Podcast Episode 11: Ralph Rajs on Innovation in the Current Landscape
The COVID-19 pandemic is forcing clubs to think outside the box when it comes to serving their members and identifying new revenue streams.
In episode #11 of the Club Solutions Magazine podcast, host Rachel Zabonick-Chonko spoke with Ralph Rajs, the COO of Forma Gym, on innovation. They discuss how the brand has pivoted to outdoor operations post-COVID, and how Rajs is approaching problem solving and leadership during this time.
- Forma Gym has two locations in California. Currently, the brand is only authorized to do outside operations. “We needed to understand what we had control over and what we didn’t,” said Rajs, concerning this challenge. “What can we do for our particular circumstances?”
- The brand decided to create an outdoor fitness pavilion so it could continue to serve members’ health and fitness needs. Forma Gym surveyed the membership beforehand, and 50% said they’d rather workout outside, even if the gym were allowed to reopen fully. “That gave us assurance it was a good investment,” said Rajs.
- Rajs talks through the tent-buying process and the opportunities that could provide down the road, i.e., potential wedding venue and other secondary uses. “There’s a tent for every budget,” he said.
- The outdoor tent includes cardio, strength and dedicated space for group fitness. It does not include treadmills due to the electrical burden. According to Rajs, they are flexible and have changed the layout about eight times. “It’s been fun because we keep tweaking it,” he said.
- Strength and group fitness have been the biggest draws in the outdoor space.
- Rajs said having a team that’s willing to innovate and problem solve is key.
- The outdoor offering has been key in taking members off freeze and resuming billing. Rajs said it’s really important to understand your particular needs and assets. “Because we’re all different and have different goals,” he said.
- Rajs predicts the club could easily be outside-only till Thanksgiving.
- Innovation can be a large invention, or simply tweaking business operations. “We’re really trying to innovate around our business operations,” said Rajs.
- Rajs shares his thoughts on virtual fitness.
- Thanks to COVID, consumers have gotten used to change. “They’re way more open,” said Rajs.
- Collaboration is key to problem-solving; and leaders need to drive progress.
- “We have to brace ourselves that some percentage of our clientele aren’t going to come back,” said Rajs. “We have to embrace the reality there is going to be a little bit of a shift there.”
- Rajs believes the competitive landscape will change post-COVID. “That will also be something to keep an eye on as we go forward,” he said.
- Support each other, urged Rajs.