For the fitness industry, the pandemic has been like a boulder dropped into a pond. For an industry that has been built so much around people, sudden lockdowns and restrictions had a severe impact on many people running fitness studios or gyms. However, sometimes a disruption is just what is needed to spur innovation and ensure future success. In this article we take a look at what gym members experienced during the pandemic and how you can ensure your gym can meet future demands.
Gym member experiences during the pandemic
In a wide scale industry survey from December 2021, 38% of respondents were found to have had a worse experience at their gym during the pandemic. Of the rest, 41% had an unchanged experience and only a fifth reported an improved experience.
If you want to retain current members and attract new ones, it’s essential that your gym is one that delivers the right services and value. Being just “ok” is no longer an option, you have to deliver above and beyond expectations.
There were three things that were mentioned repeatedly by gym goers reporting an improved experience:
- Better hygiene
- Lack of overcrowding
- Reasonable and competitive pricing
Hygiene is high on the agenda
Unsurprisingly, hygiene became a big area of focus during the pandemic. It was also the number one reason for those who reported a better gym experience during lockdown..
Gyms needed to ensure the highest cleanliness levels to ensure that members felt safe and secure while working out. It’s just not good enough to do a deep clean on equipment once a month. The expectation now is that equipment is being constantly wiped down on a rotating basis.
Alongside this, there should be sanitiser stations at the entrance as well as spread throughout the gym. In the scale of things, it’s relatively cheap and easy to get hygiene right, but it can have the biggest impact out of almost anything that you do.
Don’t get lost in the crowd
With the pandemic underway, the last thing most people wanted was to be in a crowded space. It was essential for gyms to manage access effectively so that things didn’t get too busy, but also so that gym goers were not frustrated by being prevented from working out when they wanted to.
This was a careful balance that many gyms failed to get right. The ones that did likely have effective gym management software that allowed them a full overview of current attendees as well as bookings.
Beyond the pandemic, knowing your real-time data on members can help you adjust for the present and plan for the future. It can provide insight into where you need to make investments for the future in equipment or adjusting your gym’s layout.
Paying the right price
Everyone wants to feel they’re getting value for what they pay. And, of course, they also want to pay the lowest price that they can. It’s the same for gym goers. While they may be ok with current prices, they want to know that they’re getting more value from it.
When your gym members walk through the door, they should feel that their experience is worth what they’re paying for it. You can accomplish this by doing things like:
- Offering more classes
- Updated or newer equipment
- Community events
- Incentive or reward schemes for hitting goals
What’s clear from the above is that you need to exceed your members’ expectations if you want to keep them happy and coming back. The pandemic has been a wake up call for the fitness industry. It’s had to evolve rapidly to deal with lockdowns, restrictions and new technologies.
Preparing your gym for the future
Taking the above lessons into consideration, we have five suggestions, or areas of focus, that you should look at to ensure you keep current and new members happy as we move into the tail-end of the pandemic.
- Make your booking process seamless
It should always be easy to see which classes are available and to book one for your members. In this day and age, there is no excuse to still be using a manual booking process.
- Find the balance between rigorous cleaning and hygiene
While many gym goers appreciated the exacting hygiene levels required because of the pandemic, others felt that they were a bit too extreme. You will need to find the balance to keep both sets of members happy.
- Extend your opening hours and capacity when possible
Now that restrictions are lifting, it’s become possible to again increase class sizes and operating hours. This is great news for gyms as they can again welcome people in greater numbers. Don’t forget to let your members know of the changing hours.
- Build a community around your gym
A gym can be more than just a place with weights and machines, for many it can become a central space in their social lives. This is one of the best ways you can be seen to be creating “value” for your members.
- Be on the front foot with new tech integration
Technology is unlocking a new way of doing things for many gyms. From member management to platforms that provide personalised workouts and instructions. You can set yourself apart from competitors by embracing new technology opportunities.
There’s a lot to be excited about for the future of gyms. Things are returning to a pre-pandemic state and that provides new opportunities to bring in new members. To take advantage of this, your gym needs to exceed expectations and meet future demands.
All of the above can come together with the right, smart gym management software. One that can give members control over joining, booking classes and managing their membership; as well as give you critical insight into who they are. Go here for a great example of fully integrated gym management software.