It has proven to be a challenge for all businesses that have been forced to close in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Big companies and small businesses are seeing less traffic, pushing them to come up with creative solutions in order to keep serving their customers – and some of them have been lucky enough to keep somewhat regular hours. As for fitness centers, all gyms are closed. Now what?
We know this is a stressful time, but committing to the health and wellness of your clients, their families, and the public, in general, is always the right move, especially during a global health pandemic. Here’s what you can do to make sure your gym franchise and clients stay connected and satisfied during these trying times.
Keeping Clients Motivated
Staying motivated during uncertain times can be difficult. Motivating others to do so is another story. Keeping up with fitness is something that can be done at home, however, and it is important to remind your clients of this! There are so many exercises that can be done in the comfort of your living room, and although it is nontraditional, it remains one of the top ways to keep your health in line.
Fortunately, exercising has many of the health benefits that people are striving for right now, such as:
- Eases your stress and anxiety
- Boosts mood and helps you get out of a funk
- Improves your sleep
- Helps control your weight
- Reduces your risk of heart disease
- Keeps cognitive skills sharp
Keep your clients motivated by reminding them of these values, and assuring them that you will keep guiding them towards their goals, even if they have to be somewhat reformulated to adapt to this situation. You can easily do this by posting positive messages on social media pages or through newsletters.
Renting Out Equipment
Many gym-goers do not have a large number of exercise equipment or tools at home – that’s why they are gym-goers! Being forced to close your gym puts a damper on their fitness regime, but don’t worry! There is something you can do to help.
Renting out small to midsize equipment can make a huge difference for those who do not have any and/or are unable to order any of their own. Renting equipment out for a fee also provides a way to add to your revenue while all gyms are closed.
Here’s a list of equipment to consider renting out:
- Hand weights
- Medicine balls
- Exercise mats
- Exercise balls
- Resistance bands
- Jump ropes
- Core sliders
- Fitness steppers
- Mini trampolines
- Smaller machines like exercise bikes
You can even create a package out of the smaller items and determine pricing based on what you include. Members can pick the equipment up from you, or you can offer delivery or contactless delivery. Just remember to keep inventory of who is renting what (and to sanitize)!
What About Gym Memberships?
Depending on the amenities that are included in your gym, memberships might not be fulfilled just through virtual workouts and renting equipment out. It is up to you to decide if you will alter or even pause memberships until further notice. Just keep in mind that clients are counting on you to take care of them and meet their expectations, especially when their money is involved.
Here are some things to consider for adding to or handling existing memberships:
Consider pausing memberships or deferring membership payment for the time being. We understand that this may not be your preferred option, but it is one to consider to support and keep your clients in the long run. Be there for them and they will be there for you – even if it’s in a few months from now.
Exercise Instruction on Social Media
Offer free or inexpensive independent online classes! This can be done on social media platforms like Facebook or Instagram. When you “go live” or post a video on the platform(s), remember to include specific hashtags like #cardioclass, #zumbaclass, #weightliftingclass, etc. in your post descriptions. This allows people to find you, and extends your reach to a bigger audience and to places that might even be far away!
Many gyms and instructors are offering online classes for free or at a low cost right now. This is a good way to increase your exposure while also contributing to the cause of the day, and helping to keep people sane and active.
There are creative ways to accept “payment” that don’t involve cash. We suggest requiring those who are interested in learning from you to do the following in exchange for participating in one class:
- Follow your gym’s social media accounts
- Share your gym’s social media posts on Facebook or Instagram
- Ask for a donation or small fee
If you are a small business, you can ask participants to contribute a 5- to 10-dollar donation amount to your organization. If you’re not a small business, offering these classes at a low rate of $5 or $10 a class is another easy way to keep some revenue flowing on your end.
Don’t feel pressured to give away all of your expertise because so many others are. Recognize your value and continue to market your niche to those who are still able to secure your services.
At the end of the day, connecting with people over social media is very rewarding. Plus, even if you’re based in Texas, using the internet to post classes or start a Facebook group can reach people all over the world – an outreach you might not have been able to expect under any other circumstances.
Extend Online Resources
Resources such as nutrition programs and exclusive online classes are very helpful to offer when everyone is stuck at home while all gyms are closed. It is hard to stay healthy when you are homebound, but offering some of the following resources can encourage your clients to do just that:
- Healthy recipe ideas
- Wellness education
- Nutrition trackers
- Online courses/virtual workouts (more in-depth versions of what you would offer on social media)
- Online bill paying for memberships
One thing people miss the most about gyms is the one-on-one time they get with their personal trainers. Our solution is to offer personal training sessions via Zoom, Skype, or FaceTime. Trainers can set up virtual appointments with their clients and guide their home workouts, let them know what kinds of household items can be utilized for exercise, and even give them nutrition tips based on what they have in their pantry.
This is a great option for those who already paid for personal training sessions. It’s also a useful way to offer an introduction to personal training services to those who were only considering it before.
Set the Tone for Reopening
One of the advantages of dealing with a crisis is the sense of community that is born from it. It’s not, by any means, an easy time for anyone, but it is something that people have and will continue to bond over. Keep in touch with your clients, keep them motivated and remind them that even though all gyms are closed, they will get through this with you on their side.
A Reminder of the Best Practices for Cleanliness
During the COVID-19 outbreak, we have heard countless times how important it is to wash your hands. This is crucial to stop the spread of this virus, but the guidelines can be applied at any time. Remember to keep your gym as safe and clean as possible by practicing the following measures of cleanliness when the time comes to reopen:
- Provide hand sanitizer with a minimum of 60% alcohol at the entrance and throughout the rest of the facility.
- Hold a staff meeting or send out announcements to remind employees of sanitation standards for towels, paper products, cleaners, etc.
- Place disposable disinfectant wipes near machines and equipment and include signs that explain how and why it is important to wipe down machines after each use.
- Have clients wear fitness gloves at all times while they are using heavyweight equipment.
- Minimize physical contact such as handshakes.
- Retain a cleaning schedule to disinfect things such as machines, door handles, lockers, TVs and remote controls, computer/check-in devices, light switches, brooms, and other cleaning tools, toilets, faucets, showers, and any other surfaces that have constant contact with human hands.
- Wash towels in hot water.
Note: All of these tips can be applied away from the gym/at home as well!
Special Needs Training at Home
It is great to be able to adapt fitness for those with special needs like autism, Down Syndrome, or other disabilities with a trainer in person. With all gyms being closed until further notice, this proves to be a challenge. However, technology is on our side! Special training can be done virtually, even if it’s just to offer tips to get things started with a specialized at-home workout.
In addition to virtual training sessions, there are many cardio exercises that are great for those who experience disabilities, such as:
- Riding a bike
- Jumping rope
- Going for long walks around the neighborhood
All of these are able to be done at home and at a self-pace.
While the future is uncertain, it is important not to lose hope in the benefits of exercise at home. Keep providing your clients with their physical fitness needs, spreading the positivity, and we will all get through this together!
Special Strong provides adapted fitness for special needs children, adolescents, and adults with autism, Down Syndrome, and other disabilities. Through our online training platform, we also provide special needs certification courses for educators, professionals, and parents who want to learn how to adapt fitness to serve the special needs population. Fitness franchise opportunities are available.