The all important announcement of re-opening date that has eluded fitness facilities in England (and other parts of the UK) for so long is now but days away. For weeks, the most vocal gym attendees have been telling their coaches that they “are so over Zoom”, and nobody will deny that in-person and online are very different beasts.
On July 3rd, and with his usual razor-sharp precision, the British Prime Minister proclaimed:
We are going to reopen gyms as soon as we can do it in a COVID-secure way and I think that the date for reopening gyms at the moment if we can do it, is in just a couple of weeks' time.
Boris JohnsonBritish Prime Minister
Word on-the-street is that the “if we can do it” date will be announced this week. And when has the word-on-the-street ever been wrong?
Understandably fed-up with constant let downs, and under great pressure, much of the industry has plumped for 15th July as “the date”. There is a bubbling undertone of “we’re opening up then regardless”, although that is a tricky juxtapose when extolling the “health and well-being of your members”.
One question is, have we learned anything from any of this?
Last week the pubs opened. In some places, people lined the street 4-deep with little sign of social distancing or face masks.
Within a matter of days, several pubs and restaurants had already had to close because they’d had a visit from a COVID carrier. Some did this out of choice, others at the instruction of local health officials.
What will you do if (or possibly when) this happens at your facility? You’re 3-days into re-opening and one of your eager returnees discovers that they came away from their Saturday pub crawl with a little more than they expected. Do you have a pre-considered plan for delivering continuity of business to your members? Are you ready to pivot?
Let’s run the scenario…
It’s 10:30am. You get a text message from Chad telling you that he’s “come down with The Rona“. What are you going to do?
- Firstly, your site is potentially infected. The responsible approach is to terminate any current sessions.
- Follow your local authority rules/guidance for whom you need to notify.
- If you’ve been using the Quoox roll-call and attendance functions, check to see when “Chad-the-Infector” was in; who he was on session with; and who has been in since. Provide that information to the local authority contact tracers, or contact them yourselves (as per guidance you are given). You can pre-prepare a message template for this, for expedience.
- In the meantime, send a pre-prepared message via Quoox to the in-person attendees for forthcoming sessions that you now cannot hold.
- Determine the period for which you need to be closed to deep-clean, and schedule replacement Zoom sessions for those times. If you combine these with MZ-Remote, even better.
- Put on the Ghostbuster’s suit and get cracking with the “magic fogger that solves all ills”. Record a video of your efforts to reassure your members.
- Scrub & clean and, when guided as safe to do so, get going again.
- Task Chad with extra burpees for every session, for the rest of time.
Hopefully few will experience these headaches, but unfortunately some will. Are you ready for if you are one of the unlucky ones? Can you pivot quickly and effectively, and maintain continuity of service and income?
The issue of capacity
Capacity is another issue that will be facing many facilities over the next few weeks. If the government restricts throughput, this will mean that less members can be trained in-person, at once. Furthermore, whilst every facility has been hearing from the eager-beavers, there are going to be those who are more nervous about returning.
Delivering blended sessions is one way to maximise the number of members you can train at any one time. You can be training 4 people on-the-floor, but maybe have as many as 50 following along on Zoom with live feedback via MZ-Remote. Many Quoox customers are already running multiple Zoom sessions per day with 30-40+ people on them.
If you’re already taking this approach, and you suddenly need to abort in-person sessions for 24-48 hours, you simply pivot your in-person attendees onto the Zoom sessions. Your members get a continued service, your business carries on, and you continue to make money.
Moreover, blended sessions give you an opportunity to grow beyond your locality. How many more “online only” members could you bring on – each bringing you additional revenue for negligible additional effort?
The bottom line
The key takeaways are be prepared, and have a plan. Whilst we’re all hopeful that (finally) life is about to start getting better for fitness facilities, we need to be accepting of the fact that things are going to be different – at least in the short term.
By considering the above, not only do you position yourself on a sound-footing should COVID strike again, but there are opportunities to actually grow your business.