With lockdowns, restrictions, and limited indoor capacity due to the COVID-19 crisis, the fitness industry has been thrown a few curveballs. As several fitness studios and gyms face closures and capacity restrictions in the immediate future, outdoor fitness classes can drive revenue, provide a way to connect and serve your membership base.
You can continue to maintain and even grow your business this summer, even with restrictions in place. By running outdoor fitness classes alongside your business, you can engage with your community. Thanks to the pandemic, outdoor fitness is steaming ahead as more people are looking for ways to exercise outdoors with a constant flow of fresh air. Here, we talk about why you need to host outdoor fitness classes and how to run outdoor workouts this summer. Skip ahead to:
- What is Outdoor Fitness?
- Why You Should Host Outdoor Fitness Classes
- 3 Top Outdoor Workouts to Inspire You
- How to Run Outdoor Fitness Classes
What is Outdoor Fitness?
As the name suggests, outdoor fitness classes are any type of class that takes place outdoors. Often, you find outdoor boot camps, but there is a huge range of outdoor fitness available, including Pilates, cardio, circuit training, barre, Zumba, and HIIT classes.
You can find outdoor fitness classes in parks, rooftop gardens, and health clubs with outdoor facilities. The options are practically limitless when it comes to outdoor fitness. You can completely align your brand and services to your outdoor exercise classes to perfectly match your niche and provide your members with another offering.
Although outdoor fitness isn’t exactly new, the coronavirus pandemic has forced many fitness businesses to shut their doors. With increased consumer worry about the spread of COVID-19 and germs, taking your classes outdoors has several benefits for both your members and business. Outdoor fitness has evolved beyond a typical bootcamp to include all types of niches and class types. Creating another stream of income that meets COVID-19 safety guidelines allows businesses to continue to generate revenue, despite restrictions and limited indoor capacity.
Why You Should Host Outdoor Fitness Classes
Cities around the world are experiencing varying levels of restrictions. While some businesses are open and welcoming members back, many people are worried about social contact and germs. This means that you are likely running at reduced capacity and limited on the number of people you can serve at any one time. When you combine that with consumer worry and anxious feelings around COVID-19, it’s important to consider ways to support your community while generating revenue. This is where outdoor fitness classes can enhance your business.
Maintain and Grow Your Business
Classes are great for generating income. As the weather heats up and a growing number of people are focusing on fitness and wellness, outdoor fitness is in demand. In an outdoor setting, you can host a larger number of people while sticking to social distancing guidelines. Not only do your members get to spend time outdoors soaking up vitamin D, but they get to exercise and connect with each other. You also have the opportunity to attract a new clientele who don’t want an expensive gym membership. You can run outdoor classes as part of your membership and as standalone alternatives for non-members.
COVID Best Practices
Exercise and fitness are a part of a healthy lifestyle. They are essential for physical and mental health. The precise COVID guidelines can differ from state to state. But, in general, people should respect social distancing, face coverings worn, and a facility should be well ventilated. Members are looking to fitness facilities to follow strict COVID best practices before deciding to visit an establishment. When you take fitness outdoors, you have a fresh air flow, maintain social distancing, and the risk of transmission of COVID-19 is much lower.
You can hear a few great tips on how to reopen your gym safely on The Fitness Founders Podcast. Industry experts talk about some of the biggest challenges running a COVID-secure business and their top tips for doing it successfully and securely.
No Overhead Costs
Running outdoor fitness classes impacts your finances in two different ways. First, you can charge a competitive rate to attend classes. Secondly, you don’t need overhead costs, as you do in a gym, to run classes. You need an outdoor space like a park, equipment, and the cost of any permit to host the class. There are no facilities to maintain or monthly bills, which makes it a hugely cost-effective option.
Convenient and Flexible for Members
When you offer convenience and flexibility to members, you’re adding value to your offering. Some members may not want to work out indoors; others may just want to sign up for a class when it works around their schedule. By adding another level of service to your business, you can meet consumer demand and combine the benefits of exercise and being outside in nature.
3 Top Outdoor Workouts to Inspire You
You can host a wide variety of group fitness classes that align with your business. Whether it’s an outdoor bootcamp or stand-up paddleboarding yoga session, you can design a class that attracts a large and loyal following. Here are three top outdoor workouts to inspire your next class.
Prime Cycle, New York
Prime Cycle is a cycling studio that has a new outdoor home in Hoboken. Spin classes are held outdoors at the end of Pier A under a gazebo. Riders can go to classes in rain or shine, and they also host night classes. The outdoor studio allows for 30 minutes between classes to disinfect equipment, and all bikes are at least six feet apart. Prime Cycle runs outdoor classes alongside their digital fitness platform Stryde, where they teach their Prime Method in on-demand classes.
