If you’re like many gym owners, you’re excited to open your own gym. You want your fitness business to attract lots of gym members and eventually become a pillar in the community. But the truth is that the economy has other plans. Sometimes, an economic downturn will hit, and in situations like that, you have to recession-proof your gym.
In this article, we’ll discuss what recession-proofing means, and how you can hedge your bets in the fitness industry so that your gym business stays open even in the worst economic downturn.
What Does it Mean to Recession-Proof a Fitness Business?
Recession-proofing a fitness business means making it resilient to an economic downturn or financial crisis. That way, the gym business can continue to operate, attract gym members and even turn a profit during difficult times.
A fitness business recession proof plan will begin with the business identifying its strengths, understanding its customers and the market, and being proactive in adapting to changing circumstances.
If you are a gym owner, you know that this is easier said than done. Cash flow in a gym doesn’t come easily, and you’ll often have to find innovative strategies to increase your gym’s revenue.
So, let’s go over a fitness industry example to make things clearer.
Think of a “Home Workout System”. During a recession, people are more likely to cut back on expensive gym memberships and look for more affordable fitness options. That will make it harder to attract members to your small gym.
What you can do is create a home workout system and offer personalized workout plans, virtual group classes, and workout equipment rental, all accessible from your members’ homes.
7 Ways to Recession-Proof Fitness Businesses
Now that we’ve gone over what recession-proofing means let’s talk about some other strategies you can use to protect your gym business in a financial downturn.
Offer More Than Just Cardio
When it comes to working out, people want results. They want their bodies to change, and they want those changes fast. The faster they see results, the more likely they are to continue their workout routine with your gym.
To make sure your clients stay with you through thick and thin (and keep coming back long after the recession is over), you have to improve the gym member experience. That may include offering them additional services that make them feel like they’re getting more value from their membership than just being able to use the cardio machines when no one is watching.
- Offer personalized personal training sessions where clients can learn how to properly do an exercise that’s beneficial for them or work on developing a new skill set (such as lifting weights).
- Provide health and wellness services such as nutrition counseling and body analysis evaluations. These are great for clients who are interested in learning about their current health status in order to improve their overall fitness level.
- Create meal plans based on each client’s goals, which will help ensure that clients know exactly what foods they should eat at each meal during the day. This means there’s less guesswork involved when figuring out what kind of diet plan would work best for them individually.
- Foster a gym community. A tight-knit gym community offers encouragement and social support to members, which can be a motivating factor that keeps them coming back.
Offer a Money-Back Guarantee
A money-back guarantee in your fitness business is a great way to help people feel safe when they register at your gym. It’s also a great way to alleviate any nagging fears they might have about investing in a new workout routine or diet plan.
In order to make sure that your money-back guarantee succeeds, though, you need to make sure it’s clear and easy for customers to understand before they sign up. Make sure it’s clear what work people need to put in—and remember that each person’s journey will be different!
You may also want an easy cancellation process built into your gym management system for two reasons. One, the fitness industry is filled with scams and false promises so using a system means you can deliver your promise without disappointing your existing clients.
Secondly, a system helps if some kind of life event comes up for one of your clients—such as moving away, getting married or having another baby—and they want their membership canceled early.
Take a Look at the Numbers
The first step to making sure your gym stays in business is to look at the numbers. You need to make sure that you don’t lose members or money. You may even need to consider adjusting your plans if necessary.
The first thing to do is figure out how much money each member brings in for the gym per month, excluding any membership fees. The average member will bring in $20-50/month depending on their membership type. (RunRepeat)
If you have a high percentage of non-paying memberships such as free trial memberships or student discounts, then this number will be lower than usual because there aren’t as many people paying full price for their memberships just yet (this can change quickly though if everyone starts paying full price).
Once you have a clear picture, you can decide to stop your free trials because they consume resources in your gym business. Or, you could try to attract more people in the free trials if it won’t require an additional investment.
Pitch Your Gym or Fitness Studio as a Value
Your gym may not have all the fancy amenities that other gyms do, but it’s important to emphasize what you do offer and how they benefit people.
For example, if your gym doesn’t offer childcare or daycare services, focus on other elements that make it unique. Maybe your facility is located in a beautiful outdoor setting or has an indoor pool.
Or maybe you offer personal training in your fitness studio that could benefit a lot of members. Some fitness businesses also have a “bring-your-own” coffee bar, so patrons don’t have to go out of their way for a drink when they’re trying to stay focused during class—and don’t worry about having any clean cups!
Whatever it is that makes your gym stand out from the competition (more than just price), be sure to highlight this feature when pitching new memberships or renewals.
If your gym doesn’t have any of these features, you should create a plan to implement them when there’s more cash flow.
Do a Social Media Overhaul
You can use social media to find your target audience, connect with current members and potential clients, promote special offers and events, and even reach out to trainers who might be interested in working for you.
You should also use social media to promote the classes you offer at your gym: yoga, spinning, boxing etc. You could even create a hashtag for each class (e.g., #yogaday) so that people can see which classes are on offer that day.
Here’s an Instagram post from Binous Gym, a super successful gym in Dubai that really harnesses the power of social media.
When you’re posting on social media, make sure that you’re keeping it relevant to the gym and fitness. Don’t post about your personal life, and don’t use your gym’s account as a way to advertise other gyms or brands that aren’t connected with yours (unless they are).
If people follow you because they like what your gym offers then they’ll be more inclined to buy from you if/when you offer something special such as discounts or free classes.
Foster a Sense of Community
It’s true that you’ll have to work hard to keep your community strong in these trying times. But it’s also true that, in the end, a sense of community is what will keep people coming back—even when money gets tight, and other priorities seem more important.
If you’re thinking about how to make your gym recession-proof, fostering a sense of community is one great way to do it. Whether through social media, events or marketing campaigns—or all three!—it’s important to stay consistent with this aspect of running your business if you want it to remain successful.
Some other ideas include hosting events that will bring people together. You’ll have more fun as well as the opportunity to take advantage of the many benefits that come along with social media. This can include anything from holding a small meet-up at your gym to promoting local races or charities through Facebook and Twitter.
By getting involved in these ways, you’ll be able to reach out beyond your walls and show people what makes your business so great!
Consider Changing up Your Business Plan
You may need to make changes in your business plan, as well. Try switching up your offerings for a new season and consider downsizing the employees in your gym business if you have too many staff. You may also want to consider switching up how you market yourself and what services are offered at the gym during this time.
If all else fails, try offering free services for a short period of time—like an open house or a half-off sale on certain services—to attract more clients.