How to engage members during fitness center closures

Fitness centers around the world have closed to try and halt the spread of the COVID-19 virus, leaving many wondering what’s coming next and how to adjust, including fitness center members who are now trying to connect to their fitness routine at home.

Here’s where your fitness center can help. Even with a closed center, your fitness center staff can still be a force for good in the community by engaging with members virtually, building connections among members, and providing innovative tips and tools for members to navigate this new norm in a healthy way. Here’s how.

Leverage technology to shift to virtual support.

Your fitness center team can still be there for your members, even if they can’t meet face-to-face. Just like businesses are moving to work-at-home situations, your fitness center staff can virtually connect with members right where they are. Here are a few ideas for how fitness staff can continue to support members:

  • Livestream or post workouts, stretch breaks, and meditation sessions on social media.
  • Set up video conferences for virtual small-group or individual training sessions.
  • Email personalized workout plans to your members.
  • FaceTime for a one-on-one consultation.
  • Text out a motivational quote or tip of the day.
  • Start a hydration or exercise challenge and tag members so they can interact and encourage one another.
  • Put together a newsletter from your fitness center with links to all the best things the staff has posted on social in the last week.

“The fitness centers may be closed, but fitness center staff can still deliver a majority of the services members need right now,” says Christine Sherry, vice president of client communications for EXOS. “You don’t need to be in the same room as someone to build a relationship with them and provide guidance that will positively impact their overall health.”

Provide members with the personalized touch they need right now.

Truly supporting someone on their personal health journey takes a more personal touch than a random workout offered on social media.

“Fitness center staff can reach out and reassure members that they’re still there for them and can still support them with their health goals,” says Sherry. An easy way for coaches to show that support is through well-being check-ins. This is a trying time for everyone and adjusting to a new lifestyle while maintaining their workload can leave members feeling overwhelmed. A well-being check-in can help members understand healthy ways to deal with the changes and circumvent whatever particular challenge the employee is facing; something no Instagram influencer can do.

In addition to general well-being check-ins, fitness center staff can use their personal knowledge to help members navigate the sea of information available right now and find ways to tailor the experience to them, even remotely. For example, a fitness center staff member could write up a modified at-home workout for someone they know has knee trouble or create a routine for another member using the specific equipment they have at their home.

Provide holistic education and consistency.

“It’s easy for people to sit back and get less and less healthy in this stressful situation,” says Sherry. “If we can help members with creative, holistic solutions that keep them from stalling in their health journey, we can help them emerge more resilient, productive, and healthier than when they left.”

The truth of the matter is some members may slip into old bad habits due to stress and lack of support. And members who backslide on their goals may find themselves worse off than those who tried to maintain a sense of normalcy. Some may have fallen so far behind that they feel too discouraged to continue.

“Fitness center staff can help members who need activity to stay healthy and on a routine, those that need meditation to keep their mindset in the right place, and those who need fueling and hydration ideas,” says Marissa Morris, a regional director at EXOS. “With some education, members can keep up their healthy habits during this unprecedented time.”

Keeping your members active will not just help them feel better overall (a sanity-saving benefit in this complicated time), it will also help them stay healthy and resilient so they need less reactive care down the road.

Strategize for reopening and re-engaging in person.

Eventually your fitness center will reopen. If there are no staff members working during your closure and you wait until you reopen to make plans, you’ll lose precious momentum. Instead, staff should stay in contact with members and let them know as soon as there are plans to open the doors again. Besides the first step of giving your fitness center a thorough cleaning, staff can get members excited by starting countdown campaigns, sharing upcoming class schedules and programs, and setting up appointments for day one.

There may even be an opportunity to add new members, even before the fitness center opens. “During closures, staff can reach out to their broader client populations,” says Morris. “We’ve had people who aren’t members saying, ‘I can’t wait to get back to work and join’ because of the support they’ve gotten during this time.”

It’s more important than ever to continue supporting your members, no matter the status of your facility. And with a little creativity and ingenuity, your current staff can use this time to create an environment where the fitness center reopens with energized members, new members, and strong utilization right from the start.

To help support the efforts of coaches in the field, EXOS has launched Check it out to get workout plans and ideas for you and your clients to improve their mindset, nutrition, movement, and recovery. 

About the Author

Kelsey Webb

As an editorial assistant at EXOS, I'm eager to help others improve every aspect of their lives through healthy living. I enjoy bringing effective strategies and information to light by working with experts in all fields.

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