By Sanjeev Virdi – Husband, Father, founder at we:bo
A few months ago, we explored the benefits for organisations in making health and fitness easily accessible for their staff. Now, we explore a real-life example of an organisation who has done just that. So, how is we:bo working for the UK’s fastest growing consultancy.
Elixirr, an award-winning global consultancy with just over 100 staff across London, San Francisco and South Africa were looking for a cost-effective way to improve the health of their staff. Elixirr prides itself on doing things differently, from the way it engages with leading businesses to the way it helps clients solve some of their biggest and most complex problems, and its approach to the health and fitness of its work force is no different.
we:bo was an easy choice for Elixirr when compared to expensive gym memberships and private health coaches. They didn’t need to think about different models for their staff across the globe because we:bo meant any type of training, anywhere and at any time. we:bo offered everything Elixirr was looking for; convenient from any location and accessible at any time – very important for its international employee base and travelling workforce. An ideal opportunity for Elixirr to live true to its DNA and do things differently while delivering health benefits to the organisation, at low cost.
What was appealing to Founder and Managing Partner at Elixirr, Stephen Newton was the simplicity of we:bo. It’s mobile, making it convenient and accessible, and it’s also very simple. You simply log on, choose one of 4 curated goals for your workout, choose a duration that fits in with the time you have, find an available trainer and start training. All in under 2 minutes. That’s quicker than finding an uber and even quicker that hyperloop!
However, the biggest differentiating factor of we:bo for Elixirr was its level of personalisation. It suits any fitness level from beginners who just want to get active or start a fitness journey to fitness fanatics who want to be trained hard by ex-special forces trainers! This level of super personalisation is important as it takes the hard work out of knowing what’s the best exercise and nutrition for you. As you’re connected to a live personal trainer and health coach, every interaction is a personal one.
“Everyone is different. That’s what makes them unique and makes our firm so special. So having something that worked for everyone was important” – Stephen Newton, Founder and Managing Partner at Elixirr.
Elixirr launched we:bo at the end of March 2017. They immediately made it available to all their staff covering the cost of 60 minutes of we:bo time per week. This no-fuss zero-cost launch shared the basics of what was available and how to access the app. The rest, was up to the staff.
Fast forward 6 months.
50% of Elixirr’s staff are hooked! They are regular users with some even going beyond the paid time and supplementing additional sessions at their own cost. Needless to say, Elixirr and we:bo were impressed with the 50% uptake in just 6 months, particularly considering the simple launch and no additional incentives.
So, who is using it, what are they using it for, what do they love (or not!) about it and most importantly, what does it mean for the organisation?
In short, we:bo is being used by a broad range of staff from the beginner who hasn’t worked out in over three years, to the high performing athlete. While that sounds like everyone (!), there was a marked difference between those that have used or have considered using personal trainers before and those that haven’t.
While some jumped at the chance to try something new or simply preferred having someone tell them what to do,
“I just want someone to tell me what to do! After a long day at work, where I spend most of my day thinking through how to solve problems, the last thing I want to do is more thinking!” – Bill, full-time working father of two
there was some apprehension amongst those that hadn’t used personal trainers before or weren’t clear on how it would fit in with their current routines. Early feedback suggested a little nervousness about connecting with someone unknown on a video call.
“I’m so unfit, I’m worried I’m going to embarrass myself in front of the trainer!” – Anonymous!
What was clear, once people had tried it and spoken to a personal trainer or health coach about what they were looking for, it was a much easier emotional decision to use we:bo again and how best to use we:bo to achieve their goals.
So who at Elixirr has been using we:bo?
Three main groups stand out.
The regular athlete:
This category had the largest number of users. This group of people care about their health, enjoy competing, love talking about the latest fitness offerings at their local gym or classes and don’t go anywhere without their Apple watch. When their schedules get tight, this group finds it hard to make time for the gym. We find this group using the app to mix things up in their regular routines and keep themselves motivated on their personal fitness journeys. In the words of one of Elixirr’s regular athletes, Brandon Bichler,
“I’ve literally shaved 30 seconds off my minute/km running time by cross-training with we:bo. It’s like Uber for Personal Training… find the available trainers, click ‘train’ and you’re in a one-on-one session with a top-quality PT in 90 seconds.”
The ‘I need to get my sh*t together’ on and off exerciser:
This is the group of people who sign up for the gym every January but have yet to see the inside. They probably have a stylish collection of active wear, are keen to get in to shape but struggle to find the time and lack the motivation. They’re also a little intimidated by the gym due to their perceived ‘low fitness’ level. This group most enjoyed the privacy, personalisation, motivation and accountability they received through we:bo.
