What fitness businesses should do during the coronavirus outbreak

The health of your members is your number one priority. However with new measures and restrictions in place due to the second-wave of the coronavirus outbreak, the health of your fitness business might be causing you increasing concern too. Studios, gyms and trainers have had a challenging year.

In 2020 you’ve dealt with requests for cancellations, a drop in sales, and a drop in package repurchases. But we aren’t in the clear just yet. As a second-wave threatens to disrupt our industry all over again, many fitness professionals are struggling to find the best ways to cope. In this article, we’ll outline the best ways to stay engaged with your members when they are unable to visit your facility and how to avoid losses in this difficult time.

How to engage members outside your gym or studio

Around the world, gyms, studios and health clubs have been ordered to close their doors once again. This may or may not be impacting your right now. But either way, members are becoming less willing and/or able to spend time in your facility. This means that many people will have to work out at home in order to reduce the risk of spreading the virus. For you, that means getting creative with the way that you connect with and engage members outside your gym or studio to ensure you don’t lose their business. Luckily, the internet, social media and digital platforms make this easier to do than ever.

Embrace the virtual workout trend

Virtual workouts are the future of the fitness industry – and we’ve come a long way from those old Jane Fonda exercise videos. These days, you have a number of options for helping your clients workout virtually. Peter Van de Velde, owner of health and lifestyle center Fun Move, has been doing personal training sessions over webcam and stresses that “it’s important to give members access to more content so it’s easier for them to work out from home.”

It can be as simple as downloading an app like Zoom or Skype and delivering live workouts. But you could also record your workouts ahead of time. If you ever had plans to start your YouTube career, now might just be that moment.

But if getting on camera isn’t your thing, there are a whole host of video resources online that you can direct your clients and members towards. Y

ouTube channels such as Fitness Blender, Blogilates, Popsugar and Yoga with Adriene have a huge backlog of workout videos that can be done at home. You could also use an in-app service like Virtuagym’s Stronger Together – with this members can stream hundreds of workout videos from the comfort of their own homes. They can also access a whole host of wellness content from challenges and workouts to meditation tracks.

Online exercise video YouTube dancing

Create challenges

Keep holding your members accountable by creating challenges for them to participate in outside of the gym. Instigate challenges that are easily done at home – this adds a sense of competition for your clients and members, which may act as a useful motivator for keeping them on track.

Apps like Virtuagym have features that enable this as well as an online community feature that will help them stay in touch with another, adding the much needed sociability factor that members look for when exercising as part of a club, gym or studio. But you could also foster a community via online groups on Facebook or even Whatsapp groups.

Keep tracking their progress

Social media should also be used to help encourage members and clients to track their progress. Encourage progress pictures or even create a challenge that is easily visually monitored.

Could all of your members share their attempts at the most home pull-ups? At a headstand? Think innovatively about how to get them to share their journey.

Use an online coaching feature

Personalized home workout programs with digital check-ins are a great way to continue to provide the personalized touch your brand is known for during this time of social distancing. If you don’t have a system in place, you can send workouts via email and have check-ins using some of the video conferencing tools mentioned above for checking-in.

Apps like Virtuagym have a 3D workout library built with more than 5,000 exercises. You can use this to mass assign daily tailored home workouts, which can all be done from the comfort of their living room. Alternatively you could go old-school on this one and create PDF workout sheets. Figure out what works best for your clients and how you can get it to them.

How to avoid loss and churn

It’s important to defer or spread out your loss to minimise the damage it causes to your business. You could do this by making agreements with members.

Reduce costs

This time away from work may also be difficult for your members too. Try reducing membership by a quarter for the next few months or for one third of the price over the next three months.

Consider offering a session or two of small group training for free in exchange for them paying during the outbreak period.

Offer incentives

Alternatively you could promise customers additional classes, training sessions and workshops when your gym is ready to reopen. Show your members that you care about them and their health and they are bound to stick around until your business is back on its feet.

How else can I mitigate the risks of coronavirus?

Now that you know how to keep your members connected, it’s important to consider what you can do to mitigate the risks of the virus spreading in your gym.

#1 Stay informed

Get your information from trusted sources such as news sites and don’t pay too much attention to stories that are circulated on social media as they are a hotbed for misinformation.

#2 Comply with recommendations

This could mean closing the doors to your facility in line with new government measures and patiently waiting to reopen when it is safe to do so. Or it could mean ensuring that your gym is as safe as possible for those who want to attend.

#3 Keep your members up-to-date with the measures you are taking

Communication is key, so use email campaigns or social media to keep your members up to date on what you are doing with regard to the Corona outbreak and assure your members that their health is your top priority. Communicate the measures you are taking to help keep your members safe.

#4 Stay informed about government support initiatives for businesses

At the start of the outbreak and subsequent closures, many governments introduced measures to relieve financial pressure. This includes things like being able to have staff stay at home against paid sick leave, tax exemptions or delay in tax payments, reduced support loan interest rates, etc. Make sure you know what’s being offered so you can make use of it in case of value for your business.

Situations such as the current virus outbreak are unpredictable and show the vulnerability of our businesses when we don’t diversify our revenue streams. Spend time investing in and planning your technology strategy to ensure that your business can withstand difficult times like this.

Supplementing your business by providing members with easy access to content and workouts in any place at any time can be hugely beneficial at all times of year. Take care, keep your members happy and healthy, and use this time to think outside the box when it comes to your fitness business.

COVID-19 phases in the fitness industry: where we are, and where we are heading

When COVID-19 started impacting our daily routines and challenged the fitness industry, we knew we had to select a long-term view to think strategically about how best to equip ourselves for the future.

