Around 17% of the gyms in America had to close permanently because they ran out of cash during the CoVid pandemic. For those that did manage to make it through, the environment in which they are operating has changed drastically.
People had little choice but to work out at home and some have continued to do so. While others are still not sure about returning to the gym, partly because the Omnicom variant is still running rampant in some places.
This leaves gym owners facing a big challenge. They need to be able to get people back through the door, and do so relatively quickly, to stand any chance of surviving and thriving. Here are some of the approaches they are using to do exactly that.
Investing in technology
During the various lockdowns, a lot of gym owners took the opportunity to update their premises. They stripped out old-school machines and changed the layout. Investing in new equipment and technology.
Finding innovative ways to use digital display screens
Before the pandemic, digital signage for gyms was mainly used for advertising. Today, there are far more of them, and they are being used in increasingly innovative ways. Including:
· To help people to get more from their workout – for example, to demonstrate proper form.
· To create a competitive environment that pushes people to perform at their best. The way screens are used in spin classes is an example of this.
· As a decorative aid. People like working out in a crisp, clean, modern environment so the way a gym is decorated is important. Large screens can easily be used decoratively. Screen walls are particularly good for this. Plus, there is the added benefit that at certain times of the day what is being displayed can be changed. So, they can be used for advertising and as group workout screens.
· To entertain people while working out. Some people still like to watch shows, the news, and movies while on the treadmill.
Instead of battling against the fitness streaming services some gyms have started to offer their own online or streamed training sessions. An innovation that you can read about here. It provides another revenue stream for the gym, strengthens its brand, and provides a safety net should they ever need to close for a long period once again.
There is also the option to offer hybrid memberships. This provides people with the opportunity to work out online during the week and go into the gym at the weekend.
Taking fitness on the road
During the pandemic, gyms experimented with mobile gyms like this. They took the fitness equipment to the client. Usually, in a large van, which enabled the client to enjoy a full workout without having to be in contact with anyone else. In some areas, the concept proved so popular that some gyms are continuing to offer it.
Private training rooms
As a result of the pandemic, a lot of people discovered that they liked working out alone. Doing so enabled them to stay focused. The rhythm of their workout was not interrupted by having to wait for a piece of equipment to become free or by another gym-goer speaking to them. This has prompted some gyms to offer their members the opportunity to work out in a private space. A service that was previously only on offer for personal trainers and their clients. This option is proving to be particularly popular with older people who feel shy about working out in front of other people. It also opens up the option for small groups of friends to meet up, hire a room, and exercise together.
The return to gyms will be slow
Despite all of the above innovations, in all likelihood people will only begin to return to gyms gradually. The Murphy Research, State of Our Health study showed that around 32% of fitness engaged Gen Z and 36% of Millennials had invested in some sort of digitally based home fitness equipment or regime. In many cases, spending a significant amount of money. Understandably, most of them will not want to shove it all into the corner and return to the gym right away.
However, studies show that people like that are likely to return for personal fitness training sessions or to use specialist equipment that they would otherwise not have access to. When that happens, gym owners need to be ready to ensure that their experience is so good that they will feel compelled to renew their membership and become regular customers again.