The situation generated by the COVID-19 pandemic will likely have a severe impact on the fitness industry in the foreseeable future. All gyms and fitness clubs will have to adapt to a "new normal" which will entail more restrictions and rules. However, all gyms and operators in the health & fitness industry must follow all these rules.
Otherwise, these restrictions will be tightened for the entire industry, and not just for the businesses that don't follow them. And each new restriction will be a set back in the growth of this industry. Therefore, during this time, the entire fitness community must work together to get over this transition period as soon as possible and minimise its negative effect on businesses.
One of the most critical changes in the way gyms operate is the restrictions on the maximum number of people who can be in an enclosed space at the same time and the minimum distance between them. Additionally, cleaning and sanitary standards will have to be a lot higher than in the past, and you have to make sure your gym is a safe environment for your employees as well. That is why it is essential to have a well-thought plan before reopening the gym. So that you can welcome members back safely from day one, and they will feel comfortable enough to come back.
Below, we have highlighted some recommendations that you should take into consideration before reopening your gym, that we hope will help you resume your activity as fast and as safe as possible.
All fitness operators must obey the rules set out by the authorities. Otherwise, these restrictions will be tightened and will affect all gyms, not just on those who did not abide by them.
You must take all necessary measures to ensure members can train safely at your gym. You have to strictly obey all the rules and recommendations enforced by the competent authorities.
You must limit the risk for your employees, from the team at the reception desk to your trainers, instructors, and cleaning crew.
You must make sure you provide enough disinfectant supplies to members, new hygiene rules for equipment use, and enforce all these rules for the start, following the recommendations provided by the authorities.
Gym access must be quick, to eliminate queues at the reception desk and for group fitness studios. The number of members inside the gym must be closely monitored at all times.
It is essential to talk to members about the safety measures taken in the club, to re-gain their trust and make them feel comfortable in your location.
If you can win the trust of your members, they will resume their training at your gym faster, after the restrictions are over. The keyword is "trust".
We have created a guide with recommendations on how to increase the trust of your members during the next period.
The most significant changes in the way you run your gym will be those regarding the management of the space. Members must keep a minimum distance between themselves. That means you have to spread apart your equipment and machines and reduce the maximum capacity for group fitness classes.
You must think about additional cleaning measures, as well as adding extra disinfectant dispensers, paper towels and trash bins for these items, that will have to be cleaned more often throughout the day.
Just as you take care of your members, you must also take care of your team. That is why you must make sure your employees have all the resources they need and to limit the direct contact with members, suppliers, and third parties, as much as possible.
To ensure your entire team obeys the rules and restrictions, prepare a detailed bylaw, with all the new measures that must be followed, including changes in their activity and responsibilities. Print this bylaw and give out a copy to each employee ahead of time. Everyone must know exactly what to do and what rules to obey by, to avoid discontentment from members or the authorities.
Your team must also be ready to answer any questions from members. They will be more reserved when surely they will be interested in what additional measures you have implemented for their safety.
What is more, not all members will be willing to obey your new rules, and your employees must know how to persuade them into complying and how to interact with them.
Setting up an access control system for your gym can be a simple and straightforward task. Read our detailed guide to understand better what equipment you need, how to organise the access flow, and what are the immediate benefits of this system.
The health of your members should be your priority. That is why your gym must be prepared with all the supplies they need to train safely, before reopening it. Apart from disinfectant supplies, members want to stop waiting in line to enter the gym or to cram into a group fitness studio.
By providing the necessary tools that allow them to schedule their visit to the gym, when there is less of a crowd, you can solve most of these issues. Whether you are providing real-time information about the occupancy of the gym, or a method to "book" their time at the gym, all these services will encourage members to resume their workouts. They will help you easily manage their visits without overcrowding.
Try to make as many tasks as possible available online, so that members can perform them at home, and not at the reception desk (online payments for memberships, online bookings for classes, and so on).
All these measures we have touched upon will not help your gym if members don't know about them, and most importantly if they don't know when your gym is reopening. That is why you must let members, and former members know when you plan on opening the gym and in what conditions.
Most members will probably be less inclined to go to the gym, to avoid crowds and exposure to the coronavirus. That is why you must be very transparent with all the new measures and the rules you are reinforcing. Talk to your members about the way you will protect their health, about your strict cleaning procedures and extra cleaning supplies. Make sure all the rules about disinfecting the equipment, mandatory towels and clean shoes are available to all your members, including online.
They should also know about the fact that only a limited number of members can enter the gym at the same time, and that you reserve the right to limit the time they spend onsite to no more than an hour or two. Explain that these rules are to ensure their safety as well as the safety of your team, and encourage them to visit during less crowded periods.
All these restrictions will inevitably affect your bottom line. Just by limiting the maximum number of members allowed inside the gym at the same time will probably affect the number of memberships sold. What is more, members will be less inclined to spend time in an enclosed space with other people, and they will look for other methods of training.
Here are some other ways in which you can extend your revenue streams for your gym, post-COVID-19.
If your gym doesn't provide this kind of service already, then you should seriously consider it. Members will feel more comfortable training with just a trainer and not alongside dozens of members in a class. What is more, PT packages are more expensive than standard memberships.
If the weather allows it, organise fitness classes outside. If your gym already has a back yard or a large parking lot, then use it for your classes. You can even move some equipment there. Yoga and Pilates classes or circuit training can take place in a park.
Create a generous workout video library filmed by your trainers. These videos can be an additional service to standard memberships, to recruit more members, or they can be accessed with a special membership, at a lower cost.
To reduce the number of participants to group fitness classes, without letting your members down, you can start live streaming them. This service can also be an additional benefit to the standard memberships, or it can be accessed with a particular membership, at a lower cost. The advantage of these online services is that they can be sold anywhere and are not affected by restrictions.
Create special video packages with your trainers, for different objectives, like losing weight, toning up and so on. These packages can be sold online, and they can contain videos with special workout regimens, nutrition advice and recipes all created by your team.
You can provide members with the option of training with a PT online. This way, trainers can train their clients via FaceTime, Zoom, or Skype.