The ease of at-home fitness and availability of classes on-demand makes committing to a subscription plan worth it. According to Global Market Insights, online fitness programs will grow by 30% through 2026. 

Odds are, you’re here to figure out how to create an online fitness program, or grow your fitness business virtually. In this post, we’ve included recommendations from Vimeo OTT fitness SVOD customers — including how to grow your audience and what equipment they recommend for filming content — as well as why online fitness programs are critical for building your fitness brand.

Why create an online fitness program

With a multitude of OTT platforms and monetization options to choose from, growing a video business has never been easier. The demand for online fitness options is only increasing, and reaching a larger consumer network through the internet has a way of bringing in more revenue. Creating an online fitness program could be as simple as filming the classes that are already happening in your brick-and-mortar location and putting them online as on-demand content. 

If you’re looking to expand your online fitness program and make it the mainstay of your business, there are plenty of growth opportunities with OTT networks. 

Here are a few other reasons why we would recommend creating an online fitness program:

1. The staying power of digital-focused fitness

Working out from home has always been a popular exercise option. From Jane Fonda VHS tapes to Peloton bikes, digitally-focused at-home fitness had established a growing and viable market even before COVID-19 restricted access to gyms and fitness studios.

Many popular fitness studios with previously-developed fitness subscription networks grew their audience base exponentially over the course of 2020. But before the pandemic, Vimeo OTT fitness channels had already proved their worth — with 206 minutes of content watched each month on average and an 89% retention rate.

A recent survey by Trust Securities of 1,500 consumers found that although most gyms have reopened, only 45% of respondents have been to a gym or an exercise class since the onset of the pandemic. The future of fitness is digital, and studios that were predominantly brick-and-mortar businesses have pivoted to accommodate this behavior change.

We had 15 studios across the country. We didn’t have video at all. It was in a future road map for us, but at the time, we were focused on scaling our studio business. We grew from five to 15 studios in three years. Once COVID hit, we immediately shifted to focus entirely on digital. We started with testing IG Lives for about a week, and very quickly knew that we wanted to deliver a better experience for our clients, which led us to Vimeo OTT.

Lauren Roxborough, CMO, Y7 Studio

2. Many options for monetization

There are many different ways to monetize your fitness videos online. From Instagram to pay-per-view to OTT channels, everyone from fitness influencers to franchised organizations can find ways to make money through online content.

In this post, we’ll be focusing mainly on fitness SVOD, or subscription video on demand.

Fitness SVOD: Fitness creators are uniquely poised to create content regularly, meaning that SVOD is an excellent way to add value to customers and scale your business. With SVOD, subscribers pay a recurring fee to enjoy unlimited access to premium content, so long as they continue to pay. It’s one of the most profitable video monetization business models — and one of the most popular, as evidenced by the success of streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, and Disney+.

3. Your network, your content

This is an obvious pro. By creating your online fitness program or OTT channel, you have the power to make the content you feel is missing from the industry or the content that is an extension of you. 

Here at Vimeo OTT, we support a range of fitness networks from yoga studios to trampoline cardio to fitness classes for audiences who have been traditionally excluded from the industry. Odds are, if you have an idea for a new fitness trend or audience, your target audience is out there waiting for you – or better yet, actively searching for a fitness option that speaks to them. 

In today’s world, content is king. Creating an online fitness program gives fitness creators and business owners the chance to tap into new networks and have a consistent flow of income that isn’t attached to an in-person studio.

The online fitness revolution

Watch the Streameo panel featuring Sydney Alexander (Exhale), Louise Green (Big Fit Girl), and Millionaire Hoy (Millionaire Hoy).

How do you know if launching a fitness subscription is right for you?

You want to grow your fitness audience

While a fitness subscription network takes time and equipment to get off the ground, it is much more scalable than a strictly brick-and-mortar business model.

Often, factors like time and location can stop a consumer from joining you for an in-person class. By moving your content online, you eliminate those barriers and bring the content straight to your audience. 

With fitness SVOD, the majority of your community is online – which gives you more opportunities to meet them where they are. Being active on social media or promoting your Facebook community during your classes will allow your customers to connect with others using your program.

You know your fitness audience

Before you launch your online fitness program, you need to do market research to ensure that your target audience is out there. Through consistent uploads and outreach, you will reach more people and build relationships with your subscribers. 

Making content that speaks to your audience will result in consistent conversions and return customers.

You want to scale your business

A no-brainer. By beginning a fitness SVOD business, you can achieve the type of growth that isn’t possible through only in-person options. Online classes have no size limits or time and location restrictions. Once you’ve developed and filmed your content, you can sit back and watch your business grow – that is, until you’re ready to film again.

