3 Ways to Keep Your Gym Thriving Through COVID-19
Well, it’s April. By now most gyms are either closed down for at least a month and are working through creative ways to keep their revenue stream up while still providing a great service to members of their community. I’ll be honest, the TMF HQ gyms are doing pretty well – our communities have rallied together in such a way that has created an even tighter tribe of people and are as strong as ever. I attribute this to the leadership and initiative our coaches have taken to go above and beyond checking in with members, providing individual members with workout recommendations, and to the values that our members have seriously taken to heart and live out every day. That being said, neither of those things are a departure from what our coaches and members were doing before COVID-19 forced us to temporarily close our doors. Our coaches have always had a tremendous passion and desire to improve their lives of the Misfit community, and our members have always lived out our core values in and out of the gym. It’s something I’m incredibly proud to be a part of, but it doesn’t mean we haven’t had to work overtime to provide added value to our community while our facility is closed. To help you navigate this period of uncertainty, here are 3 things your gym should be doing to not only stay afloat, but thrive.
You never realize what you’re missing until it’s gone. One of the biggest draws of the CrossFit community is that there is a level of unspoken accountability that occurs when someone joins the gym. A coach is either asking “hey I missed you in class the other day!” or their gym buddy is saying “ugh can you please come to 6am with me tomorrow? I don’t want to do this workout alone”. Spoken or not, both coaches and members hold each other accountable. Without a central location to facilitate that, members start to slip through the cracks, and it’s our job as coaches to not let it happen. Whether it’s communicating through a member’s only Facebook group, email, or phone, you need to be in constant communication with your members to keep them engaged and active.
How to do it
Export a roster of every active member of your gym, then as a coaching staff go name by name and assign every single active member on the roster to a coach and have them reach out to them individually. We recommend assigning coaches the members that they coach most frequently/are most familiar with. Coaches can text, call, message, email, whatever. It’s as simple as “Hey John! I hope you’re doing well and staying healthy. I just wanted to reach out to check up on you and see if there’s anything you need and say I’d love to see you in one of our virtual Zoom classes. How’s the equipment you borrowed from the gym working for you?” Done. Hell, feel free to copy and paste what I wrote and sent it to your athletes. Many of them will respond with “I’m doing great, I’ll let you know if I need anything! Thanks for reaching out!” and that’s totally fine, but some will tell you that they’re struggling and need some positive reinforcement, and maybe just someone to talk to.
2. Virtual Classes
We use Zoom, and no, we’re not affiliated with them or get paid to say this or anything like that. It doesn’t matter what platform you use, but providing virtual classes does a few things for everyone. It provides some semblance of normalcy for your members, it encourages members to keep their memberships active, it allows coaches to maintain that visual touch-point with members, the list goes on. It also shows your members that you’re doing everything you can to keep them healthy and sane, something very few employers, commercial gyms, or businesses can say they’re doing right now. Virtual classes also keep your coaching staff gainfully employed and earning the money they would normally be getting for coaching classes. Even if you don’t offer the same number or type of classes, you should still be providing ways for your members to stay fit and part of the community. Solely providing at-home workouts and saying “post your scores!” is not enough and will lose traction.
How to do it
Like I said, we use Zoom. I’m sure there are other platforms that do the same thing and I can’t say we investigated them all, we jumped on the bandwagon like most other businesses and use Zoom. The $14.99 membership allows you to host 100 people for an unlimited meeting duration (class time) and also provides you with one single link that always works, rather than creating a unique meeting ID for every single class. Pay the $15/month so that you can share the link with everyone in your gym and I guarantee it’ll save you memberships. Zoom also has a whiteboard feature that allows you to share the whiteboard with class, so coaches can log on a little early and write up the warm up/workout on the whiteboard just like class. I recommend using a microphone/headset combo with bluetooth for audio quality (e.g. something like AirPods). From there, it’s just about bringing the energy, making the class as fun as possible, and giving members a chance to see their friends even if it’s just through a screen.
3. Be Transparent and Do Your Best
People are generally understanding when circumstances aren’t ideal. In a unique situation like COVID-19 when literally everyone on the planet is experiencing changes in their daily lives, routines, work, etc., people will understand that you’re doing your best to make a difficult situation work (assuming that you are in fact, doing your best). Being honest about the status of your gym and about how you’re working to provide value to your members at a time when they may not be getting exactly what they originally signed up for provides an olive branch of trust to your members that they will see and appreciate. You can’t please everyone, and you have to understand that some people will take this situation better than others. For those folks, be empathetic and listen first. At the end of the day, if members see that you’re trying as hard as you can to keep them fit, healthy, sane, and part of the community they joined, they will be grateful and ride out the storm with you.
How to do it
Be honest, listen to everyone’s concerns, and remind your coaches that everyone deals with challenges differently. Your members are looking for some normalcy, positivity, and human connection, and it’s your job to provide it just like as if your doors were open.
Want the podcast that goes with this post? We discuss different ways to keep your gym thriving through COVID-19, so if podcasts are more your thing, head to The Coach’s Podcast E8 – Handling COVID-19 as a Crossfit Affiliate Owner or search for the Misfit Podcast wherever you get your podcasts.
Written by Hunter Wood