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

During times of social distancing, fostering relationships with your members is more important than ever. Here’s what to communicate to keep members engaged and informed.

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.

“The current situation is dire indeed and there will be fallout in our industry affecting clubs and members,” said Brent Darden, principal of Brent Darden Consulting, in a letter to the industry. “So many clubs are worried about just surviving by any means possible, and rightly so. Adopting a mindset that you will make it through this and thrive when it is over is a positive start. Pushing the reset button and planning your revival will help ensure a successful future.”

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

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Transparency Is Key

It is no secret that every business in every industry across the globe is feeling 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! Watch how one CEO is working hard to pay his instructors.

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 were able to accommodate membership needs, what their new or revised dues options are, and explain what—if anything—is available to them in return for their dues, such as virtual services. If you are providing options beyond normal membership, promote these as much as possible, on any and all platforms that your club uses. See what some IHRSA clubs have done in their communities.

If you continue to collect dues, let them know why and how it is helping you keep instructors employed online and will help your doors open as soon as it is possible.

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Prepare for Your Reopening Plan

“There is widespread consensus that the future of gyms will be changed forever,” Darden wrote in his letter. “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 begin to draft plans that will allow you to open up your facility, it’s imperative to let your members know they will be returning to a safe environment. Let them know what safety and cleaning measures you are implementing now and if you’ve deep cleaned during shutdown.

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

Another serious 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 regulations, reopening might not be a typical event. Before setting a date, you have to inform your members of any new changes to hours, services, class offerings, limitations to schedules, virtual workout plans—and your plan if there is a resurgence of COVID-19 after you reopen.

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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Carolynn Jordan

Carolynn Jordan is the Member Communication Specialist for IHRSA. She develops outreach that helps IHRSA members best use their benefits and stay engaged in the IHRSA community. When she isn’t working, Carolynn is likely researching what city she’ll run her 10th marathon in.