Many gyms and fitness studios are beginning a phased reopening. Although lockdown is beginning to ease and more businesses are opening up, the fitness industry will still face many challenges. Figuring out how to maintain social distancing guidelines and running at a reduced capacity while paying full rental fees is tough. In Texas, gyms reopened on May 18 at 25% capacity with no access to showers.
Safety is the first priority for business owners. But, how can you offer a fitness experience your members will love while sticking to rigorous safety standards? You need to think about how you can generate income while being safe. Well, that’s why you should think about running an outdoor bootcamp right now. By going outside, you can create new ways to support your members, generate income, and minimize the risk of COVID-19.
Skip ahead to:
- Outdoor Bootcamp Basics
- 9 Benefits of Outdoor Bootcamps Right Now
- 5 Tips for Launching Your Outdoor Bootcamp
Outdoor Bootcamp Basics
In general, outdoor bootcamp workouts follow a similar structure. You find a big outdoor space and create a program that your members will enjoy. But, there’s a lot of flexibility to it, so you can create really unique outdoor bootcamp series that will help your members hit their fitness goals and support your business overall. Here’s a breakdown of the outdoor bootcamp basics.
A good location is essential to a successful bootcamp. You want somewhere that’s easy to travel to and has plenty of space so your group can spread out. Try to find a place that is central to your target audience. Perhaps a park near your fitness studio or within easy walking distance. Look at private or public parks as well as school fields that you could rent at certain times.
Will it be a weekend bootcamp or will you hold classes multiple days a week? You will need to decide on this information before you apply to use the space. Think about how long the bootcamp will run for. It’s a good idea to mix it up and give your members the option to purchase a six-week bootcamp program as well as pay-as-you-go classes. All classes will need to be booked ahead of schedule if you need to limit numbers and stick to certain guidelines.
Types of Outdoor Bootcamp Workouts
With the majority of outdoor workouts, you expect a decent amount of body exercises like push-ups, lunges, planks, burpees, and sit-ups. There are a ton of alternatives to make bootcamps interesting depending on your target audience. Whether it’s circuit training, a cardio workout, bodyweight training, or a combination of all three, bootcamps can be a very effective form of exercise. Goal-based bootcamps are a great way to attract new clients and help whip them into shape over a period of time. For example, increase your fitness and tone up in six weeks.
Licenses, Permits and Insurance
Once you have several locations in mind and a bootcamp plan, you need to think about licenses, permits, and insurance. Depending on the location you choose, you will need to get the right permission to use it. By applying to several different locations, you have options if your favorite spot isn’t available.
Even though public parks are public, you will still need to ask permission to use the space. Make sure you have the appropriate permits and insurance to cover yourself in the case of any accidents. As you will be training outside of your gym, your insurance will need to cover this.
9 Benefits of Outdoor Bootcamps Right Now
Outdoor bootcamps have been around for a while. They came off the back of military bootcamps used to whip cadets into shape. With the current situation, fitness businesses are facing new hurdles and challenges. If you haven’t considered running a bootcamp outside before, now is the right time.
1. No Equipment Needed
A major benefit of outdoor bootcamps is that you don’t need any equipment to give your members an effective workout. You can use a combination of bodyweight exercises to work out all muscle groups and see results.
One of the hardest things for gyms right now is figuring out how to make equipment safe for everyone. Things like dumbbells and barbells are high touchpoints that are shared by multiple people. With an outdoor bootcamp, there’s no need to wipe down surfaces constantly. An added bonus is that it’s relatively cost-effective to run a bootcamp as you don’t’ need to invest in high-spec equipment.
2. Exercise Outside
Experts suggest the risk of infection of COVID-19 is lower outdoors. Although it’s impossible to say there is zero risk of contracting the disease, it’s thought that there is less risk. The main point is that you’re able to stand far enough away from people not in your household.
By taking exercise outside, it hopefully gives your members a bit of vitamin D and a general boost. While some members are ready to hit the gym, others are a bit nervous. An outdoor exercise option may be just what some of your members need to stay active.
3. Maintain Social Distancing
Social distancing is a major player in the fight against the coronavirus. One of the biggest challenges many gyms and fitness studios are facing is the need to maintain social distancing. Depending on the space you have available, it may mean that you can have a very limited number of people in the gym at any time.
With a large outdoor space, you can spread your bootcamp class out and stick to rigorous social distancing guidelines. It might be a good idea to wear a microphone, so your class can hear the fitness instructor no matter where they are. Coronavirus is thought to spread through droplets from coughs and sneezes from an infected person. This is why social distancing is so important, especially if a person doesn’t realize they have contracted COVID-19.
