Covid turned the fitness industry on its head, with lockdowns and restrictions, most gyms closed, personal trainers had to stay home and online workouts quickly became the norm.
In a post-pandemic world, what has the fitness industry learned and what are the opportunities for leaders in business to stand out and get noticed, while protecting their income against future threats?
With a large percentage of a typical gym membership going towards paying overhead and making a profit, being stuck in a lockdown could have spelt financial ruin for many business owners. Now that the pandemic has passed, how can gyms ensure they are consistently making enough money to cover overheads and be successful?
Here are some marketing strategies to help attract and retain gym members:
Gyms have never really been known as the most hygienic of environments; filled with people sweating and breathing on each other on a daily basis. In the wake of the pandemic, this put gyms and fitness centres where knocked out as key government lockdown targets, but it has also provided an opportunity for enterprising individuals to show leadership in their communities by providing a safe environment for exercise, while still catering to the needs of any ongoing restrictions.
Gyms that have stepped up their hygiene procedures provided wipe down facilities, added space for cleanliness and encouraged members to clean up after themselves will certainly have a head start. There is definitely an opportunity for fitness brands to promote their gyms and workout spaces as clean, covid aware, quality facilities and a focus on health rather than just losing weight or getting fit.
There is an opportunity to add value to memberships by including hygienic towels, full finger gloves, hand sanitiser etc in the membership package, making keeping things clean and hygienic not only easier but more convenient. Not only assisting gym goers to help the gym remain open, and ensuring they continue enjoying working out without wasting time on cleaning, but also adding to the reputation of the gym as a healthy and safe place to work out.
Focus On Health
Fitness centres may have suffered in the past at the hands of lawyers, but there are no longer any class actions against them for injury claims. This opens up business opportunities to take on new members, who were previously put off by insurance premiums being too high. If you can promote that you are open for business and are able to protect their interests by providing adequate health care plans then this could be a good opportunity to cross-market your services with health insurance providers if they come knocking.
With more people turning to online training, gyms could also see an increase in membership due to the increased services it offers, such as stretching, yoga and other health benefits from online training that could be included in the membership. An option like this would appeal not only because it is less likely to get cancelled when life throws unmanageable curveballs.
Fitness centres that offer more holistic health advice than typical gyms that focus on specific muscle groups or movements, make it easier for clients to deal with ongoing health issues and concerns about future pandemics. A focus on building strong immune systems should be as much a part of gym marketing as building strong muscles.
The fact that most gyms were closed during Covid meant that many customers could not work out and quickly became desperate for a way to stay healthy and fit. Online workout programs sprung up immediately after this period of lockdown but so did the need for in-person coaching. Personal trainers that previously parked themselves on public transport hubs where people can come meet with them before or after commuting were unable to provide service during Covid.
Here are some marketing strategies to help Personal Trainers sustain their businesses:
Social Media Heros
The fallout of the pandemic has turned trainers and coaches into online entrepreneurs. With no one able to venture out to get personal training, most fitness professionals had to teach their clients how to work out at home. This trend is likely to continue for some time, but it opens up opportunities for people who can help others create effective workout programs that they can do from home with minimal equipment.
Many entrepreneurs stepped forward to fill in the gaps left by PTs closing down. These new trainers had no formal training and some had no certification whatsoever but they set themselves up online and began promoting their services via YouTube, Instagram and even TikTok, proving that as long as you can promote and present, you can win in the fitness world.
Many PTs survived Covid due simply because they developed online technology to provide in-home training, and there is an expectation this might continue however, as many have discovered, there is nothing quite as good as being back in the gym, using proper equipment and training with others, or having your coach right there, encouraging and driving you on, so if you are going to be 100% online, you need to be a very good communicator and awesome at presenting and connecting online.
Consider if you have the skills, drive and enthusiasm to be a stand out instructor in an online setting. If not, focus on what you do best naturally, choose your niche and target clients who will become your raving fans.
Personal Trainers would also benefit from cross-promotional marketing, partnering up with other local healthcare providers, nutritionists, physical therapy, yoga, pilates etc so you can captivate a wider audience and team up, referring clients to each other.
A lot of frustration with PTs stems from the fact that many clients feel their personal trainer didn't include them in the process enough. Now, you can take it a step further and say, “We're going to be a team out there – I'm going to help you with these things and show you where to go next but we need your help as well."
This is an opportunity for trainers and gyms to work together – helping each other – rather than simply competing against one another.
Similar concepts could apply across almost any niche – if someone specialises in a particular type of training or treatment, they could offer free sessions to other businesses or people who use complementary therapies.
In a post-pandemic world, the fitness industry needs to be more than just about physical training and health – it should also be an inspiration and support network.
Even though Covid is now more under control, many people still struggle with depression, addiction and mental illness – these are all things that gym owners and trainers can help with as well as getting people into shape.
Additionally, there is now even greater emphasis on teamwork and camaraderie – whether this falls under the banner of "fitness" or not isn't important – what's important is finding areas where people can work together.
If you're looking for new opportunities in business, think outside the box and find ways to step up your game as a leader in health and wellbeing.