The Post Covid-19 Fitness Studio

It seems there was a line drawn in the sand on March 13, 2020 and we are now affectionately referring to our lives as pre-Covid-19 and post-Covid-19. What a strange trip it’s been (and continues to be), and there’s no doubt we’re all a little beaten up, a little scarred, a little broken – but the good news is we’re still here and we’re still standing. 

We know everyone’s path and experience is different – some are deciding to close their studios, others are downsizing, some are pivoting in a new direction and others are figuring out how to run a studio in the post-Covid world.

We’re still waiting to open our doors (technically not allowed in NC yet AND our cases are going up), but here’s what we know about our studio and our business going forward.

1. We Must Be Anti-Racist: Just as we were all catching our breath from the Covid crisis we were reminded that the longest standing pandemic in the US is systemic and systematic racism. This harsh reality was amplified front and center with the murder of George Floyd and the subsequent protests, the removal of confederate monuments (long overdue) and the general unrest in the country. A lot of white people are learning what it means to have privilege and realizing that we have a duty to become allies to our friends and family members of color.

Right now, the world is watching, your community is watching, and as a leader you have an obligation to stand for what is right.  Moving forward it’s going to take more than a culture statement around “diversity and inclusion” to firmly plant you on the ally side of the coin.

We need a movement to quell racism and not just a moment so that means that we can no longer say that we don’t mix “business and politics. Look at the strong leaders and big brands like Nike, Netflix and our personal fave Ben & Jerry’s who are standing up and putting either their money and/or their efforts where their mouth is. Be one of these leaders in your community. 

Our plan: First and foremost, we shared our statement (feel free to amend for your position) with our community and secondly we want to hear from the people of color on our team.  What is their experience inside our organization? In what ways are we perpetuating racism and how we can stop it? Will it get uncomfortable – you bet, but this is our role as leaders.

We’re trying to make it a movement not a moment so this will take time. Just like building strength is a process of breaking down and building up and you wouldn’t walk into the gym and expect to hit your fitness goals on the first day this work is going to take time. But it is something we are committed to figuring out. 

2. A Hybrid Model is Essential: It’s likely that there are some parts of the quarantine you and your clients are enjoying – the ease with which they can just hop onto Zoom or your virtual platform and workout. We were all required to transform our industry overnight -  a direction we were already headed  but likely at a much slower pace. Over the coming days, weeks, months and even years we expect clients to flow in and out of in person and the virtual format. Some may adapt the virtual format long term – either because they are high risk for the virus or because they like the convenience of it. But others will want to come back into your studio. It’s imperative that you can seamlessly offer both – meaning your policies, procedures, payment systems, and content delivery systems must be on point. 

Our plan: We are currently putting the final touches on a new website that reflects this hybrid approach of in-person and virtual options as well as writing policies, procedures and payment terms for how clients can flow between in person or virtual. We are also working on our communication plan with our team and our community so everyone understands their options.

We like to use this analogy – it’s like we’re playing a game and it’s our job as leaders to educate the community on the rules of the game. Once they know the rules then as long as they are on the playing field and abiding by the rules then everything is fair game. There will be some give and take as we, our team and our clients figure out this new normal. Allow some room for growth and be patient.  

3. Personalization is Key: With businesses required to operate below capacity (50% or less in some cases), the general uncertainty about the virus and so many options to choose from clients are going to be looking for someone to guide them through the maze. How can you show up and provide services that are personalized in nature? If you’re studio can no longer be profitable below capacity then change your model – and fast. You are an entrepreneur so make sure you are adjusting to the demands. Can you use that same real estate to service people in a more personalized nature – perhaps via one-on-one or smaller group personal training instead of classes. What about helping people setting up their home workout spaces so they can engage with your digital content? How can you go above and beyond and service your clients so that you can remain profitable? In 15 years of studio ownership one thing we KNOW is that the only constant is change. Lean into it, grow and adapt.

Our plan: Our main service is private personal training so we will be amplifying this service and finding ways to make it better. We are also adding additional concierge level services like in-home personal training (for a premium), studio rentals during off-peak times for individuals and small groups and an even more personalized experience by purchasing additional equipment so there is no sharing during sessions. 

There are many areas we’re navigating, but above are just 3 ways we’re adapting right now. We know you, too have many balls in the air and you are figuring out your way forward. We’d love to hear what’s top of mind for you and your business and how you are navigating the next wave of fitness and wellness. Nobody said it would be easy… but you can bet it’s going to be worth it. Just like a river cuts through rock not because of its power but because of its persistence you too can persist as the leader you are. Keep growing, keep showing up and keep adapting to the future. You got this!!

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