During the changing times of 2020, Newcastle University saw the necessity to pivot to digital
in order to keep their student population active. By embracing the Technogym Live & On
Demand platform, the top performing Russell Group University has completely transformed its
Technogym spoke to Denis Murphy, Participation & Events Manager at Newcastle University, to discuss the university’s fitness evolution through 2020.
Adapting to the changing landscape
“Before lockdown we had nothing in the way of digital, everything we offered was live and in
person training experiences centred around the gym environment. We had always planned to
incorporate a digital journey for the students in 2021, with the introduction of the Technogym
mywellness platform following our gym refurbishment. However, as the build was delayed due to Covid-19, we decided to accelerate launching a digital platform to our students”.
“We started our digital journey with pre-recorded classes hosted on YouTube which initially
had some interest and engagement, but that dropped off very quickly. There was so much
competition in the market for remote training during lockdown that we realised we needed to
create an experience that was unique to our facility”.
Creating a hybrid fitness offering
“As the landscape of fitness has changed so much this year, we’ve learned that fitness is now
much more of a hybrid model. In the past, we thought that by providing an on-demand service available in our student’s homes and halls, we would be devaluing our gym membership as
students would no longer need to come to the gym and take part in our live classes. We have
since realised that really isn’t the case, and what people really want now is a combination of
experiences. Students want in-person classes and a gym, but then they also want to continue
their fitness and training when they are unable to come to site, such as when they travel home
over the summer vacation or during exam periods”.
Embracing digital solutions
“We wanted to create a portal offering where everything was in one place for our members,
so we weren’t diverting the students off to lots of different platforms. We chose Technogym
Live & On-Demand because we liked the way it was a one-stop shop and that we were able
to do everything through one platform, Technogym mywellness”.
“The Technogym workout library was great for us as it got us off the ground and gave us an
offering straight away with us doing very little. Then there is the On-Demand function where
we can build our own library. This is fantastic as we could start adding our own classes, in our
own studios with the instructors our members know and trust”.
“We are currently in the process of adding five of our own On-Demand classes per week to
build up our own content, and while our instructors were new to the digital delivery of classes,
it’s important to remember that we’re not looking for perfection. We’re looking to create an
experience that is unique to Newcastle University, it’s what our members love and why they
attend our classes”.
“The other benefit to introducing Live & On-Demand is that students can now trial classes at
home and get to know the trainers before attending in person. This removes a barrier for any
students who may be nervous about trying something new or who are at the beginning of their fitness journey”.
Fitness in the palm of your hand
“Our overall objective was to expand our physical fitness offering for students so they can
interact with us anytime, anywhere. We are moving with the times and offering students fitness in the palm of their hands”.
“Within the student demographic, everything is now done through their smart phones and
technology is at the forefront of everything they do. We are trying to have a digital presence
and provide an experience that is easy for them to use. Convenience in the student market
really is everything. If they can’t access content easily, then they are just not interested”.
“This strategy has really worked for us and we have seen fantastic engagement with
mywellness. We launched Live & On-Demand to members just before lockdown 2.0 and have
already seen 20% of our existing member base actively download and start using the
mywellness app. These figures are incredibly positive as this is reflective of the percentage of
members who attended our classes pre-lockdown”.
Development of social media presence
“We spend the lockdown period accelerating the development of our social media presence
by creating new and engaging content. This new content was easy to understand and clearly
branded with the Newcastle University look and feel. It is so important to get the promotion
and marketing right and to keep highlighting the benefits of Live & On-Demand and
“My recommendation to others looking to enhance their online presence would be to keep
your marketing messaging clear and consistent, and don’t be afraid to repeat content in
different ways. There is so much information out there and not everyone will see everything
you post, so repeating the key messages is essential”.
“When students go home for their Christmas and Summer vacations, remind them that they
can track their outdoor runs, join Live classes and take part in On-Demand training even when
they are away from the facility. If students can see a calendar of events to take part in, they
will be more likely to keep their fitness journey going all year round”.
Evolving the experience
“Thanks to Technogym Live & On-Demand, we have been able to pivot our launch plan to
have a soft opening with our hybrid model built around the mywellness platform. This has
meant that the digital side of our membership will already be established in preparation for the major facility opening with the new Technogym equipment coming in August 2021”.
“This new strategy has meant that when the refurbished gym opens, we won’t be introducing
a whole new platform to the students, they will already have been using Live & On-Demand
and be familiar with the mywellness app”.
“Looking forward, students will be able to unlock new features of the mywellness platform by
taking part in Wellness Assessments, where they can monitor their progress by tracking their
body composition on Tanita, and access entertainment features on the equipment. All these
added features will give the students a real wow factor”.