How Virgin Active thinks beyond the club

People in a Revolution class at Virgin Active
Virgin Active
Natalie Clarkson
by Natalie Clarkson
13 August 2021

When Virgin goes into a new industry, we like to make sure we’re doing things a little bit differently. And when Virgin Active launched in 1999, it was on a mission to change the world of health clubs.

With the customer at the heart of everything it does, Virgin Active created an irresistible experience that encourages people to be active. But some of the design decisions at its high-end clubs have nothing to do with the training floor.

Virgin Active Australia Reception - two ladies at front desk
Virgin Active Australia

Virgin Active introduced its equivalent of the Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse underneath its gym floor in some of its high-end clubs. This way, instead of walking straight into the exercise space, you walk into what feels like a private members’ lounge that can cater to all your business needs.

“It made people’s journeys from work to training more seamless and took another barrier out of their day,” Virgin Active design director Richard Lamb-Hughes, said. “Everyone is time-starved, and if we can help with that, we’re winning.”

Taking exercise out of the club

More recently, Virgin Active has started thinking about exercise beyond the walls of its clubs. Even before the coronavirus pandemic forced health clubs across the world to close their doors, Virgin Active Italy launched Revolution, which allows people to attend a class run by Virgin Active trainers from their own homes. 

A man uses an indoor bike at home
Image from Virgin Active Italy

Through a partnership with Technogym, Revolution gives people access to exclusive training content with the world’s top trainers whenever and wherever they want it. It offers live training sessions in various different sports – with people training at the same time in different places. 

The pandemic, of course, accelerated the need for an online offering from Virgin Active. And the teams stepped up to provide it. Using Instagram Live, trainers ran multiple training sessions a day, encouraging people to get active in their living rooms. 

Rather than using specialist equipment you could find in the club, trainers recommended equivalents that people could find in their own homes – people were working out with everything from a backpack filled with water bottles to cans of beans. 

A woman hula hooping
Virgin Active

In 2021, Virgin Active UK launched its Online+ membership, enabling people to sign up to work out wherever and whenever they want. Rather than visiting a club, they can use the app to access hundreds of workouts from wherever they happen to be – their living room, the park, or even while travelling. Each workout is led by an expert trainer and covers everything from restorative yoga to heart-pumping cycle classes. 

The online membership also allows members to tailor their workouts to their own personal goals – meaning a better than ever experience for those signed up.

For more inspiring insight into the world of Virgin, take a peek into Virgin By Design, Virgin’s 50-year history of its truly restless spirit.