Introducing The Grid
After developing a series of innovative new products based on customer needs, we helped Virgin Active launch The Grid. It’s a typically Virgin take on trends in movement training, designed to get people moving fast and working as a team. By fixing the activity to a grid of 2mx2m on the gym floor, large groups can take part, burning up to 600 calories in 30 minutes.
Through a series of workshops, interviews and research we created a singular proposition – ‘learn to move the tough way’. It focused the customer journey and inspired a series of neat interventions. From the introduction of the Tough Minute (a killer 60 seconds of activity to raise the heart rate) through to digital sign-in screens and environmental takeovers, The Grid was hard to miss. Launched in 29 Virgin Active health clubs over the first few months of 2015, it made an impact on members and newcomers alike.

 

The Virgin brand gives us a license to be unconventional. With the Grid we’ve created something exciting for members, unlike anything else”

Tim Carter, Group Brand Director, Virgin Active

Next up, The Pack
Following our work on The Grid, Virgin Active challenged us to develop a group cycle product for worldwide launch. With huge potential for integrating live performance data, the already popular format needed a revamp.

We looked at the opportunity from four different perspectives: the users, the market, the product and the business strategy. Our analysis showed that exercise is more rewarding when there’s a shared purpose, yet the Group Cycle experience, despite playing out in the proximity of other people, was essentially solitary. The new product would change this. It would be based on a simple concept, ‘together we ride’, and pit teams against each other.

From concept to experience
We partnered with Virgin Active’s marketing, technology and fitness teams to design the overall user experience. Rather than lean towards the pro-performance racers, we designed for the fun-loving ‘Exertainer’ audience, and created challenges with a typically Virgin flavour – Sumo, Speed Freaks, Hold the Line and Big Burnout.

With concepts in place, we needed to think about how it would play out in the studio. We explored the technical architecture of the fitness product and established the capabilities of the environment, working closely with Virgin Active’s design team and partners, including Deloitte Digital, Hutchisons and Horare Lea.

 

“I am really proud of the product. There are so many complex parts that we’ve managed to pull together smoothly, resulting in an exceptional experience”

Dael Williamson, Head of Enterprise Architecture, Virgin Active Europe
Setting the stage for success
At the heart of the new product sits the Experience Manager – a smart desktop app we prototyped that aggregates bike data into team data, and curates the screen interface, lighting and sound for a multi-sensory experience. Crucially, the Experience Manager does the legwork, freeing up the instructor to motivate teams to win Challenges.
In the final phase of our work, we specified software dependencies and created prototypes to prove that the technology stack was capable of powering a real-time, connected studio experience. We also recommended hardware for in-studio computers that would be capable of running the Experience Manager, while meeting Virgin Active’s price and platform requirements.

In a short period of time, we delivered a breadth of work with a single multidisciplinary team covering strategy and concepts, visual, interaction, game and environment design, software development, IT infrastructure planning, and go-to-market creative. Crucial to this process was the ability to work draw on the expertise of specialist Virgin Active teams.

The Pack was rolled out in eight Virgin Active clubs in May 2016, before riding into gyms across the world to change group exercise for good.

“Working with Wolff Olins, we have created a unique product which harnesses the fun and team spirit that’s so much a part of Virgin Active”

Clare Gambardella, Chief Marketing Officer, Virgin Active Europe