COVID has impacted our lives in so many ways. We’ve had to completely change how we do certain things, as lockdown meant we were only allowed out of the house once a day, with shops and services being shut down. One of these establishments was the gym, with many having to adjust to training alone in their home.
However, now that gyms are reopening and our lives are going back to normal, or at least a ‘new normal’, the next few months are crucial in determining whether your clients choose to work out from their house permanently, or return to the gym. Luckily, there are a few elements you can consider to encourage people to get back to your gym.
1. Up your email marketing game
It’s time to dust off that mailing list and make sure you inform your clients that you’re reopening. If they aren’t aware of your new schedule, trainers and equipment — let alone the fact you’re back in business in the first place — the question of whether they should go back to the gym isn’t going to be on their minds. Consider sending out a newsletter on a regular basis, outlining your classes, perks, and any other information that your clients will find enticing or useful. Pay attention to your emails, ensuring that they are well-written and nice-looking — you can even consider freshening up your branding for your grand reopening. Pick an inviting subject line, make use of headers and graphics, and create content that will be interesting and add value to your clients. We recommend using one of the many incredible email marketing tools available nowadays, as they can save you a lot of time and effort and also provide you with templates and systems that will ensure you’re compliant with GDPR, for example
2. Reassure people
The pandemic was stressful, and it’s not over yet. People are more and more concerned about hygiene, and they will continue to be in the long-term, too. What kind of measures do you have in place to protect your clients from coronavirus? Inform them through marketing emails and calls to your regulars, and also consider whether there’s space for further adjustments. Check out big gyms and the efforts they’ve placed into their COVID-safety regulations and try to learn from them. PureGym, for example, has done a fantastic job adapting to the new normal, as well as publicising their efforts to anyone willing to listen. They introduced safety measures such as extensive cleaning, safe distancing between machines, and self-cleaning stations.
However, it’s not just about the virus. An official gym offers protection that no home gym can allow for. Working out at home means your clients have no professional to adjust them and make sure they’re performing the workout in a safe manner. What’s more, the equipment at your gym is top-notch, there’s enough space to exercise without worrying about injury, and even if the worst happens, you have insurance to guarantee they get a payout. While, if a client injures themselves while working out in their own house, they do so at their own risk. Your gym can offer them protection, and you should shout it from the rooftops.
3. Point out the benefits
After so long out of the gym, many people have forgotten the benefits of working out in a dedicated place. The best way to draw them back to you is to jog their memory about why they used to frequent your establishment so often. When they work out at home, they’re alone. They pick their own workout regime, and they have no one to push them to challenge themselves. At the gym, even if they don’t go to a class or a session with a PT, there’s still people around, which is reason enough to avoid cutting corners. There’s also the atmosphere of adrenaline that immediately gets you in the mood, which is sorely lacking at home where distractions are aplenty. Although some people don’t like to be around people when they work out, the benefits outweigh the cons.
The change of scenery is important too, and encourages people to spend their time at the gym working out, instead of checking their phones (well, maybe other than a cheeky selfie every once in a while). It’s a space for exercise exclusively, unlike their living room. Not to mention the fact it gets people out of their house, breaking up their day and creating a routine that motivates them. Then, of course, you have more and better equipment which they can make use of to spice up their practice and diversify their workout.
4. Offer an incentive
The two main reasons clients may prefer to stick to their home exercise routine are the convenience (no opening and closing times, no commute, no adhering to class times) and the cost. By offering an incentive, you can reduce the expense, create a sense of urgency in returning to the gym, and remind your clients why they chose you in the first place.
To do so, you can set up a new class bundle, have a discounted membership price for the first three months, or hand out a free protein shake or smoothie with each visit. Whatever it is, make sure you’re advertising it to both your current and prospective clients, because an offer no one knows about is worthless. You could also consider hosting an event, auction or special workout day to entice people to come in and get an idea of what they miss about the gym.
5. Refine your online presence
All of that said, the fact more people are willing to exercise at home isn’t necessarily bad for your business. If your clients visit your facility a few days a week on average, now they are more likely to still get a short workout in even if they don’t have time to hit the gym. This means you have an opportunity to tap into their home workouts through social media and your website. By creating live online classes for a small fee or as part of the subscription you’re offering, you can gain even more customer loyalty. This in turn encourages a hybrid routine of both attending the gym physically and working out at home with the help of a professional trainer. You can also upload free content to your social media accounts — for example, short 10-minute workouts to YouTube or a one minute stretch routine for TikTok — which can show your expertise as well as advertise it. It also demonstrates that you’re not only looking for money, but you’re on a mission to help people get fitter.
Embracing the new normal is the best way to retain and win new clients to your gym, so make sure you’re thinking carefully about your customers’ state of mind, what they’re looking for, and what their concerns are. By simply being conscious and caring about them, you will encourage them to come back.