Even Forbes wrote about the management challenge that coronavirus represents for the industry and the uncertainties that it brings with it.

As we prepare for a second-wave we know that eventually, the crisis will end. But the fact of the matter is that the waves felt by the virus and subsequent on-and-off closures is definitely going to affect the fitness sector and our industry for years to come.

So, here’s the question: how can you prepare when thinking 3, 6, 9 months down the line? How will people behave after 2-3 months staying at home when they go back to normality?

The four business stages of coronavirus

We have highlighted four phases of how the coronavirus outbreak has affected the industry and what we can expect in the near future. How is this actually going to be impacting the industry?

To try to answer this question, Virtuagym launched a series of webinar to keep the fitness community connected, share the best practice and good strategies aiming to help the industry accelerate out of the pandemic.

Phases of coronavirus crisis in fitness industry

1. Confusion

Stage one was confusion. This was the earliest stage when people were still looking for direction and guidance. The situation was suddenly occupying everybody’s mind and everyone was eager for information and news.

At this time, emotions ranged from panic to complete and utter indifference. Members needed to be reassured, encouraged and motivated to stay with you during this crisis. This is also relevant for those operating during the second-wave. Once again, members are confused and unsure when this crisis will end.

Next, we are going to discuss some tips from the fitness community on how to keep your gym members on board. Don’t be afraid to ask your community for help, even if you feel like lots of memberships are dropping out or freezing contracts.

2. Accept and Adapt

We named phase two “accept and adapt” since this is the phase in which people are  starting to accept the pandemic as the new reality, instead of a temporary situation that has been changing everyone’s habits.

Everything feels kind of normal again, although it’s not and there is still a lot of uncertainty during this time. The feeling in this phase is solidarity: that we are all going to get through this together.

In these two phases you have to keep in mind that your brand may not be the thing that’s top of mind for members. And because of that, it is important to make sure that you are being conscious of the personal and professional implications that people are experiencing. As we navigate the accepting process of the second-wave, don’t push topics that are beyond your members comfort at this time.

3. Preparing

The preparing stage is the point at which we have a decent sense of where the economy is heading. It is important to be critical: are we getting to a point where the economy is going to resurrect itself? Or are we potentially heading in the direction of a further financial crisis? Here is where companies will start strategizing the post corona era.

In this phase it’s important to make sure that you are thinking ahead and not hanging on to the COVID-19 story for too long. Many fitness businesses might feel like going back to 2019 habits as well, but be aware that it’s your opportunity to move your business forward and not look back.

4. Ramping Up

And then finally the last stage is going to be “Ramping up”. Organizations at this point are going to have a clear sense of goals and directions, they will look beyond just short-term situations and start looking towards implementing long-term solutions as well.

One of the things to be careful about is waiting too long to enter the game again. You have to be aware of the new standards in the industry and foresee where people’s minds will be.

Will there be sanitary standards within facilities? What are members going to expect in terms of how a facility should be cleaned and maintained? How many people can workout at the same time in a facility? These things are likely to change as time goes on.

Imagine the fitness club of the future

What are some of the topics that you need to think about right now in order to prepare for that eventual day?

Consider your set-up

You need to be ready to host your gym members in whatever way you can. You have probably already moved around your gym floor in order to cater to new guidelines but as government recommendations shift, try continuing to adapt. That could mean taking work outs outside again if your facility is forced to close during the second-wave.

It’s very important to really think about a new kind of gym, completely different from how it was before the COVID-19 crisis. Try to have enough space for square meters for each person.

Maybe you can put all machines like a circuit so you only go in a machine once and you are sure that is clean, there is enough space between one equipment and the other and people can move without getting too close to one another.

Cleaning measures

Since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic we have been witnessing lower numbers than average in terms of attendance because people are still increasingly worried about germs and spreading the virus.

As an owner-operator you need to make sure that you’re thinking of that strategy and make it more obvious about the cleanliness that you’re providing within your clubs.

Don’t forget to communicate that you are following exactly what has been recommended by the experts in terms of cleaning and making sure it’s a safe environment for them to work out. Make it more visible: invest in making sure this is this nice aromas around the club, things smell nice, things look nice and you can see people cleaning more.

Keep encouraging the new habits

Be a trigger for your members to keep being healthy and keep up with their workouts routines. Some of them might be new members who started working out thanks to your digital offering and now need to be motivated and encourage them to not give up on their progress.

Be that trigger to go out and do that run your member has long been preparing for. Have your 7 p.m. class for your members who are now used to workout with you on a Zoom live stream.

If you’re providing the platform for them to share their progress, that they’ve been on a run, that they have managed to workout despite not feeling like, and receive the reward of other people, you are boosting their motivation.

With Virtuagym you can easily personalize your community page and create the space for your gym members to interact and support each other and say “well done”, “keep up with the good work”.

If all those people are from the community that used to be in your gym and in your virtual classes, then they’ll be associating your community with their exercise habits and patterns.

Everything you need to know about keeping your gym safe from coronavirus

After months of isolation, gyms, clubs and studios around the world are have tentatively opened their doors. If you’re like most other fitness professionals, it was probably extremely exciting to be able to finally get your business back up and running (and see your members come physically running back through the door).

We’ve now all come to realize that it may take a while for society to adjust to the new safety precautions that will likely stay in place for the foreseeable future. At least, this is what we’re currently seeing in many states in the US.

