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How to Run a Profitable Virtual Fitness Studio

Mike Arce

Mike Arce

It’s no secret, March 2020 devastated the fitness industry. Most gyms had to fight to survive… luckily, virtual fitness helped. Others, about 35%, were sadly forced to close indefinitely… 

It doesn’t have to be this way.

In this article, I’m going to break down: 

  1. How many fitness studio owners who are now running successful, profitable virtual fitness studios, were terrified to go down that path and almost didn’t.
  2. Why members and prospects actually WANT to join your virtual fitness option
  3. And, the 3 quick-hit keys to running a profitable virtual fitness studio

Step one in running a profitable virtual fitness studio is the same step one when starting anything new… 

All of the Reasons NOT to Run Virtual Fitness Classes… and Why They’re Not True

What’s the #1 thing you have to help new members with? They committed to working out with you, they’re excited to get results, but what happens once they get started?


Anything new and worth doing needs to start with new habits and eliminating excuses. Here are a few of the excuses we’ve heard gym owners make when it comes to running a virtual option:

“I’m afraid no wants to do virtual fitness…”

The numbers are in and members WANT virtual fitness. In other words, this is no longer an excuse.

virtual fitness studio profit

481 of the 500+ fitness studios we work with generated revenue through their virtual fitness options. 

In fact, in a 76-day timeframe when just about every gym was forced to close, 36% of fitness studios added up to 99 new paying members.

The average membership of those 99 new paying members was over $80 per month in recurring revenue.

Another 40% of fitness studios added up to 25 new paying members in that same timeframe.

“Gyms won’t be hurt by this pandemic much longer…”

Just when we thought everyone could reopen their fitness studios, a second wave of lockdowns hit places like Florida, Texas, Arizona, California, and more.

On top of that, gyms that got to reopen had to run at 50% capacity or less!

If a profitable physical fitness studio typically runs at 80% of capacity, how are you supposed to profit with 30% less paying members?

This is here to stay and fortunately, for keeping your business profitable, so is virtual fitness.

“It’s not my brand…”

I understand why gym owners say this, but let’s think about what your business’s actual WHY is: Help people get fit and feel better about themselves. Right?

If virtual fitness helps you accomplish that AND, allows you to get members outside your physical 5-mile radius, it’s 100% your brand.

“I don’t know how to run a virtual fitness studio…”

This is fair, but I promise you do. Many studio owners and trainers felt the same way… but once they launched theirs and started running classes, they fell right into their coaching groove.

As far as building a virtual option, we actually built a virtual fitness studio for you here: www.elitevirtualstudio.com

Many of the fitness studio owners running successful, profitable virtual fitness studios had similar excuses but one mindset separated them from the pack… 

What Sets Successful Virtual Fitness Studio Owners Apart

Gym owners running a successful virtual option aren’t much different from anyone else. They had the same fears, excuses, and anxiety about creating and running a virtual option, but…

These owners made a mindset shift… they made a decision:

They chose to figure it out instead of waiting it out.

Gym Owners Maintain Revenue While Closed With Virtual Fitness

LadyStrong co-owner and Loud Rumor Performance Consultant, Brittany Welk was terrified when her studio was first forced to close… 

Her partner and co-owner, Marciea, put it to her this way, “We’ve just been thrown in the deep end and we can either sink or swim. Let’s swim.”

“What I realized,” Brittany says, “is that it’s not a fear of running a virtual option, but the insecurity of not being able to sell it and making things worse by even starting one.”

But, when Brittany joined Marciea and decided to swim to save their business, going virtual worked… BIG!

They added 44 new, paying members to their Elite Virtual Studio from various states and countries and maintained an average of $27,000 in monthly recurring revenue while their doors were closed.

Just before reopening, they had 233 paying members. Before they were forced to close, they had 236. Virtual helped them stay in business.

Brittany Welk LadyStrong Fitness Virtual Data

“Your members don’t know that you don’t know what you’re doing with virtual,” Brittany says, “just launch it and members will love it. They’ll be excited that you created something for them and where they’re at in their lives right now.”

Members Are Enjoying Virtual Fitness Studios

“I had studio owners I work with that hated the idea of going virtual,” Loud Rumor Account Manager Alexa says, “but once they did it, they loved it… and so did their members!”

Alexa works with a few SoldierFit locations and they were one of the few fitness studios pumped and ready to pivot to virtual once their locations were forced to close. But…

“They reached out to Loud Rumor and really leaned on us for help,” Alexa says, “Luckily, we already had Elite Virtual Studio and they were blown away! All of their locations now run EVS!”

