Virgin Active

With the arrival of smart technologies, alternative formats and new entrants, Virgin Active needed to reinvigorate the gym experience to remain ahead. We helped them prototype and launch two innovative products, marking a step change in group exercise.


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.

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. 

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.

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