This will impact gyms, studios, and fitness clubs and shape the way that they continue to serve their members. In order to ensure that your return to normalcy is as smooth-sailing as possible and that you keep your gym free from the coronavirus, you should set yourself up with the software that will allow for a seamless transition.

Virtuagym is a software provider for fitness businesses that gives fitness business owners a personalized branded app, providing members with access to a community feature, a virtual 3D trainer with over 5000 animated exercises and both nutrition and exercise tracking.

It’s an essential tool for engaging and retaining members in normal times but during the crisis and the post-pandemic transition, it will equip your with the crucial equipment needed to manage your business.

So how exactly can Virtuagym software help fitness club owners with reopening?

Regulate the amount of members inside the facility

No matter where you live, the chances are that to comply with new government regulations, you will probably have to limit the capacity of your gyms. This will mean a lot less people inside your gym than usual, all operating at a safe social distance.

Businesses across all sectors are devising ways to monitor and control the number of people inside their businesses. For gym owners, software is key.

  • Class scheduling

A class scheduling system can be used not only to decrease and limit the number of participants in group classes but can also be linked to your check-in system. You have the option to book a two hour slot with your gym’s maximum capacity and then members have the option to sign up in order to enter the gym.

If a member tries to access the gym without booking-in, they can then be denied entry.* This is an effective way to ensure that members sign up and register for work out slots ahead of time, ensuring that maximum capacity rules are always adhered to.

Many fitness clubs are expected to be able to allow members in for individual training sessions but not for group classes. This may mean that more clubs will be offering group classes outdoors, in order to comply. If you are a fitness professional offering outside classes in order to cater to more members, you can create separate schedules for inside and outside your facility.

  • Check-in feature

Using Virtuagym’s check-in feature is another impactful way of making sure that capacity limits are not surpassed. Members check-in and out of your facility every time they come to the gym or studio and this way you can ensure that there’s never too many people inside.

Check-ins can be done via QR code scanning, RFI ID cards or a barcode scanner. You can also use a simple card reader to check your members in and out of the gym too, so turnstiles are not necessary. By using a check-in feature you are also able to see exactly who is in your gym at a given time, this is an important safety feature, and will also help you keep track of how often individuals are coming to your gym.

  • Business analytics

With Virtuagym software, you also have easy access to all of the business analytics relating to gym entry, class participation and credit usage. By looking at this easily digestible data, you have insights on which individuals are entering the gym and how often they come. Graphs are clear and easy to use and also offer insights into your client and member’s coaching and nutrition plans.

Data is a powerful and useful tool. And having a system in which you can analyse your business analytics is crucial, whether we are living in a post-pandemic world or not.

By using a software system with this capability, you can find out where the biggest opportunities exist for your business. This will help you realize spaces for growth and can help bring your business to the next level – something that is crucial as the industry scrambles to get back on track.

  • Utilize a credit system

By utilizing credits, fitness professionals have the option to limit client’s entries into the gym. This can be created as an add-on option and you don’t have to create new memberships for this.

For example, if your gym only has space for members to visit three times per week under social distancing measures, you could give members enough credits to book in these three slots.

If they try to book more than this, they will have to purchase more credits. It helps ensure that members don’t visit the gym too often will new coronavirus safety measures are in place.

How else can Virtuagym help my gym stay free from the coronavirus?

Of course, it’s not just the amount of people in your facility that you’ll need to consider. Business owners will have to go out of their way to make sure that members are complying with regulations. In order to help you get your message across, you could use your own branded personalized app.

Create a ‘Rules’ tile within your personally branded mobile app

When Virtuagym creates an app for your company, it gives you the ability to customize what appears to your members. Members will see ‘tiles’ on the homescreen and these tiles can link to various places.

One option Virtuagym is currently recommending, is that fitness professionals use this space to post their new hygiene rules and in-house protocols. The app is something that all of your members will use in order to book workout slots and classes, this means that everyone is sure to see it.

Ultimately, Virtuagym is well equipped for helping your gym prepare for reopening. Beyond the functionality of the software’s practical business management system, it will also help prepare you for the new needs that your customers will have, after becoming used to working out at home.

For more on how Virtuagym can help you engage and retain members through a hybrid at-home/ in-gym membership style, click here.

How creating value for your clients will drive your fitness business growth

We have already discussed the importance of rethinking your business before (re) opening your facility in this article,  so today we are going to share the ultimate tips to have a successful gym sales funnel for your fitness business.

The type of  sales funnel we’re going to design for your business is known as the Value First funnel. While you may not have heard of this funnel type before, you’ve no doubt experienced it. It’s the most widely adopted and effective funnel used by some of the biggest online brands in the world.

Why do you need a sales funnel?

If you run a gym or studio you can probably tell me right now without much thought who your competitors are. There’s that big-box chain down the block, there’s a boutique studio 2 miles away, there’s a bootcamp that runs in the park three streets away.

Do you need a gym sales funnel for that? Who you’re competing with and how you compete with them is clear for all to see.

  • You provide X classes, while they provide Y.
  • While you have X memberships, they have Y.
  • You are priced to target the X market and they’re focused on the Y.

But the industry has now changed. Do you know who your competition is now? Sure, the competitors that you’re familiar with may still be there, and you’ll continue to compete with them as normal. But with so many of your members becoming familiar with online and self-coaching, can you be certain those are your only competitors today?

What about Peleton who saw a 300% increase in bike sales in March 2020, and a 500% increase in app downloads? What about Planet Fitness who launched an online coaching and streaming service that very same month? They may not have a site near you, but do they need one anymore? What about the immeasurable increase in free fitness content uploaded to YouTube and Instagram?

