Virgin Active

Virgin Active Member Experience

Health, Wellness & Lifestyle > Best User Interface


Virgin Active

Virgin Active Member Experience

The new Virgin Active Global Member Experience is an industry-first digital product experience that has been designed specifically to support all of our members at every stage of their health and wellness journey. It combines a best in class digital gym membership experience with an intuitive digital loyalty engine that rewards and encourages members to build healthy, life long habits. Along with better supporting their members, the incentive for Virgin Active is to reduce churn by offering compelling reasons to help their members become more active which the insights have shown leads to much higher member retention rates.

Redefining the gym member experience

As the world emerged from the global pandemic, the gym sector was in flux. It was an uncertain time as the world started to return to a ‘new’ normality and the role of gyms – in the real world and online was in flux. It was a challenge, even for a brand as strong as Virgin Active, to understand how best to serve its members’ needs and even more complicated to imagine a digital experience that could meet these new demands in a way that was sustainable from a business perspective.

We helped Virgin Active develop a new vision and roadmap for their digital experience, one that encapsulated what their members were now looking for from a gym membership. To ensure that we were on the right track, we surveyed fitness fans and put prototypes in the hands of members, evolving the proposition as we learned. Having found a concept that resonated with members, our role shifted to now working with Virgin Active Global and their new CEO Dean Kowarski to bring that strategy to life on a global scale. The new app would also be the vehicle for Virgin Active’s brand new loyalty proposition, one of the first in the fitness industry.

We worked with the Virgin Active team and their loyalty partners to design and build a digital experience to redefine the relationship that Virgin Active has with its members. Above and beyond the standard fitness chain digital offering, it was exciting to work on a digital experience that had loyalty built into its core and a genuine desire to provide best in class support to enhance members on their fitness and wellness journeys.

Building lifetime habits that last

Virgin Active had a clear view of the structure of the new loyalty programme; working together with their loyalty partners we brought that vision to life with screen concepts that the teams iterated and evolved together. Because the programme offers both short and long-term rewards, our main challenge was in conveying the full value proposition in a simple, engaging way. In addition to the new loyalty programme, the app includes features to help members get the most out of their membership whether working out in a club or elsewhere. As the app was the focus for driving a broader digital transformation within Virgin Active we also worked with new providers of membership management services to ensure that we delivered a fantastic experience and user interface for key journeys such as class booking, referring a friend and finding a new trainer.

In the design we play with brand elements to create an experience that feels fully “Virgin Active” while also highlighting specific aspects of their offering. The V-shape is reflected in the headers and imagery. Brand images have been updated to reflect the high-end but inclusive element which is key for VA. We worked with Virgin Active to create new brand colours to complement the distinctive Virgin red, giving the core “Big Five” activities GRID, Boxing, Cycle, Yoga and Pilates a separate identity within the brand.

The colours had to work on digital (AA compliant) and in the gyms as they wanted to use the class category colours in the lighting and marketing to give the right vibe across all channels.

We worked with all the markets to move them to a consolidated palate. Some options like using a multicoloured gradient were ruled out during this process as we had to make use of the workout videos and images that were already shot in the different markets.

Virgin Active ColoursVirgin Active Colours

The app has been developed for iOS and Android (including Android devices that do not have access to the Google Play services). We’ve pushed Kotlin Multiplatform beyond how it has previously been used, breaking new ground with the way in which we share ViewModels. This approach has enabled a significant amount of the business logic to be shared between both platforms, reducing duplicated development effort and creating a strong foundation for further future development.

In late May 2023, the new experience was successfully launched in South Africa and is being rolled out across the 8 other global markets through the Summer.

Designed with a global scope in mind, the app can be easily adapted to cater to local audiences, ensuring a seamless and engaging experience for Virgin Active members worldwide.

Results to date

One of the core challenges for any gym business is to retain customers. The strategy of the new app is to increase the number of visits members make, informed by the observation that members who visited the club once or more per month were four times less likely to churn. The new Virgin Active experience supports real-world activity by providing a visual record of the member’s achievement and showing the benefits they can unlock through repeated gym visits. Analytics data has validated the approach so far; we have observed a strong improvement in app user retention since the launch. Our analytics shows a dramatic increase in people using the Virgin Active experience to support their fitness journey, with Week 4 retention jumping from 0.4% to 41%.

The loyalty programme is structured around both short-term and long-term behaviour change. The app prompts members to start building a fitness habit with small, regular incentives for repeated visits. Users returning to the app each day increased to a consistent figure of around 15% from a baseline of below 1%. Member engagement with rewards has increased since the app launch with the reward redemption rate increasing from 20% to 45% consistently rising week on week. In the last week alone, almost 25k members redeemed their weekly reward.

Short term loyalty rewards ladder up into longer-lasting benefits that compound over time, with concepts like tier benefits and a member-get-member referral programme amplifying intrinsic motivators like identity and community. Members are using the app more frequently, with engaged sessions per user jumping from 1 over 30 days to 7. They are also using the app for longer, with the average session duration increasing thirteenfold to 11m 53s.

The app has already driven a change in real world behaviour with average weekly visits per member rising 19% from base. The percentage of members making two or more visits per week has risen by over 7 percentage points from 41.5% to 48.7%. Most encouragingly as an early indicator for retention, the new app has influenced the behaviour of less frequent gym users. Members who visited the club at least once per week rose 6.5 percentage points from the baseline figure.

The initial results have exceeded all expectations and has already allowed Virgin Active to understand their members better, so they can build meaningful and personal relationships with them. The new experience interface is proving to be the starting point in enabling members to take their own lifestyle changes into their own hands and progressing through their wellness journey with new features planned which focus on mental and nutritional support to provide a fully rounded experience.

Now there is a good basis more features will be added building out the mental and nutritional support linked to looking after your health.

“The Virgin Active App, developed in collaboration with Future Platforms, is a game-changer for our global members. It elevates our brand’s presence in the wellness space, providing a seamless and engaging experience for members, while also offering a groundbreaking integrated rewards program.”

Dean Kowarski

Group CEO of Virgin Active

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