We are all in uncharted territory, with gym owners all over the country scrambling to figure out how to manage in the face of a pandemic.
If your gym is closing temporarily, it's important you take steps to keep your community together and foster goodwill among your members. What you do now will impact how your members behave in the coming weeks.
Lending Out Your Equipment
When your gym shuts down you want to make sure your members can keep working out and they keep turning to you as a source of fitness expertise. Lending out small pieces of equipment to your members is a generous, community-minded act that will keep them connected to your gym and will help build the positive feelings they already have about you as a business owner.
Ben Timm is the owner of Double Barrel Fitness in San Marcos, California and a member of the UpLaunch team. In advance of his gym temporarily closing, he used the UpLaunch Broadcast Center and social media to let his members know they can check out equipment. They can't just back their trucks up to the gym and take what they want -- he put some rules and guidelines in place.
"We are letting current members check out dumbbells, slam balls, wall balls, and plates," Ben said.
"They are allowed no more than two pieces of equipment, and no more than one of the same piece of equipment. So each person can take one 35 lb. dumbbell, not two," he said.
He isn't allowing anyone to take Assault Bikes, rowers, or barbells. With 250 members, he has to limit the amount of equipment that goes out of the door. The system is first come first served, and everyone who borrows a piece of equipment records their name and what they took home in a chart at the front desk.
A few former members saw his announcement on social media and reached out to ask if they could pay him to check out equipment. In this case, he's asking people who aren't currently members to give him a current credit card number to keep on file. If they don't return the equipment within three days after they reopen, he'll charge them $50 or the cost of the equipment, whichever is more.
Use This Time for Maintenance & Communication
Ben said he's planning on using this time for gym maintenance. He's been wanting to paint the gym's ceiling, so he'll begin by tackling that project. If you don't have the funds to take on any improvement projects, you can spend time deep-cleaning your gym. It's also a good time to ramp up your communication with your members. Just because you're closed, that doesn't mean you want to stop reaching out! Write blog posts, send emails and text messages, create nutrition plans -- anything that helps the health and well-being of your members.
If you plan on continuing to pay your coaches, assign them members and ask them to check in with those members individually. Find out what they're doing to work out, how they are eating, and how they are feeling. Social distancing doesn't mean cutting off contact completely!
Be Flexible With Affected Members
If you continue to offer your members value by lending out equipment and programming home workouts, it's likely they won't cancel or pause their memberships. However, people directly affected by restaurant and business closures might not be able to keep paying their membership. Ben said he is offering a temporary membership deferment to any of his members directly affected by closures. He'll stop charging them for the moment, and then give them six months to pay back the missed months.
"Even if I retain 15% of the people who would otherwise cancel, it's worth it," Ben said.