What the industry tells us about clients behaviors

In the space of one month, the fitness industry became way more competitive. From billion dollar businesses launching national services to self-employed personal trainers creating free content online. With 18% of consumers already reducing their day-to-day expenses and 70% of consumers asking brands to offer free services to help out, these new players are more appealing than ever.

A freemium offering, like the one we’re about to discuss, keeps you in the fight. It allows you to collaborate with existing and new members alike by empathizing with their new situation. You probably have already seen this kind of funnel, haven’t you?

Launch your Value First Funnel

First of all we need to explain the characteristics of the Value First Funnel and what makes it different from any other sales funnels you may use for your fitness business.

Any sales funnel starts understanding your buyer persona, the users you want to get to your business. Who are you selling to? What are their challenges? How do you aim to solve their problems? Usually you don’t just have one type of buyer persona, but several different users profiles. You need to be able to connect to each one of them and offer them a great experience.

The value first funnel is noticeably smaller, but it’s mostly different because it delivers value to your clients even before they pay by making use of a Freemium offering.

Freemium is used to describe a highly valuable offering that you give to potential clients before they pay anything to sample the high quality of your service.

That might sound absurd to you, even impossible. How are you going to give your time and expertise away for free? And why would you take that risk during difficult times? You’re not just trying to grow memberships, but also the revenue that those memberships bring in!

Don’t worry. These concerns are natural, and we’ll explain the “how”s throughout this guide. For now, let’s discuss the “Why” of this strategy, as in “Why in the hell would I give my service away for free?!”

Sales Funnel: Dos and Dont’s

Along with allowing you to compete from a marketing perspective, by allowing you to offer a something-for-nothing service, it also allows you to avoid the inevitable “race to the bottom” where companies start trying to lower their pricing to capture more of the market.

This behaviour creates a no-win cycle of devalued and low cost services where every competitor is trying to undercut the one next to them.

By offering a free option you:

  • Beat them to the bottom to capture more of the market than they can during their “race”,
  • Introduce those members into the quality of service that you offer.

This means you don’t need to lower your prices for your paid services, because you’re justifying their cost by demonstrating the value before asking for payment. In other words, while your competitors are trying to differentiate on price, you’re offering your potential customers an opportunity to experience your service first so that you can differentiate on quality of service (not price!)

These are only two of many reasons why the Value First funnel has become the dominant one across industry leaders in the online space (others include brand differentiation, lead acquisition for nurturing, and many others).

Along with being a powerful approach for businesses, it’s an empathetic approach for consumers. It allows you to offer a service that bridges the gap between Desire and Ability to purchase for them. That’s why it needs to be a core component of any business looking to thrive, not just survive a recession.

Eager to know more about strategies to survive 2020? Don’t miss our latest eBook.

Free eBook here

Personalize your digital offer with these Virtuagym features

To strategically decide which online service you want to provide to your clients, you need to take into account two variables: the level of connection you want members to have with your coaches and the level of personalization you want to deliver.

We will introduce you to five different online services you can implement into your business plan with our software. You can decide based on your resources if you would like to implement one or multiple services.

Pre-made service

A Pre-made Service is a training service that you do not have to impart in live but it is already recorded. This service is standardized and the customer can consume it easily and indiscriminately whenever they want.

With Virtuagym you can deliver this service with two of our features: Video on demand and mass workout assignment.

Video on Demand is the Netflix of the Fitness Industry on behalf of Virtuagym. We will give you access to a digital platform where you and your customers can stream the best fitness content from categories.

This is how Video on Demand looks like:

  • You can read more about our Video on Demand feature here.

Through our workout module, you can mass assign workouts plans that are already designed to all your clients. Within our module, we also have an editor where you can create your own general workout plans and maintain your training style. The idea is to create a standard offer that your clients can access and use whenever they want.

With Virtuagym we have also launched our @home solution. Your clients will have access to workouts they can do at home without material, using dumbbells, elastic bands, or a yoga mat.

Group services for specific targets in life

If you have a business model that is very focused on group classes, ideally you could offer group classes in streaming. This tool is meant to keep offering your services online, with a low personalization but still engaging your clients.

The idea is to plan the week in advance, give your clients structure, and create specific moments with them.

Virtuagym’s Group class Schedule allows your clients to follow online classed directly from the schedule. With this option, you can decide to share your content ONLY with your members, decide the capacity and price of these classes. Keep engaging your clients and maintain your business structure up and running.

It is so easy! We’ve created a new field to fill in once you create a class. In this field, you need to paste the link from Hangout, Zoom, YouTube, or any other link to access the class virtually. Your clients will be able to join the classes by clicking on the link from the Schedule on the web platform.

Semi-personalized services. Mass Customization.

The goal is to adapt or customize your fitness routines offer for large volumes of customers. This is a good example to follow when you have limited resources and you need to lower the price of your services. Following this method, you can reach more people but still offering some customization.

First of all, you need to design some product packages that are defined for a specific target audience with a specific objective. Example: A group of people between 40-65 who want to lose weight.

It is important that you don’t give the customer the possibility to choose between what they like, but you recommend and provide them with the solution that best suits their needs. We recommend you to have a system in place to identify their needs, for example, an initial survey.

With Virtuagym, you can deliver this service combining multiple modules, with us, you will create different niches in our platform that allow your mass customization:

How to create types of client

First of all, once you register a new member or even after that, you should register their goals, objectives, and other important data. You can use as well our forms in the system to collect other important information that may help you to build a more complete profile.