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Equinox, Sky-High Yoga at Edge
Equinox is known for high-end and luxury boutique fitness. Take your yoga practice outdoors on top of Edge, the tallest observation deck in the Western Hemisphere. With incredible views of the city, the yoga class session costs $50 and includes a 60-minute yoga class followed by a 30-minute downtime for you to enjoy the views. You don’t need an Equinox membership to join the classes. All mats are at least six feet apart, and face masks are required throughout the session.
Open-Air Spin, SoulCycle
SoulCycle is also jumping on open-air spin classes. The popular brand opened its first outdoor studio in the UK at Selfridges. Instructors host daily outdoor spin classes. Riders have silent disco-style headphones to listen to music during class. You can find SoulCycle outdoor experiences in several US locations with new SoulCycle outdoor gear to keep riders warm and dry.
How to Run Outdoor Fitness Classes
Outdoor fitness training has benefits for both your business and your members. With the weather warming up, you can support your community and continue to generate revenue despite restrictions on indoor capacity. Follow these nine steps to start running outdoor fitness classes.
Speak and Listen to Your Members and Community
Before running outdoor fitness classes, your members and the gym community are a great place to start. Speak and listen to your customers to find out as much information as possible before launching classes. You want to make sure that the classes will be in demand and align with your niche. By speaking to your customers first, you can avoid making costly mistakes. Use simple surveys to find out if there is demand, where the best location would be, and the type of classes your members love.
Start Planning Your Location
Your outdoor fitness location should be convenient for your members. You can launch multiple outdoor locations or start by finding a spot nearby to your gym. Local parks are a good option, as well as any outdoor space you have at your facility. Find an open space with a parking lot or near public transport for ease of use. Some of the top outdoor classes use locations with beautiful surroundings to add value and improve the overall experience. Make the most out of the nature around you.
Consider Your Outdoor Workout Pricing
Depending on the type of class you’re offering, your pricing may vary. For example, members could buy outdoor bootcamp-style classes in a package of 10 weeks. You also have the option to price classes individually per session for drop-ins or include the outdoor workouts in your standard membership. The best way to price your outdoor classes comes down to your current business model, type of class, and membership system.
Determine Class Scheduling
To create the best class schedule, you need to understand who you’re target audience is and your demographics. Your class schedule should cater to these people and their fitness levels. For example, if your class is focused on new moms, a morning class would be suitable. But if have a millennial audience that tends to work a 9-5 job, you need to look at scheduling early morning and evening classes.
Think About Your Equipment Needs
You will need to consider what equipment you need for your class, such as kettlebells and weights. For example, an outdoor spin class will need exercise bikes, shoe rentals, and headphones. Whereas for bodyweight classes, you don’t need any equipment. With outdoor yoga classes, you can ask members to bring their own mats, towels, and water bottle to cut out the need to share equipment and remove high touchpoints. Any equipment that you do have will need to be disinfected between uses, so this is something you will need to think about.
Secure Permits and Licenses for Outdoor Fitness
With any outdoor fitness class, you need to get the right permits and licenses. Often, any insurance you have may only cover your facility. Make sure that you’re still insured whether you’re teaching a class in a park or at your gym. Regulations, permits, and licenses vary from state to state. With outdoor fitness, you need to cover your back and ensure that you’re allowed to run outdoor classes at each location.
Live Stream Your Classes
If you’re running a hybrid business with both in-person and digital elements, consider live streaming your outdoor classes. This adds another offering to your services and allows members to join outdoor classes digitally. Of course, if you’re streaming classes, you need to think about your technology needs. As you continue to develop your business for a changing fitness industry, implementing a hybrid business model will be key to future-proofing your brand.
Have a Back-Up Plan
Make sure you have a backup plan in place. Think about what you will do if the weather changes or your park location is being used for a community event. If you have a backup plan in place, you can update attendees quickly with a new plan. There’s no need to cancel the class as you have a backup option in place. As more gyms head outdoors, you’ll see gazebos and outdoor covers as a way to tackle any weather changes.
Market and Promote Your Outdoor Workout Classes
Finally, market and promote your outdoor workout classes. Use social media marketing to your advantage and encourage members to use your fitness class hashtag and tag you. This helps to create a large base of user-generated content. Market your class in a way that reaches your ideal target audience through social media, email marketing, paid ads, and content such as blogs and videos.
Outdoor training allows businesses to maintain and even grow their brand while driving revenue and supporting their community. In a world where you need to retain social distancing and evaluate the way germs spread, outdoor fitness allows people to work out while reducing the risk of transmission. Outdoor workouts are not only a good option for now and in the future as more people make an effort to get out in nature and enjoy the benefits of exercise.