With coronavirus cases on the rise all over the globe, the prospect of another lockdown is on the horizon. In some places, it is already happening. Unlike the first time around, where everyone was entirely caught off guard, fitness businesses have been gradually adjusting to a new way of working. In the first few weeks of lockdown, many quickly pivoted to digital fitness to continue to generate income.
Now, hopefully, you are in a stronger position to not only survive but thrive in the midst of another lockdown. While a second lockdown is not certain, it’s a good idea to have a plan in place. If you have to close your doors again temporarily, there are things you can do to continue your business successfully.
Let’s take a look at what another lockdown means for gyms, how you can prepare your business and eight easy ways to win if your gym closes again.
Gyms and Coronavirus: Surviving Another Lockdown
The coronavirus has delt the fitness industry a poor hand. When the fitness industry closed its doors back in March, it felt like its source of income was denied. But the health and fitness industry is resilient and has adapted to changing consumer demand and expectations. While the thought of closing your gym’s doors doesn’t fill any owner with joy, there are ways that you can continue to support your members, generate income, and experience success in the middle of a global pandemic.
For the less digitally savvy organizations, the coronavirus has prompted a serious re-evaluation of their digital strategies. While the more technology-centered businesses have jumped at the opportunity to leverage the massive rise of home fitness and digital fitness solutions. Many fitness brands have had to step up overnight, and the industry has seen a big acceleration in digital offerings and products.
The COVID-19 crisis is a medium-term problem at best. No one knows when things will get back to normal and the lasting effects it may leave on consumers and the fitness industry. It’s essential that you continue to drive value to your members and find ways to support and offer your services whether your gym is open or closed. The digital arm of your business is key to success.
How to Prepare Your Business for Lockdown Success
Business success doesn’t happen by accident. The coronavirus pandemic is extremely challenging, with new problems popping up daily. Whether it’s a national lockdown or new restrictions in place, you need to have preparations in place to succeed during another lockdown and well into the future. Here are three ways to prepare your fitness business for success.
Get Your Technology Right
Like many sectors, technology is at the core of fitness right now. With home fitness on the rise, you need the right technology in place to manage and support your members. Everything from your social media management and digital marketing to your streaming and on-demand platform should be ready to go with the best technology for your business. As digital fitness continues to experience a huge spike in demand, technology is at the heart of progress and success.
Communication is Key
During a crisis, communication is essential. Whether it’s your members, employees, or potential customers, you need to not only keep up the conversation but speak even more. We’re in a time of uncertainty, and that creates a level of anxiety, naturally. Communication will help to ease members’ worries and continue to support them through a difficult time. Check out this blog on engaging and updating your community during coronavirus.
Make a Plan
If you haven’t already, now is the time to plan how your business is going to keep going to support members and generate revenue. Think about how you will operate your remote membership plan. Your COVID-19 strategy includes all parts of the crisis. This means it will be your communication strategy, your re-opening plan, and how you will operate in another total lockdown. It’s essential that you plan how you will drive value even though your physical location is closed. By keep members motivated and accountable from a distance, you continue to offer value.
For more advice, listen to this recent episode of The Fitness Founders Podcast with fitness industry consultant Eric Malzone:
The episode talks about what it takes to be a successful fitness entrepreneur right now. Eric talks about the huge opportunity in the fitness industry at the moment and the key qualities you need to succeed.
8 Ways to Succeed if Your Gym Closes Again
With some countries around the world already in lockdown and others edging closer, it’s unclear what the next steps will be. But one thing’s for certain is that coronavirus isn’t going anywhere right now. If your gym has to close again, here are eight easy ways to continue to operate, support members, and make the most of the situation.
1. Shift Employee Roles and Responsibilities
While some operations of your business may need to close, you can realign the roles and responsibilities of your staff. For example, your in-person fitness instructors can pivot to online classes and training. If you have staff members who focus mainly on your physical location, think of how you can use them in other parts of the business.
You will likely have a higher demand from your at-home audience, so you can focus staff efforts here. You also have the option to carry out accountability phone calls with members, create more social media content on Facebook and Instagram Live, and ensure your online offering is delivering. Utilize your staff efficiently by assigning them to tasks that will grow the business during a lockdown. For more advice on making the most of your team, check out this post on the 4 types of gym employees who will power your hybrid success.
