It’s not been an easy ride, team. But the end is in sight. The words on everyone’s lips are no longer about how your fitness business will cope during the pandemic, it’s about building your strategy for post-COVID recovery.
Most businesses have taken a hit after COVID, but gyms took it really hard. According to a survey by TD Ameritrade late last year, 59% of Americans don’t plan to renew their gym memberships after COVID. Now we don’t know if people will stick to their word; but we do know it will be tougher than ever to get people back into their fitness regime pre COVID.
As your fitness business emerges out of the pandemic, you need to act fast to reverse this prediction. It’s a good job gym owners are generally quick on their feet – and know how to combat blows. There’s still time to show your members the true benefits of staying with your gym.
Fitness habits have changed. Your strategy for member retention also needs to step up to the challenge. You’ve perfected your online class schedule and kept it pumping – but how do you retain that competitive edge? Pivot your strategy and your fitness business will not just be another statistic.
In order to identify how you can serve your gym members better, you first have to put yourself in their ‘Nikes’ (Brookes, Asics, Allbirds whatever floats their boat). A good way to visualise what they want is to do some profiling.
Gather the data you have on your members to create some typical personas of the people you attend your gym. Analyse their habits as a gym user in order to influence your strategy as a gym owner.
Look into data on how often they attend, and what time and for how long – then you can build on ways to reach them better, or upsell your existing product to them.
If they only attend at weekends, ask them why. Could you offer them discount membership for off-peak attendance?
If they’re not into classes, and have never tried a personal trainer, why not offer them a free session to refresh their workout schedule? Even just a 15 - 30 min refresher of quick workout plan can keep them revived and wanting to come back in.
There’s always an opportunity to upsell, when you know more about who you’re targeting.
Loyalty programs in the post-COVID era look different to how they looked in the pre-pandemic word. It used to be easy: Recommend a friend and we’ll give you a free class, get a free drink bottle on your birthday, and so on. While these strategies still hold their own, with gym membership plummeting as we emerge from the pandemic, those who stayed with you deserve to know they’re valued.
Let those who stayed with you know how much you appreciate them. Send them a special email to thank them. Offer them a week’s free membership, or a free personal training session, or free nutrition coaching from an affiliate.
Put a big note up on the wall written in chalk or spray paint whatever you dare it will serve as a reminder; with a big thank you for those who came back.
You could even show your appreciation by putting on a special class with a guest fitness teacher, or a fitness networking event for loyal members. Think nutritious canapes, delicious alcohol-free spritzers, and a chance to network with your loyal community. After all the biggest winners were those who supported and were supported by their local community.
In the 80s, the latest fitness craze was all about Jane Fonda leotards and aerobics. Unless you’re putting on a tongue in cheek retro class – which could actually work quite well – this may not tap into what your members are looking for (although we loved the 80’s we’re here for it!).
The post-COVID world demands something a little different. Your members are used to exercising on their own schedule – you need your gym timetable to replicate this.