5 ways to rethink your fitness business before reopening

By Melania Armento

Published 8 May 2020

The fitness industry is one of the industries that have felt the repercussions of the coronavirus crisis the most. There is a lot of uncertainty regarding how long this situation will last for, and this is what makes it extra scary.

But it also stresses the importance of coming up with a good strategy on how to survive the coronavirus era and preparing yourself properly for reopening. What will going back to the gym be like? We need to prepare the facilities that are allowed to reopen and keep communicating with gym members to make them aware of the situation.

First we want to spend some time giving a sense of what has been going on across the global markets and how we can be solutions-oriented, whether it’s digital solutions or more internally focused with the business: how we’re dealing with membership requests, pausing requests and other things like that. Sharing is caring and for this reason we have launched a series of webinar on the best strategies to face the pandemic. Click here if you are interested in the webinars!

What’s the best strategy to prepare for the reopening?

In this difficult time it has been great to see the solidarity among the industry. Sharing tips and learning from other people’s experiences and mistakes can only make the whole fitness industry stronger.  Junior Leoso (Owner Pacific Beach Training) and Al Wilson (Owner RIPP CITY fitness) share their insights on how they have been dealing with the coronavirus crisis and how they planned their survival strategy step by step.

It is good as a business owner to realize that you should not be afraid to ask for that support and by giving members a digital alternative you’re making it easier for members also to say “hey, I’m still able to work out, so why shouldn’t I?”.

  • Connection is key

RIPP CITY Fitness owner Al Wilson reveals how the biggest thing for him and his team has always been connection. They have already had members who live in other cities or members that moved out of town and still wanted to stay fit with them. This is why it is crucial to maintain those relationships and keep them motivated and on task, and the best way to do so has always been having an online component in place.

The first step was transitioning all of their personal training members over to one-on-one or small group live training sessions. It might change how you connect, but there is still a need to interact and to keep members on task, hitting their goals and focusing on that from home. Thanks to the Virtuagym app the transition was smooth and kept people going.

“We recently just introduced more of a workout on demand type service that’s right in the app – says Wilson- so they can take advantage of hundreds of streaming workouts. Or even things that we are not able to offer in-house: yoga, meditation, hiit workouts, you name it. So they have a choice of what they can choose to stay active, because some people may not have equipment at home”.

The smaller your membership base and the more personalized your service, the stronger the connection with your members. That will create a higher amount of solidarity compared to a more big box type of facility.

  • Don’t miss out on potential members

Let’s see how you can combine this kind of service in your fitness offering. You can reach out to your member base and offer this service for free just as a complementary way to keep them active, to keep them engaged and to keep that relationship in the community.

Don’t miss out on the opportunity to extend it also to non gym members: word of mouth is always one of the best ways to attract members. Each person that you service knows someone else in the same situation.  As Wilson says, everyone is already having a conversation about “okay so your gym closes, what are you doing?”, so take advantage of that.

Be the person on the front end of that advising to talk to your family and friends and tell them the service that you’re using to keep them active, so you can offer them the same service for a small fee for non-members.

  • Switch to digital

You might be wondering how long it takes to go from not having a digital offering to having something workable.  All those who don’t have any digital services set up are probably trying to figure out how to do this quickly. So what is a realistic time frame?

Junior Leoso, owner of Pacific Beach Training, the first step was implementing the online services for the existing classes. They were offering about four or five group training classes in the gym at the time, every day Monday through Sunday, and they just went ahead and started streaming those online.

Before the soft lockdown happened, they still had people showing up to the gym and they were just live-streaming those actual live classes. So once the time came where nobody was allowed to go to the fitness facility, they had a probably about ten days or so of already streaming through the Virtuagym app.

We were lucky enough to have some foresight and it was a pretty smooth transition. I’d say the hardest part so far has been to get the buy-in right we have a pretty extensive member base, and if I could go back, or if I could tell somebody who’s gonna start doing this now, I would preemptively start reaching out to members to curb the cancellations or account freezes that are inevitable when you move to online.

  • Make your members tech savvy

For a handful of people it’s going to be their scapegoat to say, ‘well this is my time to cancel my gym membership’ and you have to be prepared for that. On the other hand, for others it is a real and true technological issue and for that before launching the best tip is to set a couple of how-to videos.

Make sure you are there for those people who aren’t very tech savvy as well: it’s best to have a little test run before your first session. Go over how to log in, walk them through the process, make sure they can see you and you can see them, that the sound is good. Because everyone has a different device, it is important that you make sure that they can all join you on your online training sessions.

  • It’s all about routines

When it comes to the reinforcement of routines, this is where reading those routines are going to be important to get people back. So if you have a member who comes in Monday at 7 o’clock p.m. it’s important to make sure to keep that routine with that member on Monday at 7 make them do that program at home. Why is that? Because you want to make sure that members can continue to do that.

The other thing when it comes to routines, is that a break in people’s routines is also going to create an opportunity for people who don’t have healthy habits, so there could be a silver lining here. Get them to introduce healthy habits and, after this thing has gone over, those people can become people who can join your facilities on full membership.

Do you want to know more about how to improve your fitness strategy? Keep up with the latest trends in the industry and learn all the meaningful experiences of the experts of the fitness industry worldwide.

Listen to our podcasts and visit our YouTube channel to stay up-to-date with the latest news on the fitness industry!

Melania Armento

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