Our experiences over the last two months will change the industry as a whole, and it will take a long time to recover and get through to the other side, but the key is this – we will get through to the other side.
So, what does this mean for gym-goers? There are a variety of different ways that gyms may be impacted when the restrictions are lifted, with much of the population musing as to whether these changes will be good or bad for their member experience.
As a gym owner and operator with 17 years experience, this time of crisis has given the perfect opportunity to reinvent the member experience. As a result, I can see the member experience improving post-COVID-19. Here’s why:
1. There will be less gyms.
Those that survive will have great communities, great businesses or great brands. Those that thrive will have all three, which could raise the standard of all gyms.
2. Bookings will become the norm.
To ensure that gyms do not breach usage protocols, bookings may be used for all gym access. The advantage of this is members will have visibility over when the gym is busy and can select times that suit their preferences and lifestyle.
3. Outdoor fitness services will surge.
Outdoor fitness will be used to offset the limits placed on indoor training. This is exciting for us, and many of our members. It brings us back to our roots, and we are lucky enough to live in a country where outdoor training is accessible most of the year and, I for one can’t wait to take advantage of that more.
4. Virtual workouts are here to stay.
Virtual, live and on demand classes will remain in place but they won’t replace physical gym experiences. Rather, they will be used as a supplement. I can see people visiting the gym when they can, or participating virtually while at home when they are pressed for time.
5. Innovation and technology will take centre stage
There will be an increase in innovation and technology as people adapt to new ways of living and training, and the adoption of technologies such as wearables will be increased, heart rate monitors, running apps and app-based workout programs will skyrocket. Gyms will innovate and provide new and better experiences for their members that incorporate these tools.
6. Gyms will enforce stringent cleaning policies
One major advantage for members is the increase in cleanliness. Prior to closing, we doubled our cleaning, and implemented cleans five times daily from our staff, on top of our external cleaners. Members will have quieter, cleaner, gyms. Winning!
7. Tighter communities will be fostered
There will be smaller class sizes, which should mean that tighter communities are formed. We have found that our members who have stuck with us are loyal followers and we have enhanced our great community through this time. The ’all in the together’ ethos will outlive COVID-19 which is great for the gym community.
8. A health > aesthetics approach will be more widely adopted
Commercial gyms were originally started by bodybuilders, and this legacy has shaped the gym experience today. Much of what the industry is based upon is aesthetics. I respect the athletes who commit their lives to building an incredible physique, it is not easy. I have also seen a huge shift to focus on health due to Covid-19. Gyms are perfectly positioned to support our physical health and mental health, as well as our physiques.
Overall, I think this global health crisis will have positive long-term effects on the world and on the fitness industry. Personally, I have seen a return by people to what is important, a distaste for superficial items, coupled with a period of creativity and innovation that I have never before seen.
I am excited to see cleaner gyms, increased virtual workouts and a higher standard of gym. Mostly, I am hopeful that the fitness industry as a whole, steps up to the challenge of taking care of the physical and mental health of Australians.