By Patrick Craig, Special AFS Contributor
Before COVID 19 invaded our shores, mall-based fitness studios were firing enormous growth in the $85 billion fitness industry. As fitness clubs focused their marketing efforts on building fitness communities and encouraging personal fitness as a means to build a healthy community, the commercial real estate industry was watching health clubs and gyms re-launch strip mall sales and rentals and reduce mall vacancies all across the country.
One of the largest mall operators in the U.S., General Growth Properties, projected that 75% of its leases would be held by fitness-related businesses in 2020. At the same time, mobile apps supporting these facilities by enabling subscribers to book a variety of fitness classes in facilities across the country were seeing record growth in sales.
All this crashed in the middle of March. Overnight, fitness facilities had to move to a completely different delivery model. The clubs that survived, especially the smaller studios and mall shops, moved their offerings online. Those who did not go belly-up. Larger outfits that had millions invested in franchises, on-site equipment, and local facilities were the hardest hit. Maintenance and rental costs drove giants like Gold’s Gym and 24-Hour Fitness into Chapter 11 bankruptcy filings. At the same time, the top-line booking apps saw a huge decline in their revenues.
Out of the ashes rose a new phenomenon—consumers discovered that they were very comfortable with home-based workouts. What had once been dismissed as a seasonal fad became the new model overnight. Sales of personal fitness equipment and technology have mushroomed along with subscriptions for online classes. Cameras, microphones, and sound equipment have seen sales go through the roof. ZOOM experienced a huge upsurge in memberships as fitness clubs discovered how easy it was to do a live class online.
Out of the ashes rose a new phenomenon—consumers discovered that they were very comfortable with home-based workouts. What had once been dismissed as a seasonal fad became the new model overnight.
Going with the Flow!
So, Fitness Club owners, what does that mean for you? If you haven’t already, it’s time to make the move. If you want to stay in the game, you’ve got to get online and get there quickly. Many of you are already using ZOOM but there’s a problem—how do you book the ZOOM sessions and sync those sales with your member database?
Many of the GYM software companies have already added a ZOOM syncing feature to their software. The best one I have seen did a remarkable job putting the online-streaming options together. It utilizes a public-facing calendar that can be installed on your website or Facebook page, along with a Member/Trainer Portal App with full scheduling capabilities.
The software makes it super easy for trainers to schedule classes that are available both in-person and online. They simply create the class in the software and then make it available on the calendar. They can set the limit for how many people can attend in person and once that limit is reached the class is closed to in person, but open to online, and this is reflected on the calendar. This allows the trainer to manage the number of people in the room but continue to add online attendees.
The member purchases the class through their member portal and the payment is added to their member database. They then check the calendar for a scheduled class. They can choose the option to attend in person or online through ZOOM. If they choose online, once they click the schedule button, a meeting is created in ZOOM that sends out the class link to the trainer and the member.
The software developers also distribute a video showing how to use pre-recorded class videos with ZOOM so you can schedule multiple online classes every day.
So you see, with the right tools, it’s very simple to make the move to online fitness. If you have any questions, you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Also, be sure and read my article about setting up your studio to use ZOOM live streaming at https://moneymovers.com/zoom-studio/
Patrick Craig has worked in the Marketing Industry for the past twenty years. He is a published author and has written extensively about the fitness industry, particularly the gym software aspect of it. He has been with Money Movers, Inc. for the last six years where he serves as the Marketing and Operations Manager, web designer and coder, and maintains the custom websites Money Movers, Inc. develops for their Online Business Manager gym software clients.