What Fitness Studio Owners Need To Consider Ahead Of Reopening

LONDON, United Kingdom — Mindbody, a leading booking platform for wellness businesses around the world, has published its annual UK Wellness Index Survey, giving new insights into consumer behaviour in the age of COVID-19.

The survey, which asked 1,500 Brits about their fitness routines, identifies how consumer values and attitudes to fitness have changed markedly in the past twelve months. And, explores what that means for gyms and studios around the world as they prepare to reopen their doors following national lockdowns. 

Based on the comprehensive research, Mindbody has compiled 5 key areas gym and studio owners should consider, in order to thrive in this new landscape — from demonstrating safety measures to shaking up your class schedule.

Proactively demonstrate your studio’s safety measures
The most common reason for consumers choosing not to work out at a gym or studio are worries about cleanliness or safety related to COVID-19. According to the UK Wellness Index Survey 2021, 28% of consumers who did not attend in-person sessions when restrictions were eased last autumn cited this as the reason they were staying away.

Mindbody recommends alleviating these concerns by making cleanliness and safety procedures highly visible to all clients. Choose software that allows clients to book, pay, and check-in remotely, to minimise queues in your reception area. And ensure that your system is set up to be able to easily control class capacities to adapt to any changing national guidelines.

Posting a short social media video showing a walk-through of your COVID-compliant premises can also help give consumers the confidence to step back into your studio and is a great way to get your community excited about your doors reopening again.



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Think about a schedule shake-up
Your old schedule may need a revamp to adapt to changes in consumer behaviour.  

Shorter workouts have gained in popularity, with a third of Brits now saying they’re choosing to work out for half an hour or less, and 64% opting for sessions of 45 minutes or less. Mindbody says these ‘snackable’ workouts are giving people a chance to get a workout in when they might not have otherwise. And, shorter sessions are proving effective and convenient when juggling competing priorities, so don’t expect to see them disappear anywhere any time soon.  

Reconsider your marketing messaging
According to Mindbody, 82% of Brits state that wellness is more important to them now, more than ever. While 38% of people said they are now more focused on wellness because they want to lose weight they gained during the pandemic, that number is dwarfed by the 61% who said that COVID-19 has made them realise that they need to be healthier to withstand illness.  

With this in mind, Mindbody suggests looking at whether your marketing messaging would benefit from a greater focus on the holistic health benefits that consumers are now seeking. This, it argues, could help gyms and fitness studios reach a whole new client base.

It also recommends reviewing the visual imagery that you are using in your marketing materials. 

According to Mindbody’s research, almost half (47%) of consumers who said they find gyms too intimidating, revealed they would feel less intimidated if they could see more people like themselves in the gym/studio environment and promotional materials.

Get the right retention tools in place
Some of your clients’ habits will have changed significantly over multiple lockdowns,  thanks to working from home and greater access to virtual classes. In fact, 21% of consumers say they have started working out at a different studio since the pandemic began. This may mean you need to work harder to get your old clients back in the studio, says Mindbody.

It suggests strengthening your personal connection with your client base through communication and content marketing. For example, send a ‘Welcome Back’ email to your entire client list — including any new, virtual clients you’ve acquired. And be sure to include important information such as your reopening date, any schedule changes or welcome-back promotions and any other pertinent details like required pre-booking, or revamped check-in processes.

Additionally,  Mindbody advises opting for software that allows you to monitor your studio’s client retention rate and set up automated campaigns to win them back when you haven’t seen them for a specified period of time.

Plan for hybrid being here to stay
Virtual wellness isn’t going away, argues Mindbody. 

Its research shows that during the time UK gyms were open in autumn 2020, 47% of consumers still opted for hybrid fitness, with only 11% taking all their workouts at the gym.

With that in mind, it’s important to recognise that the pandemic is not the only reason that some consumers prefer virtual content. Common reasons given for not wanting to exercise in-studio include finding memberships too expensive (24%), feeling intimidated (16%), not having enough time (12%), and having a disability that makes it difficult to attend in person (5%). However, virtual content can help gym and studio owners to reach all of these potential clients, long after the pandemic is over.

“Whether you have one location or hundreds, virtual — and the opportunity it presents — is here to stay.” Phil Coxon, MD of Mindbody EMEA told Welltodo. 

“By embracing online offerings, you can help future proof and expand your business, even amid a pandemic.”

In fact, Mindbody argues that this new virtual era presents an opportunity to retain clients by promoting video content in email communications. With Mindbody’s Marketing Suite, for example,  it’s simple to include videos directly into email campaigns. 

Client retention can be increased by giving members access to virtual services they love and that help them stay on top of their fitness goals.  

Plus, video content also boosts email performance. On average, adding videos in brand emails can increase open rate by 16% and click-through-rate by 65%. It’s all about getting the word out and being creative with it. 

While the current landscape makes it challenging to stay connected with clients, these tips can help gyms and studios stay top-of-mind and keep consumers engaged. From virtual classes to switching up the types of in-person classes you offer, don’t underestimate what a bit of extra effort and the right software can do to keep your clients motivated and engaged.