With the current trends going on, people are getting more and more aware about social distancing and staying indoors. The other thing people are now worried about is their own fitness and how they will keep their immunity high. There are a few sectors of the economy that cannot function on the norms of social distancing. These are worst hit and have next to zero sales since the lockdown came into effect. One of the major sector coming under this is the fitness centres and the gyms.
Gym freaks all over the world used to go to the gym daily to exercise and use to boost up the revenue of the gym and to keep themselves happy. But if you look at the scenario right now, people are avoiding going to the gym and it seems like they will not return to the gym in the near future.
Globally, more than one 70 million people were members of a health club or a fitness centre. The fitness and the gym sector was always on the boom because of the awareness about health and fitness. But with the coming up of the pandemic, there has been a very devastating affect on the fitness centres. They are forced to stretch their business models and convert them into a contactless model.
With a lot of revenue crunch, leading brands have shut down their outlets and have closed down their parallel revenue streams. CultFit has laid off thousands of employees and has also shut down its cloud kitchen in various areas. The management is taking salary cuts. The spokesperson of the company has said that they do not see the situation improving in near future and that is why they would have to close their operations in small towns in Delhi and in the UAE. Employees of the company are annoyed because they are complaining about the company’s unhealthy practices. They are continuously showing their dismay online and are poking the company about the company hiring celebrities but not paying salaries to the employees. The layoffs took place in two rounds. The most hard-working employees were also laid off and they showed a lot of anger and anguish towards the company. The employees were told to give their resignation over email and after that resignation, they lost access to their email IDs and were removed from all the WhatsApp groups. Another employee who is laid off is pregnant and she decided to start a family after she realised that if her family has two people who are earning, she can have a child. She says that her dreams have been shattered and company cannot fire someone who is expecting a baby. The entire process of layoffs can be exhausting mentally and physically. But during these adverse times, the businesses must come up with effective solutions so that there is not much loss on either side.
Various fitness centres have started live streaming their fitness routines and have reinvented themselves. These online classes are taking place over zoom, Skype, Instagram or WhatsApp. A part of these sessions is pre-recorded and apart is live. The live part is customised according to the person’s requirements and higher the customisation, higher will be the cost of the class. People have started taking online yoga classes and have changed the whole business model overnight. It is forecasted that the fitness industries rapid launch after the lockdown will be into digital streaming to promote contact less culture and social distancing.
Leading brands such as cult fit have started live streaming and have also started recruiting celebrities to host their online masterclass. The at home workout niche will explode and customised workout plans will be available for the people who are up for this. The traditional methods that are very popular in India will soon go away and the new wave will come up.
More premium based and appointment base allotment of classes will be created with a fixed number of people working out at a particular time. All these customised models are considered to be more expensive but this is the future of the gym sector now. The gyms will not offer their membership at discounted prices anymore but they will promote quality over quantity. The fitness studios have started contacting their landlord to discuss the rent structure during the lockdown so that they can cut down on the expenses. The fitness sector businesses would be looking twice at all the expenses to cut down the costs. Moreover, after the pandemic people will understand the importance of being fit and will not treat these fitness centres as a luxury but they will treat it as a necessity. Once it becomes a necessity, the rates for membership can go up so that good quality services are provided.
Another major challenge will be about hygiene. Cleaning of equipment daily will be made mandatory. Earlier leather gloves were used for gym but now disposable gloves might be used. Various innovative technologies have come up with regards to single use equipment covers for benches and seat backs to promote hygienic environment.
During the entire lock down, some fitness centres are trying to equip themselves by investing a lot in equipment which will promote social distancing. Studios need to assess whether the virtual classes are worth it or not. As gyms need to survive the entire lock down on the basis of virtual workouts and virtual classes being provided, they need a new revenue model. They need to earn a money so that they can open up after the lockdown and tackle all the issues thrown at their way. The entire lock down needs to be utilised in a very cost-effective manner and free sessions should not be provided readily.
Apart from this, a very fast email and social media campaign must be started so that people know about the presence of the entity. Moreover, people are using internet more nowadays and they are hungry for content. The level of interaction of fitness business has with the customers right now will impact its client retention and how quickly people will come to them after the lock down. The business should focus on community building and a customer centric approach.
Fitness centres that will use this lock down as the major opportunity to reinvent themselves will be in the best position to succeed after the lock down. At the same time, fitness centres that refuse and do not adapt them say was hoping that people will come to their gym after the lockdown must understand that people do not consider money over health. Rather people will be willing to spend extra money on fitness and will go to the fitness centres that have evolved and changed their ways.