The COVID-19 zeitgeist has permanently changed the fitness industry as we once knew it. Gone are the days that gyms and fitness studios could rely solely on traditional brick-and-mortar business. To stay competitive and relevant in today’s digital climate, it’s imperative that gyms, health clubs and fitness studios adapt to meet the increasing demand for online health and fitness services. In fact, ACSM’s Worldwide Survey of Fitness Trends for 2021 reports the no.1 trend for this year is “online training”—up from the no.26 spot just last year.
While it’s been a challenging time for business owners in the fitness industry, with every challenge also comes opportunity. Here are five business ideas you should consider implementing this year:
1. Amp up your online products and services
Although it may seem obvious at this point, there’s a good reason to keep this top-of-mind. When non-essential business owners were forced to suspend operations last year amid nationwide shutdowns, many scrambled to figure out how to shift their products and services to an online model as quickly as possible, without having sufficient time to figure out how to deliver products and services in the best way possible. Even though health and fitness businesses are allowed to operate from their physical locations once again, the demand for on-demand and online services isn’t going away any time soon. That being said, customers now expect high quality digital offerings, so it’s a good time to make sure that’s what you’re delivering to your client base.
You may also want to consider expanding your online products and services. For example, if you’re a personal trainer, you might consider creating a fitness blog where you provide personal training tips, tricks and resources. In addition to giving added value to your existing client base, launching a fitness blog can also help you position yourself as an industry expert, establish credibility and attract new clients.
2. Consider a permanent hybrid model
Over the past year, many people have grown accustomed to working—and working out—from home. And while some customers flocked to health and fitness businesses as soon as they reopened, others have opted to continue their wellness routines from home for the time being. The good news is, 75% of consumers say they will eventually return to pre-pandemic routines and the actual gym, but many indicated they will also retain a virtual component. If you have the resources to do so, it’s wise to consider a permanent hybrid model so you can continue to fulfill the needs of a larger customer base.
3. Keep health and safety at the forefront
If you’re responsible for managing a physical fitness space, it’s critical to keep health and safety at the forefront of your operations. By now, you should have a clearly defined and well-communicated strategy in place to ensure you’re adhering to your state’s requirements and keeping everyone as safe as possible. If you have a mask-wearing policy, make sure that information is posted and visible from both outside and inside your facility. If you haven’t already done so, you may also want to consider highlighting your company’s health and safety practices and posting that information on signs around your gym, as well as to your website and social media pages to help everyone feel more at ease.
4. Host virtual fitness competitions & challenges
A little friendly competition has always been a good way to keep members motivated and working toward their fitness goals, especially during certain times of the year—for example, around the New Year and summer time. While the logistics need to be handled a little differently now, you should still keep hosting fitness challenges about once a quarter. What the challenges entail and how they are structured will vary by the nature of your business, but it’s always a smart idea to incorporate refer-a-friend incentives to encourage members to invite their friends to join your facility.
5. Focus on total body health and fitness
This year, the concepts of fitness and wellness will continue to merge as society is redefining what it means to be healthy from a holistic standpoint. New considerations focus on balancing diet and nutrition, mental health, and physical activity—as opposed to focusing solely on weight loss or muscle gain. More people are also starting to view health and wellness as a lifestyle choice that requires ongoing effort, so there has been—and will continue to be—an increased interest in health coaching. If you’re qualified to do so, consider offering online health coaching services to help educate your client base on the importance of total body health and fitness, and what they can do to achieve that.
We expect the fitness industry will continue to evolve throughout this year, generating an even greater demand for online products and services. If you decide any of the business ideas we covered in this blog are a viable option for you, start working on your business plan to define how you will translate the idea into action.
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