Using visual personas to improve virtual fitness classes

User Experience & Usability

Les Mills - Studio 2 screen showing the virtual training programs available.

The challenge

Les Mills is an international fitness company offering a diverse range of group classes across thousands of fitness clubs. They were looking to develop a more in-depth understanding of their customers by conducting research into user behaviours, needs and attitudes around their virtual classes.

They wanted to ensure that their design team based their future decisions with their club partners’ needs at the front and centre of the design process. To do this they needed to understand how their virtual classes were measuring up in the eyes of the club managers (who make the decision to offer Les Mills virtual classes in their club) and the club members (who attend the classes).

What we did

To best meet the needs of Les Mills, we took a two-phased approach to the research.

Phase 1

Blurred persona for the Urban club type.We started by conducting research with Les Mills’ club partners across the UK, to understand why they were using virtual classes and how they fit into the clubs’ existing services. To ensure that we captured a wide, representative range of experiences, one of our senior UX consultants conducted 15 in-depth interviews with club managers and visited six clubs in person to better understand how the virtual classes were run and identify any barriers to their use.

From the insights collected we produced four well-grounded personas that represented the different club types. Each artefact illustrated the club motivations and aspirations in terms of their USP and customer base, as well as showing how the Les Mills virtual classes integrated with the clubs’ other offerings. We were also able to communicate pain points and gaps in service that the virtual classes were not meeting. Our Creative Director, Paul, paid close attention to detail to ensure that the visual design of the personas was consistent with Les Mills branding, whilst visualising the data in an engaging way to promote use.

We delivered the personas alongside a detailed report that presented additional findings we uncovered during our research and a breakdown of future product and service opportunities for Les Mills.

Phase 2

Blurred persona for the Specialist club type.Next, we conducted remote interviews with 10 club members from across the UK who attended Les Mills virtual classes at their own club. Our remote facilitation skills allowed us to access members from a wide geographical area, whilst keeping costs down for the client. We uncovered their motivations for attending virtual classes along with their perceived differences between virtual and instructor-led classes. Through thorough analysis, we also identified key themes and patterns around their lifestyles and how this affected their gym use. Our insights were summarised in a high-level visual report with powerful verbatim comments, which highlighted clear user needs and opportunities back to Les Mills.


By combining high-quality research and design skills, we allowed Les Mills to connect with their customers from across the globe. The final personas and supporting insight reports provided Les Mills with a comprehensive understanding of how their virtual fitness classes met the needs of their club partners and their members, giving concise recommendations of areas to address and ideas to provoke thinking.

The personas provided a clear road map for the Les Mills design team that will support future development and product progression in a way that is digestible and visual, and ultimately has the end user at the centre.

Speech bubbleIf you would like to develop a more in-depth understanding of your customers and their experience using your product, our expert consultants are here to help!

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