By Gill Stewart at
How WALX have tackled the COVID 19 Lockdown
We are so proud of the WALX team who have managed to create a virtual platform for Zoom classes and a host of pre-recorded exercise videos for our groups to enjoy whilst on Lockdown, and a new way of working in the future too
You might be forgiven for thinking how can you deliver Walking based group sessions on line but that’s just the point! Our Members pay a DD each month for more than simply a walk or two and the low cancellation/ freeze rates during the Coronavirus Lockdown have been a staggering reminder about what they love about being part of a supportive, social club. This quote from one client demonstrates how much the groups mean to them
“I prefer our group workouts to the many keep fit recorded sessions you can find on the internet as they are far more personal and in these unprecedented times, I really appreciate you helping us all stay connected with each other. I find them helping my mental well being not just my physical wellbeing ❤
I enjoy the variety of the workouts, helping me with my strength, balance, wellness (in every sense of the word), cardio and all round fitness.
Thank you for keeping me motivated, connected and giving me a sense of peace and happiness which helps me be able to support my friends and family.
My direct debit should just be continuing each month so please let me know if any problems.
Whilst the traditional fitness Industry were hit with a blanket cancellation of monthly DDs, we managed to retain 50% of our regular clients with the rest opting for a short term freeze only. With a combination of great client communication and options to engage with us ‘virtually’ we are now preparing for an even more comprehensive model for the future. What transpired was that many of those not on a DD plan also wanted to join in the on line sessions so some groups saw up to 20 new sign ups. The sharing of our fun content on line also attracted new participants to WALX as our web hits soured and enquiries to the groups started to return. As walking became a newly discoverd daily routine for many people, we also found a new audience who began to experience its benefits and wanted to know more!
How did the team achieve this turnaround?
In week one of Lockdown we ventured on line to support the groups initially and some of the more confident had done likewise with their clients. They reported that the response was overwhelmingly positive and that they needed help with technical issues and training.
The business Team got to work, exploring the best platforms to use and prepared training notes to help the groups both engage and communicate the new ways for their walkers to join in.
As Joe Wicks and other celebrities coaxed the British Public to join on line sessions, we also took a long hard look at what was available and knew that our USP would be our innovative approach to staying active rather than the typical ‘workout’.
As we are blessed with a team made up of fitness Industry professionals who have seen it all before (and probably delivered most of it too) we were able to delve into our 80’s legwarmer drawers to create what we called HOME WALX!
Denise Page (or Education Director) is no stranger to being in front of large groups, as former Director of YMCA Fit and a top industry presenter, she was the first to pop into her Garden to record a fun workout that would resonate with our audience. She was swiftly followed by some of the more confident WALX Masters who stepped up to the challenge despite not having professional recording kit and being confined to their homes and gardens. Ian Parker (another Industry stalwart) even managed to combine walking with ballroom dance in his Strictly come WALXing video!
The idea was to help the less confident WALX Masters with content they could share in their zoom sessions. We also encouraged them to hold coffee mornings, Zoom bars and a host of other classes that they created themselves. Once again innovation was the key and the groups have excelled with great ideas and ways to motivate their groups from sending them out to capture photos on their daily solo WALX to Strava challenges, route sharing and even a National virtual Dawn Chorus walk.
WALX Master Lucie from Dorset told us “I have gone from delivering my WALX in person to a virtual wizard! I am holding daily Zoom classes and using systems I never knew existed! We have set people challenges on Strava, sent out workout walking plans and even joined in a VE Day March with other groups. I have had over 20 people log in for my Zoom classes and I have even had new Members asking to join because they love what we do so much. I am feeling much more positive about the future than I did a few weeks ago”
As the popularity of the on line delivery became apparent, the IT team linked our management portal with Zoom so the groups could add sessions that were bookable via the usual processes thus ensuring that a check of payment methods (and access levels) were in place as well as Par Q (medical) screening etc. “We wanted to make sure that we were still keeping people safe even though we could not be with them in person” explains WALX Director Martin Christie who also worked with our insurers to make sure everything was in place to switch our delivery to virtual.
Soon the Videos were being shared liberally so the team decided it was time to build a page where they could be viewed by the wider Public after the groups had enjoyed them. See our VIRTUAL WALX page
“But we didn’t stop there” says Mike Rollason the WALX MD ” We realised that WALX would never be the same and that we needed a new interactive way of blending outdoor sessions with on line content that would keep our Members engaged but also attract new audiences to the brand”
“As our Exercise Anywhere management portal is the lynch pin of our business model (Its a crm, booking and payment system and so much more) we wanted to build a linked virtual platform where we could begin to develop more professional content that our Franchisees could share and monetise in some way” he adds.
“Apart from the Warm ups, Exercise regimes, Mindfulness and fun sessions now available, we want to create expert content from navigation courses to advice on kit or shoes, how to climb a certain Peak and so much more. Prepared by experts but shared by the groups in a way that will ensure both are rewarded every time the content is accessed because the portal knows who they are, which group they are in and how they pay. WALX Members and those interested in what we provide will be able to search and book all of this in one place and the great news is that they will not leave the WALX platform at all to take part in streamed sessions or to watch a video. We firmly believe this new initiative which is due to launch next week will add significant value to the WALX Franchise opportunity” says Mike
Its been a real team effort but that is what WALX is all about! Join us and help us to Get Britain back on it’s feet.