5 Reasons Why Your Gym's January 2021 Income Isn't What You Hoped For

By Neesha Kanaga

Published 4 January 2021

In the fitness world, January is framed as a big moment for gyms and studios everywhere. Thanks to New Year’s resolutions, people are often looking forward to turning over a new health and fitness leaf and set the tone for a healthy year – regardless of whether or not they see it through.

Thus, it can feel a little confusing and – and even disappointing – to see little to no revenue increase in January 2021. Fret not, after the year we’ve had, the industry’s expected trends simply cannot be taken at face value anymore.

In the January fitness rush of 2021, your gym could be suffering from one of these five problems:

  1. Problem one: Your country is in another phase of lockdown and all non-essential businesses are still closed.
  2. Problem two: Social distancing means fewer client hours and people do not trust that your gym can provide the safety measures they expect.
  3. Problem three: The weather outside is frightful, going to the gym doesn’t seem delightful.
  4. Problem four: They’re signing up with your competitors that simply have a better 2021-appropriate gym offering than you do.
  5. Problem five: Members are signing up, but are leaving after a trial period (let’s fix that!).

With these five hurdles in mind, let’s unpack some of the reasons revenue may have slowed down in what’s supposed to be your most lucrative month. We’ll give you the tools and ideas you need to turn things around and fit into the new landscape of the fitness industry!

Problem #1: Lockdowns Mean Your Business is Closed

In certain countries or cities, gyms are still shuttered due to increased lockdown measures caused by the new mutation and further spread of the coronavirus. Under some circumstances, clubs may only be able to accommodate half of the usual client hours.

This is especially painful for the fitness businesses that, according to IHRSA, sign up 12% of their total gym members during this pivotal month.

The fix:

Consider offering a hybridized workout program to attract new members and keep your current ones happy. A dive into the fitness trends for 2021 shows that a mix of digital and on-site membership is the way to go.

In many ways, people have gotten used to the idea of working out remotely at home or joining online fitness classes. January often marks new beginnings and you can urge your clientele and potential members to try new things – if you have the tech side of things up and running.

Problem #2: Reduced Capacity and a Lack of Trust in Your Corona Measures

Every business owner must adhere to the mandated corona safety protocols – and in many places, these measures may constantly be changing or differ from state to state.

Hence, members may be confused about your gym or studios’ safety measures and question whether or not you can deliver a corona-proof facility. Plus, with everyone so caught up in their own workouts, it can be difficult to maintain safe distances, keep masks on, and one can easily forget to clean the equipment after use.

The fix:

Use software to your advantage. As a gym manager or owner you need to ensure you have the right capacity, amount of staff, cleaning schedules sorted, and much more. Then, you need to tell people about it.

Utilize the right software that does the legwork for you. An app with a community and social feature will allow you to inform members of your efforts. Connect that with your social media and your outreach is multiplied – without that much effort on your part!

You can also use your custom app to enable booking with COVID-19 triage questions. This ensures that members are following safety protocols and are only attending classes when they are healthy, i.e., showing no symptoms of coronavirus.

Problem #3: The Cold Weather Means That People Are Still in That Warm, Fuzzy Holiday-Mode

The weather is cold and people are still recovering from all of those mince pies and eggnogs. Plus, the dropping temperatures may have more people seeking the comfort of their pajamas rather than making the trek to the gym. This may account for class cancellations and a limited number of new members coming into your gym.

The fix:

Give them an incentive to leave the house. Hold a fitness challenge and encourage people to get out of the house and onto the gym floor. This is an effective way to target gym-lovers. After all, what fitness fanatic doesn’t love a well-planned health challenge?

The best way to track a challenge like this is to use an app with a digital community feature. Participating members can keep up with each other and monitor their progress via leaderboards.

This challenge could be anything from learning to do the splits to increasing deadlift weights and good old step challenges. Australian gym F45 are excellent at rolling out challenges for their members.

Incentivize people to participate by offering prizes for challenge winners and participants. Make sure that you advertise on social media and encourage your members to spread the word to garner new members to sign up.

Problem #4: They’re Signing Up With Your Competitors Who Have a Better Corona-Proof Offering

The fitness industry is saturated with behemoth gyms and studios that make it a challenging landscape. It’s possible that while people are looking for a gym to help them fulfill their New Year’s resolutions and stay safe during the pandemic, your’s hasn’t quite made the cut this January.

The fix:

Be the COVID-proof gym that members are eager to return to by focusing on community. Social distancing has led to many people longing for a sense of community and friendship, as well as better health.

Beat the financial pitfalls caused by the coronavirus by embracing digitization coupled with an on-site offering. The hybrid model is the future of the fitness industry and will be essential for driving revenue in the months to come. Not only will this act as a catalyst to boost fitness memberships, but it will also strengthen your business for the future.

Then, spend time building your community by showing them how you’ve transformed. Engage with your immediate geographic area and posit yourself as part of a wider community. For example, Y Club gym in Manchester uses Twitter to stay engaged locally and paint themselves as a key voice in the city’s fitness scene.

Foster this feeling of togetherness within your gym too by using an app to create a digital space in which members can chat and share updates. You could also build an online presence for your brand by offering visitors to your website and social media pages access to e-books, newsletters, and infographics.

By introducing safe challenges and communal incentives, you can ensure that your January disappointments turn around in February.

Problem #5: Members are leaving after a trial period

You’ve got loads of people through the door by offering a New Year’s trial period or similar incentives. But after opting for the discounted membership, they stop visiting your gym.

The fix:

Onboard your new members properly and integrate them for high retention.

The best way to retain members after a trial period is to give them a good reason to stay. You could have the best equipment and training plans but if your members don’t feel as though they are part of your fitness community, they will have little good reason to stick around.

By fostering a sense of community amongst your members you can keep them from ending memberships prematurely and even develop new leads.

One of the best ways to do this is to ensure that your members get off on the right foot. Provide them with a great onboarding and keep your brand fresh in the memories (and in their pockets) by using an in-built digital community, like the Virtuagym app.

Such an app also allows you to track your members based on their scheduling and booking behaviors, allowing you to target at-risk members and engage with them. This is a fool-proof and data-driven way to ensure high retention rates while making your members know you care about them.

Ultimately, you shouldn’t be too disheartened that January of this year wasn’t the mad rush you had hoped for. According to reports, the peak season runs through May, with March actually being the busiest for client hours.

Perhaps it’s something to do with people shedding that winter weight and summer-ready. So regardless of your gym’s January revenue, stay positive, and learn the myriad ways you can utilize tech to solve your worries as we step towards the future. Especially a future that tech giants are already dipping their toes into.

Neesha Kanaga

Neesha is a copywriter and wanderer who currently finds herself bound to the weather-challenged Netherlands due to the unforeseen circumstances of 2020.

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