From these data, you should create labels for your different client’s profiles. This label will allow you to know why this client came to you and what is their objective. The main idea is, once you have this label in place, all the solutions you offer to this client will be aligned with their objective.

You can create a private group with each type of client and post specific tips and recommendations for this specific group. You can also launch specific challenges to these privates groups.

Virtuagym also covers fitness plans and nutrition within our modules. As we have seen before, we can mass assign specific workouts or nutrition plans to these private groups.

It is key to have a specific strategy in place to tackle different target groups and different objectives. The idea is to have different customer journeys in place and drive your clients through them once you recognize their objectives and needs.

Deferred personalized services

Based on a more exhaustive client data collection, the coach makes a totally personalized program design. It is not meant for immediate consumption but for the coach to provide the client with all these resources little by little in a plan of more complex training.

Using Virtuagym you can create a specific workout plan with our editor. We recommend you to tag properly each workout you create to have easier access to it and save time. They can access your 3D Workout plans through the App and you will be able to follow your client process.

You can keep using our forms to get more information from them in case you want to keep tailoring their plan.

Personalized live services

This solution would be the easiest to understand but also the most expensive due to its level of customization. We are talking about running the training session one-to-one with your clients in life.

The idea is to use Hangouts or Zoom to connect with your client and impart the class. This modality is specially designed for people with pathologies or some ailment.

With our Appointment schedule, you can manage your personal appointments.

We’ve created a new field to fill in once you create an online class. Here you need to paste your live stream link so your gym members can access the class virtually.

Your members will be able to join the classes by clicking on the link from the Schedule on the web platform – it’s only available for those who have access to the schedule or bought credit for this class. This feature will be available in the mobile app version very soon.


Move your fitness business from bricks to clicks with this new approach

It’s safe to say that the fitness industry will not be the same in the post-coronavirus lockdown world. We’re going to see the equivalent of the transition when we went from Blockbuster to Netflix. People value convenience and convenience is key in the after pandemic fitness industry.

They value loyalty and specificity and therefore it doesn’t look like online coaching or online engagement is going to go away anytime soon. Switching to digital, acquiring a new skill set, adapting to the new business model are essential steps to plan a successful strategy to face the new normal after COVID-19.

When you switch most of your clients to a new post-coronavirus offering (either an exclusively remote or a hybrid one), you have to be aware that what people still value the most is that one-on-one attention they were enjoying in your facility. With members craving more of a 24/7 engagement model, it’s the perfect time to rethink your business plan and decide where you want to be once this is over.

Lead your business through the coronavirus crisis

When non-essential businesses were forced to shut down, we all started sharing doubts and worries on how to survive the pandemic and make your business grow despite the current situation. No one was really ready for what happened, and one could only foresee it based on what was happening in China and Italy, which were the countries that were hit first.

Most businesses in the industry were used to an old-school face-to-face business that counted on human interaction in physical locations. For that a mindset shift was needed. The first step to survive a crisis is to pivot quickly and adapt to the situation, as we discussed in our podcast series on Spotify.

In order to make sure you are ready to face the new situation, you need to understand where your business is at. How proactive and optimist do you feel?

Focus on this new approach to survive 2020

We created a XY graph to show what that new approach looks like. On the x line we have “Optimism”. What we mean by this is; how afraid are you of coronavirus?

How long do you think it is going to go on for? It answers these kinds of questions: do you think it’s going to finish next week? Or do you think it might go on next year? And how resilient is your business and business model during this time?

On the y line we have “proactiveness“. This axis highlights how entrepreneurial you are during this time. Do you see yourself moving into the online space or other business models? Are you absorbing competition? Are you not thinking about the consequences of COVID-19 at all?

Based on the two definitions, we put this on a spectrum. So on the y-axis going up and down you have to probe the proactiveness. So if you’re not very proactive that’s on the bottom, but if you’re super proactive and doing a lot, that’s up on top.

And then on the bottom you have optimism. Do you think that this is going to be short-term and not really have an impact? That’ll be closer to the right. And then are you fearful of this? Do you think that this is going to be something that is impacting your business? That says that you’re less optimistic, and that’s on the left.

Adopting a new business model

The pandemic has definitely challenged the whole industry up to a point where those who were already using an online solution really made the best out of it and digitized their entire business.

Some of those who were not yet ready to go digital realised that a switch in mindset was needed in order to make the most of this opportunity, to reinvent the business and reposition as an online service. It’s not just about adapting to the situation, it’s going all-in with a new business model.

  • 1. You can position on the very high side of proactiveness if you’re super proactive but fearful. You need to start taking actions to implement new business models in order to be able to compete in this new potentially long lasting world.
  • 2. Over to the right, you feel fine regardless of the circumstances. You feel like it could be a good opportunity to expand your business and experiment a bit more.
  • 3. You are on the far right if you feel like it doesn’t really matter if this blows over or not. You think your business is still going to make money in the situation regardless of wherever we are. Despite any potential fear of what the post-pandemic world is going to be like, you are still 100% optimistic.

Adapting the business model to the situation

Resilience and adaptability are great skills to survive crises like the latest COVID-19 recession. It’s up to you whether you feel the urge of changing your business model as soon as possible, or take your time to research more before moving forward with a change.

  • 4. On the far left side is when you know you need to adapt more and you are making an effort to renew your business plan. Despite that, you’re not sure how to under the current circumstances.
  • 5. Over to the right is where you have a little bit more optimism about the situation. At this point you feel like you have done and adapted enough. You assume that you can just relax and hold on to the changes you made until the crisis blows over.
  • 6. On the farthest right you feel like you have adapted to the bare minimum and really have no sense of urgency. You are optimistic this is going to blow over pretty soon and everything is going to go back to normal.

