Right now, during days of uncertainty, stress, and business closures, fitness club and gym owners have a unique opportunity to engage with members outside of the gym. With different technologies available to you, you can still make the most out of this situation by engaging members through other means.
With the application of technology, and combined with the best practices covered in this article, you can retain your members through this time of crisis by showing them the value you offer, even without access to your physical location. Before we get into exactly how to keep members engaged, we want to share a short word on why communicating clearly with members is important and how to best approach this challenge.
Communicating Clearly With Your Members
The most important items to communicate with your members are updates from the CDC for the latest recommendations in curbing the spread of COVID-19. The CDC will also update on cases by nation and state, so be sure to note how that will affect your business hours. With many local governments locking down gyms and studios for the time-being, it is imperative to be transparent with your members on what protocol they should expect during the shut-down.
For example, have answers ready for questions such as “If I cannot use the facility, how does this affect my membership plan” and “How can I still get my money’s worth during social distancing,” and make sure that all your employees know how to respond to such inquiries so that the team is providing consistent information.
When engaging in member communication during these next few weeks, ensure that you maintain an optimistic and encouraging tone in your messaging to communicate support and the idea that we are all in this together. There will likely be a lot of anxiety and stress in the air during this time, so maintaining a calm tone and offering clear actionable next steps will be essential.
Why You Should Engage Members During a Crisis
If you are experiencing reduced check-ins due to social distancing, simply employing higher levels of sanitization at your gym will not be enough. Instead, consider following CDC guidelines of social distancing and encourage your members to stay at-home. By offering value to your members outside the parameters of your facility, you can make proactive contributions to your members, your business, and the community.
We suggest taking the opportunity of moving to digital as soon as you can. Not only does it show your members that you care about their safety and well-being by asking them to stay home, but it also shows your initiative in finding alternative solutions that comply with CDC regulations. The hope is that with enough people staying home, the sooner this crisis will be over, and the faster normal business can resume.
5 Tips for Member Communication
The Gleantap team has put together 5 specific campaigns you can utilize to keep members engaged while at home. Whether or not you actually use them is up to you, but these are at the very least a jumping off point for other ways to engage members.
1. Send at-home workout plans & nutrition plans
With everyone being stuck at home due to social distancing, there’s never been a better time to get started with an at-home workout plan. But, how are you supposed to maintain engagement when your members could find their own workouts online with a few simple searches? Well, it’s easy: be their main source of information and encouragement. Take a look at the example below of an SMS campaign that shows how to do this:
Hey Dan, cooped up at home for the next few weeks? No problem! Simply follow this basic workout plan we put together to stay healthy and keep your immune system up. We’ll be in touch next week with your next workout and we’d love to hear about your progress!
Similar to sending personalized workout plans is sending custom nutrition plans and providing nutritional guidance. This angle is catered to the members who are not into heavy workout schedules but still want some aspect of ‘being healthy’ in their life. The following is an SMS campaign that is directed towards this need:
Hey Emily, stuck at home and not sure how to stay healthy on your own? We have an idea! Forget those fad diets and instead simply follow the custom nutritional plan we built around your lifestyle, relationship with food, and preferences. We’ll be in touch next week to check in with you on your health journey!
Establishing a back-and-forth with your members will be critical to make sure they know you care about them. This is not a time for over-automation, but for showing that you care enough to personalize each message. Building up your value now will be how you retain members in the long-term.
2. Stream online classes
Along with providing workouts to them, another avenue for member engagement is to stream online classes. Some gyms have already begun doing this and more will soon follow suit, but this is an excellent way to keep both your employees and members engaged. Here’s an example of how communication regarding a live-stream would work:
Howdy Fitness Friends! To help you stay in shape while at home, we will be streaming online classes every day at 10am and 2pm. Our instructors will lead you through different exercises and answer any questions that you might have. Can’t make it at those times? No worries, we’ll be uploading the recorded version the next day so you won’t miss out!
“But where do I go to stream my classes?” A good question. Thankfully, there are plenty of options to choose from. Platforms such as Zoom, Facebook, YouTube, and others are helping fitness companies engage with their members. And then, if you want to upload the video of the class later, you can do that as well for future engagement!
3. Schedule one-on-one calls with trainers
Maintaining fitness goals is going to be one of the largest concerns for your members during this time of social distancing. Rather than wait for them to tell you they are having trouble keeping up with their fitness goals, which will likely happen when stuck at home, proactively schedule one-on-one calls with trainers to give them guidance.
Hey Gina, hope you are doing well. Our trainer Julia would like to sit down with you for a one-on-one call to assess your goals and create a plan for staying fit over the next few weeks. Would you have time this week for a quick call?
By simply asking them if they can sit down for a quick call, you are showing them that 1), you care, and 2), maintaining goals is possible. It will be up to you and your trainers on what recommendations you would like to make to them, but providing this level of guidance will not only keep them engaged, but it will give you even greater insight into their wants and needs.
4. Create an at-home exercise contest
One thing we haven’t discussed yet that can often get lost with training outside the gym is a sense of community. Sure, your members might notice their friends from the gym are watching the same live-stream, but your members will likely miss contact with others in the sense of being in the same room as them. This is why we recommend building community with competitive spirit by holding an at-home exercise contest. Here’s an example of how that would work:
Hi there Fitness Team! Even though we are all at home doesn’t mean we can’t have some fun. For the next two weeks, we’ll be holding an exercise challenge to see who can complete the most reps during your at-home workouts. We’ll be keeping track through our Facebook page, so follow us there for more rules on how to keep track of your progress!
There are lots of different avenues for hosting this contest, but a social media page like Facebook would be ideal so that community members can engage with you and each other. This would allow you to post updates, share tips, and even stream workouts as part of the contest all in one place.
Try to get as many of your members involved as you can and, if necessary, divide up the contest into different metrics to try and include everyone in the process. The more people that get involved, the more competition there will be, and hopefully, more engagement as well.
5. Encourage outdoor training
Finally, a tried and true engagement strategy for members outside the gym is encouragement to train outdoors. While this may depend upon your region, this season of the year is typically conducive to working out outside. Create and share a list of workouts suited for outdoors with your members and help them boost their immune systems in the process.
Hey Jason, did you know that you can use the outdoors to your advantage when training? Outdoor exercise has proven benefits that you can’t get at the gym. Plus, you don’t have to worry about social distancing when going on a jog! Visit our website for a full rundown of outdoor exercises you can take advantage of today.
Since being outside (but still away from others) is a recommended way for staying healthy during the Covid-19 outbreak, this option is a no brainer. Being outside will not only help put your members in a better mood, but it will diversify their at-home exercise options, something that will be critical in the coming days.
Your state and county departments also provide frequent updates. Please check with your local health agencies regularly for updated next steps. Keep these in mind when sending out communications during this time.
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And don’t miss our webinar next week on this exact subject!
Co-Founder, Gleantap & Mastera