Coronavirus is going to shake up our industry as well as all others. It is could well mark a huge shift for the fitness industry.
A lot of gyms and fitness centres have shut down. Thankfully, as of yet, this has not happened in Australia but many people have suspended their memberships and are too scared to come to the gym.
As other industries suffer and people lose their jobs or have their hours cut back, fitness is the first thing to go. So a huge percentage of people are just cancelling their memberships to make ends meet.
People are freaking out and businesses are struggling to stay afloat. There is no way anyone could have anticipated this happening.
But all is not lost – it is important to remember though, as awful as things seems, things will get better – they always do. So to help you survive this time or any other future crisis that may come your way, read on.
1. Have a plan
When I was working in IT, we always had a “disaster recovery plan.” This was a documented process or set of procedures to execute a company’s disaster recovery processes and recover and protect a business IT infrastructure in the event of a disaster. It is a comprehensive statement of consistent actions to be taken before, during and after a disaster.
Though it would be hard to find anyone who could have seen this coming, it shows the importance of having a plan for when things go wrong. What happens when you get a bad review, a client decides to sue a trainer, someone has a heart attack while attending a class, a terrorist attack – though unusual, these things can happen. Make sure you have step by step procedures, so you know exactly what needs to be done when disaster hits.
2. Communicate a clear message
With all the different messages about Coronavirus, it is all too easy to get so confused as to what was fact and what was fiction. So make sure you know the facts and clearly, stay on point, respect your customers and ensure everything you say makes sense and can be understood.
3. Show authority and you are in charge
This is really important – when things turn for the worst, we look to our leaders to help us get through the crisis.
Show you are in control of the situation and can bring order to the situation. Don’t get angry or upset, be direct and confident with what you are saying.
This is so important – when people feel like they are losing control, they panic and do things they normally wouldn’t do.
Always keep your current clients/members updated – demonstrate the steps you are taking to keep them safe and healthy. State what you are doing and why and reassure them this is all for their benefit.
Remember, the safety and health of your members and customers is the most important thing, any time!
5. Look for opportunities
With every disaster there are opportunities – ask can you learn from this experience and how can I utilise every moment of this to come out stronger than before.
Look at going online to keep current clients active. Consider holding outdoor bootcamps so people have more space to minimise any issues. Figure out how this shift could result in more of a positive impact in your life and business.
6. Be proactive
Don’t bury your head in the ground and think this will blow over. Whether it be Coronavirus or some other disaster, get on the front foot and act fast.
Never ignore the situation and pretend it is not happening – the earlier you address it, the less worse it will be for everyone in the long run.
7. Emphasise the importance of being fit and healthy
Now more than ever, we need to eat well and keep exercising. Exercise will boost the immune system (so important to fight off nasties like Coronavirus) plus will minimise the stress we are all feeling.
In fact I recently wrote a blog about this very topic to ensure people keep their training (and spirits) up.
8. The government says fitness businesses do not need to close
At the time I wrote this blog, the Australian Government has said there is no need to close gyms, fitness centres and pools. As long as you keep up the hygiene, look at reducing the numbers in classes, avoiding any necessary contact and wiping down all equipment, it is still safe to train at a gym or fitness studio
9. Support each other
We are all in the same boat and we are all human beings. Now may be a great time to network online and make some genuine connections, help support other people’s businesses because we are all in this together.
See if any of your members are really suffering – is there a way to help them (even just giving them some extra toilet paper rolls). Not only will they be forever grateful, but they will be so much more loyal and tell everyone they know about your good deeds.
10. Get off social media!
I know I can’t believe I am saying this but logging out of Facebook or Twitter may be something to advise your members or even do yourself. If you are feeling stressed or anxious seeing post after post of people panicking, well you can’t help but start to stress out as well.
So much of what we hear is fake or highly exaggerated – newspapers sell more papers and online media gets more click throughs when the news is bad so now may be the time to unplug and tune out.
And finally, put things in perspective
Older generations went through world wars, bombings, the great depression and some truly horrible times. Most of us have never lived through a recession and don’t really know what hardship is. Having so many decades of prosperity and wealth, our first real challenge comes along, so many people have gone into a major panic and have shown some truly shameful behaviour.
What is being asked from us (such as wash hands, staying at home, avoiding crowds etc) is nothing in comparison to previous generations. We may be going through inconveniences and economic challenges now but trust me, there is always someone else who has it so much worse than you.
A crisis always brings out the worst and best of people. Make sure it brings out the best for you and your business.