Same business model no matter what

You are at this point if you haven’t found the motivation or the means to react to the situation. If you think your mindset matches any of the following moods, then you might be stuck with your business and probably won’t be able to survive the current recession.

  • 7. If you are not very proactive then you’re at this bottom rung here. You are also very negative about the situation and your business. Here is where you’re looking at this as doomsday, and you basically think you are out of the game and you have no chance to overcome the crisis.
  • 8. Moving over a little bit to the right then, this is where you have a little bit more optimism. Maybe you don’t know how to adapt, and you are not sure if it’s worth the effort in order to adapt during this time.
  • 9. On the far right you’re more optimistic about how long corona may last. Maybe you’ve looked at it and said “no big deal, we’ll shut the doors for a couple weeks and we’ll reopen later when everything is blown over”. This is not the best approach since this situation has changed the entire industry and it is best to acknowledge it.

If you are eager to know more about the latest news and trends of the fitness industry, don’t forget to follow our Podcasts series dedicated to Your Fitness Business & COVID-19.

Virtuagym launches podcast series to help fitness businesses during COVID-19

Life is a little crazy right now. And if you’re like most other fitness professionals, you are probably looking for all the help you can get in understanding how to adapt to the future of fitness post-pandemic. Virtuagym wanted to help, so we’ve put together a new podcast series, which is available for every week for anyone in the industry.

Each week, a panel of fitness experts discuss relevant topics that our industry is facing and how club owners and fitness professionals can adapt to the changing demands of life under the current quarantine measures.The series provides answers to fitness professionals’ burning questions about coronavirus business strategies and beyond.

It teaches them the techniques they need to employ in order to digitize their businesses, engage members, reduce churn and avoid a drop in revenue. It also provides the industry with a community space to discuss ideas and share updates. Over 3,500 fitness professionals from around the world have already attended the weekly online events so far.

We’re biased, so we think you should be listening to our podcast on Spotify. But even if you don’t pick ours, there are a whole host of reasons you should be listening to business, fitness or marketing podcasts for gym owners right now.

Why should I listen to podcasts?

Well, since you asked. THIS is the rundown on why you should be listening to podcasts, especially during current quarantine measures.

#1 They’re free!

Money is tight right now for a lot of people. Due to forced facility closures, you may have suffered a drop in revenue or increased levels of membership cancellation requests. One of the best things about getting your information from podcasts is that unlike books or many trade magazines, you can access them completely free of charge.

You can listen to gym podcasts on Spotify, or other sites like Pocketcasts, Podbean, Apple podcasts, Podchaser and more, will give you access to a huge range of podcasts for no cost.

#2 They are a wealth of expert advice

If you read a book by an expert in your field, you’ll spend days (maybe even weeks) with your book and come out with the expertise of usually just one person. Podcasts such as the one hosted by Virtuagym feature expert panels with multiple points of view.

By simply plugging in your earphones and heading out of the house for your daily isolation-escape (aka walk or jog), you have access to a wealth of information via discussions by industry leaders within your niche.

#3 They’re a quick and easy way to get information

Podcasts can last from five minutes to well over an hour. There’s something for everyone – and if you’re someone with very little time (as most business owners are), then you can actively seek out the podcasts that fit in with your lifestyle.

Unlike video, social media scrolling through a magazine article or flipping through your favourite trade magazine, podcasting is an activity you can multi-task with. Keep yourself in shape and do your daily cardio, at the same time as pursuing exponential growth for your business.

#4 They could help you transform your business model

Recent research by Virtuagym found that over half of all survey respondents (made up of fitness professionals from across the USA and Europe) found that they were unsure how to innovate their business model in the face of the coronavirus.

Many in the industry have been giving away training sessions free of charge since facilities closed, however, without transforming their digital offering into a revenue stream, these companies run the risk of losing out and falling behind their competitors. Listen to a wide variety of podcasts in order to develop your business during isolation. In addition, you could listen to specialized digital marketing podcasts, so that you can better understand how to market your new business model online.

The best thing about Virtuagym’s podcast is that it combines all of the topics that are most relevant to you and your business. The podcast is built specifically to cater for exactly what your fitness business needs to know most.

Virtuagym’s new podcast, “Your Fitness Business & COVID-19” is available for free on Spotify, Apple Podcasts and most podcast streaming apps and sites. For more information on the content of our podcast, check out the Virtuagym webinar page here.

Is your fitness business ready to survive the COVID-19 recession?

The fitness industry has been in uncharted waters during the coronavirus outbreak. Nobody was really expecting it and prepared for, so we decided it was a crucial moment to bring together some resources and try to provide as much information and guidance as possible during this time. During the second-wave, it is more important than ever that you have a strong business model in place to help you fight off the impending global recession.

The rise of digital fitness

Online and self-coaching have been increasing in popularity since the end of the 2008 recession. This was largely enabled by the expansion of fitness technologies. If someone was seasoned in fitness, they could monitor their progress with wearable devices and even Apps that come preinstalled on their smartphones.

If they were less of tech-geek, they could combine these technologies with an online coach, which often presents a much cheaper and more convenient option, compared with the traditional coaching model.

Then COVID-19 came in March 2020, and not only was it cheap, convenient and nice-to-have but it was also a requirement for anyone looking to continue their fitness journey with professional guidance. In one week unemployment hit record highs across Europe and the United States, all while the entire country was under self-quarantine instructions.

