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Recap: Fitness Industry Image, PR and Communications


On September 30, IHRSA, REX Roundtables and Club Solutions Magazine presented the 26th installment of a weekly virtual roundtable series aimed at helping clubs navigate through the COVID-19 crisis.

Panelists included Britt Waters, the social media manager of VIDA Fitness; Meredith Poppler, the vice president of communication & leadership engagement at IHRSA; Allison Rand, the director of marketing at VIDA Fitness; Bill McBride, the co-founder, president and CEO of Active Wellness; and Blair McHaney, the CEO of MXM and owner of WORX health clubs. The discussion was led and moderated by Brent Darden, the interim president and CEO of IHRSA, and chair of REX Roundtables.

The following is a summary of top takeaways from the discussion, centered on using all media platforms at your disposal to boost effective, positive messaging and communications surrounding your club and the industry:


  • The key to thriving in this time is cultivating a positive public image using traditional and social media platforms.
  • Good reviews via Yelp or Google are a great way to showcase members’ responses to your safety protocols and guidelines.
  • Show pictures of your club with people in it — an appropriate number of people, of course — to help members feel comfortable coming back through their doors.
  • Use audio clips or written content to let members show their positive experiences with your club.
  • Instagram and Facebook are good ways to push your content, especially when you use each platform’s video functions. Try posting videos that show member testimonials, staff working through clean processes, and workouts of the day.
    • Check out VIDA Fitness’s IGTV and Facebook videos for examples of high-performing social media videos.
  • Studies have shown sports, health and wellness facilities are actually some of the safest buildings to be in, due to their design being focused on air purification and sanitization.
    • Club HVAC systems are typically designed to take humidity and moisture out of the air. This is important to convey to the community.
  • There are three key talking points clubs should be including in all their messaging:
    • Clubs are essential businesses.
    • Clubs are safe places.
    • Clubs are all about community and being there for people.
  • A thorough website audit can be really useful now — make sure all the information your website is relevant, accessible and easy to understand for members.
    • Outline your safety measures, modify your hours and adjust your membership policies according to what members need.
  • Create content that gives members FOMO (the fear of missing out), and makes them miss coming back to the gym and encourages them to engage with your club.
  • Use current events or popular content to engage with members — for example while Dancing with the Stars is on, encourage members to post videos of their favorite dances from the shows on your Facebook page, then use the show to promote your club’s dance classes.
  • There is a line between having fun with your social media accounts and still observing the seriousness of the COVID-19 pandemic. The message of safety and cleanliness is still important.
  • Part of clubs’ messaging should also address how the fitness industry helps fight other chronic diseases and illnesses.
  • It’s imperative to execute on the plan you’re putting forward through your messaging. The worst thing that could happen for any club is to have a COVID-19 outbreak.
  • Consider making a “sizzle video” — a short, snappy promotional video — that shows off what your club has to offer in this challenging time. It can include cleaning and safety protocols, new workouts and other aspects of your club.
  • Don’t worry about creating perfect content if you don’t have the resources to get a full suite of professional equipment — members just want to see genuine, consistent content from you.

To access the on-demand version of this webinar, click here.

To access the audio-only version of this webinar, click here.

UPCOMING: Don’t miss the 27th installment of our virtual roundtable series, “Successful Strategies for Shaping Your Future: Virtual Trends in Group Fitness & Personal Training,” on Wednesday, October 7 at 2 p.m. EST. Limited seats are available. Click here to reserve your spot.

Bobby Dyer

Bobby is the former assistant editor of Club Solutions Magazine.

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