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Pivoting to Outdoor Operations


The fitness industry has had to pivot time and time again due to the coronavirus pandemic. While things were looking promising for the industry as more clubs were allowed to open, a spike in cases in some states required gyms to reclose or to stop indoor operations.

One of those states is California. On July 13, Governor Gavin Newsom announced 30 counties were required to stop indoor gym operations, and The Boxing Club, with three locations in San Diego, California, was one gym affected by this.

“We quickly and intentionally shifted our priorities to focus on how to safely bring The Boxing Club experience outdoors,” said Artem Sharoshkin, the CEO of The Boxing Club. “We game-planned around our outdoor spaces and set up large tents with AstroTurf to provide a workout ambiance to combine safety with motivation.”

Sharoshkin explained they partnered with WeckMethod — the creators of BOSU ball — to use their outdoor space and create a new program for The Boxing Club members. This new outdoor operation allowed the club the opportunity to focus on rolling out semi-private personal training that includes an individualized experience with up to three people.

While some clubs have had to remain closed due to a lack of outdoor space or resources, Sharoshkin said the transition to outdoors has been good for them. “Fortunately, we have seen an increase in semi-private training and personal training,” he said. “The closure forced us to be inventive in different ways and design new programs that are ultimately going to keep us leveling up.”

Their success, however, has not come without challenges.

Due to limited equipment outdoors and continuing to practice proper sanitation and social distancing guidelines, Sharoshkin explained it has been challenging to figure out how to accommodate workouts without some components of their facilities and equipment. Making bag work and other equipment accessible has been particularly difficult. However, he said these challenges have helped the gym innovate new programs for current and prospective members.

If more states require outdoor-only workouts, Sharoshkin advises other gyms to look at the situations as a new business plan, rather than a setback.

“Approach this new feat as a brand-new business plan or business in general, rather than trying to conform existing operations to outdoors,” said Sharoshkin. “Avoid getting stuck in the old ways of doing things and continue to think creatively and fast on your feet. Don’t be afraid or hesitant about creating something new.”

The pandemic has had significant and emotional impacts on both club operators and club members. While being faced with another challenge like pivoting to outdoor-only workouts can seem like another obstacle, use it as an opportunity to create something new for members and continue to check-in with them.

“We have been doing regular check-ins with staff and members, which has resulted in a huge boost for morale,” said Sharoshkin. “Every gym is going to be facing staffing issues. Right now, it’s more important than ever to check in with all of your staff and members.”

Taylor Brown

Taylor Brown is the assistant editor for Club Solutions Magazine. She can be reached at taylor@peakemedia.com

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