During the same time, fitness app downloads hit record highs. While this posed a threat to every studio, gym and personal trainer, it didn’t come as a surprise to anyone paying attention since already before the coronavirus outbreak, the fitness app market was estimated to grow at a CAGR of almost 12% during 2020-2024, according to Technavio “Global Fitness App Market” report.

How do you determine market demand?

While some may have predicted a drop in consumers focus on fitness, others recognize fitness to be core to human desire. Some people, for obvious reasons, see their health and fitness to be unnegotiable.

An absolute must, regardless of economic or living conditions. This can be observed through almost every recession on record. People don’t stop exercising; they just find cheaper ways to do it.

From a business perspective, this is described as inelastic demand. Market demand is composed of just two elements; a Desire to purchase a good or service, and an Ability to purchase the same good or service. During economic highs, Desire – which is almost always constant when discussing fitness – is equal to  Ability.

Consumers want to be fit and they have the means to pay for services that will support them in that desire. The rise of boutique studios throughout the 2010s is a clear example of this; people wanted highly engaging fitness experiences and were willing to pay a premium for it.

While on downturns…

The same cannot be said during economic downturns. During bear markets and full recessions, a gap forms between consumers’ Desire and Ability to purchase fitness offerings. They still want highly engaging fitness experiences, but they can no longer afford to pay a premium for it.

Instead, they must take what they can get at a price that they can afford. This gap marks the death of many businesses.

Demand drops sharply, and even customers they might’ve had great relationships with during the high times will have to walk away as times grow tougher.

But this isn’t true for all businesses. Some businesses not only survive during times like this but manage to thrive – coming out of recessions stronger than when they entered.

In fact, during the 2008 recession, big businesses grew 180% while small-to-medium businesses filed for bankruptcy at a rate of 220% higher than the non-recession average. Why is this? In one word: Adaptability.

Why hasn’t your gym marketing strategy gone digital yet?

Big businesses are often more adaptable in bridging the gap between Desire to purchase and Ability to purchase. Traditionally this has been because of economies of scale.

Big businesses have been able to afford to lower their prices to meet the needs of consumers because of their size. Fortunately for smaller businesses today, technology is democratizing adaptability in the competitive and downtrodden market, allowing you to fight back harder than before.

We teamed up to outline how you can use technology to bridge the consumer’s gap between Desire and Ability to purchase your service. We’re going to look at the theoretical and the practical components of that bridge with lots of tips and inputs to help you understand what needs to be done to not just survive a recession, but grow your business with happy and engaged clients.

Our goal is to make this as simple as possible, but we understand that pivoting your business is not a simple process. We know that it’s a scary one, and we’re not discussing the only way. Our goal is not to encourage you to switch everything to this approach immediately and with no questions asked. A much better approach is to combine what you learn in the upcoming sections with what you’re already doing.

By building an online wing to your business you can better insulate yourself from changes in the industry, diversify your revenue streams, and remain competitive in the era of technology. If you are interested in this topic, don’t miss our eBook on Surviving 2020 : How to Build a Highly Adaptable and Highly Resilient Fitness Business.

Send me the eBook

5 productive things you can do while your gym is closed

You’ve seen a million different Instagram and Facebook videos on cultivating a tomato patch and taking up woodwork – but how should you really be spending your free time when your gym is closed?

As a fitness professional, you may be concerned about what your business will look like when the pandemic is over. This article will equip you with the tools for using this time productively and using it as a mechanism for innovation and pushing your business forward. So, what can a business do to improve its productivity?

1. Educate yourself through online training

While you should by no means feel guilty for taking some time out to enjoy yourself while the current pandemic is going on, there’s also some level of balance to be struck. And if you’re finding yourself with heaps of additional free time then you should consider the ways you can use this time to learn a skill.

Education is power – and returning to your gym post-quarantine with a completed online digital marketing course under your belt can only bring additional benefits to you and your business as we all return to full health. Try topping up your personal training knowledge, brush up your business skills or add another sports coaching skill to your repertoire.

Stay attuned to industry leaders and follow them on social media, ensuring you look out for any webinars or courses that they are sharing online. Sign up for emails (such as the Virtuagym emails you can subscribe to at the bottom of this page to receive updates on the latest news and insights for fitness professionals) and check out sites like Coursera that offer online courses from top universities around the world.

2. Consider what is working and what isn’t working

Being forced to slow down and stop business may feel like a great disappointment, but both as an industry and as individuals operating our businesses, we can use this as a time to innovate. Consider what is working and what isn’t working in your business. How do your members respond to your studio environment? Your staff? Have you considered switching out your equipment? Improving your social media presence?

Make a list of all the things that are working – and all the things that could be improved. You should make a note of all of the services you pay for and if you’re unhappy with your current software provider, consider researching a new one while you have some free time.

Your needs will change in a world after the pandemic, so ensure that your provider allows you the touch-points and engagement methods that are crucial in times like these. Software such as Virtuagym offers not just schedules and notifications but home workouts, food tracking, and challenges.

If you switch to Virtuagym, you won’t have to pay for your management software if you’re still with another provider. To assist gyms during the current pandemic, the complete Virtuagym membership management system will be free until the contract with your current provider expires. For more details, follow this link. A dedicated onboarding team will also help you with the switch!

Because it’s time-consuming, changing software providers is something that many fitness professionals put off, even though they’re unhappy. So use this time to explore your options.

