Rodney Steven II, the owner and president of Genesis Health Clubs, and Justin Mascho, the senior vice president for O2 Fitness, share their thoughts on what the New Year rush will look like after the effects of COVID-19.
The fall is typically a crucial time for health clubs to prep their facilities and launch a marketing campaign for the upcoming New Year’s resolution season. However, the coronavirus pandemic may impact what is usually the busiest season of the year.
Rodney Steven II, the owner and president of Genesis Health Clubs, with 57 locations across six states, is hopeful the New Year rush will still be very prevalent despite the challenges clubs have faced in 2020.
“We’re optimistic that by New Year’s we’ll be over the hill with the pandemic and will be preparing for big demand,” said Steven. “We expect there will probably still be some degree of social distancing, enhanced sanitization or other measures in some locations. But, one thing is for sure, after a year of remaining sedentary there will be a lot of people eager to get active, social and focused on their health.”
While Steven hopes gyms will no longer need to social distance their equipment, he is ready if that’s not the case. “We’ll be prepared to continue with every other machine blocked off, spaced out group exercise classes and all of the other precautions if still necessary,” he explained. “We want everyone to be safe and feel safe.”
O2 Fitness, with 21 locations throughout North Carolina and South Carolina, hasn’t had much time to think about New Year’s prep after only reopening their clubs in early September. However, Justin Mascho, the senior vice president for O2, said COVID-19 will impact how their club operates during the busy season.
“The pandemic has really changed our approach to essentially everything we do,” said Mascho. “While we have always made sanitation a high priority, we have to pay even closer attention to the amounts of sanitation supplies we have, the amount of team members we have prepared to be able to handle that sanitation and also the spacing in the club. It’s significantly more on our mind than it was previously.”
Although the coronavirus pandemic has caused many challenges for the industry, Mascho is also optimistic there will still be a New Year rush, and will still be beneficial to clubs. He explained the pandemic revealed the importance of living a healthy life and making healthy choices.
“As people continue to want to take care of themselves to not only protect themselves from the coronavirus, but just in general, they are going to continue to make those choices and come in around the New Year,” said Mascho. “Hopefully they will choose to do that sooner, but I am optimistic we will still have that rush.”
Steven agreed that despite the circumstances of the pandemic, there will still be the typical New Year’s rush.
“Treatments are getting better and a vaccine looks imminent,” said Steven. “On top of that, all of the data coming out repeatedly shows health clubs as a very safe place to be compared to other businesses. We are absolutely part of the solution. People have been sedentary, and they need us now more than ever.”
A key way to ensure more members walk through your doors in the new year is through proper marketing. Steven said Genesis Health Clubs’ marketing will be increasingly digital and data driven. He explained if the pandemic has proven anything, it’s the need to be nimble and efficient. From the messaging side, they’ll focus heavily on fun, socialization and the fear of missing out.
Mascho agreed New Year’s marketing should be data-driven and focus on club safety.
“First and foremost, we’re doing what we can to get the word out that fitness is safe and health clubs are safe,” said Mascho. “A lot of our marketing is going to be around the stats at how few coronavirus cases have been in health clubs and showing how little spread there has been in comparison to other places. We’re just trying to win back and improve our image as a safe, sanitary place to come to the public.”
Despite all the downfalls COVID-19 brought on the industry, the New Year will be a great time to welcome back old and new members, and improve their wellness.
“It’s been challenging for everyone, but we’re excited for 2021. The strong operators who really focused on the basics and improving their operations will come out stronger on the other side,” said Steven. “Health and fitness are here to stay.”
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