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At this time of year, there are numerous articles written about fitness business ideas and predicting the direction of the fitness industry for the coming twelve months. Usually, these predictions and lists are slow to change from year to year with different trends slowly replacing previous trends as the industry evolves. 2021, however, might be slightly different due to the events of the last year.
We all know that the fitness industry has changed exponentially since the first lockdowns began in 2020. Digital fitness is now a pivotal part of how gyms and studios deliver their services and this will likely be the case for the foreseeable future. And this has been reflected in ACSMs Worldwide Survey of Fitness Trends for 2021. Seen as a leading predictor of industry trends every year, it showed that “online training” is, unsurprisingly, the no.1 trend for 2021. This was up from no.26 in 2020!
And it’s not only digital and the online fitness business that has come to the forefront this year. Larger consideration for health and safety as a business idea is an absolute must. When gyms and studios open back up at some point this year, gym owners and the likes of the personal trainer need to make sure that the gym member is entering a clean, well-spaced area they can work out in confidence.
In general 2021 is going to be another challenging year for as a fitness professional . So in this article, we have put together 14 essential fitness and wellness business ideas you can implement into your business in 2021.
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Running a Fitness Business in 2021
The reality of running a fitness business is this – it’s tough. Global lockdowns, digital-only brands expanding aggressively into the market, and the loss of the traditional January rush has made being a gym owner more difficult than ever. However, there is hope on the horizon, with the US hitting 1.3 million vaccinations a day, according to the BBC and things hopefully returning to normal in the US. As well as that Club Industry has reported that a $30 million fund for US gyms and studios called the GYMs Act has been introduced to Congress and if passed will cover “payroll, rent, mortgage, utilities, insurance, and other expenses fitness facilities normally incur”
So while things may be difficult at present, we seem to be nearing the end of the pandemic and can hopefully look forward to building back the industry stronger than ever. However, if you are someone who wants to start a fitness business but is unsure if now is the right time, let’s talk a closer look at if you should.
Should You Start a Fitness Business in 2021?
There is no right or wrong answer to this question. Being an entrepreneur is tough and as we have laid out in our popular article on the hard truths to know before starting a fitness business, there are many obstacles you have to overcome. In truth though, times like these can be perfect for starting a business. In the last recession, the likes of Uber and Airbnb began and grew in seemingly difficult times. This article, from Entrepreuer.com, lays out a few key reasons why 2021 may be a good year to start a business, including the fact that consumers and companies alike are being driven towards the online space – where a lot of the industry may operate in the future.
14 Fantastic Health and Fitness Business Ideas for 2021
We have been writing extensively on all aspects of the industry as it’s changed over the last few years and so we believe we have a good sense of what kind of fitness business ideas you need to implement in 2021 to make your business successful. From online, to hybrid and right through to looking at how you get members results, our aim with this list is to inspire you to innovate and overcome the challenges that will be presented in the next 12 months. Let’s dive in.
1. Become an Expert in Online and On-Demand Services
An obvious one but one we need to put at the top of our list. Thousands of gyms and studios moved their services online at the beginning of 2020. Zoom, previously only really known in the corporate and tech world, became a common way of communicating for everyone globally. And gyms and studios began using this platform, mostly in a very basic way. However, now that we are a year on you need to be delivering quality online services. As Stuart Brauer said when he joined us on our podcast if your workouts look the same on Day 20 as they do on Day 1 you’re in trouble.
2. A Hybrid Offering Is the Way Forward
Hybrid is likely a word you have heard thrown around over the past 12 months. For a gym or fitness studio, hybrid means offering a mix of online and offline services (if your facility is open). The fact of the matter is that people are now used to working out from home. In fact, at home workout titans Beachbody found that that nine in ten Americans who exercise regularly will continue with online workouts once gyms reopen. As we detailed in our extensive article on operating a hybrid fitness studio, you need to meet the member where they are.
3. Consider Your Place in the Ecosystem
Recently Equinox Media announced that they were partnering with Apple and WHOOP to deliver a highly personalized experience to consumers. What this means is that larger franchises are seeing the value of incorporating fitness technology and tracking to deliver the best experience possible. It’s also something that Keepme CEO Ian Mullane talked about in his recently released report on the topic. What this really means for you is that you need to aware of the technology available and incorporate it into your member’s experience. You are the hub that sets their workout programs and the tech enhances their overall journey.
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4. Rethink Your Space
The key thing you have to think about with your space is that you may have to fit fewer people into it. The reason for this is mainly health and safety, When gyms and studios reopen you will need to ensure that members work out a safe distance from each other. Social distancing has long been considered one of the key factors in stopping the spread of the virus. Make sure individual workout spaces with gym equipment are marked out with appropriate space in between them and throughways to the workout area are wide enough to allow people to pass each other safely.
