YMCA Victoria will launch a suite of Virtual Group Fitness classes at three of its major recreation centres this month, with plans to extend the innovative technology to many of the 34 YMCA-managed recreation facilities in the next 12 months.
This will provide a huge increase in class numbers and availability to the 60,000 plus members at the Y.
Virtual Group Fitness is an online or video based system that provides Les Mills group fitness content to a facility via large display screens. The first classes will be launched at Casey ARC in Narre Warren and Knox Leisureworks in Boronia, with Warragul Leisure Centre to follow soon after.
YMCA Victoria researched and adopted virtual technology over three years ago and currently hosts virtual RPM classes at Hawthorn Aquatic and Leisure Centre, Ashburton Pool and Recreation Centre and Casey RACE.
YMCA Victoria Health and Fitness Manager Troy Walker said the expansion of the new technology into group fitness classes was the result of extensive research on consumer habits.
“The YMCA is committed to engaging all community segments on behalf of our contract partners and this initiative has been driven by direct research within the communities we work. This is as much about accessibility as it is about service and innovation.”
“We are upscaling our use of this technology in our facilities. We are taking the community recreation lead in this area to offer the newest and most innovative experience to all our members and guests,” he said.
Virtual Group Fitness has emerged to become one of the most sought after products within the industry and is being implemented worldwide.
A recent report from IHRSA stated that clubs generally saw an increase in aggregate group fitness participation of 23 per cent post implementation of Virtual Group Fitness. Virtual programming ranked as the second fastest growing form of fitness programming and, as a trend, facilities saw an increase in the number of members participating in live classes as well.
Troy said Virtual Group Fitness will provide YMCA centres with the ability to increase utilisation of group fitness rooms by offering classes to targeted groups and attracting new participants to group training who would not normally join group fitness classes. It would also be a convenient back up for occasions where live classes have to be cancelled due to instructor illness or absence.
“It is important to note that no live classes will be removed from timetables, however there will be a huge increase in classes at times that are suitable to all,” he said. “We’ve responded to the demands of busy people by making it easier to exercise and stay fit and healthy.”
“Our people are our greatest asset. The move towards technology based products will never replace ‘people’, but where possible we aim to embrace technology to complement our service offerings.”
Currently Australia is in the early adopter phase of the growth of innovative technology solutions and the YMCA is moving swiftly to ensure it is at the forefront of industry trends.