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Part 1: Planning and preparing for your studio’s reopening after COVID-19

In Part 1 of this series on welcoming your clients back to the studio after COVID-19, we spoke to Josh Leve, Founder and CEO of the Association of Fitness Studios, about what studio owners should do now to plan, prepare and market their businesses in an altered fitness landscape.

Watch the video for the full interview or read the key takeaways below.

Steps studio owners could take before reopening

“Most importantly, it’s going to come down to trust. At the end of the day, a consumer who's going to come back into your facility needs to understand that you have their best interests in mind before they even get to your door,” Josh says.

That means being clear and transparent about what’s changing at your studio, what your new cleaning protocols are, and what social distancing measures you’ll be putting in place to keep them safe. You should be communicating all of this with your clients via your website, email and social media before your studio reopens.

Once they get to your studio, they’ll be aware of these measures, and they won’t be surprised when you explain them again in-person or via signs posted around the space. You want to make sure clients are aware and mindful of the new rules for everyone’s sense of ease and safety.

Reopening your studio? Here are some best practices:

  • Clean high-touch surfaces frequently, especially before and after every client
  • Wash hands frequently and tell clients who are sick to stay home
  • Make hand sanitizer available before clients walk in your door
  • Reduce class sizes and rearrange your equipment so there’s sufficient space between clients
  • Increase ventilation and airflow if possible, especially by opening doors and windows
  • Reduce the number of classes per day to ensure there is no crossover between clients
  • Continue communicating with clients about these changes

Find more resources like these on the AFS website >
Read our suggestions for keeping Merrithew® equipment clean >

How to market your business now to reach and retain clients

“In this new normal, there are other opportunities from a marketing side of things. In the fitness industry, we talk about the 80-20 rule: 80% of the population don’t work out, 20% do. Now with virtual training, you have the ability to find a client or consumer who in the past might never have wanted to work out. There’s a convenience factor now too. If you have already started offering online training or you have cameras at your facility, you’re already set-up to continue delivering this,” Josh says.

Since your studio will likely only be operating at 50% capacity for some time, but your expenses will be the same, if not higher because of the increased cleaning expense, you should find ways to continue to offer that hybrid model, with in-person classes at your studio and virtual workouts online, Josh suggests.

Right now, there are three types of fitness consumers:

  • Eager clients: This group is sick of working out at home and can’t wait to get back to the studio. You won’t need to market to them.
  • On-the-fence clients: This group is hesitant, but eager to get back to their regular classes. They won’t be the first through the door, but they’ll be paying close attention to see how your studio communicates and implements its cleaning protocols and if these make them feel safe. Your content and communications should instill calm, confidence, leadership and knowledge of best practices.
  • Online-only clients: This group took to the convenience of online workouts while at home and they want to keep that up. These clients may be totally new to your studio and may either be located too far away to visit in-person or may not be able to join because of health reasons. Either way, this market is worth investing in to help you generate some additional revenue while your studio is at half capacity.

Read Part 2 of this series here >

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