You can focus on the content

To build and keep a subscription base, you have to produce content. For Louise at Big Fit Girl, the content has become the mainstay of her business. If a fitness subscription is a step you’re going to take, you have to focus on your content platform as your business’s meat and potatoes.

How to create fitness content

1. Lighting, cameras, mics

Setting up your at-home studio or your in-studio studio comes with unique challenges for every content creator. Starting with the basics, such as lighting, camera angles, and sound, will help you to create the best content possible.

Lighting

The sun is the best natural light source, so if you’re in a location with great windows – you’re in luck! Otherwise, inexpensive LED light kits will offer flattering light for you and make it easier for viewers to see what’s happening.

Learn more lighting tips →

Cameras

Your camera options will depend a lot on your budget, but a general tip is to invest in a tripod so that you’re not balancing your camera on a stack of books on top of your sound system. If you have the space to set up multiple cameras at different angles, cutting multiple shots together is a great way to add dimension to your videos (especially if you’re moving around a lot). 

Camera options for any budget →

Microphones

One of our FAQs from fitness creators is what mics we recommend for instructors. Audio is often an overlooked aspect of streaming, and making sure your subscribers can understand their instructor is vital to a great workout. Additionally, viewers can be forgiving of video issues, but audio issues are more likely to be a dealbreaker.

During Streameo, Vimeo OTT’s virtual event for every type of streaming channel, Millionaire Hoy shared his list of equipment and audio recommendations, which you can find here.

More audio advice →

2. Establish your niche

We’ve talked about knowing your audience in this post – but what exactly does that entail? 

Defining your niche has everything to do with how successful your brand will be in the long-run. If you don’t have a defined audience or brand concept, you’ll crumble under the many brands that do have a sense of why they’re creating content and who their unique audience is. 

And while the fun part of establishing a niche has everything to do with your content and the people it’s designed for, you should also be diving into key demographics. Questions like: How much is my target audience willing to pay for a subscription and what is the age range of my consumer will help you with key business decisions. 

Knowing your audience at the offset of your fitness subscription network will help you identify their trends and interests for long-term success.

How to future-proof your fitness channel

How brands cultivate high energy experiences online and how to plan for the long-term.

3. Stick to the basics

Once you’ve established a niche, it’s easy to get excited about breaking the mold of online fitness by filming experimental content and fitness tracks – but it’s best to save those for down the line.

Opening with your most popular classes in a few different formats is the key to success here. Include a wind-down series with guided stretches or meditations. If you have a monthly series, try filming before launching and uploading it ahead of time. Sticking to what’s already worked for you in the past is what will most likely resonate with your new online audience.

Including promotional content for your fitness classes can also be a great way to drum up interest. Explore Vimeo’s workout video maker to promote your classes.

4. Go live

On top of your on-demand library, live classes are a great way to engage users, create urgency, and build out your library over time. 

Some of Vimeo’s OTT fitness customers go live once a week, and some host live classes multiple times a day. Of course, this all depends on your production bandwidth and demand.

If you’re starting with a ton of on-demand video, you can go minimal on the live side. If you’re starting without that, you want to go heavy on live to add value for your viewers.

Kristen Kampetis, Solutions & Technical Operations, Vimeo

FAQ: How to make an online fitness video?

Making an online fitness video is just like creating any other content. You’ll need the equipment and distribution channels to get your video uploaded and viewed. You can find equipment recommendations here. 

For beginners, developing basic fitness programming is the first step. What types of fitness videos do you want to create? Are they short or long? Who are you targeting? By perfecting your programming, you’ll be ready to film in no time.

How & where to launch your fitness program

Pre-record content for launch

Before you launch your fitness subscription network, you should have at least 10 classes filmed and ready to watch. This way, early subscribers are engaged while you create new content. 

If you’re starting with less on-demand video content, build out a more robust live streaming class schedule. This will add value to your channel while simultaneously building out your content library. 

If you’re starting from scratch, we recommend filming content in batches. A lot of our fitness OTT customers switch between filming days and marketing days. 

Streaming workouts, made easy.

Y7 Studio’s advice for studios pivoting to online classes.

Keep content organization simple

We’ve given an overview of creating content for your fitness subscription network, but how about organizing it? Making sure your content is discoverable and organized in a clear, consistent way will ensure less friction for your customer’s viewing experience. 

Separate out your live-streamed content by providing a live class schedule on your website. Vimeo OTT also makes it simple to organize videos within collections and categories.

Figure out what your fitness subscription is worth

In order to launch, you’ll need to think about how much your target audience is willing to pay for your fitness subscription network. Think through your pricing sweet spot. More on that in our next section.