The ‘I have a dream’ group:
This group of people have a clear(ish) goal of what they want to achieve but just don’t know where to start or aren’t seeing results. They’ve tried a few different fitness apps that promise tailored training advice, only to be disappointed when it doesn’t deliver the results they’re looking for. They like the social element of working out with friends so enjoy classes. They’re also usually overly optimistic about what they can achieve in a short time! But they are willing to give it a go! This group most enjoyed the variation of exercise – sometimes doing yoga, sometimes a higher intensity workout – and mostly the fact that it truly is personalised, making it relevant and engaging for them individually as well as small groups so they can work out with friends of a similar level without it feeling like a generic online video.
There was also a fourth, albeit much smaller group, worth mentioning – the ridiculously fit: This group of people, usually sub 10% body fat, believe that small margins can make a big difference. They usually have wet hair as they’ve just had a shower after running or cycling to work and have almost definitely completed some sort of ‘ultra’ event in the last 10 days and in ‘recovery’ or training for the next. This group enjoyed the fact that they had the chance to validate their existing training programmes (usually provided by a sports-specific strength and conditioning coach), and got to train with ‘hard’ with coaches that were able to provide super-personalised advice on specific form and technique that can make big differences to performance.
This, the personalised nature of the app, was by far the most common stated benefit without exception. Whilst most regular gyms use a one-size-fits all approach or simply provide the space leaving you to figure out what to do (let’s not even think about the cost of personal trainers at gyms…), the we:bo app provides customised training solutions which fit into your schedule. No travel. No scheduling. No cancellations. Elixirr’s very own Karen Newman has found this to be the best part of the app, she says,
“we:bo has got me exercising regularly for the first time in three years! Easy to click and do.” – Karen, Partner and COO at Elixirr
Some started using the app for lower intensity or alternative workouts like yoga and Pilates in small groups and weekly classes which seemed much less ‘intimidating’ and fitted well with the ‘I want to introduce some calm into my hectic lifestyle’ goal.
What have been the benefits?
So, 6 months in, and it’s been an interesting and insightful journey. The benefits have been clear to see. As well as the expected physical benefits experienced by most,
“I’ve managed to fit into some suit trousers that I haven’t been able to for a while!” – Oli Freestone, Principal
higher engagement amongst staff, an increase in people’s awareness and understanding of the right types of exercise and nutrition required to feel better, and most importantly, perform better, have meant people feel mentally in better health.
This said, the benefits of using we:bo have not yet been fully realised, and with some exciting developments to come, the already high engagement rates look set to increase and an already high performing organisation looks set to make another step forwards in its performance.
We are constantly seeking new ways of getting employees to take health and wellness seriously. Changing people’s behaviours is one of the most challenging things to do but with the right techniques and accessible support this can be made easier.
Not everyone likes to train in the same way. Some like to work out alone (for the emotionally-driven reasons above) or often look to use exercise as a way to get away from the day-to-day ‘noise’ that fills their lives, whether that be going for a run, swim or working out at home. A little mindfulness you might say? Therefore, the idea of using a trainer for their workouts may not appeal. So, for these users, it’s a case of understanding how access to expert advice could compliment, not replace, this time, helping them to perform better in the time they do work out alone or in classes. All, without exception, understand and agree that having access to an expert was of clear benefit. This is where using we:bo for the first time in a way that they hadn’t previously thought of, was the hurdle they needed to overcome.
“The feedback has been amazing. People love the flexibility, particularly when travelling. I’ve personally used it from my hotel room in Joburg and we’ve even created mini league tables getting people more active and improving productivity all round”
In our bid to create a healthy workplace and get people to take their health seriously we have learnt the following principles:
- Make it relevant: People are busy. That’s life. Recognise that and focus on helping them to fit it into their lives with minimal effort.
- Gamify it: Create a challenge out of this and keep score. This is a powerful tool used to influence behaviours and can help make even the most mundane tasks fun! People love games and using tools such as leader boards have allowed us to get people engaged and excited. Exercise can be addictive if it’s fun so once you get people engaged and enjoying it, it easier to make it part of their lifestyles.
- Just pay for it: The most successful companies are made up of the happiest employees. Take cost out of the equation for staff. If you’re serious about improving business performance, you should just pay for it. The productivity and performance improvements more than pay for the relatively low cost to implement.
- Make it fun. Make it engaging. Make it really, really simple…
If you’re interested in making it easier for employees to access health and fitness services to help improve physical and mental wellbeing and business performance, get in touch. We’d love to hear from you and chat through how we could help make this happen at your organisation.
Sanjeev Virdi – Husband, Father, founder at we:bo