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2. Over-Communicate With Your Members
It’s important to not just communicate but over-communicate with your members. If you have to close your physical location, you can continue to retain your members. By explaining the situation and showing a complete understanding of the potential hardships your members are going through, you tap into your members’ emotions.
Throughout your communications emphasize the need for exercise for both physical and mental health. Exercise can help manage stress and lower anxiety levels at a time where a lot of people are feeling worried. Continue to stress how your members will get value out of their membership through online classes, your streaming platform, daily check-ins, home workout challenges and programs, and more. Find new ways to engage with your fitness community with virtual fitness challenges and online coaching.
3. Be Ready With Your Online Offering
Although gyms are re-opening at reduced capacity and COVID-secure procedures, these are uncertain times. With no vaccine or change in the disease, the prospect of another lockdown is real. An online offering goes a long way in futureproofing your fitness business. Virtual fitness classes look here to stay.
By running a hybrid business with both in-person and online offerings, you can quickly pivot and adapt depending on the current situation. If you have to close your gym again, you can up your daily online classes and streaming opportunities and move your resources away from in-person classes. Your online offering should be ready to go with a great digital fitness experience. It should be easy to pay for memberships and classes, access content, and engage with your brand digitally.
4. Rent Out Your Fitness Equipment
Another way to generate revenue and support your local fitness community is by renting out your fitness equipment. If you have fitness equipment in your gym or studio collecting dust, you could offer weekly or monthly rental options.
Indoor cycling machines, treadmills, and elliptical machines are costly. Peloton bikes start at just under $2,000, and NordicTrack treadmills start at $1,299. As some nations initiate shorter lockdowns to slow down the spread of coronavirus, many people may not want to invest in costly home workout machines. By offering rental options for fitness equipment that you’re not using, you can provide a level of convenience and flexibility for your members while making money.
5. Offer Online Personal Training
Your online offering or digital platform caters to a lot of people at the same time. Take this a step further by offering individual online personal training. Your expert fitness instructors can support clients from afar by creating training programs, healthy eating advice, and running one-on-one virtual sessions.
If you already offer personal training within your gym, it’s a natural progression to offer your services digitally. Some members may need more personalized help and motivation to hit their goals. You can use different forms of communication to keep on top of members’ progress and encourage training.
6. Collaborate With Other Businesses
Throughout various sectors, many businesses are struggling through the pandemic. Now is the perfect time to collaborate with other businesses that align with your brand. When gyms are closing their doors, people want to find ways to workout home efficiently. By partnering with other businesses, you can provide value to your members.
For example, if you team up with a home fitness equipment provider, your members can buy home workout products straight from you. This works for activewear, yoga equipment, and health foods. During the first lockdown, a lot of people struggled to get their hands on the fitness equipment they wanted at a decent price. When you calibrate with other brands that align with your business, you can cater to your members’ growing needs.
7. Keep Members Engaged
Keeping your members engaged is key to retaining them throughout another lockdown and beyond. Figure out ways to keep members engaged despite not physically seeing them. This may require some creative thinking but is entirely possible. One way to engage members digitally is through online and virtual fitness challenges. Start with a simple 30-day yoga challenge or support a good cause with Charity Miles.
Your social media plan will form a vital part of your retention and engagement strategy. With tools like Instagram and Facebook Live, polls, and Reels, you can continue to engage with your audience. By showing a real behind the scenes look of your business and encouraging employees to emphasize brand personality, you can nurture member relationships digitally.
8. Continue to Market Your Services
Although it can be tempting to look at the current situation and cut all your ad spend and marketing, try to avoid this. In terms of budgeting, your marketing spend may need some readjustment. But it’s important that you still get your business in front of potential customers. Even though you may temporarily close your doors, you will still be operating the digital side of your business. You have a massive opportunity to increase digital membership as more and more people take to their home for exercise.
While you continue to market your services and run your business, this gives you the chance to plan your re-opening strategy. It’s never too early to start thinking about what they may look like. As you probably know, government guidelines can move quickly, meaning that you need to be ready and adapt to whatever is happening.
It’s more important than ever to retain a strong and engaged fitness community to help minimize financial losses and support your members. With a solid online offering, continuous communication, and the option to rent fitness equipment, there are several things you can do to ensure your business is in a strong position if you’re forced to close your doors. These are tough times, and it feels like the fitness industry is facing hurdle after hurdle. But there are steps you can take to ensure your digital offering is strong and ready to go so that you can continue to grow no matter what.