Many gym and fitness studio owners faced an uncertain future when the pandemic began. As a business based on being around other people, they faced a steep challenge. They had to navigate changing regulations as well as deal with the personal anxiety of many members. We take a look at what stood top gyms apart during this time and what lessons can be learned for the future of gym management.
Going to the gym during the pandemic
In a survey of people who owned a gym membership pre-pandemic, only 5% said that their overall gym going experience was better during the pandemic. Almost 40% said that their experience was significantly worse. Let’s bear in mind that this was during a period when gyms needed to impress more than ever. There’s no doubt that this was a tough situation, but the fact is that people expected better from their gyms.
Of those that reported that there gym going experience had improved, there were three factors that came up consistently:
- A focus on delivering value for money
- Hygiene and cleanliness
- Effectively managing access
Value for money
Everyone needs to feel like they’re getting value for their hard-earned money. You don’t want to feel that you’re being squeezed on value. The same is true for folks who frequently attend a gym. This was especially the case during the pandemic when access times or facilities may have been restricted.
Some gyms dealt with this by offering reduced rates during these times. Others allowed people to go onto flexible payment plans (something we will return to later).
There are also other ways to ensure members feel they’re getting value for the price of their subscription. You can ensure that your facility has the latest and greatest equipment on offer. This is an easy (albeit possibly pricey) way to show how much you value your customers.
Alternatively, you could also ensure that you’re offering more courses and classes. Expand your overall offering across a wide range of health and wellness areas.
Finally, you could introduce a reward or incentive scheme. This could take the form of reduced rates, or bonuses such as free classes or personal training sessions. It could even be as simple as offering a monthly smoothy if they hit their goals. It’s a simple and quick way to show that you care and that they’re getting real value from being a gym member.
Hygiene and cleanliness
We’re not saying that people didn’t worry about hygiene before the pandemic, but it is surprising how many individuals were made aware of the importance of hygiene as a result of the outbreak. For members, this was the main factor behind whether they felt their gym going experience was positive during the pandemic.
Gyms needed to adhere to the strictest standards of hygiene in order to keep their members safe and secure while they exercised. It was no longer acceptable to do a deep clean just once a month. Many gyms even needed to employ extra cleaners to ensure that equipment was correctly sanitised. Placing sanitation stations at key locations were also essential in providing a positive experience.
However, there was also an important balance as gym goers did want cleaning routines to disrupt their workouts. The top gyms managed to thread the needle between making people feel safe and letting them get on with things. This must be considered especially as we come to the end of the pandemic and people become less accepting of disruption or restrictions.
Effectively managing access
When the outbreak was in full force, most people avoided crowded areas as much as possible. So it was generally understood that gyms were not able to operate at full capacity. However, people also wanted to keep to their routines as much as they could and work out when they wanted to.
Unfortunately, this was something many gyms did manage to manage effectively. They either limited too heavily or allowed too many people through the doors, leading to complaints on both sides.
The ones that got it right utilised systems – such as gym management software – to be able to keep a total view of their members and access numbers. They could then use this data to stagger inflow to the gym.
This will be incredibly useful even beyond the pandemic when you can use this data to plan for the future.
Resamania, the integrated gym management software platform offers more insights on how to thrive post pandemic on their blog.