On Your Mark, Get Set, GO! How Fitness Facilities Are Fairing Now That They Are Back in Business

The world has been eagerly waiting for their favorite fitness facilities to re-open and welcome back their members with open (and socially distant) arms. Now that many fitness businesses have been given the green light to return to daily operations, Core Health & Fitness wants to assess the first few weeks back on the scene.

Since the beginning of the global shutdown back in March, fitness facilities went straight to work, brainstorming solutions to the many ways this pandemic could affect their businesses. Several months later, these establishments have created detailed and innovative ways to make their members feel safe and secure when returning to their daily fitness routines. Now that they have been back for a few weeks, how are these facilities doing? What challenges are they seeing? Are members adhering to the newly instated protocols? We asked several customers to weigh in on their resurgence.

When news of the global closures first hit the fitness industry, it is no secret that many facilities experienced a high number of cancellations from panicked members. These businesses acted quickly by creating “freeze” or “hold” options, giving the member the ability to press pause on their membership fees until the facility was able to re-open. This membership freeze was the key to success for many facilities that are now re-opening.

Megan Gibson from YMCA Wichita Falls said, “Allowing our members to place their accounts on hold until they are ready to come back to our facility has helped us maintain our membership base.”

Before facilities began to re-open, membership cancellations averaged around 12% with many facilities experiencing little to no cancellations. However, the real challenge began during the first few weeks of business when membership fees resumed. This is when the cancellations started rolling in quickly. On average, facilities were seeing anywhere from 20-40% of the usual facility check-ins pre-COVID, varying for different geographies. Now moving into the second month of re-opening, facilities are finally beginning to see a large spike in members returning to facilities.

A large part of the ability to re-open is the implementation of social distancing protocols. When asked if these new social distancing measures were impacting member traffic, the overwhelming answer was, hardly at all. Members have been respectful of the new guidelines and simply want to complete their workout quickly and safely. The main challenge with social distancing has been the “spotting policy” which inhibits members from spotting each other when performing heavy lifts such as back squats and bench press.

“The younger members are a challenge because they have to be ‘reminded’ to practice social distancing when lifting, but they are cooperative,” said Jayne Presnell from Evolutions.

Another main challenge for newly re-opened facilities is the need to alter their facilities to accommodate the new health and safety protocols. The Center for Health Improvement in Hays, Kansas has had to create individual 15-foot zones to keep members socially distant while still providing easy access to the equipment they need. These challenges have proven to be difficult, however, they have forced facilities to persevere and create innovative ways to retain their members.

Many facilities took this time to transform their gyms, creating an entirely new space for members to return to. Incorporating new, easy to follow instructional signage, revamping their free weight sections, new upgraded equipment and even hiring more staff to accommodate the new safety protocols are just a few ways these facilities were able to breathe new life into their fitness spaces and emerge stronger than before.

Terry Woods, Vice President of Sales – Americas for Core says, “The number one thing I tell operators is to use your territory reps now more than ever. They are constantly talking with and visiting customers as they re-open, and can provide feedback on solutions that have worked, and others that have failed. Do not underestimate the value a sales professional can bring to you during this time.”

Now more than ever, fitness facilities are focused on their members who depend on them. The gym may look slightly different and may require more guidelines, but the goal is the same: to deliver a safe space for members to escape their daily stresses and sweat out their troubles. This time in quarantine has provided facilities with the opportunity to find new and exciting ways to continuously demonstrate their adaptability to the industry.

Get in touch with our team of sales professionals today and find out how your facility can adapt to these ever-changing times.

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