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An industry being rocked by panic

fitness, training, cardio

Fitness clubs were one of the first settings to close down for our COVID19 pandemic. It made sense, for the most part. We are often jaded by being health and fitness professionals, we get why it was needed. On a personal note, I decided to avoid the gym a full week before our governor mandated the change.

I’m fortunate. I have a great home workout space. In fact, I’ve come to like it so much that it has caught me off guard! No more waiting for someone who’s texting on the machine to get up (hints never seem to work, even asking “how many more sets do you have in a polite tone fall on a ding-a-ling mindset). I have zero opportunity cost in terms of travel, there is no time spent driving to the gym. I just walk out back. The temperature is not as tightly controlled but for now, that isn’t a problem. Check back in July- October. Our summer is extended for a ridiculously long time. Fall fashion is not a thing here. You can spot a southern Californian on the east coast a mile away.

So we hear these stories of gloom and doom. Golds Gym – closing. No, they are closing 30 locations in one part of the country. 24Hour Fitness and Town Sport International are closing due to COVID problems. Well, not exactly. It may have hastened things a bit but let’s think about this. It was known within the industry that both of these chains had been experiencing bumpy times. Some might even argue that fitness is shrinking away. I don’t really know WHAT the truth is. But just think about a normal fitness club. The number of active members can easily be 30,000. I worked for a medium sized club in Fullerton, CA that billed 60,000 typically – each month. The dues were $60.00 each cycle. That’s 3.6 million dollars a month. A busy 24HF club in a densely populated area could also have the same. Now let’s do some more math, on the conservative side of things. Lets cut the membership total in half, and go with the base line monthly due(s) of $30.00. Folks, that’s 900,000! Each. Stinkin’. Month. Again this is conservative. It begs to be asked. How have these clubs found themselves to be in trouble?

Add to that the fact that many 24HF sites serve as anchors for the center they are in or they are a stand alone building. No former landlord for the latter, 900k should cover things each month. Yes, we know there are salaries, insurance, maintenance (although have you seen how some of these clubs are “maintained”?). If there is a problem in fitness, could it be that the chains are top-heavy? Is COVID19 going to prove to be a great equalizer?

Many certification companies and gyms immediately responded by encouraging trainers to shift to an online delivery model. I suppose it could work, but requires a few things to happen that may not really be too likely; try telling a client – who has already paid the gym they used to go to – to buy new equipment for their home and pay you additionally to train. While they can’t even find toilet paper, we want them to buy stability balls and dumbbells for home use. That’s kind of warped in my opinion.

But guess who is strategically placed to work online? Coaches! Life Coaches, Wellness Coaches, Holistic Coaches, etc. No new technology needed apart from the cell phone, tablet or laptop. Most clients have this already. I also firmly believe that Personal Trainers can take some cues from a Coach’s playbook at this time, while they are stressed out over work and they have a batch of stressed out clients who aren’t getting a release from training. This is where coaching truly shines! It would suggest that there may be some limits to what a trainer can do to be effective with a client.

Ask yourself:  When the dust settles, where do you want to be, what do you want to be doing and how much relevance will your service have to the public”?  There will definitely be a call to get and stay healthy because to ignore what COVID19 does to those with underlying conditions can now literally be a matter of life or death.  Trainers will never go away.  Neither will the 12-15% of the public who partakes in regular exercise.  We need to make that number far greater.  Together, Trainers and Coaches should learn to harness their strengths, work together and make meaningful change for our tired quarantined back-sides!

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