Gyms across the country have been forced to close, like all other non-essential businesses, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result, gym owners are left with unpaid dues, rent and equipment lease payments to make, and no one walking through their doors.
Many gym trainers and instructors have taken to their social media accounts and email newsletters to supply daily motivation through virtual workouts, positive reinforcement messages, and suspension of monthly payments.
Powerhouse Gyms in Mahwah and South Hackensack, New Jersey, owned and operated by Erik Santiago, have created the hashtag #powerhousestrong which features members getting active in the comfort of their own homes. With daily “Word Workouts” they feature a new workout each day, along with a word of the day for extra motivation.
Other gyms such as Iron Culture in Cedar Knolls, and various Retro Fitness locations have followed suit. Not only have franchise locations taken action to help members stay positive in this trying time, but individually owned facilities like Garage Strength in Allenwood Pike, Pennsylvania are showing initiative as well.
Dane Miller, owner of Garage Strength, caters to fitness enthusiasts of all types, but has a special market for Olympic level track and field athletes as well as Olympic level weightlifters. To keep morale high, Miller began a series on Garage Strength’s Instagram account featuring workouts that can be done from home. The gym owner also offered to rent equipment to members in the early days of the pandemic, which serves both to connect with customers and keep a stream of income while business is down. Along with these various initiatives, gyms have taken to reposting the workouts of their clients to ensure that the community still feels alive.
The fitness industry is extremely lucrative in modern society. Priced at $94 billion dollars, opening a gym facility might seem like a lucrative business opportunity. However, like many other industries, the fitness market has been flipped on its head since the start of the coronavirus pandemic.
While the demand has changed, gym goers have proven one thing: they are determined to continue. The recent boom in virtual fitness classes and Instagram pushup challenges give the industry a unique opportunity to pivot during the quarantine period that still allows them to make money.
Approximately 16% of adults in the US have taken to utilizing online fitness videos to maintain their health during social distancing, a number that is likely to go up. Some small business owners in the industry might consider making the switch permanently or integrating online video subscriptions into their business model.
Without a major cushion to fall back on, as most small businesses only have enough money to last them about a month, some gym owners may suffer if they take advantage of this opportunity. With social distancing being extended federally until the end of April, and longer in some other states, virtual training could be the norm for the foreseeable future.