Here’s an incredible example of why members love virtual fitness… 

One of the studios Alexa works with said their members told them she was so grateful that they not only had LIVE virtual workouts, but recordings of their live workouts.

“This member was in the middle of her LIVE workout when her child started screaming,” Alexa says, “So she had to jump out of the workout and was so happy that she could jump back in where she left off with the recorded version.”

Gym Owner Sees Incredible Results Marketing Their Virtual Fitness Studio

“One of the studio owners I work with originally thought they couldn’t offer anything close to what they normally offer in-person,” Loud Rumor Account Manager Alexandra says, “but when EVS came out, it was a virtual game-changer!”

Pilates Mind Body Spirit owner Michel’Le went all in… and it worked. “They’re doing really well with virtual,” Alexandra says.

Their virtual fitness ad campaign generated 115 leads and 88,647 impressions at an average cost per lead (CPL) of $15.08!

Virtual Fitness Loud Rumor Ad

So, when California announced recently that gyms would have to close again, Michel’Le responded differently: “I’m good. I’m on top of it. I got this!”

Now, what separates successful virtual options from the Pelotons, YouTube Videos, and Beachbody Workouts?

Make LIVE Workouts the Core of Your Virtual Fitness Option

Fitness studios like yours have a powerful advantage over the competition: LIVE workouts.

You get to interact with members doing your workouts and call them out by name!

“Great form on those squat jumps, Jill!”
“John, keep those hips down on those push-ups!”
“Hey, Jen. I saw you had a question. Hang on after the workout and I’ll help you out.”

This kind of interactive community is dominating virtual fitness. Members LOVE it and it keeps them coming back for more.

You Can Create Live Fitness Challenges To Get More Virtual Members

People love challenges… more than that, they love interactive group challenges. The top 5% of fitness studios running a virtual option do this very well.

In fact, LadyStrong Fitness ran multiple challenges, but I’m going to highlight two that benefited their members, their business, and people in need.

The Virtual Fitness Studio Accountability Challenge

One of the challenges LadyStrong Fitness owners Brittany Welk and Marciea Allen devised was an Accountability Challenge. Here’s out it works:

  1. Bring a friend to do virtual workouts with you for FREE for 30 days.
  2. Whichever friend completes the most LIVE virtual classes in that 30 days wins ANOTHER 30 days FREE for themselves AND the member who referred them.

The Feed America Virtual Fitness Challenge

This is a great referral campaign that helps out a charity LadyStrong Fitness is passionate about… 

  1. For every person who’s referred and attends a virtual class, we donate 50 meals to Feeding America

LadyStrong Fitness ran this promo for about 2 weeks and it resulted in 5700 meals to Feeding America.

Not only did they get hot leads into their gym, but they helped a lot of starving families in the process. And it was all through virtual fitness.

Engage With Virtual Fitness Members Outside Of Your Workouts

Remember, virtual fitness is a full-fledged business! Just like you do with your physical space, you have to engage members outside of your studio.

You’re building a community.

Send them texts and emails to remind them of their upcoming LIVE workouts, stretching guides, proper form videos, check-in on them, and everything in between.

Be there for your community and get them excited to participate with you, your team, and other virtual members.

If you need help with this, I highly recommend watching the video and booking a demo here:

elite virtual fitness studio loud rumor

The 3 Quick-Hit Keys To Running a Profitable Virtual Fitness Studio

It’s a quick-hit list so let’s get right into it:

#1 Launch

You can’t wait until your virtual fitness studio is “perfect.” Just launch it and improve it along the way. Again, we built one for you if you want to launch one faster: www.elitevirtualstudio.com 

#2 Build

  • Make your virtual fitness studio better and better every chance you get
  • Encourage and build your community with LIVE workouts and outside engagement
  • Provide helpful materials like stretching tips, nutritional guides, etc.

#3 Grow

Perfect or not, people want to do virtual workouts right now. So, encourage current, paused, or canceled members to join your new virtual option.

Run Facebook and Instagram Ads to get new members into your virtual fitness studio. If you need help with this, we have a FREE Facebook Advertising Cheat Sheet for you:

4-Step Facebook Ads Fitness Studios Cheat Sheet Free Download

With where the fitness industry is at right now AND, with where your members and prospects are at during all of this, running a virtual fitness studio is a great way to continue growing and keep your business profiting.

Even when everything fully opens again, LIVE virtual fitness is a profitable business worth retaining indefinitely.

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