We are just over three months into what will be remembered historically as an unprecedented time for gym and fitness facility owners. For many owners and operators, it feels like a lifetime since government-mandated shutdown and shelter-in-place orders were issued, forcing businesses to shut their doors and navigate the dicey waters of the COVID-19 pandemic.
At last though, the worst might finally be behind us as many owners/operators across the country are experiencing looser restrictions. While these times have been tough and uncomfortable in many respects, I hope my fellow gym owners were able to prepare for life after shutdown. As we begin to take those baby steps together toward our new normal and make strides to move our business forward post-pandemic, here are a few things to keep in mind.
Undoubtedly Virtual training became the mega star of the Pandemic. As the fitness industry was forced to pivot and provide services in a different way, new service options have become a staple. Love it or not, virtual training options are here to stay, and the question will become: In what form? As the shelter-in-place order made it necessary for many to work from home, more and more clients will want to create better home workout options. Virtual training content will most likely be at the epicenter of this new popular fitness option.
As restrictions soften and businesses open their doors, it’s a good idea to explore how virtual training can provide value for your clientele moving forward. Here a few options that might make sense.
Virtual one on one – Personal training sessions exclusively utilizing streaming platforms for in home services
Virtual Group classes – In addition to resuming in person classes, gyms can stream existing classes or provide a separate option for clientele training from home.
Hybrid Training – Offering programs with a value mix of both in-person service combined with Streaming.
The greatest inventions throughout time are usually born out of necessity and this is no exception. The skyrocketing popularity of virtual training options is a movement that I believe will change the industry forever.
As we navigate this crisis, cleaning takes on a bigger stage than ever before. Not to say that clients were not extremely conscious about gym cleanliness and sanitization procedures prior to this pandemic, but cleaning procedures and guidelines are now more important than ever.
Social distancing has become a part of our regular daily vocabulary and remains crucial as we endeavor to create a safe environment for all our valuable clientele returning.
Fitness facility owners must keep an eye on cleaning health guidelines and continue to update procedures as more info becomes available. As re-opening begins, it is paramount that we stay updated on CDC guidelines as information on prevention of infection in fitness spaces will likely remain in a fluid state.
It is also important to remember that we are navigating uncharted territory. Fitness facilities will not be opening to business as usual. With that in mind, it is important to take a closer look at the processes and systems in place to see what changes can be instilled or improved to provide a better experience for clients/athletes.
- How will your virtual clients be integrated with your in-person services?
- How will your group programming change to reflect social distancing guidelines?
- How will pricing be adjusted according to virtual services vs. In person?
- What changes need to be made to your daily cleaning schedules to provide a safe atmosphere for clientele looking to utilize your facility?
These questions and more will take some thought and should be part of your plans to move forward in the coming weeks. The implementation of great plan can go a long way in providing comfort for athletes and clients anxious to return to their training schedules.
A famous quote says, “may you live in interesting times,” and no doubt this has been as interesting as any time we have experienced in our lifetimes for sure. But as we have braved thru the worst of this global pandemic we will get through these final moments as well and create a great atmosphere for our clientele to find normalcy. We can do that provided some involved thought and planning as we move forward.
As always, be safe and please be smart.
Michael Piercy, MS, CSCS is the owner of The LAB in Fairfield, New Jersey. He is the recipient of the 2017 IDEA Personal Trainer of the Year award and has also been awarded the 2013 TRX FACEUP award for Overall Instructor of the Year. He represents brands such as Under Armour, TRX® and Matrix fitness as a Master Trainer. A former professional baseball player with the Pittsburgh Pirates, New York Mets and Montreal Expos, he brings his unique perspective to his work with athletes and active adults. He holds a master’s degree in exercise science with a concentration in performance enhancement and also holds multiple advanced level Certifications from organizations such as ACE, ACSM, NASM and NSCA.