Clubs are still asking the question. Is there even such a thing as the New Club Normal? Clubs – and their members – have been through a challenging few months, first with lengthy closures to try and slow the spread of the coronavirus with workouts confined to home basements and family rooms. Then with staggered club re-openings complete with new safety protocols and the looming threat of possible second-round closures. What, then, does the new landscape look like for managers and members? How do we all navigate this imposed new normal and what strategies can help us all plan for the unplannable?
#1: Embracing Changing Member Attitudes
It’s likely the fitness industry will never be the same again. Covid-19 closures accelerated two trends that were already underway. Firstly, the desire among members for more convenience, more workout options and more flexibility from their clubs; and secondly, the integration of virtual club experiences like workout content and classes into the workout mix with live in-studio and on-site sessions. Gym closures and the ability to stream club content at home – on members’ own schedules – just supercharged these trends and compressed timelines. Whatever club operators can do to meet those demands will only benefit members and the stability of club operations in the long run. Top priority among many mindset shifts is the need to re-think the scale, frequency and blend of classes during Covid-19 measures but also how and how often members get access to the types of workouts, content and classes they are increasingly demanding on their own terms.
#2: Engage – and Re-Engage Your Members
Clubs are at different points on the Covid-spectrum: some open, some opening, some facing more closures as select states surge in case counts, unfortunately. Whatever conditions your club is operating under, the answer should always come back to engagement.
A monthly email will not cut it with so many variables in the industry right now. People join a gym for the facilities of course, but also for a sense of community – in classes, with favorite and specialist instructors and for the exposure to emerging trends they just can’t get elsewhere. In these times, when it’s easy for members to disengage with your club, to cut their expenses or find alternatives, it’s imperative to engage and then re-engage members as often as possible. The new club normal is almost 24/7 contact across a variety of platforms.
If you do a monthly newsletter by email, that needs to switch to weekly or twice weekly emails with new member offerings: links to on-demand video content from your club fitness library, ideas for workouts that split between home and gym, downloadable nutritional advice and post workout recipes. All of the things that might have seemed nice-to-haves a few months ago are now critical member touchpoints in the new club normal.
#3: Take the Club Beyond Four Walls
Whether lockdowns do return or not in some areas is up for debate, but one thing is certain. The new normal is about a seamless fitness experience for every member wherever they are. You need to offer the same workout intensity, the same class variety and high-touch experience a member receives in-studio or on-site wherever they may be working out. Create ways to curate your on-demand streaming content into packages for easy member access at home or on the go: HIIT, cardio, stress-busting, core strengthening, wind down and mind and body meditation. Two easy resources to help are: FLEX from FitnessOnDemand – an access anywhere platform for streaming high quality, premium class and workout content; and our monthly marketing kits. These include ideas for curated content, week by week workout plans and other club management tools you can use with your members. Sign up and get one in your club inbox each month.
4: Igniting Instructors as Club Ambassadors
Lastly, it’s important as we move through this evolved fitness landscape that we use every resource to improve offerings, connect with members and build the strongest communities online and in club. You know better than anyone, your instructors are ambassadors for your club and your brand. Many of the best already provide their own classes and content, tips and classes through their personal Instagram Live classes and other platforms. As the club landscape and member demands evolve, are there new ways to use your instructors? Can they be integrated into your club’s own social channels and on-demand offerings so that members become familiar with your club’s stars both in the studio and everywhere else that they interact with your brand and content in the days and months ahead?
Are you a club operator looking to offer virtual fitness options for your members? Complete the form below and a member of our team will be in touch shortly.
Todd Wiginton is a seasoned fitness professional with over a decade of experience in the industry, currently serving as the Director of Operations at Fitness On Demand. His career, marked by roles such as Personal Training Manager and Strength and Conditioning Coach, showcases his dedication to fostering personal and professional growth in ever-changing environments.