How can gyms support their members during the pandemic?

Gyms and fitness studios need to be flexible and respond to the pandemic digitally. Here's how a mobile messaging strategy can help to get messages out to the largest audience in the fastest time.

30 April 2020

In the UK gyms were among the list of public places closed on 21st March 2020, to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Following the government announcement, many were left wondering how they could continue to support their members, while adjusting to this rather different reality.

Typically, gyms and fitness studios are reliant on both physical locations and on-site staff, but thanks to advancements in technology, that doesn’t have to remain the case.

The digital fitness industry has really grown over the past few years, generating $3.6 billion revenue for the US alone in 2019; and although hardly surprising, companies such as Peloton have reported 5 times more fitness app downloads in March, relative to February – in line with increasing lockdown restrictions. But what might be surprising, is that for fitness businesses willing to be flexible and respond to the pandemic digitally, there are some relatively simple solutions to continue supporting your members.  

1. Stream live workout classes

This may seem obvious, but thankfully, due to advancements in technology you don’t need specialist equipment to stream live – you can do so using a laptop or even a smartphone. What’s more, there are now many free and straightforward applications to support live streaming and below we have listed just a few, all of which at their basic level at least, are free:

2. Real-time work out videos

Since many individuals are working remotely and some may also be responsible for children, it may be difficult to tune in at a specific time. Therefore, it could be worthwhile creating some real-time work out videos. Your members can then benefit from being able to access this content on demand and are able to see and understand how each exercise is performed correctly. Again, these can be filmed using a laptop or smartphone and there are several user-friendly, video editing softwares available. For a relatively extensive list which includes a quick overview of each application and any associated costs, we recommend this article.

3. Send personalised workout routines

Be it over social media, email or SMS with a PDF attachment, sending members a personalised written workout can be simple but effective. Not only does this have the advantage that individuals can do the workout in their own time, but by supporting this activity online you can encourage individuals to tag your brand in completion photos, and perhaps even create a leaderboard, to encourage competition and engagement between members.

This is particularly effective for personal trainers. Once considered a luxury for the rich and famous, personal trainers have become increasingly popular over the last few years with 13,770 registered personal trainers in the UK and 80% of those working on a freelance basis. Consequently, the ability for personal trainers to continue to support their clients on a 1:1 basis is more important than ever. However, to stand out from all of the online noise around exercise an effective medium such as SMS is recommended due to it’s 95% open rate and ability to respond quickly and effectively with any concerns or questions. 

Communicating with your members

Ultimately, the most important aspect when introducing any of these new options to your member community, is being sure to effectively communicate the options available and any associated processes they need to follow.

Under normal circumstances, social media may be a fantastic way to communicate with members. But as our news feeds are currently full of stories surrounding the coronavirus outbreak, there is a concern that announcements made on social media, for example, details of your new online classes may be missed. Thus, we recommend using more personalised communication to help ensure your messages are noticed. Channels such as email, phone calls or text messaging are effective mediums to communicate with your members and enable you to discuss your new digital propositions in further detail.

As a business messaging company, we can speak knowledgeably of how gyms and fitness studios can best use and implement SMS into their communication strategy. Consequently, we’ve created a quick guide below of the top use cases below:

Send bulk notifications

By utilising bulk SMS, you can communicate with your entire member database in just a few clicks. This can be a great way to notify members that some digital additions are coming soon, so to keep an eye out, or even to send a quick update on any changes to opening hours. What’s more, as SMS boasts a 95% open rate, you can be confident your message will be received by all recipients.

Send time-critical reminders

You might want to send a reminder to all members registered for a live workout, that it will begin in 15 minutes and perhaps even include the link to the class itself. This can be really beneficial – particularly when first introducing this type of activity. And since SMS benefits from 90% of all messages being read within 3 minutes, you can be sure your reminder is delivered and read almost immediately.

Communicate in real-time

Sometimes the information you need to share with your members requires a little more space than is available with a standard SMS. This is where utilising SMS Long Numbers can be useful. It allows recipients to reply to your messages, so you can have a real-time conversation and explain anything which isn’t clear. Thus, ensuring your message is received and enabling you to communicate more detail.

No matter which channel you use, the important thing is that you continue to communicate with your member community. If you would like to discuss further, how SMS could help to support your communication strategy, please email [email protected] or call 0845 122 1302.

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