Where are we heading?
When COVID-19 started impacting our daily routines and challenged the fitness industry, Fitness Is My Life has been looking ahead to select the long term view and phases to think strategically about how we minimise business impact while continuing to serve our clients.
MIT Sloan Management Review recently published three proactive response strategies that match organizational infrastructure with emerging market trends that highlight the requirement to offer a digital product or service to your existing members.
We know that eventually this crisis will end, but this is definitely going to affect the fitness sector and our business growth so, here’s the question: how can you prepare when thinking 3, 6, 9 months down the line? How will people behave after 2-3 months staying at home when they go back to normality?
The four business stages of coronavirus
We have highlighted the four phases of how we expect the coronavirus outbreak to affect the fitness industry and what we can expect in the near future. How is this actually going to impact the industry?
So, stage one is confusion. This is the earliest stage when people are looking for direction and guidance. The situation is suddenly occupying everybody’s mind and everyone is for information and news.
At this time, emotions can range from panic to complete and utter indifference. Members need to be reassured, encouraged and motivated to stay with you during this crisis. We are going to discuss some tips from the fitness community on how to keep your gym members on board. Don’t be afraid to ask your community for help, even if you feel like lots of memberships are dropping out or freezing contracts.
2. Accept and Adapt
We named phase two “accept and adapt” since this is the phase where people are starting to accept this as the new reality, instead of a temporary situation that has been changing everyone’s habits.
Everything feels kind of normal again, although it’s not and there is still a lot of uncertainty during this time. The feeling in this phase is solidarity: that we are all going to get through this together.
In these two phases you have to keep in mind that your brand may not be the thing that’s top of mind for customers. And because of that, it is important to make sure that you are being conscious of what are the personal and professional implications that people are experiencing. Don’t push topics that are beyond their comfort at this time.
The preparing stage is at the point where we’re going to have a better understanding of where the economy is heading. It is important to be critical: are we going to a point to where the economy is going to resurrect itself? Or are we potentially heading into a direction of a further financial crisis? Here is where companies will start strategizing the post lockdown era.
In this phase it’s important to make sure that you are thinking ahead and not hanging on to the COVID-19 story for too long. Many fitness businesses might feel like going back to 2019 habits as well, but be aware that it’s your opportunity to move your business forward and not look back.
4. Ramping Up
And then finally the last stage is going to be “Ramping up”. Organizations at this point are going to have a clear sense of goals and directions, will look beyond just short-term situations and start looking towards implementing long-term solutions as well.
One of the things to be careful with is waiting too long to enter the game again. You have to be aware of the new standards in the industry and foreseen where people’s minds will be.
Are there going to be things like sanitary standards within the facilities? What are members going to be expecting as far as how a facility should be cleaning and maintaining? How many people can workout at the same time in a facility? And so on.
Imagine the fitness club of the future
When it comes to thinking long term and the different phases, you’re probably the closest towards having gyms open again. So, what are some of the topics that you need to think of now in order to basically prepare for that eventual day?
Set up your facility
First of all you need to be ready to host your gym members, because psychologically they will be very scared to go to very crowded places. So probably you’ll have to think about how to change the setup of the gym floor of the studios, the changing room.
It’s very important to really think about a new kind of gym, completely different from how it was before the COVID-19 crisis. Social distancing will need to be incorporated into the space. Maybe you can arrange all machines in a circuit so that members only use a machine once and you can be sure that it is cleaned, there is enough space between each set of equipment and people can move around without getting too close to one another.
Since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic we have been witnessing lower numbers than average in terms of attendance because people were increasingly worried about germs and spreading the virus, and this is not going to change anytime soon.
Even if the gyms won’t open again for a month or two, everyone is going to have heightened perceptions about cleanliness. As an owner-operator you need to make sure that you’re thinking of that strategy and make it more obvious about the cleanliness that you’re providing within your clubs.
Don’t forget to communicate that you are following exactly what has been recommended by the experts in terms of cleaning and making sure it’s a safe environment for them to work out. Make it more visible: invest in making sure there are pleasant aromas around the club, things smell nice, things look presentable and you can see people cleaning more.
Keep encouraging the new habits
Be a trigger for your members to keep being healthy and keep up with their workout routines. Some of them might be new memebrs who started working out thanks to your digital offering and now need to be motivated and encourage them to not give up on their progress.
Be that trigger to go out and do that run your member has long been preparing for. Have your 7 p.m. class for your members who are now used to workout with you on a Zoom live stream.
If you’re providing the platform for them to share their progress, that they’ve been on a run, that they have managed to workout despite not feeling like it, and receive the reward of other people, you are boosting their motivation.
With Fitness Is My Life you can easily create online community groups and nurture a space for your gym members to interact and support each other and say “well done”, “keep up with the good work”.
If all those people are from the community that used to be in your gym and in your virtual classes, then they’ll be associating your community with their exercise habits and patterns, keeping them motivated and engaged with your gym throughout the crisis.