Reopening: How the Fitness Industry is Moving Forward

woman lifting weights

As we’re all aware, the COVID-19 pandemic has forced fitness clubs in the U.S. to limit or change operations. With the reopening of some cities and states, we wanted to check in with the fitness industry to see how they have been handling these changes. We surveyed our customers and prospects to gain a better understanding of the range of struggles clubs have faced these past 6 months.  

Who Did We Hear From?

First, thank you to all who participated in The State of the Fitness Industry survey sent between June 21 – August 17. We received almost 500 responses, with the majority from owners and managers of fitness clubs or studios that have between 1 and 5 locations. The majority of these locations are either still closed or open at 50% capacity, and 10% are fully operating. 

Major Findings 

26% of respondents are not currently offering online workouts or digital resources. As this was the way to keep businesses afloat, it was surprising to see this number as high as it is. What’s even more interesting is 20% said they will not offer virtual workouts, digital resources or streaming in the future. It’s clear to us that members will want this option moving forward. We see it as an easy add-on for a monthly membership. If not having the resources or a club management system is stopping you from making this happen, we’re here to help. 

We believe because of the shift to online workouts, those who took advantage saw an uptick in membership sales — 13% of respondents sold more than usual! Virtual training is a cost effective way to keep members engaged with your club. Air high fives to those who were able to get creative during this time. 

Do you know how your members want to stay up-to-date on what’s going on in your club? Most keep members informed via social media. Since most people spend their time scrolling, this is an easy way to hit your target. Email marketing and phone calls were the runner-ups. We suggest keeping multiple lines of communication open until you get the best sense of how your members like to communicate.

What’s Next?

There’s still some uncertainty and hesitation about reopening. We foresee fitness clubs and studios needing to change their business model and remain flexible. Keep an open dialogue with your members. Ask them what they want, and see how you can add new services into the mix. We’re rooting for you!

We’d love to hear how you’re currently fairing. Take the survey and we’ll send you an overview of The State of the Fitness Industry report.

6 Tips to Help Transition to Reopening

empty gym with equipment

We all know that the fitness industry has been rattled by COVID-19. Everyone has most likely been affected financially, personally, or mentally in our industry. As we navigate these turbulent times, it’s important that we check-in on one another, help out where we can, and keep our eyes on a brighter future. Our sister-company, GoodTherapy, has been an invaluable resource to many people whose lives have been turned upside down. We want to help your fitness business thrive, but more importantly we want YOU to thrive as well. Visit the GoodTherapy website to learn more about their resources. 

As we look ahead, states, counties, and cities are starting to reopen their businesses. It’s time to prepare your gym for the new prospect and member experience, however that may look. Whether you operate a large multi-use facility or a small studio, every business will see changes in the way their day-to-day operations run.

We put together a list of reopening tips to help jumpstart your planning for the first phase of the staged reopening.

1. Don’t take your foot off the gas when it comes to your virtual work outs. Even when you are able to slowly open your doors, many members won’t be personally ready to work out in public spaces. Give members the option to continue working out virtually so that they can still get value from your fitness business, but have the option to come in when they are ready. Now is a good time to build in virtual work outs to your membership packages for a small upgraded fee so that the option is still available once this is officially over.

2. Virtual communication is more essential now than ever before. Updating hours, cleaning procedures, and regulations that prospects or members need to follow should be communicated through email, text, and social media. Update your Google hours, keep your company Facebook and Instagram up-to-date, and text members with important news about your business. Don’t underestimate the value of informative communication.

3. In-person communication is going to look different once you start to reopen. Create signs around the gym that explain cleaning procedures, workout regulations members should abide by, and steps that your staff is taking to ensure cleanliness. Equipment should be 6 feet apart if it isn’t already, and in open workout spaces set markings every 6 feet so that members can still social distance while exercising. Every employee should be wearing a mask or comply with local guidelines when it comes to personal safety.

4. Whether it is in-person or virtual (ideally both), be very clear and concise on any updates to your membership billing process. When you start to bill members again, be sure to give them a reminder, include your updated hours, and any precautions you are following to add value. If you are extending free months to the end of their membership package to make up for the lost time, be sure to outline that or any other special billing circumstances you might have. As you may have already learned, members want to know exactly where their money is going and when so it’s important to be timely and clear. 

5. Offer products that are usually shared at your gym for personal use to provide a better member experience and drive ancillary revenue. Have branded yoga mats, small weights, towels, and more for purchase to give members the option to use their own personal equipment at the gym or to take home. 

6. Now is an essential time to set up personal training packages that fit any budget. Offering free one-on-one training sessions, outdoor small group sessions, or short-term training packages gives prospects or members the chance to get back into your gym or studio without compromising safety in big crowds. Being in an outdoor environment might give members some personal safety security, so consider offering one-on-one training outside as well if the weather permits.

If you have any other tips or care to share what your fitness business is doing during this time, leave a comment on this blog post for others to read. Remember to take care of yourself—your business has the opportunity to come back stronger than ever.