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COVID-19 helps MTN score big with digital fitness service

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MTN says the national lockdown has accelerated adoption of digital fitness services, with over 5.1 million online impressions on its digital workout series.

The telco says the physical activity industry, which was worth more than $825 billion worldwide before the COVID-19 pandemic outbreak, has seen a shift towards digital fitness, with many fitness instructors having changed their model of fitness classes to online platforms.

MTN says in South Africa: “It’s much of the same with the rise in digital fitness – which, pre-COVID-19 was already expected to reach a global estimate of $27.4 billion by 2022 – skyrocketing as trainers are increasingly forced to think innovatively, and digitally, to keep their heads above water.”

SA has been under lockdown since 26 March and fitness enthusiasts across the country have had to find alternate ways to stay fit and have fun.

To this end, MTN says, those in fitness deserve the benefit of the modern connected life, and it “decided to use its extensive countrywide platform and stable, fast network to help plug the gap created by inaccessible gym facilities and the inability of the ordinary South African to pay for online fitness classes”.

According to the telco, this led to the development of an innovative home-based digital workout series known as GiGYMa, which is accessible free of charge to anyone who has a smartphone or tablet, costing only the data used to watch the videos.

Since GiGYMa’s launch on 30 March, the results “have been phenomenal, with 5.2 million online impressions created and well over 100 000 people using the platform to engage and workout. Overall, the sentiment has been overwhelmingly positive by South African women looking for just the right kind of support to get active again.”

Jacqui O’Sullivan, executive for corporate affairs at MTN SA, comments: “We are encouraged by this kind of response and the benefit we have managed to bring to so many people by harnessing the power of the digital world when it was so desperately needed. The steady increase in traffic demonstrates a need for such a practical and cost-effective solution to staying fit and keeping active, and also indicates it does not have to cost an arm and a leg.”

Unlike other available online fitness programmes, the telco says MTN GiGYMa, featuring trainer Ncumisa Pongoma, does not require participants to have expensive gym equipment and access to protein supplements.

“Instead, GiGYMa sees Ncumisa showcase how utilising everyday household items that most people already have in their homes can help you get into shape and keep up with fitness goals.”

O’Sullivan says: “Whatever happens, the positive uptake of GiGYMa has encouraged us to improve the solution further and make it more enjoyable and accessible to the average South African, because it is digital solutions like this that will offer practical solutions as we all adapt to the ‘new normal’. The future feels a lot less scary knowing that there are practical ways to tackle everyday challenges through digital innovation − we just need to find them.”

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