Navigating the Reopening of Your Fitness Facility in the Midst of COVID-19 | Market Muscles

Navigating the Reopening of Your Fitness Facility in the Midst of COVID-19

by Sarah Jane Blakely
Reopening Fitness Facility

After months of virtual training, states are starting to allow fitness facilities to reopen. Along with the relief and excitement of opening your doors again, you’ve probably got a million and one questions about how to handle this next phase. How should you approach reopening? What does reopening mean for your virtual programs? 

Stephen Reinstein, Market Muscles founder, and Cris Rodriguez, founder of Grow Pro Agency and owner of Gracie Pac MMA, recently went live in the Martial Arts Entrepreneurs Facebook group to discuss strategies and tactics for a successful reopening. Here, we’ll take a look at their most asked questions:

First, let’s take a look at some of the pieces that have made virtual programs successful.

As Cris has seen firsthand, the schools that launched virtual programs have had better retention throughout the pandemic, plain and simple. The owners that immediately pivoted to offering engaging online classes have seen a higher number of students keep their memberships. 

Not just simply offering an online class, but ensuring the class is engaging has led to success of many virtual programs. Being able to recognize individual students, give pointers, and create an all around engaging virtual experience kept members coming back.

Communication with parents increased and creativity with online events allowed Cris’s school, Gracie Pac, to keep their entire team. Each person had a specific job to fulfill, and each role played into the success of the virtual training program.

Should you continue to offer virtual programs, even after your facility is open?

Cris says you should consider a few things before deciding to run Zoom classes forever. Once you have people on the mat, you’ve got to be sure that you’re able to engage with BOTH your in-facility students and your online class attendees. Streaming a class is not the same thing as running a virtual class that allows you to engage your students and keep them excited.  

Now, when everyone is online, you’re able to call out individual students and pay attention to each person that’s logged on. The individual attention is part of what makes the online classes so successful. Unless you’ve got the staff dedicated to both in-facility and online students, you’ll undoubtedly have someone feeling left out.

Running virtual classes once your facility is open may be more work than anticipated. That’s not to say it won’t be successful, but it’s important to have systems in place to make sure everyone is getting what they signed up for. Virtual community events, intro classes, and private lessons may be a good starting point! The digital aspect of classes can be a great supplement to your in-facility classes.

So, what does the process of reopening look like?

First, you’ve got to confirm you have permission from your state to reopen. State guidelines vary, and the amount of people allowed in your facility at any given time could vary from state to state. As states move into different phases of reopening, those guidelines will change.

How will you know if your members are ready to come back?

For Gracie Pac, the parents’ feedback alone told them about half were ready to come back in and half were not. The school didn’t feel the need to poll, but that is an option if you’d like to gauge potential attendance. If you want to poll your members to see if they’re ready, try to use an anonymous form like Survey Monkey.

Now, things are different because you have to communicate and make sure people are comfortable coming through your doors. Convey what your plan is so that they feel ready to take the next step and come into classes. Cris did a Facebook live for Gracie Pac, recorded it, and then shared it with all of their members.

Give a visual of exactly what reopening will look like. 

Are you using UV lights or ozone machines? Do you have professional cleaners? Taking temperatures and writing them down when students arrive for class? Where are your sanitization stations?

Ask your parents to have their children use the restroom BEFORE coming to class. Convey that you’re still practicing social distancing. Be vocal and let your members know exactly what’s going on.

What happens if someone comes into your school and you later find out they’ve been exposed?

You have to set up a protocol for this situation. Multiple different scenarios could potentially occur, and we’ll see them more and more as schools begin to open. It’s bound to happen, so sitting down with your team and figuring out how you’ll navigate the situation is a necessity.

Will you require COVID-19 testing for the exposed individual? When will they be allowed back? At what point should you communicate with your members?

While reopening will likely look at least slightly different for every school, the one aspect that will ease the process for everyone is communication. Communicate with your staff, members, and parents and encourage them to communicate with you. 

If there’s anything Market Muscles can add to your website to help, just let us know! A pop-up to let your members know what your plan is may be a good place to start. If you’re planning to continue online classes, building out your ActiveVault student portal will be helpful, too. As always, send an email to support@marketmuscles.com with any questions or updates you have!