3. Implement your digital transformation strategy

Look back at what you have learned during quarantine. According to the biggest news sites in the world, online fitness is the future. Rather than let this cause you concern, consider it as a welcome challenge to revolutionize your business. People are now so used to working out at home, that it’s expected the digital fitness trend will only grow throughout the year and into 2021.

Look at your online offering and reach out to your clients and members to see what they enjoy. Determine the best way to improve your offering moving forward, to ensure that your members and clients stick with you long-term. Try offering your clients a digital coaching solution like the one delivered via the Virtuagym @Home bundle.

4. Keep in touch with clients

Before the quarantine hit, life had a tendency to be packed full with the hectic tasks that take up our day-to-day. When you’re rushing around organising employees, cleaning your studio, maintaining equipment and staying on top of classes, there can sometimes be too little time spent truly connecting with your community.

Take this moment to relish the relationships you have built as a fitness professional. Consider how you can go above and beyond to be there for your community during this difficult time. Reach out to them via WhatsApp and Instagram, not just to offer your services but also to check in. By strengthening your connections with your community now, you’ll reap the rewards in the long-run.

5. Invest in your own health

Last but not least, don’t forget to practice what you preach. Use this time to reconnect with your own health and fitness. It can be easy to neglect our own health when we’re so tied up in reaching our business goals and although your business may be your life, it’s leading a long, healthy and happy life that is the most important thing.

Spend time with family, relax, meditate, practice yoga and go on those (safely distanced) runs. Do whatever you need to do to keep a positive mindset during these anti-social times and you’ll come back to your business well-rested and stronger than ever to take on the next adventure.

What gyms and studios can expect after the coronavirus outbreak is over

The past few months have been a worrying time, not just for the fitness industry but also for the entire global community. We’re not the only trade left wondering what will happen after the coronavirus outbreak is over, when we’ll go back to normal again – or when will social distancing finally come to an end.

However, many fitness professionals are now in a unique position. Almost overnight, the 100 billion dollar fitness industry has gone virtual, adapting to the current circumstances and taking their businesses online. This article will outline the ways that this move will change the entire industry completely – even when things have gone back to normal again and the pandemic has ended.

What do you do when your gym is open again?

We are still uncertain what the guidelines will be for gyms and studios upon reopening. However, a new focus on hygiene is bound to be more important than ever while as a society we continue to fight the virus. Social distancing measures may also still be in place and this could continue to impact on the way you operate your business.

How gyms are improving their digital offering

First and foremost, look at the ways your business has changed over the past few weeks. Have you embraced virtual training? If you’re like most other fitness professionals, the answer is probably yes. People from all walks of life are embracing the newfound freedom offered by a personal trainer in your pocket – it’s important to stay attuned to this when it comes to life after quarantine.

Consider planning how you might embrace small group workouts instead of the larger fitness classes you may be used to.Small group workouts not only minimise the risk of spreading disease (as it’s easier to maintain a safer distance) but will also allow you to provide more 1-1 time with clients and members, improving motivation and giving the people that you serve a better experience.

How to develop small group workout ideas

If you’re not used to operating your classes in a small group you might be wondering how you could get started with this. Consider the classes that you already have and then half (or even quarter) the size of those classes. A small group could be as few as two or three people (offering a bespoke – and thus higher value class to your members).

Spend this time in isolation figuring out exactly what kinds of classes your members are looking for. Your unique fitness business will cater to a specific demographic – do you have women in their twenties interested in elongating muscles and toning up? Or men over the age of 50 interested in maintaining muscle and increasing strength? Of course, your offering to either would be very different. Run polls on your social media channels or reach out to clients and members individually to find out.

You should also consider the fact that many people will be looking forward to working out outside in the outdoors. After spending so much time cooped up, your classes will prove popular if they offer some element of nature. This could be anything from Box in a field to yoga in the park – assess your local area and of course, the government regulations that are in place after the pandemic is over.

Expand your digital offering

It’s no doubt that social media, your website and perhaps your own branded personal app like those offered by Virtuagym are a real asset during the current crisis. When things go back to normal and the pandemic is over – take this as a lesson: find new ways to reach audiences.

During this time people are getting more used to working with online and digital tools to enhance their fitness regimes. When things are back to normal, the interest in digital workouts is likely to remain. In addition some people with concerns and anxieties over sickness may be too worried to return quickly to their normal lives even if the government has given it the okay. There are also those people that are now used to and enjoy the freedom of working out at home – these groups combined suggest the digital workout trend is bound to stay, at least for the coming year.

To ensure you continue to remain relevant as a business you should figure out a way to continue offering digital training methods alongside training inside your facility. This could mean holding weekly sessions on Instagram live – or it could mean using a much more personal method such as a virtual trainer and live-streaming service via your software provider (like the Virtuagym @Home bundle).

When will fitness centers open after covid crisis?
insta_photos || Shutterstock

Consider additional revenue streams

The current crisis has no doubt hit your income hard. All of us have been unable to operate as usual and this means you are probably missing out on some revenue. In order to make sure your business thrives when the pandemic is over, consider what additional ways you could add to your revenue streams. If you’re not already selling products via a webshop, consider how this would fit with your business and what gap you might be able to fill.

During the pandemic, many people have become used to using digital services that offer both training AND a nutrition programme. Think about the ways in which you can offer nutritional services (such as food tracking and coaching via an app) in order to introduce additional streams of revenue.

To summarise, making your business future-proof is an essential step to take now to ensure that you get quickly back on your feet after the coronavirus outbreak has ended. Introduce additional revenue streams, increase your digital offering and plan now, in order to maximise your chances of success.