On March 16, 2019, I opened Studio Hustle, my TRX-based fitness studio. On March 16, 2020, I locked up my studio for the foreseeable future. It was a hell of an anniversary celebration. Like most fitness business owners around the world, I’ve had to pivot to 100% online workouts in response to the coronavirus pandemic. I had mere hours to figure out how to operate a new tech platform, get all our existing customers to transition over, and hope that my business would still be there on the other side of this. If you’re trying to do the same, it can feel overwhelming. In order to stay in business, try to focus, stay calm & consider these next 5 tips:
1. SET YOUR CLIENTS UP WITH EQUIPMENT FOR HOME WORKOUTS
Your clients or members are going to need easy-to-use and versatile equipment. For instance, things like the TRX Suspension Trainer (which I obviously love), Slam Balls, and other Functional Training Tools. Keep in mind that a lot of people have lost their jobs or have seen their income significantly reduced, so offering alternative equipment recommendations at various price points or directing them to household items they could use in place of a traditional piece of equipment is an easy way to stay sensitive to individual circumstances. You can also allow clients to rent or “check out” your equipment. Then program your workouts accordingly so that they need minimal equipment to participate.
2. CUT YOUR RATES...NOW
In order to save your vulnerable members or clients, you will most likely need to cut your usual rates. I know this seems harsh since you’re probably already losing money, but saving your customers money will help them right now and possibly keep them from dropping their memberships or packages completely. They’ll appreciate it and remember it in the future.
3. ESTABLISH A NEW REGULAR SCHEDULE FOR WORKOUTS
Less is more right now. Pick 2 - 4 days per week and specific times so people know when to expect their workouts. Stick with your most successful class days/times for familiarity. With most video conferencing apps you can schedule live workouts for people to join in real time, and simultaneously record the workout to send out to your clients later. According to Psychology Today, one of the recommended ways to maintain sanity and sense of self during Social Distancing and Shelter in Place is to “Stick with the same schedule [you had] before the crisis. For example: If [you] used to work out after work, once [your] remote workday is over, do an online workout.” Similarly, offering live workouts during your most popular pre-COVID times and offering recorded workouts, allows people the option to connect with you and others if they’re feeling lonely, but also gives flexibility if they need to complete the workouts on a schedule that makes them feel comfortable.
TRX’s version of this is TRX Live, which includes two live workouts streamed over Facebook at 9am and 5pm every weekday - with the option to watch past workouts on their website. Again, all of this stuff helps create a certain level of consistency - which folks are craving in these uncertain times.
4. KEEP UP A CONSISTENT COMMUNICATION CHANNEL
Speaking of consistency, whatever emails or workouts you’re deploying need to arrive on a regular schedule so people know when to expect them. This conveys professionalism and assurance. I send out studio emails every Sunday night at 6pm. These emails contain the days, times, and focus of each workout for the upcoming week. Each recorded workout link that gets sent out also contains the invitation link to join the next workout of that week so people can plan around it and easily add it to their calendars.
5. BE AUTHENTIC & COMPASSIONATE
It’s great to be upbeat and positive to keep the morale up among your staff and members, but know that you don’t have to be “on” all the time. Our worlds have all been turned upside down. Your customers may have lost jobs, they’re missing their friends and families, and a lot are trying to work from home while also facilitating their children’s schooling, which is exhausting. Their need to connect is high right now, so leaving some time before or after workouts online to chat is a good idea. Checking in with your clients via phone call, text, or email is also helpful right now.
This whole situation is hard and scary, but those of us that are still around are all doing what we do best: adapting to survive. Showing your clients that you’re in control of what can be controlled and that you’re here for them if they need you will keep them confident in your abilities to run the business as well as offer comfort and support during this time.
Keep your chin up everybody, you’ve got this.
Ami McMullen is a TRX Master Instructor and Owner of Studio Hustle in Louisville, Kentucky. She’s taught nearly 250 education courses and has presented at professional conferences in 5 countries. Follow her on instagram @fitwithflash and check out some of her online classes.