Here’s what we are seeing community gyms do in response to Covid

Howdy from Austin. We’ve shut down the Fringe gym (the only Free Gym in the US!), but we’re still shipping like crazy.

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We know our customers and friends who own community gyms are suffering.

We reached out to a few and below is what they are doing.

We offer this list so that if you own a gym, you get some ideas. We are not advocating WHAT you do- we are letting you know what others ARE doing.

Many of our client gyms are doing multiple of the below.

If you’re a member of a gym, consider keeping your membership through this Covid period. 24hr Fitness and Gold Gym will outlive Covid. It might be harder for your local community gym.

What we are seeing community gyms do in response to Covid

Staying open, fully or partially

This is a controversial choice. This article is not to discuss social responsibility or morality- just what we’re seeing out there. 

Some gyms are remaining open- and these gyms are typically putting into place sanitizer stations, increasing their cleaning of the gear, and limiting class sizes.

Some gyms are going hybrid- “mostly” closing. For example, we have a member of the US Olympic Team training out of the Fringe gym- she is allowed to continue to train. Others are not.

Staying open for members only

These gyms are not allowing drop-ins, but are allowing members to continue to train.

Staying open by appointment only

These gyms are requiring members to make appointments to use the gym. First come, first served, and with a strict limit on people in the “house” at one time.

Staying open, but limiting the equipment in use

These gyms are staying open but limiting the equipment being used. Bench press with a spotter? Gross! Out. Kettlebell swings with 6 feet of distance between all athletes at all times? Check and check.

Closing the gym to members, but creating content on youtube for members and non-members alike

Build that brand, baby! Some of the coaches and gym owners are using this period as an excuse to build up their youtube following- by streaming workouts, programming, lifestyle content, and more on their branded youtube page.

Closing the gym to members, but live streaming training for their members from the gym with their coaches

We are seeing some gyms have their coaches/trainers come in, program training that can be done at home or with minimal equipment, and live streaming the workouts. Some gyms are doing this multiple times a day.

Many gyms are using facebook live or instagram live to broadcast, and some gyms are using zoom to have interactive sessions- the coaches are actively coaching a class of clients remotely!

Closing the gym, but providing remote programming to members

Some gym owners are creating new (or using existing) private fb groups or email newsletters to provide at-home programming for their members. Hat tip to Sam Karoll of Xplore Nutrition for providing this list of 75 workouts that can be done with no or minimal equipment.

Closing the gym, but being vulnerable in their communication to members

Some owners are making like Brene Brown- being vulnerable. We are seeing these owners allow their members to cancel, pause, or suspend memberships… but they are communicating to their members that the gym has the same expenses whether members pay or not… and that the owners could use the support of their members to meet the expenses of the gym… even if it is not open.

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Closing the gym… and NOT hitting their members credit cards for the duration of time that the gym is closed

Some owners are closing their gyms, and voluntarily suspending all payments from members for the period in which the gym is not open. Seems a brave move!

Closing the gym, and creating a “hardship fund” to support the gym and coaches through this period

This one ties close to the vulnerability communication mentioned above. Some gym owners are allowing their members to pay MORE during this period to help the gym and community weather this trying time. We are seeing some owners use GoFundMe or the like, and others offer the option to just pay more through existing systems.

Closing the gym, and instituting a pricing policy that passively incentivizes people to keep paying their membership fees

In this case, owners are typically allowing members to cancel, pause, or suspend their memberships, but communicating to members something like this:

“We appreciate your support over the years. We have had some increased costs in the past year and had been planning to implement a price increase to all members as of 1 April. Our cost per month for our most popular policy is going to go from $XX per month to $YY per month. However, given the crazy circumstances, we are offering to all members who continue their membership without interruption through this period to be grandfathered in their membership at the old price. If you would like to pause your membership, of course we understand. But when you restart, we would restart you at the new, higher price.”

Closing the gym and creating a policy that actively incentivizes people to keep paying their membership fees

For the owners that are going down this road, we are seeing them offer “free” personal training, Olympic Lifting coaching, nutrition coaching, and the like to members who keep paying their dues. These additional services can often be provided by the gym and. coaches at no or small additional cost, and might be of high value to the member.

Closing the gym, but sticking to their stated policies

Some gym owners have members on contract… and are not allowing these contracts to be broken. 

Closing the gym and doing remote personal training

Similar to above options with remote training, some gym owners and coaches are using facetime, skype, and other tools to coach people in their homes.

Closing the gym and treating the gym as a “gear library”- allowing “free” rental of gear

Many owners are closing their gyms, and allowing their members to “check out” gear. The member must be continuing their membership through this period and must agree to pay for any damaged or lost gear, but they get to take home some gear for their garage.

Our clients who are doing this noted to us to make sure that their members leave a credit card on file, that they are limited in the gear they take home (leave the squat rack, please!), and they agree to return the gear timely.

Closing the gym and using this period to work on things that need upgrades

Some gym owners are painting their gyms, fixing their flooring, working on their marketing campaigns, and working on many of the other things on their to-do lists during this forced downtime.

Cutting expenses to the bone

This one almost goes without saying. Many gym owners are pulling our their financials, their credit card bills, and their bank statements and cutting everything non-essential.

Closing the gym and taking a staycation

Some of our clients were prepared for the gym-pocalypse. And some of these owners with the foresight and serendipity to be in a good situation to weather this downturn, are taking some time off.

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