With Melbourne alone leading the world with the most days spent in lockdown, it’s no surprise that multiple industries are suffering without their usual patrons. But Australia’s fitness industry, despite doing its best to adapt, has been left behind.
With the onset of lockdowns, previous gym patrons have instead invested in home gym equipment, opting to follow free YouTube videos or even buy memberships from fitness centres themselves. Those who cannot invest in these methods take the free option, getting outdoor time with their allocated two hours of walking a day.
So, what was the fitness industry like before lockdowns were implemented? According to the Covid-19 Fitness and Impact Report, Australia’s fitness centres are worth 3 billion dollars to Australia’s economy, with over 3 million people holding active memberships, spending 8.5 billion dollars on fitness each year. These fitness centres employ over 35 000 employees.
Without this patronage, the report states that not only are all those employees now likely unemployed, but there has also been a loss of about 13.8 billion dollars to the local economy, not to mention the impact on people’s physical health. The lack of gyms and the associated social interactions can also negatively impact people’s mental health as regular exercise is proven to reduce stress and symptoms of mental health conditions as well as helping with recovery.
So, what does the future look like for gym owners? In their article, PerfectGym states that with capacity limits, it’s important to get the most out of re-opening by considering the following:
· Combining on-site sessions with online content to get around capacity limits and help people transition back to being on-site, this can be done by changing membership packages.
· Review your pricing, as many people’s financial statuses have been altered by ongoing lockdowns, so offering fee reductions can help.
· Acknowledge existing clients with membership discounts and new add-ons to reward their loyalty in the past and during lockdowns.
· New offers to encourage first time clients such as scrapping joining fees or a free trial class.
· Utilise ongoing communication to keep everyone in the loop about new offers, possible membership changes and COVID announcements.
· Staff training for COVID measurements at regular intervals to ensure best practice.
While this is negative news for the fitness industry, it does not necessarily mean selling is your best option. Nor does it mean buying a fitness-related business is a bad idea. There will always be gym-enthusiasts, so adapting to circumstances and anticipating problems will always put you at an advantage.
You can also take another route; to ensure you make the most of your money and time, buying a sports or fitness franchise could be a smart option. Fitness franchises are already established and funded, and you can avoid assuming the risks of starting a business.