Mike Alpert, the COO at Smart Health Clubs, shares how good times are approaching after more vaccinations and less COVID-19 restrictions.
The past year has been one that we all would like to forget. We would all agree that the financial hardships have been horrific. In the United States alone, health club revenue is down 58% from pre-COVID with 14% of clubs being forced to close permanently and more importantly, 44% of employees losing their jobs. I believe the emotional damage that has resulted from anxiety and depression and uncertainty are the most harmful. The question most of us have had is, “When will this ever end?”
The good news is that we now have three vaccines with high efficacy ratings and are told we will have herd immunity by the end of May. More states are now beginning to open back up with less and less restrictions. Due to the notable work that some of the best operators in our industry have done in their states, health clubs are being deemed as essential businesses that need to be open.
COVID-19 has changed the world. Today, consumers are seeking wellness like never before and this has resulted in a significant increase in demand for digital delivery of wellness and fitness solutions. Software companies have responded to this challenge by providing solutions for training members by live streaming their classes and then offering them on-demand. Members can purchase personalized nutrition and fitness plans and easily log food and exercises assigned to them by trainers and dieticians. All of this creates new revenue opportunities for clubs while reducing internal operating costs and increasing member retention during and post COVID-19.
Remember that although many members are anxious to return to the club, many will still be cautious and reluctant to return quickly. Those who do come back are going to want to know that they will have access to equipment and classes once in the club. It will be a big plus if you are able to offer them the ability to book-a-class, book-a cycling bike, book-a swim lane or a specific piece of cardio equipment.
Imagine having a video library of not just group exercise and fitness classes but also an educational video library that can be shared digitally across clubs. Videos from highly respected physicians and clinicians on topics like exercise and brain health; exercise and cancer; exercise and diabetes or arthritis or obesity. The list goes on and it will add value to your membership.
Exercise is medicine and our industry is making major efforts to align with the health care community. This is going to open up additional opportunities as we move more towards population health. Keeping people active and eating well so that they don’t need to go to the hospital, and if they do, keeping them from having to go back.
Make sure you are prepared because the good times are right around the corner.