The coronavirus (COVID-19) has everyone on edge right now. It is a scary time for many during this uncertain, anxiety-inducing season. As of March 23, there have been over 33,404 confirmed cases in the United States, and experts say the number is likely to keep growing. This virus has exponentially taken the world by storm, and so far, it is unclear when we will see the end of its spread.

Fitness centers and gyms across the country are quickly having to adapt during this pandemic. Many have been temporarily forced to close their doors, as others are changing their hours or limiting class sizes in response. As your gym is facing these challenges, consider the following suggestions for minimizing the spread of illness and improving member retention.

Proactive Steps During the Coronavirus Outbreak

Offer Temporary Membership Freezes

It may be alarming to receive calls from frantic loyal members looking to cancel their membership. In an attempt to maintain these customer relationships, offer a membership freeze with no penalties to these individuals an option over total cancellation.

Be sure to let them know their health and safety is your number one concern, and they are more than welcome to resume their membership dues when they feel safe to do so. A frozen member is always better than a canceled member.

Provide Virtual Personal Training

A great way to motivate your members to continue on their fitness track is to offer virtual exercise classes and virtual access to a personal trainer. Your gym could make use of email communications and video conferencing for more direct training.

These virtual sessions could feature at-home workouts and be tailored to coincide with their regular workouts. Keeping your members on track will show them that you care about their personal fitness progress while providing access to personalized fitness help. You could even consider selling fitness equipment like medicine balls or resistance bands that you order through your equipment provider to assist with your members at home workouts and create a small additional profit center for your gym.

Live Stream Classes

Facebook Live and pre-recorded classes can keep more of your members actively involved in events at your gym (from home!). As more people choose to self-isolate and restrictions affect visits to the gym, resources for continuing fitness routines from home will be in high demand. Explore boosting posts about your live classes in your community to expand your audience and give a potential lift to your memberships when things return to normal.

Taking advantage of email newsletters with content pertaining to self-care habits and at-home workouts will keep participants engaged. Inspiring and motivating your gym members will build trust and brand recognition that they will resonate with.

Share Your Preventative Safety Measures

Tell your members – often – what you are doing in your facility! If your gym has temporarily closed, let your members know of the safety steps you will be taking when you reopen (you will reopen!) Reassure them of the safety measures you are taking to disinfect all club areas and equipment to keep the virus from spreading. Offer advice to members that continue to visit your gym such as:

· Stay home if you feel sick
· Visit on off-peak hours
· Wipe off the equipment before and after use
· Bring your own sanitizer to use between workouts
· Practice good hygiene
· Take up swimming as an alternate workout
· Wash your hands often

According to Amesh Adalja, M.D., an infectious disease physician, senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins University Center for Health Security, and spokesperson for the Infectious Diseases Society of America, when it comes to the gym “we know that the coronavirus is not found in sweat.”

Staying physically fit and healthy is more important than ever! As a gym owner, you have a unique opportunity to alleviate the struggles of your members as a motivator and a wealth of fitness knowledge.

Knowing how to handle this situation during these tough times could mean the future success of your fitness center. If you’re feeling overwhelmed and stressed, or even unsure of how to proceed with your business operations, we can help. Even if physical attendance in your gym has dropped or halted, you can still create diversified engagement through online platforms, keeping morale high and members involved.

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