How to price your fitness program subscription

Vimeo OTT offers creators the ability to customize monthly and yearly subscription prices, which begs the question: How much do I charge my subscribers?

If you’ve established an extremely niche community, you may be able to charge more than the average for your industry. The reason being that a niche audience is likely to have less pricing competition, and if you’re the only fitness channel that features trapeze and zebras (and have found a market for circus fitness) people are typically willing to pay a bit more.

But there are still extremely popular channels that cover more mainstream fitness trends that can sustain and grow their business. It all depends on your consumer and what your content and the convenience of accessing at home is worth. 

A lower price will always help with conversions but doesn’t affect retention or churn. Because of this – you may want to keep your cost down and offer discounts while you’re building your channel and raise the subscription fee once you’ve established customer loyalty.

Average fitness SVOD prices

Deciding how much to charge your fitness SVOD customers can be tricky. When customers of any industry are unsure about what to charge for content access, a monthly charge of $7.99 – $9.99 is the general sweet spot for creators who release content regularly.

However, fitness creators can get away with charging more if they have a library of content available to users. Plus, fitness SVOD subscriptions are far less expensive than traditional gym memberships, and the constant uploading of new content is a significant draw for subscribers. Our top fitness sellers here at Vimeo OTT charge between $9.99 – $14.99 a month.

For annual subscription prices, you are more likely to convince someone to pay for a yearly subscription if you price it at 20% – 25% less than it would cost if they were paying month to month.

Introductory offers

Offering something for nothing is the easiest way to gain subscribers and keep them around. When you’re starting a promotion plan, you have to remember that you’re creating a new service, and your audience isn’t yet aware of the value you’re providing. 

Free trials and promo codes give subscribers a taste of your platform and build brand loyalty over time. This can be as simple as offering videos before the paywall, like your website or Instagram account. 

For Vimeo OTT fitness customers, a 30-day free trial is the best option for keeping subscribers around. Longer free trials have a direct effect on retention, meaning customers feel invested in the platform.

FAQ: How to sell online personal training?

Personal training is another method for fitness professionals to make revenue. The benefit of fitness SVOD is that it can feel like personal training but brings a structured class model’s revenue. 

With Vimeo OTT, you can also create fitness programs for specific needs and organize them with content organization. You can also use multiple monetization models outside of SVOD to sell your online training.

What can I do to continue growing my subscriber base?

1. Promote content, not your brand

When it comes to promoting your fitness subscription network, creative matters. Content ads generally convert customers 3-4x cheaper than brand ads. So it pays to show off the content you’re creating rather than the brand itself. 

Using video for your promotions will also pay off. As a video business, it stands to reason that video converts better.

2. Invest in community

We’ve really seen the larger community come together over the past few months, whether it be people that used to come into the studio and they miss their friends or just brand new people who are drawn to our brand.

Sydney Alexander, Digital Director, Exhale

Fitness doesn’t have to be an individual journey. Bring your subscribers into something greater than simply taking a class by investing in your community. Utilize social media to create groups or a hashtag. Create a space in your newsletters for subscribers to share about their journey with your platform. This creates even more value around your brand and has been proven to increase overall customer lifetime value.

At the end of the workout, we all fist bump the screen and that’s a way to indicate that we’re all connected and I’m just on one side of the screen and they’re on the other. So my community and the vibe, it’s like I’m throwing a party and all of my friends are invited.

Millionaire Hoy, Founder, Millionaire Hoy

3. Stay true to your brand

Maintaining that balance between innovation and staying true to your core offering is easier said than done. But staying true to your brand builds trust with your audience, so they know what they’re coming back to time and time again.

4. Create new content consistently

Sellers with over 500 videos saw retention rates of 91% on average. That may seem like many videos now, but if you’re planning on going live frequently — those videos add up quickly. Consistent uploads are probably the #1 way to keep subscribers around.

Recap: What you need to know to get your fitness subscription network moving

Creating an online fitness subscription network takes time, planning, and patience to be truly successful. Growing your brand through SVOD brings a fantastic opportunity to build a more robust online community, gives your business a competitive edge, and allows you the freedom to increase revenue on the content you were already providing your consumers. We covered a lot of ground in this post, so here’s a brief recap to take with you:

  • Online fitness is here to stay. Statistics show that the fitness SVOD industry will only grow in the future, and consumers expect virtual fitness options. 
  • Creating an online fitness program gives fitness creators and business owners the chance to tap into new networks and have a consistent flow of income that isn’t attached to an in-person studio. 
  • Knowing your audience and establishing your niche off the bat is the best way to ensure success with your online fitness brand. 
  • Having a library of content before launching your subscription network, and offering a free trial or subscription discount, will significantly increase your conversions.

Build and Monetize Your Fitness App