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We hope this communication find you, your team and your families safe and in good health as we navigate through the uncertainties of Covid-19 pandemic. It has posed unprecedented challenges & uncertain times for the entire fitness Industry including the Gym owners, Trainers, Nutrition Companies, Fitness Athletes & the Fitness equipment companies. The Lockdown measures have totally disrupted business continuity for all of us.
When the gyms will reopen?
Will the government help?
How to take care of Human Resource cost?
How to take care of Rental cost?
How to keep existing members engaged?
What will the situation be like after the gyms reopen?
How to get prepared for the time when the gyms will reopen?
What will be the future of Fitness Industry?
We are not alone in this crisis. The entire world is suffering & the after effects will be seen in almost all the Industries. Our team at Into Wellness Private Limited tried to talk to our fitness Industry associates across the world including India and did a research on what ways the Gyms & the Fitness Industry across the world is coping up with this challenge. Here are our suggestions, observations & inputs to the fitness industry.
In India, fitness clubs will be the last to be allowed to open along with movie theatres, malls, etc. in the government’s strategy of phased opening up of the lock down.
In such situation communication is extremely important. Be honest, transparent & fair with the communication. Think that it is a collective responsibility to make sure as a team that we are in a position to restart the operations and survive through this crisis. Try to find a middle ground so that the burden can be shared. Find out ways by which at least their basic cost of living is taken care of.
Trainers can use this as a learning opportunity to upgrade their knowledge base. Help them enrol for an online training course. Trainers can actively participate in the initiatives to keep the existing members engaged & active.
Work on an arrangement with your Bankers. Government of India and RBI have requested Banks to increase the working capital. If you have a term loan, discuss with your bankers to restructure the loan. If you prove your credit worthiness the Banks can lend you additional loan as well. If required approach NBFC’s (Non-Banking Finance Companies).
In such situation liquidity and cash ?ow management is extremely important. Make use of whatever funds you have very wisely.
Amicably talk to the Property owner and ask for the rent relief. Renegotiate with the property owners on the rentals. Request for a moratorium & a rent relief for a few months. In such times the property owners would also want to sustain the inflow of rent over long term and will definitely support. Invoke the Force Majeure clause as a last resort. We advise against getting into litigation now instead sit across the table and try to find a common ground to share the burden.
It is important that as business owner we adapt to the new situation with an element Innovation. The saying “Necessity is the mother of all invention” holds true today. Adaptability with Innovation will the key to sustain through this tough period.
Explore options of going Virtual /Digital by creating YouTube workout video library.
Conduct live training sessions through video conference facilities. The group can be of 15 members and focus on form and technique through video coaching and live workout demonstration.
Organize Competitions such as Push ups challenge, Squat challenge, sit up Challenge, Burpee Challenge within members to keep them active and motivated. Their friends & family can also participate. While the training is conducted remotely ensure that the exercises are not difficult & there is no chance of injury.
Motivate the members to share their results of the Challenge on social Media with a gym speci?c hashtag.
Help them to improvise and use whatever is available at home – Water bottles, Chairs, Apartment Staircase etc. and do the workout.
Conduct One to One Personal Training sessions through Facetime/WhatsApp video calls.
Create Learning Platform where you can share nutrition related information, information on weight gain, weight loss, Strength training, Knowledge on muscles etc.
It is important that through all our interactions the trainers try to keep the members motivated & create a positive frame of mind amongst the members as mental health of many people is getting affected because of the uncertainty around this crisis.
The Digital Players in the Indian Fitness Industry such as Fitternity, Gympik, BYG should come out with robust digital solutions to help gym owners & trainers to do the temporary transition of moving workouts online by creating virtual training environment on the similar lines to what fitness Start-ups such as Classpass have managed to do globally.
Prepare & Publish the sanitation policy of the gym to all the gym members. It is important that your communication and efforts make your customers con?dent that you have gone out of your way to create a clean and safe environment for them to train in.
Define facility cleaning schedules, enforce the personal hygiene, step up cleaning, disinfect the premises weekly, sanitise the machines regularly, have the temperature check forehead guns to check temperature of every member before he or she enters.
You may have to recruit more the house keeping staff and effectively train them on the Sanitation policy.
Members need to disinfect their hands with hand sanitizer at the entrance.
Define Max capacity levels by allowing a max of 25 to 50 people in at a time depending on your gym floor area. Have floor markers to indicate the spacing needed for proper social distancing particularly in zones where there is possibility of crowding such as the free weight training area. Come out with a system and process to ensure this.
Do no start shower facility, steam facility & group classes.
Gym Instructors and members should wear face masks all the time.
AC needs to be disabled and members need to be requested to reduce and control the training intensity while ensuring that everyone wears the mask all the time.
Purchase the Pandemic prevention tools and material well before hand.
Do not use alcohol based disinfectant as the treadmill, elliptical and other electrical equipment’s can have fire hazard.
Consult the equipment supplier on measures to be taken before starting to use the fitness equipment. The Strength machines may require oiling.
Prepare actively & thoroughly and release the prevention measures to the members beforehand to reduce their anxiety about the pandemic prevention when they step in the gym. A video demonstrating the process of disinfection and temperature measurement for members entering will help to a great extent.
Lastly do not go for discount wars in lookout for new members and business. It will not be sustainable and it will further kill the industry.
These measures will definitely help to reduce the lag time to get the business back to the pre-pandemic levels. For a copy of Sanitation Policy & a SOP (Standard Operating Procedure) for carrying out gym operations post Covid-19 Lockdown refer to our website www.intowellness.in. The policy and the procedure shall be uploaded on the website soon. You can drop a WhatsApp message for a copy of SOP on +91 72184-11777. You can use it as a baseline and you can modify it to suit your operations. The Procedure is being developed in consultation with top gym chains in US & Europe which have begun their operations, the guideline from various Industry associations such as FICCI & CII in India & the guidelines from the Government.
There have been many petition campaigns and social media drives to highlight the plight of the Fitness Industry. We should collectively approach the right platforms such as the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports, Ministry of home affairs and PMO. As an industry we should highlight the economic fallout hitting gyms and fitness clubs and should ask for very specific demands which the government can act upon. The lobbying at right levels and right platform by Fitness Industry associations and gym chains has compelled the US government to let the gyms start in the phase 1 of opening up of lock down. The government should understand that the lives & livelihoods of Gym owners and millions of trainers is at stake. For this to happen all the fitness fraternity including the Body building associations, Gym Owner associations, Fitness equipment players, Fitness Training Institutes, Digital Start-ups, Gym Chains should come to a common platform and present the situation and the implications on the fitness Industry of the current crisis to the government.
People have understood that exercise strengthens our body and builds a better immune system which is what is required to fight such infections. We are con?dent that industry will not only recover from the pandemic, it will come back even stronger than before. The Level of Penetration of Fitness will go up. Investing in health, Fitness & Wellness shall become the necessity. There will be a great boom in the fitness field and the entire fitness ecosystem will get benefited immensely from the boom.
People who wanted to start the fitness club before the lockdown and this crisis began, this is the right time to do so as the property rentals will be at their lowest, if the gym you target in such a way that your new gym gets opened in 3-4 months’ time from now then it will give a good head start with the increased number of members who will be interested in joining the Gym.
For now, we have to put in our best efforts to sustain this period of crisis after which the future of the fitness Industry is extremely bright and prosperous.
We hope that you found the above insights valuable and helpful.
If your gym has improvised and has arrived at an innovative approach to survive through this crisis please share with us at firstname.lastname@example.org so that your ideas can be used & can bene?t a wider pool of Gym owners.