The Bootcamp Blueprint Podcast has a great episode on re-opening face to face group fitness programs. The episode talks about what fitness professionals will need to consider as restrictions ease.
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4. Generate Additional Income
Many businesses are facing financial troubles at the moment. By creating new streams of income, you can continue to generate income. You may already be coming out of lockdown with a new digital offering. An outdoor bootcamp is another way to attract new members, reach your target audience, and generate income.
By selling bootcamps as packages that can solve your members’ problem, they will be more likely to invest in a bulk number of classes. If you know members are struggling with their weight or can’t find the motivation to workout, think about how your bootcamp can help them, and solve this problem. It might be an eight-week bootcamp program alongside personalized meal plans.
5. Strengthen Community
It’s important to maintain and strengthen your community throughout this unusual time. Group fitness training is a good way for members to meet and feel like they are a part of a community. By encouraging social media sharing and working towards a goal as a group, it can do wonders for your community.
Despite not being able to physically connect with your members right now, there’s still an opportunity to create a thriving online fitness community. When you create a tribe or sense of belonging, it will massively help with member retention, engagement, and loyalty.
6. Follow Health and Safety Guidelines
Health and safety guidelines may change slightly from state to state. Depending on what you need to implement, an outdoor bootcamp may help you stick to those guidelines while creating a new fitness experience. If you tend to deliver a lot of fitness classes, you may find that your studio is too small to put on classes with social distancing in place. This is a great option that keeps members safe while delivering an effective full-body workout.
The Fitness Founders Podcast has a great episode on the member experience. Fitness industry expert Chris Stevenson talks about the key factors of the member experience and why the experience is more important than ever
7. Support Your Members
As a member-focused industry, your members’ happiness is often at the heart of your success. By keeping your members active, it can benefit their mental well-being during a stressful time. Group fitness also allows members to interact with one another, from a safe distance of course. Supporting your members and retaining open communication will benefit your business in the long-run.
8. Increase Gym Capacity
Some gyms are opening at 25% capacity, to begin with. Although this may change in the future, you need to create a business that can survive running at a reduced capacity in the meantime. By taking classes outside and running a bootcamp, it will leave room for more members to visit you in-person at the gym. Some of your members may prefer your digital services while some may like the option to exercise outside instead of coming back to the gym. The more room you have for members who want to use gym equipment, the better.
9. Minimize Coronavirus Transmission Risk
All these new guidelines you’re putting in place are for the sole purpose of minimizing the spread of COVID-19 and preventing a second peak. Anything that allows you to keep that risk down while delivering excellent services, and generating income is a huge bonus.
5 Tips for Launching Your Outdoor Bootcamp
If you’re thinking about launching an outdoor bootcamp, here are five tips for a successful fitness program.
Choose Your Niche
Start off by choosing your niche. Some of the best outdoor bootcamps have a laser-focused theme like bridal bootcamps, beach body bootcamps, or strength bootcamps. Think about your target audience and members. Choose a niche that your target audience will engage with. Consider different fitness levels and how you can adapt bootcamps to various abilities. Here are some outdoor bootcamp ideas to think about:
- Fat-burning bootcamp
- HIIT workout and tone up
- Eight-week reset
- Couch to 5K style
- Military fitness
Pick Your Location
Research several different locations in your area so that you have a few options. Find a location that your target audience can get to easily. If it’s further out, make sure there is plenty of parking or transport options. There should be plenty of space for your class members to spread out and still be able to see you clearly.
Make Sure You’re Covered
Apply for any permits necessary and make sure you’re fully covered. Your gym insurance covers your members when you are in the gym. If you’re running classes in a public place like a park, make sure that you’re covered if any injuries or incidents arise.
Organize Your Admin
Before you start running an outdoor bootcamp, make sure you’ve done all your admin. Think about how you will track attendance and process payments. You can use certain software for your digital liability waivers. Make sure you can handle payments simply and quickly. The whole process of signing up for bootcamp, paying, and attending, should be seamless.
Outdoor Bootcamp Marketing
Now you know exactly what you will do and where you want to host your bootcamp, you need to market it properly. Use everything you have in your marketing arsenal including your social media, push notifications, email, and your website. Create a landing page specifically for the bootcamp where members can get all the information they need to sign up. Send out an email invitation inviting all members to join. Spread awareness and communicate how you will stick to health and safety guidelines while offering a new service.
Whether you want to run a weight loss bootcamp or post-natal fitness series, an outdoor bootcamp could be just what your business needs. As you look at your re-opening strategy, outdoor exercise allows you to support your members while generating additional income and sticking to rigorous health and safety guidelines. With the world opening up again, adapting to a new normal is essential to business survival.