I’ll never go back to the Gym again

Gym-smartphone

Sharon Terlep | Photographs by Desiree Rios for The Wall Street Journal 2021 subscription newswire.

One fitness club franchisee plans to open a dozen new locations, while a national chain is selling digital memberships.

A Pilates studio in Houston is requiring masks; a family-run gym in Indianapolis isn’t.

America’s gyms are reopening to a markedly changed fitness world as coronavirus pandemic restrictions lift.

Each business and its customers must decide how to navigate new workout habits and conflicting demands around Covid-19 safety protocols.

Some people won’t exercise in a face covering; others will only frequent a gym with a mask mandate.

Still others purchased pricey fitness machines for their homes and have spent months taking virtual classes.

“Many of our members have developed habits in a significant way, routines they never had before Covid,” said Jeff Zwiefel, chief operating officer of Life Time Inc.

I’ll never go back to the Gym again

The fitness center chain, with 150 U.S. locations, now offers a $15 monthly digital membership, where people can work out to streaming classes.

Gyms, from boutique studios to sprawling fitness centers, have been among the industries hardest hit by the public-health crisis, as concerns about people spreading the coronavirus during group exercise led to mandated shutdowns and member exoduses.

A cleaning station for gym members at a Life Time health club in West Harrison, N.Y.

The pandemic’s toll has been profound:

Nearly half of the 3 million jobs in U.S. health clubs disappeared last year along with more than half of the industry’s revenue.

Legions of independent gyms and studios have closed, crippled by state-mandated shutdowns.

Several corporate chains, including 24 Hour Fitness Worldwide Inc. and Gold’s Gym International Inc., filed for bankruptcy protection and reorganized or closed.

Those that survived are catering to a customer base now more accustomed to exercising at home and better equipped to do so.

As gyms faltered, business boomed for companies like Peloton Interactive Inc. and Nautilus Inc. that provide streaming classes and workout equipment.

Demand has been so high for Peloton exercise bikes and treadmills that customers have waited weeks for deliveries.

“I know there’s chatter of, ‘We are a stay-at-home stock, and we get back to normal and Peloton dies or whatever,’ ” John Foley, Peloton co-founder and chief executive, told investors in February.

“We obviously are taking the other side of that. Every year in the U.S., there’s been 5 million treadmills sold. So it’s not like working out at home was a Covid thing. It has always been a thing.

It’s just the products have been dopey and not connected.”

How might the coronavirus pandemic transform the fitness industry? To find out, WSJ spoke with the CEO of Planet Fitness, an independent gym owner, and an industry analyst to learn about what we can expect for the future of fitness. (Video from 9/11//20)

Gym owners and industry experts say the fitness landscape is likely forever changed by the pandemic.

When the Covid-19 risk passes, they say, the business of fitness will increasingly become a mashup of bricks-and-mortar and online virtual offerings, much like the coronavirus-hastened evolution of retail, office work and education.

“At-home will become a part of the fitness ecosystem, it’s going to have an outsized platform,” said BMO analyst Simeon Siegel. “But for the vast majority of people, the fitness industry will still revolve around bricks-and-mortar.

Heading into the pandemic, the U.S. had roughly 40,000 health clubs generating $35 billion in annual revenue, according to the International Health, Racquet & Sports club Association.

At the end of 2020, the industry has lost $20.4 billion in revenue, while about 6,400 clubs—17% of the total—closed permanently.

A recent survey by consulting firm McKinsey & Co. found that 68% of those who started using an online fitness program during the pandemic said they planned to continue for the long term.

The survey of 2,024 adults was conducted Nov. 9-13, 2020.

Crunch fighting back with smartphone based APP marketing and QR technology.

Geoff Dyer, owner of more than two dozen Crunch Fitness franchises in Georgia and Florida, said Covid-19 won’t change Americans’ gym habits for the long term.

A Crunch membership, starting at $9.95 a month, is cheaper than many online subscriptions.

