The last few months have shaken up the entire world. When the pandemic first hit, industries had to immediately adapt and pivot their services online if they wanted to survive. This was of course easier in some industries (eg. retail) than others (eg. entertainment). Luckily, in the fitness industry - smaller, boutique gyms were able to pivot their services online: to mitigate the damage from closure of their brick and mortar locations and to ensure their clients were still receiving the coaching, support and accountability they needed to continue to thrive!
It was a no-brainer for us: our members always come first. We knew the moment we had to close our physical space, that we needed to continue to support our members by providing the kind of high-quality service we are known for. In this regard, to ensure our members and coaches had the tools and resources they needed to continue to be 6S-full, we offered/are still offering 1-on-1 fitness and nutrition coaching, virtual group classes, fitness and nutrition challenges and various virtual events, to name a few.
In the end, we could not be more proud of our community and all they have accomplished throughout the pandemic!
However, even though as a community we have adapted and still continued to thrive, there's still an elephant in the room which needs to be addressed.
And that is...What will fitness look like post-pandemic?
With reopening happening in some parts of the world and in Canada already, we are starting to see what different gyms are doing to adhere to government regulations. Most are as we would expect - enhanced cleaning procedures, policies to stay home if you are unwell, more frequent hand washing and dedicated workout areas to ensure social distancing protocols can be met. But, then there are images circulating around of some gyms taking things to the “next level” and installing workout boxes, like these ones…
So, what does this mean for the fitness industry post-pandemic?
Of course, it’s hard to say exactly what things will look like in the future (if only we had a crystal ball), but there are some lessons that we as leaders in the fitness industry have learned and will forever shape and change our businesses.
Bear in mind, we are looking at things from a small, boutique gym perspective. Big box gyms have a widely different business model and thus, will operate differently.
Before the pandemic hit, most gyms did not have an online program. Yet, now our feeds are full of gyms offering personal training online and virtual group classes. While the resources spent on online training are likely at its peak right now while spaces are closed, online programs are likely here to stay. Not only are they “pandemic-proof”, but gyms are learning that online programs can service those individuals outside of their specific region, can provide their current members with another service offering, can allow people to workout from home when they want etc. As more and more corporations are making the decision to shift their model to a more “work-from-home” one, it is clear that working out will likely follow the same trend. So, expect gyms (including ours) to continue delivering online programs.
Long-live 6S Online!
1-on-1 in-person training is definitely going to continue. In fact, it is likely that more and more people will switch to this model, as it provides clients with more workout space and more distance from others. The 1-on-1 model has always been successful for people with busy schedules, specific goals or for those individuals looking for a more personalized experience. And now, there are the added benefits of more space and less people. So, we predict that some group class go-ers will shift to a more hybrid membership with some 1-on-1 training or fully over to 1-on-1.
Group Class Restrictions
This is a difficult one to predict given the rapidly changing nature of the current situation. However, what we do know is that when gyms first re-open, their restrictions are going to be the greatest, and then over time, as per Government regulations and member comfort, restrictions will slowly ease. Most gyms will probably take a phased approach similar to the government. Looking at what other parts of the world and nation are doing and monitoring their success, most gyms in this area will likely follow suit : smaller class sizes, designated workout areas (we’re going to use tape btw…not walls LOL), enhanced cleaning protocols, to name a few. It’s hard to say what classes will look like 6 or 12 months down the road, so we will just need to wait and see. But, rest assured that we, at 6S, are going to work extra hard to ensure that the group class experience is just as much (if not more) fun than before. Working #inthebox won’t stop us from achieving our goals!
This is a tough one because all gyms have different sized-spaces. However, what we’re seeing are cycling studios renting out warehouses to allow for social distancing between bikes. This allows them to still hold classes that make their business profitable. Will this stay? It’s hard to say. On the other hand, in-person classes which involve mobile equipment, will definitely start smaller than usual, and in some cases (again, depending on the space), may not go back to pre-pandemic sizes. In the functional fitness space, classes of 16-20 were the norm, and while these may be possible in the future, other gyms with classes of 60-90 people may need to rethink their business model.
While most gyms have had to double or even triple their cleaning budgets, it’s likely that enhanced cleaning protocols (to some extent) are here to stay. Again, it is difficult to say what exactly the protocols will be, but be prepared to clean your own equipment. For most of us that have been in a GoodLife, we know this isn’t new (or shouldn’t be at least) for us. And yet, if you don’t know anything else, this will definitely be a change; however, nothing beats using CLEAN equipment, whether we’re in the middle of a pandemic or not. Other protocols like washing your hands and cleaning up after yourselves are likely here to stay, but would you not agree that they should stay anyways?
A Lot of smaller, boutique gyms, including ours, host regular social events to bring their communities together. Now, we cannot speak for the entire fitness community as to their plans moving forward, but what we are seeing is that gyms are still hosting events, but virtually. In most cases the attendance isn’t as great as in-person events, but it’s hard to say if that is just because people have zoom/computer fatigue or if people just do not enjoy it. Either way, when the restrictions ease up, I think it’s safe to assume that people will continue hosting in-person events (we definitely plan to!). However, virtual events - or at least a hybrid of in-person/virtual to reach those people who cannot make it into the space - are likely here to stay. If you’re at all skeptical about this, go check out the Rogue Invitational highlights!
Full disclosure : these are just some of our observations and predictions, and they by no means are definitive or 100% accurate. Whatever ends up happening in the fitness industry, as a client, you should always feel comfortable and safe. If you don’t feel comfortable going back into a gym, there are going to be other options available to you.
At 6S, our core values have not and will never change : we will continue to provide a welcoming, inclusive and fun space for people to come and enjoy the best part of their day! Things may just look a little different initially, but just as we all adapted and took action to flatten the curve during the pandemic, we have FULL confidence that the fitness industry will adapt and thrive post-pandemic.
CrossFit 6S team helping you achieve your fitness goals.