What a year 2020 has been for the health and fitness industry. As we reflect on what the pandemic has done to our mental health, overall health, businesses and more there is no doubt that 2020 has completely shifted the fitness industry and what it’s going to take for health and fitness businesses to survive & thrive. The fitness industry will get through this but it may look very different.
Below are some critical aspects that should be taken into account when planning for 2021 and beyond for your fitness and wellness business.
> Our businesses and products are not the same. Some aspects of our business remain, such as customer service, connecting and delivering health and wellness to our communities but nearly everything else has changed. We must adapt now to meet new consumer demands and needs.
> Exercise is medicine. As we look at the industry and where things need to shift I believe one of the biggest things is the importance of partnering with the medical industry to prescribe fitness as medicine. A critical message we have to emphasize is the necessity of exercise for one’s health. Given the multiple benefits of regular exercise, gyms must position themselves as a valuable player in the healthcare system and part of the solution to COVID-19. We have learned that there is no doubt that fitness is essential, but some believe fitness centers are not. We must change this perception.
> Virtual fitness programming is here to stay. One of the biggest opportunities has been virtual programming. As an industry, we moved quickly when clubs were shut down and accelerated our ability to deliver content and services remotely. Many savvy operators will continue to enhance this offering after the pandemic ends. In addition, our industry has unified through this crisis like never before, setting aside our concern about competitors, and instead collaborating and forming alliances that have strengthened our collective voice and position. Operators must decide if Virtual Fitness is a program or a business unit within their organization.
> Communication and branding is key. Regular communication with all members – present and former – is vital to highlight all the changes made to enhance safety in your facility. Consider sharing a 30-90 second video that shows a tour of the current gym experience, highlight member testimonials and continue to communicate all the ways you are delivering your product today. Use a customer experience process (platform) to understand the voice of the customer. It is important to not only address member feedback and concerns but to operationalize the voice of the consumer. Active uses MXM’s Medallia as its member feedback platform and we highly recommend it.
> Have a go-forward plan. Review your current business and analyze other revenue stream opportunities. It is very important to protect the core of your business and then and only then expand the product/program offerings. Now is a time to truly understand what your business is and what it is not. It is time to amplify what you are great at and known for. We need to re-imagine our businesses, looking at our assumptions, business models and why we are doing what we do. I recommend you start with: What problem or pain point are we trying to solve for the customer? I use a phrase I learned a long time ago: “Selling is Solving”. What are the unmet or under-met needs of the marketplace/community? How can I use my core competencies to address these needs?
It goes without saying that we have all suffered, some more than others. In that, the fitness industry has been bonded because we all experienced this together. Within our industry, for those who survived, opportunities for future growth will be abundant. And, for those who were forced to close, it doesn’t have to be over for you either. As the industry rebounds and rebuilds, there will also be opportunities for a new start. For all, we will have the hindsight of 20/20, and from those lessons, things will be done differently in the future.
The Active Team is looking forward to turning the page and doing things differently in 2021. If you’re looking for assistance with your health and fitness business, Active Wellness may be able to help.
Written by: Bill McBride | Active Wellness President + CEO
Bill McBride is Active’s President, CEO and Founder. During this unprecedented time, he’s kept himself busy with Zoom meetings regularly to connect with others in the fitness industry. He’s also been active hosting fitness business webinars to help fitness professionals during this time and in his free time enjoys spending time outdoors hiking in Arizona.