Mr. Dyer said his membership is almost at the same level it was before the pandemic. He said he is opening another dozen locations in the next year, including four that will replace now-shut 24 Hour Fitness clubs.

Crunch offers streaming workouts, but they aren’t popular, he said, but we are working on new ideas, especially dedicated APPs that dont have to be downloaded from the APP store.

Crunch have adapted advanced QR technology, connecting bespoke work outs with low levels of Gym equipment to live streams and video.

Notifications off the APP constantly remind clients whats available.

Dyer is also adding SMS to the portfolio, for the more up market clients who like a personal connection.

“It’s hard to replace the excitement of a live class, and there’s a huge barrier to entry if you’ve got to pay $2,500 to get that bike,” he said, referring to Peloton, which sells bikes starting at $1,895.

Amid Covid-19, he said, “we realized people were desperate to get back to the gym.”

Exercise bikes are spaced out to maintain social distancing at a Life Time health club in West Harrison, N.Y.

All but one state—South Dakota—shut down gyms last spring as the pandemic took hold, and others have fully or partially closed gyms for varying durations.

By last month, California, the only state remaining with a blanket order keeping gyms closed, started allowing facilities to reopen with various restrictions.

Gyms allowed to open in many cases face restrictions that range from cost-prohibitive for businesses to off-putting for some members, including capacity limits as low at 10%, outdoor-only classes and mask mandates.

Ardizzone & Nalley Gym in Indianapolis shut down for about 10 weeks in the spring and has been open since, and doesn’t require members to wear masks.

The gym, opened 42 years ago by owner Tony Ardizzone, has a big base of elderly members, including many who say they won’t return until they are vaccinated.

“The older people are more fearful and more cautious and vulnerable, and young people are less so,” he said.

Other customers were so eager to be in the gym even at the height of the pandemic, he said, that he had to confiscate keys they were using to get in despite the gym being closed.

In Texas, as soon as Gov. Greg Abbott announced in early March that the state would allow all businesses to fully reopen and lift its mask mandate, many customers of Houston-based Citizen Pilates called and messaged founder Jess Hughes asking her to keep rules requiring masks in class and maintain 6 feet of space between machines, she said.

Sharon Terlep | Photographs by Desiree Rios for The Wall Street Journal 2021 subscription newswire.

My Gym is working out.

As a Gym owner for 4 years now, I asked my girlfriend to write some marketing spiel for the campaigns we used on our email newsletter.

Goddammit , she didn’t write the newsletter she wrote something to me.

She put it on the refrigerator, it was her perception of my Gym business plus some observations in our relationship no doubt!

  1. Book Keeping
  2. Keeping good employees
  3. No time off
  4. Mentally exhausted
  5. Dealing with competitors
  6. Dealing with people
  7. Landlords
  8. Social media reviews

I am sure its the same for every business, its not easy, but something sprung to mind.

If social media is so damn important these days, how can we use that to our Gym members benefit ?

After hiring a part time social media evangelist, we began to get more enquiries, but not necessarily more business.

We set about finding what was wrong.

Gym-abbs-apps

On our newsletter we conducted a poll asking subscribers if we could improve our monthly newsletter.

An underlying swell of dissatisfaction came back, it wasn’t the Gym, it wasn’t the information we were publishing.

One lady member said our newsletter was “prescriptive and short on shareable stuff

That unlocked a piece of information we had never thought of.

I was initially upset by some of the replies, but gradually, with my girlfriends help, we began to discover that we were not publishing for their Smartphone needs.

Or to put it another way, the Smartphone actually has a user, its a human being that we had been ignoring.

We were publishing for the Gym not the person.

My Gym is working out.

In other words, they were looking for shareable information with their buddies on social media.

Back links to our website wasn’t doing it for them.

The newsletter statistics showed reasonable readership, but very poor interaction that led to new business.

No click throughs on stuff we thought were important, we were out of touch.

“It’s as if we were missing the kudos my customers were looking for in their social media presence”

We were miscommunicating !

