We are living through an unprecedented and uncertain time. With COVID-19 (Coronavirus Disease) spreading, fitness business owners around the world are operating day-to-day not knowing if they should close their doors or if governments will mandate closures. For many gyms, studios and schools, closures are already a concerning reality with strict government enforcement placing holds on regularly scheduled classes.
With that said, canceling in-person classes doesn’t mean you have to stop providing benefits to your members and it certainly doesn’t mean your members have to cancel or hold their memberships. The key for business owners is to keep providing membership value and use this time as an opportunity to bring your community together (not in the physical sense, because you know, social distancing).
COVID-19 planning for fitness businesses is difficult, and failing to plan is planning to fail. As business owners, we need to be ready for the “what if” scenarios. Below you will find some ideas from gym owners around the world on how to not only survive, but thrive, when you need to close the doors. Every fitness business is different, but whether you own a studio, school, gym or affiliate you can still find meaningful ways to interact with your members during these challenging times.
Consider letting your members check out pieces of equipment from your gym, studio or school, including dumbbells, kettlebells, skipping ropes, yoga mats and resistance bands. Small equipment is easy for members to pick up and take home so they can continue to exercise during this period of isolation. Execute a quarantine gym kit effectively with tips from our friends at UpLaunch.
Provide at-home workouts for your members to follow and share with their friends, family and roommates in quarantine (with increased visibility, you may have the opportunity to convert friends to members). Consider including multiple versions of each workout to support members with different restrictions including members with equipment, without equipment or with home equipment like milk jugs and towels. For gyms with weekly programming: Consider filming a video overview of the week’s programming where you detail the goals of the workout along with scaling options.
Live Video Classes
There are many great options for virtual classes and workouts. Consider using tools like Zoom or Google Hangout, to support your coaches and teachers in running live sessions. With members out of school, unable to work or working from home, you’ll be providing a great resource to help your community stay active and energized. With school closures in place, you may have a considerable number of members with children at home, consider offering live-stream family workouts.
A great way to keep your members active and engaged is to create a daily workout challenge. Keep it simple and easy for people to follow but base it around solidifying the good habits you build in your gym. Allow members to track and score daily points, some examples include:
- Completing a workout
- Including greens with each meal
- Getting 8+ hours of sleep a night
- Staying hydrated
- Participating in their favorite hobby
- Reading a book
The options are endless and if you have the financial ability you may want to consider offering prizes to the winners once everyone is back in the gym.
Utilize free tools like Zoom, Facebook or Instagram Live and Google Hangout to offer health and wellness related webinars for your members. This is a great opportunity to answer common questions you always get while running your business. Consider providing classes on nutrition, meditation, stretching, technique or anything you have a specialty in.
Encourage members to post videos and pictures of their at-home workouts so you can share, celebrate and motivate members while everyone experiences a shift in routine. When creating new programming and offering webinars make sure you share on social platforms and through email. You may also consider having your coaching team conduct personal phone calls to check in on members.
Utilize fitness apps like SugarWOD for at-home workouts, whiteboard videos, custom tracks and nutrition focus. SugarWOD offers fantastic workout tracking that drives community engagement and allows you to sign up for at-home workouts from some of the SugarWOD partners such as NCFIT. Provide your athletes the opportunity to explore new fitness programming while they are outside of your gym. Apps like SugarWOD are fun, engaging and effective ways to extend your fitness community beyond the gym walls.
We know the next few weeks and months are going to be challenging for all fitness businesses. The key is to stay positive, explore new possibilities and keep motivating your staff and members. Closing the doors of your physical location doesn’t have to mean closing the business. With a plan in place, you can navigate these uncertain times and come out stronger on the other side.
We are here for you. Without you, there is no us.
Please let us know if you need anything or have questions about COVID-19 planning for fitness businesses.
Watch the COVID-19 webinar with our partner panel to learn more about leading your community through these uncertain times.