5. Health and Safety Is a Priority
Rethinking your space is one part of a larger health and safety strategy that you will need to pursue when you reopen your facility. Keeping your gym as clean as possible is the core of this strategy. This means deep-cleaning your space and fitness equipment after class, installing contactless entry where possible, and implementing a mask-wearing policy for members when they are entering the studio. A health and safety playbook will need to be created and staff will need to be trained up on this playbook. Read our article on the 10 Gym Safety Tips to Protect Your Members as You Reopen for more information.
6. Add Outdoor Bootcamps to Your Offering
As gyms began shutting down in the first part of 2020 most gyms moved their services online. However, some gyms, depending on their local restrictions, moved some of their classes outside. This CNBC article from July last year documented some of the gym owners who moved their classes outside to the parking lot or down to the leafy surroundings of the local park. Profiled is fitness business owner Dana Auriemma who has partnered with a local wine bar to use their outdoor space during the day. Partnerships like this have become a positive necessity during these times.
7. Explore Partnership Opportunities
While we are on the subject of partnerships, let’s take a closer look at why they are a good idea, especially now. The potential of partnerships cannot be underestimated. The number one thing that COVID-19 has affected is your fitness marketing budget. And because of this, you need to find cheaper ways of reaching potential members. Partnerships are a cost-effective way to reach a new audience and for a fitness entrepreneur partnering with a local health food restaurant is likely the most on-brand partnership you can do. Check out our article on partnership marketing for more information on the types of fitness brand you should partner with.
8. Learn About VR Fitness
Technology has disrupted the fitness industry with more people than ever using fitness devices and wearables. Taking that technology into the fitness room is the next step. VR fitness creates completely immersive classes using computer-generated landscapes. Brands are already jumping on this such as Black Box VR, a fully immersive virtual reality gym experience based in San Francisco. Immersive fitness has the power to turn your gym workout into a game. We have written an extensive article on the future of fitness technology which you can check out here.
9. Keep Your Members Accountable
Of all the key lessons learned from last year from our podcast guests last year was from Gym Launch CEO Alex Hormozi. According to him, keeping your members accountable will be the difference between you and your competitors. Alex makes the point that people pay for you to pay attention and regular accountability calls will help keep your members focused on getting results and hitting fitness goals and weight loss goals. This is especially important now that you have gone online as it will be easier for members to lose focus and give up. Listen to the excellent conversation we had with him on our podcast.
10. Host Regular Online Tutorials
The enthusiasm for learning new skills has increased during prolonged lockdowns around the world. Articles like this seemed to appear every week as people wondered what to do with all the spare time they had on their hands. However, starting and committing to this process is easier said than done. This is where you come in. By hosting regular tutorials on topics that can help your member’s overall fitness and wellness is a great idea. Healthy cooking, mobility, yoga and meditation would be a good place to start. Consider bringing in experts to lead these webinars if possible.
11. Healthy Meal Kit Delivery Service
Meal delivery services are gaining traction. Meal kits were predicted to hit $10 billion in revenue by 2020. Recipes and ingredients are packaged in exact quantities with easy-to-follow recipes and delivered straight to your door. Healthy eating is part of a healthy lifestyle, by taking out the need to go shopping and meal plan, a meal kit delivery service offers complete convenience. This could be a good idea for a partnership to pursue, as we have discussed in a previous point. During various stages of lockdown, this could also really help your members stick to their nutrition goals.
12. Virtual Fitness Challenges
Fitness challenges have always been a way to get members motivated, especially at important points of the year like January or pre-summer. The good news is that these can still be done virtually. Keep the same schedule of challenges as you would normally – maybe one per quarter – and encourage members to refer their friends. A good strategy would be to discount current members for the challenge if they manage to refer a friend. This will in turn hopefully allow you to turn these referrals into members at the end of the challenge – especially if they hit their fitness goals.
13. Invest in Health and Wellness
As a trend, health and wellness have been part of ACSMs Worldwide Survey of Fitness Trends for the last ten years and are placed at no.11 on this year’s list. Wellness and health coaching has become a more important factor in the last number of years in the fitness industry. Gone are the days of a total focus on aesthetic looks and now gyms and studios are keen to offer a path to overall physical and mental wellness. Fitness expert Vanessa Severiano talked about this trend in more detail when she joined us on an episode of our podcast.
14. Retrain Staff to Deal with Closures
The unfortunate by-product of shutting down your facility is that you need to cut costs somewhere. Usually this is your staff. If your gym or studio is closed there is just enough work available for your team. However if you place them in other roles of the business you can keep them on board and have them ready to go when your gym opens back up. In the podcast interview we mentioned earlier Alex Hormozi suggests giving surplus staff the job of doing sales outreach and accountability calls for the online part of your business.
2020 was a year of big change and 2021 looks like continuing on that trend. Hopefully as you navigate the choppy waters of this year, these 14 fitness business ideas will help you see out the year safely and successfully.