By Patrick Craig, Special FBA Contributor

Now that people are returning in droves to their local facilities (for IRL "in real life" experiences), the New York Times reports that gym traffic is back to over 80% of the pre-lockdown levels, according to a survey by Jeffries, the financial services company.

Well, maybe that percentage may be a little high and it may not be actual droves, BUT... I would put it at around 60% since other surveys report that while 40% of former users canceled their memberships and won’t be going back, the remaining 60% will. That means the industry seems to see a solid return to facility use.

It’s pretty easy to figure out why. Human beings are social creatures. If they can gather, for whatever purpose, they will. So, it’s no surprise to see the gyms filling up again. Because there are fewer people coming in to utilize your space, the competition to capture their business is going to be much fiercer. So, your gym needs to be a fitness space that people will want to use and keep coming back to. And like a great restaurant, the atmosphere is everything. That means that all the elements need to be in place.

Strength Training

According to my sources, the most popular feature of any gym is strength training with weights. In order to meet everyone’s priorities, you will need an assortment of dumbbells, barbells, kettlebells, and more. And remember, not all your members are Arnold S. so be sure you have a wide size range. Not everyone can do 5-10 pound weights on the first try, so an excellent selection of 2-5 pound weights will get your clients going in the right direction. Make sure and have some ankle and wrist weights in your selection. And make sure that your benches and racks are in top shape. Accidents in the gym can really damage your reputation.


Everybody loves their cardio workout, and there are many kinds of equipment to facilitate a good cardio. Rowing machines, stair climbers, treadmills, airdyne bikes, and spin bikes top the list for the most effective cardio workouts. But just having good equipment is not the only way. Make sure you have trainers that can lead or partner with your members in a rigorous HIIT or Tabata program.

Interactive Equipment

Since the massive shift to handheld devices and the rise of gaming, many fitness buffs, especially the younger ones, want to use devices that add a digital element. Perhaps the most well-known is the Peloton Bike with its amazing interactive screen that lets the user work with a variety of trainers and access over 10,000 classes right on the machine. Interactive boxing machines are another extremely popular workout. Reflect-Touch and Mirror devices project your workout on a wall screen and are gaining popularity with many users.

Functional Fitness Tools

Functional fitness equipment is used to enhance any sort of functional exercise. With a focus on replicating real-life movements, functional fitness training has become incredibly popular over recent years. The benefits are abundant, not least, the improvement of practical movement, which makes every day activities easier.

And the Industry has responded to this training direction with an impressive list of new equipment like Suspension Trainers, Slam Balls, Battle Rope, Polymetric Boxes, Parallette Bars, Air Bikes, and Resistance Bands. If you have clients who are asking for this kind of training, be sure and have some of this equipment available in your facility.

Studio Space for Live Stream Training

When gyms were locked down and owners were desperately searching for ways to keep their heads above water, the tech industry stepped up and gave birth to a whole new realm of fitness training—live online streaming. Using teleconferencing programs coupled with good quality cameras and sound equipment, trainers began offering online live-streaming classes that members could purchase and use in the comfort of their home. This birthed what is now the hottest trend in the fitness industry—Hybrid Gyms.

This will require that you actually set up an area with great lighting and sound equipment installed, as well as a good camera on a stand. Though this may sound pricey, most of the smartphones today have an excellent built in video-cam. Workout mics and speakers that provide high-quality sound are also not as expensive as you might think. AND… the rewards of taking your business Hybrid far exceed the initial start-up costs.

Member Management Software

And that brings me to the most important item you can add to your facility—a robust member management software with an eft payment gateway that will allow you to handle every bit of business your club demands—from sign-up to billing, CRM and email management, inventory management, POS for walk-in customers, Member portals and phone apps, training scheduling and booking, and most important, scheduling, selling and booking live stream training using ZOOM or other online conference software.

Without the equipment I listed and the member management software as the centerpiece of your operation, you may find yourself hard put to keep up with your competitors, who are probably already hybrid and prospering.

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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.

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