Virtual solutions are here to stay and the data it enables is vital.

Why Virtual Fitness Is a Must-Have For Member Engagement

In the wake of COVID-19, when we found ourselves quickly adapting and pivoting, we, like many companies in the U.S. went completely virtual. Seemingly overnight, our entire SilverSneakers® brand was digital or live streaming so we could better meet our members’ needs and encourage healthy behaviors.

Yet what we have learned about our members is something we would have never expected, especially during a crisis.

For more than 8 weeks, we have conducted more than 10 member surveys and the data we have gathered has provided us with the unique opportunity to really lean in, ask more questions and learn so we can stay true to the pillars of our mission and serve our members and clients now and in a post-COVID world.


Data Informs Decisions

In recent years, we have been heavily invested in research, member interviews and surveys to better understand our community’s needs and create innovate solutions.

With SilverSneakers On-Demand and the SilverSneakers Go app, so much about our digital pivot had already happened and we were already showing up in the solution space. Yet when COVID-19 hit the U.S., our pace was accelerated, and we brought virtual SilverSneakers classes to market nearly overnight.

In fact, on March 19th, we started SilverSneakers Facebook Live classes and less than 4 weeks later, we rolled out SilverSneakers Live classes, which are offered through the member portal and accessed virtually.

In parallel, we also launched SilverSneakers FLEX Virtual classes which are the same FLEX classes and the same instructors teaching their same groups of dedicated, connected members.

Of course, we were able to quickly adapt.

Our robust product pipeline had always been armed with insightful consumer research. And because of the data we had, which we have continued to gather throughout the pandemic, we are reaching tens of thousands of members to understand behavior and sentiment alike as well as any unmet needs where our increasingly digital capabilities are aligned.

What we’ve discovered is that not only are we meeting the social determinants of health needs of our members, but virtual is allowing us to do that.


Benefits of Virtual 

Our mission has never been more relevant than it is now during the pandemic and the rate of adoption of our innovative solutions is greater than ever before.

According to our usage data, in the first few weeks of making SilverSneakers Live available, between April 6 and June 2, nearly 7,500 members attended classes, generating 36,000 visits.

What’s more, 29% of members are keeping up with their same level of activity while 26% of members are exercising more. When asked which new activities they started during COVID-19 and will continue to stick with after social distancing restrictions are lifted, outdoor activities, at-home exercises and virtual classes/ videos took the lead.

Virtual has provided our health plans and members with a host of benefits.
Our live classes have allowed our members to stay physically active, socially connected, and able to stick to a routine even when their regular routines have been completely disrupted.

We have worked hard to ensure that our virtual classes emulate our in-person classes as much as possible so that members feel their instructors are right there along with them. Surprisingly, even for those members who are considered exercise adverse they have stayed engaged with us during this time.

Our survey data also shows that members are engaged with our virtual fitness solutions not because they know they should, but because they enjoy it. In fact, 88% said they were very or somewhat satisfied and 77% said they were likely to recommend the classes to family and friends.

Our SilverSneakers instructors also have a lot to do with these high levels of engagement.
When asked what members enjoy most about the Live classes, the top answer was their instructor. The relationship our members have with their instructors has always been a foundational element of SilverSneakers and a big reason why it’s a community.

During a time when there are so many barriers to face-to-face social connection and relationships are challenging, virtual has proven to be the key to maintaining and even strengthening those relationships, whether connecting via SilverSneakers Live or Flex virtual.


Our Commitment to the Health and Safety of Our Members

As states continue to lift restrictions and gyms re-open in time, health plans should prepare for a new normal particularly as many older adults with chronic conditions have delayed care and continue to do so.

According to our latest SilverSneakers Post-Pandemic Return to Activity Survey, 90% of members said that while they plan to exercise in the next 3 months, 68% say it will be at home. For those who have used our digital solutions, over two-thirds plan to continue using them after returning to a participating location. Plus, among Live participants 99% of plan to attend future classes, with 56% who plan to take 2 to 3 classes a week.

Virtual is no longer a temporary alternative to the gym but another way to consume fitness.
Likewise, virtual vs. in person fitness doesn’t have to be an either-or decision. The gym, Flex, live streaming, On-Demand and fitness apps can all be options on any given day someone chooses to be active. All part of a now broader range of options within a single reimagined fitness routine.

We are committed to offering our members all of our in-person and virtual options.
If and when they feel safe to return to our participating locations, we encourage them to do so. If they feel that at-home workouts are the way to go for some time—or indefinitely—we have the tools to allow them to do that as well. And if a hybrid approach of the gym and virtual is their preference, the more likely scenario, we support that too.

With more channels for members to access classes, and more data points to gather, the insights we glean will help us better understand members as individuals and healthcare consumers, including what they need and why. It will allow us to make well-being personal to a much greater extent that wouldn’t have been possible months ago.

At Tivity Health, we are on a mission to impact key social determinants of health and revolutionize a new approach to health and wellness. To learn more about our solutions for Medicare Advantage plans, contact us today.