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How Upstate Studios’ Retention and  Attendance Rates Skyrocketed During COVID-19

Using FitGrid’s seamless integrations with Mindbody and Zoom

“Without the FitGrid live-streaming solution, we would not have been able to offer as many live-stream classes a day, which has been critical to our success.”

Gail Asbell, Co-Founder of Upstate Studios

Results with FitGrid

Average Class Size

8x

With the new virtual class capacity of 500 students, Upstate could teach much larger classes. The average virtual class size was 8x higher than in-studio classes with 78 students per class.

Largest Class Size

10x

In its first month using FitGrid, Upstate experienced its largest class to date which had 450 students! That was 10x more students than any of their largest classes taught pre-COVID.

Instructor Ratings

9.53

Members have submitted 3,068 instructor feedback surveys, giving the instructors an average 9.53 rating out of 10. Most of the feedback from clients was singing instructors’ praises and thanking the studio for offering virtual classes.

Analysis of the 76 days pre and post the COVID-19 shutdown of fitness studios.  Pre-Shutdown: January 1 – March 16  |  Post-Shutdown: March 17-May 31

lagree west
lagree west

The Challenge

Keeping Clients Connected During COVID-19 Studio Closures

Background:
Upstate Studios is a popular fitness brand in Australia offering classes in pilates, boxing, HIIT, yoga, and meditation. The studio started using FitGrid on March 17, 2020, and became a virtual studio on the day they closed their studios due to COVID-19, which was March 23, 2020. 

Start of COVID-19:
When temporarily closing studio doors to adhere to COVID-19 social distancing guidelines, Gail Asbell, Co-Founder of Upstate, knew her four locations needed a solution, and they needed it fast. It was important for Upstate to find a way to keep clients active and maintain the bonds that they had formed with each other and the instructors.

“We could see that some members were starting to self-isolate at home. We wanted to offer them a way to stay connected and continue their classes without coming into the studio,” Asbell reflects. “We faced obstacles on a daily basis, varying from equipment set up and technology issues to negotiating with multiple landlords on commercial lease arrangements. We quickly needed to determine the best platform to use and decide on a new business model to survive in this new environment.”

Taking action:
Upstate implemented FitGrid LIVE to live-stream classes the same day they closed on March 23, 2020. Previously, the studio had only been using FitGrid for a week, but temporary closures became an opportunity to provide the same fantastic service clients came to expect, in a way that was accessible from home. They quickly noticed the difference that live-streaming makes, and seized the opportunity to strengthen their fitness community.

The Solution

Staying Active With Live-Stream Programming

The transition to virtual:
Upstate Studios is a popular fitness brand in Australia offering classes in pilates, boxing, HIIT, yoga, and meditation. The studio started using FitGrid on March 17, 2020, and became a virtual studio on the day they closed their studios due to COVID-19, which was March 23, 2020. 

“Many of our clients are going through a tough time right now, and it’s great that we can make their day a little brighter and keep them moving when they need it the most,” Asbell says. “Every day since closing we have received messages from our members about how much they love the live-stream classes and feel a sense of connection. This has inspired us to keep moving forward in the most challenging period we have ever faced in business.”

Why it works:
The “gallery mode” feature through the streaming platform makes it easy for instructors to see the participants in class (only if they turn on their webcam), allowing for compliments and corrections to improve their form. This simulates the interpersonal interaction that makes group fitness fun and motivational. Asbell says Upstate instructors “encourage members to turn on their cameras, and are constantly giving them shout outs and encouragement. They will give a shout out if it’s someone’s birthday or milestone class, and we all give each other a wave and a big smile at the end of each class.”

Clients can keep that conversation going by responding to follow-up messages or leaving instructor feedback when prompted at the end of each session. They can rate their instructors’ performance and leave written feedback that could improve their experience next time. The ability to share their favorite parts of the class and suggest ways to improve helps Upstate constantly better the client experience, and show clients that their opinions are valued.

FitGrid is the best way to live-stream for fitness studios

The Results

Better Connections Than Ever Before!

The key to keeping the studio top-of-mind for clients was to focus on their needs and “‘over-deliver’ in all areas possible,” Asbell says. And the studio has certainly followed through – since transitioning to a virtual format, Upstate has streamed over 700 online fitness classes with FitGrid! 

Without the limitations of physical space in the studio, and a class capacity that was 11x larger than in-studio classes, the possibilities of live-streaming were almost endless. Participants could join a class from anywhere with an internet connection and loved the convenience of being able to do their favorite workouts from home. For unlimited access to up to 75 live-streaming + on-demand classes a week, Upstate continued to charge the same membership rate as they offered students for their in-studio mat classes. In its first month using FitGrid, Upstate was able to have 10x as many students in class (with a maximum capacity of 500 students), and brought in 5x the number of students per month as they could prior to live-streaming. It saw an average of 78 students per class, with its largest class hosting 450 students!  

In April, Upstate’s first full month using FitGrid, the studio had a retention rate of 81% (the highest average retention rate of any studio on FitGrid is 84%.) By offering 75 live-streamed classes per week to a combined audience of clients from all four studio locations, Upstate has brought its community even closer and seen amazing results.  The studio has even been named the number 1 Live-Streamed studio in Australia and in the top ten globally. 

“Every day we receive the most amazing feedback, which keeps us inspired!” Asbell says. The studio has garnered over 3,068 instructor ratings, averaging 9.53 out of 10 stars – that’s over 50 reviews a day! Of these ratings, almost 50% were accompanied by feedback from clients that were singing instructors’ praises and thanking the studio for offering virtual classes.   

“Common feedback is that our live-stream classes are fun and challenging, clients feel connected, they love the instructors, and they want to live-stream classes to continue when we reopen.”

FitGrid LIVE allowed Upstate to host almost 2x as many classes, with 3x as many participants per session, as before Coronavirus closures. This allows greater potential for profit and a larger community that is connected throughout the world through virtual workouts. This is why Asbell says “live-streaming is definitely here to stay”.

Studio Details

Pilates & Strength
  • Using FitGrid since
    March 2020
  • Location
    Australia
  • Average instructor rating
    9.56
  • Average client retention rate
    83%

“Without the FitGrid live streaming solution, we would not have been able to offer as many live-stream classes a day which has been critical to our success.”

Gail Asbell

FitGrid is the only smart community management software that helps fitness studio owners drive success. By connecting staff, instructors, and clients through a powerful learning and recommendation grid, we help you leverage the power of your community to drive your studio’s profitability.

© FitGrid 2020