What to Communicate in a Pandemic to Engage Your Gym’s Members

As your members adjust to all the changes in your club, communicating and maintaining relationships with your members is more important than ever. Here’s what to communicate to keep members engaged, informed, and confident about coming back.

Updated September 28, 2020

Since the beginning of the coronavirus crisis, the number one thing we’ve heard from industry leaders is that in order to maintain their business, communication is key.

Whether it’s through email, newsletters, or daily social media posts, leaders say your members are more likely to stay loyal if they are well-informed. It’s critical to divulge information your members will want and need. In that aspect, your business will be able to keep your members engaged through the remainder of this crisis and into your eventual reopening.

But be sure to communicate that to your members. Here’s how.

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Transparency Is Key

It is no secret that nearly every business in every industry across the globe has felt the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Your members want to stay in the loop. They want to know what your club is experiencing and how you plan to handle any impacts to your business and to their membership.

Be sure to share the good news, too. Let your members know the contributions you’re making to your community. Have you been able to donate supplies, support local charities, or offer free virtual workouts? Let them know!

IHRSA has already heard from many health clubs that are working hard to keep their membership engaged and healthy through virtual classes or by supporting nonprofit organizations who are helping those who are affected. Let us know what your company is doing via email to membernews@ihrsa.org.

Managing Your Health Club Memberships

As we’ve said in a recent article, by considering the best interests of your business and your membership base, you can create a scenario that brings in much needed revenue, keeps staff employed, and keeps your members engaged—and healthy.

Health club members have been vocal about how their gyms have handled their memberships—both positively and negatively.

Get ahead of your members by letting them know how you are working to accommodate membership needs, what their new or revised dues options are, and explain new virtual and on-site offerings, what your class structure looks like and what your future club goals are. Promote new classes, policies, and procedures as much as possible, on any and all platforms that your club uses. See what some IHRSA clubs have done in their communities.

Be transparent about how membership dues are allowing you to keep instructors employed—even if just virtually—and ensure your club is equipped with all the safety measures needed to protect members and staff.

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Considerations After You Reopen

“There is widespread consensus that the future of gyms will be changed forever,” Brent Darden wrote in a letter to the industry. “This prediction is counterbalanced with the reality that although there may be some shifting related to how services are delivered and priced, clubs will essentially return to traditional practices.”

As governments revise plans on how you are allowed to operate your facility, it’s imperative to let your members know they are returning to a safe environment. Let them know what safety and cleaning measures you are implementing and how you plan to continue keeping your club safe.

Share with your members how you safeguard high-touch areas, equipment, locker rooms, group X areas, etc. You can assure them that you're following the World Health Organization and other national health authority recommendations and guidelines for maintaining social distancing and cleanliness.

Another consideration is the future of your membership dues structure. Will members be able to expect their dues to stay as they were pre-pandemic? Will there be rejoining fees?

Because of possible new changes, continue to keep your members informed of any new updates to hours, services, class offerings, limitations to schedules, virtual workout plans—and your plan if there is a resurgence of COVID-19.

Communicating with your members is one of the most proactive ways to keep them engaged during this pandemic. In this way, you’re letting them know they are a vital part of your community, and their health and safety is your priority.

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Author avatar

Carolynn Jordan

Carolynn Jordan previously served as IHRSA's Member Communication Specialist—a position that developed outreach for IHRSA members to gain knowledge on how to best use their benefits and stay engaged in the IHRSA community.