My Gym is working out.

They wanted Smartphone shareable information and not on a monthly basis.

A daily basis.

Gym

This is my Gym and my health statement.

We rebranded our mindset based on this statement that now adorns the fridge !!

“I want to share my investment in my social circles and I need the information to do that”

2021 we have it all to play for, we want to survive and grow.

We SMS everyday.

We send notifications sometimes twice a day.

Free weekday guest member.

We have completely revamped our APP subscription options.

And improved the smartphone reservation system.

Removed contracts and gone paperless.

We respond in the chat room immediately and answer form page enquiries within 2 minutes.

Focused on a shareable digital loyalty card for the Smartphone.

We push out a relentless offering of promotional vouchers and deal coupons that are Smartphone redeemable and social media shareable.

We let social media do the rest.


Follow:

Newswire.

Dean Paul gyms. El Paso.

Inactive Gym communications cost client memberships.

Brian De Beer

With so much change and uncertainty brought about by the consequences of Covid exacerbated by fake news.

Then you have the clients mindset questioning the value of a long term membership and the fear that exercise interruptus will recur.

Your Salespeople are Hot.

But Looks Don’t Sign Gym Contracts !

Brian de Beer talks to Maltix PWA.

Thought Leader: Brian de Beer.

Brian created the 1st sales force in the world, where 80% of the sales were generated by 80% of the sales people with over 1000 sales people in 8 different countries.

Your gym sales staff – You can MOTIVATE them (which lasts a while) or you can SCARE them (which generally backfires).

The real challenge is to change their ATTITUDE because that’s what lasts.

Contrary to popular opinion, sexy looks and flirtatious personalities do NOT bring in new gym membership contracts.

In fact, the introverted personalities who diligently follow the same process every day, close the most deals – because they flex the right muscles!

Regular customer communication process focusing on the Smartphone is key.

Gyms have high sales staff turnover – 80% of gym sales staff are inconsistent and underperforming. This isn’t because their sales skills are shocking but because their activity isn’t controlled. As a result their leads are also seriously lacking. The long and short of it is that there is no simple way to manage each individual and to track performance – at least not without the right assistance.

The ONLY thing that you can control as a sales manager of gym sales staff is how many people they speak to. It’s not about walk-ins, it’s about walking the right talk.

I have trained over 20,000 salespeople in gyms across 15 countries. From Virgin Active to Fitness First. Surprisingly, some of the best salespeople that emerged were accountants, nurses and teachers. Not surprisingly, sales success is about discipline and process and not about your personality type or how gregarious you are.

  1. You can’t depend on walk-ins to get results

    It would be awesome if new members would just walk into your gym in droves all by themselves and epic sales would happen automatically. But let’s be real… it’s just not going to happen.
    As with a six-pack and big guns, you need to put in the work.
    No solution and zero strategies equal an empty gym.

  1. A CV doesn’t give you the true story

    The little blurb written on the back of a DVD cover rarely does the movie inside any justice. The same goes for a CV or job application.
    A resumé tells you what you want to hear and not necessarily what the salesperson’s potential is.
    False advertising freaks everybody out, so don’t set yourself up to fall for it.

  1. Company goals and individual goals are not aligned

    Most people are in it to win it for themselves. They don’t care what your company goals are, “what’s in it for me?”, is the mantra for most of us.
    Don’t put company goals before individual goals or you’ll come off second best – guaranteed.

  1. You don’t have to be a sweet talker to sell contracts

    It’s more than just sweet-talking that wimpy guy into a contract by promising him Schwarzenegger results. It’s about consistency and a decent plan being put in place. You’re not trying to con people, you’re looking for long-term customers.
    Discipline sells more than charm.

  1. The only constant is inconsistent sales

    Great salespeople are as common as sweat on a treadmill. But without the right management, discipline and systems in place, they fail or are inconsistent at best.
    They’re not selling dodgy cars here. They’re selling wellbeing and a quality lifestyle. They should act like it.