The fitness industry has been turned upside down by COVID-19. And as many studios and group fitness instructors emerge from the pandemic, there are lessons learned for us all. We thought it would be helpful to shed some light on what fitness business owners like you say is top of mind as they rebuild and get ready to thrive in 2021.
What are some of the biggest trends among fitness business owners in 2021?
One of the best ways to regain customers and begin to build a loyal membership base is by creating and promoting special programs and fitness challenges. A good rule of thumb when generating your program’s theme and content is to think about what your customers need and crave most right now – from weight loss to stress relief.
Challenges and special programs work because they combine the motivation and discipline of participating in a group with the fun of socializing and being able to measure progress. Gym software like Punchpass makes it easy for both you and your customers to enjoy these programs.
According to Laura Bunker, REFIT instructor and owner of SupaChick Fitness: “I try to run special incentives or challenges each month to keep people engaged. There’s usually something that includes bringing a new friend. In April, we did a 'Total Request April'. March was 'March Madness'. In May, we had a special Mother’s Day brunch and some perks for the special moms in our lives.”
Here are a few successful programs launched by fitness business owners this year:
Studio 4 the Willing: Health Coaching for Health Gain by Weight Loss Video Course, and personal coaching along with virtual fitness classes in four formats.
Fit with Shaver: Currently offering a Summer Shape Up, eight weeks of strength training from home via Punchpass.
Yoga Okaboji: Offering outdoor yoga classes on the shore of the local lake when weather is warm.
Studio 1 Dance Fitness: To help build a stronger sense of community, the owners create opportunities for members to socialize outside of our classes.
Central Yoga School: June Introductory Weekend. Yoga Study Group. June Retreat.
Ignite Yoga: A book club, monthly workshops (Benefits of Hip Opening Poses, Meditation for Transformation), monthly mini yoga class videos.
Punchpass users from around the world reported in our recent survey of 2021 fitness trends that their largest attendance of group fitness classes is online. Many experienced fitness instructors and studio owners continue to market and offer their services through live, on-demand and hybrid classes.
Ignite Yoga isn’t sure they’ll ever stop offering online yoga class options.
“Too many people like the convenience of online,” according to studio owner Bobbi Billman.
“I don’t know that I’ll ever go back to ‘normal,’ like we used to do things,” she said. “The hybrid experience and offering online options and a content library has been a huge business changer for me.”
According to Anna at Studio 1 Dance Fitness: “It's important to us that we offer our classes in person most of the time, as this is how we can ensure we maintain the highest level of quality. However, we have recognized that offering some form of online experience would be a great source of revenue for us. We intend to film our classes using high quality equipment, and make the videos available online as a subscription service.”
And some fitness business owners pivoted 100% to online classes and programs and don’t plan to go back to bricks and mortar at all.
“I turned from all in-person to all virtual and will remain,” said Debbi Robertson, coach and owner of Studio 4 the Willing. “I’m finding I can reach more people due to no location restraints.”
As fitness businesses emerge from the pandemic, many gyms, yoga studios and other fitness facilities that offer group exercise classes are struggling under health and safety regulations that limit capacity.
Yoga studio owner, Bill O’Connor at Hot Yoga Burlington in Vermont has found a way to keep total numbers up by increasing the total number of classes offered.
“Because class size is greatly limited we have filled the schedule with classes all day long,” he said.
Be mindful when scheduling class times to build enough time between sessions to allow for cleaning and sanitizing the room, props and equipment and common spaces such as locker rooms.
From the start of the pandemic when fast, clear communication channels were essential, to this time of community re-building, email has been one of the best ways for fitness business owners to connect with new and existing customers. It’s ease and effectiveness make it one of the top ways owners use Punchpass for marketing, according to our survey.
“We've really enjoyed using the reporting features to create lists of customers that we can reach out to via email,” said Anna at Studio 1 Dance Fitness. “We are happy that we can export lists of email addresses from Punchpass that we can easily import into Mailchimp.”
Bill at Hot Yoga Burlington agrees that using Punchpass to identify specific lists of customers has been a pillar of his studio’s marketing outreach: “It has become invaluable and extremely easy to initiate and use.”
While the road ahead is still somewhat uncertain, one thing is clear: No matter what is to come, the creativity, resilience and determination of the Punchpass family of businesses continues to inspire, and proves once again that we are truly in this together!