It was 20th March 2020 that British Prime Minister Boris Johnson shut down gyms and fitness studios across our home country. At the time of writing this blog, it is nearly 2-months to-the-day since life for all in the industry changed forever.
Understandably, this period has been (and continues to be) an extremely anxious and stressful time for those in the industry – all the way from the big box gyms, to self-employed personal trainers. Except for perhaps Joe Wicks, not many in the industry are having a whole lot of fun right now.
Most facilities were (relatively) quick to jump on-board with on-demand video training and live video sessions (thank goodness for Zoom!). This was easier for some than others. An enlightened few had foreseen the future of the fitness industry and already offered a hybrid of in-person and online offerings.
Following an initial period of shock and panic, much of the industry has settled into one of two camps:
“I’ll wait and see what happens”
“I don’t want to rock-the-boat”
“It’ll all be back to ‘normal’ soon”
“It’s safest to stay with the herd”
“I’m going to control this”
“Now is the perfect time for reflection”
“I need to be distinguish myself from my competitors”
“I need to deliver more to my members for less”
And now, here we are, the 18th May – nearly two whole months since lock-down commenced. Beyond a probable life-saving dabble into online training, what else have you done during this time? Have you moved forward, or have you stewed?
Stand back and take a look where you and your business are now. Are you ready for the new future of the fitness industry? Are you geared-up to re-build your membership when you re-open? Do you have your compliance processes setup ready? Are you fired-up and set to compete?
Think everything will be okay? Ponder for a moment what your competitors might have been doing during this time?
- Reviewing their facilities, their offerings, and their position within the market.
- Overhauling their systems: cutting expensive, legacy systems; replacing old-school spreadsheets; and implementing a more efficient, cohesive system (aka “Why the heck am I paying extra to schedule my Zoom sessions?!”)
- Analysing their team, looking for ways to make it stronger.
- Examining their finances, and ridding themselves of unnecessary and wasteful expenditure.
- Strengthening their member engagement, re-enforcing the community nature of their facility and a focus on 24×7 health & well-being.
- Issuing their members content and collateral to keep them engaged; lower their anxieties; and to re-enforce the trust relationship.
- Running brand awareness campaigns and postings to ensure that the facility stays foremost in people’s minds.
- Preparing campaigns in readiness for re-opening, to supplement returning members and to replace drop-offs.
- Being seen to innovate and move forward during this time. Ensuring that members are excited to return, and looking forward to the new offerings.
- Lining up health & safety processes, not only for authority compliance, but for member reassurance.
As we stand here with a likelihood of another 2+ months until our facilities are permitted to re-open (in the UK), ask yourself what you are going to do with that time? This is fantastic opportunity to rise like the proverbial phoenix, with reduced overheads; slicker systems; and an even greater offering.
This pandemic is unprecedented in our lifetime. As has been the case throughout history, substantial social upheaval brings winners and losers.
We are all in this together, and fortune favours the brave.
Position yourself for the win.
We all want the world to go back to 2019. We all want our lives back. But the gym business, at least for the next several years, will not be the same again. New rules, new standards and new battles to fight and no matter how defiant you stand, you cannot take your business back in time.