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Creative Ways Fitness Businesses Are Approaching Life in the COVID Landscape

By Lauren McAlister

November 24, 2022

The heart of any fitness business is its community. Especially during an unsettling and unknown time, keeping your community connected to your business—and connecting with one another—is more important than ever. At our fitness studio in San Luis Obispo, California this is the top priority right now, too.  

So, how can we as business owners do this when we’ve limited our schedules or closed altogether? We'll have to get creative. There are certain initiatives we can all take—from marketing campaigns to online classes—to stay engaged with customers and continue to bring in potential clients even if they can’t meet with us face-to-face.

Coronavirus may have closed our doors, but it doesn’t mean our businesses have to close. With the help of our fellow fitness businesses, we’ve compiled a variety of ways to keep our members connected and revenue coming in.

  1. Keep memberships active with live streaming classes. Offer classes live, and if you’re a personal trainer, you can do virtual one-on-one or small group training.

  2. Offer on-demand workouts for clients to watch (and re-watch). If you prefer a more polished look, pre-record workouts to share with your members. That way they can sweat with you from home whenever their schedule allows. Here are tips from an expert on how to make a top-notch video.  

  3. Create workouts just for kids. With kids home from school, parents everywhere are feeling a little bit stressed. Whether you live stream, record on-demand, or simply share a printable workout, both parents and children will appreciate movements that can be done together or specifically with kiddos in mind. We’ve made it into a game by incorporating a deck of cards, but dice work, too. It’s a great way to get some energy out. Here's how to create kids workouts to keep your members engaged.

  4. Network and cross-promote with your neighbors. All our small businesses are feeling the pinch, so talking with one other and sharing ideas will help the entire community and put us in contact with businesses who can help promote your online classes. 

  5. Let your local media know what you’re up to. Pitch your live stream and/or your on-demand workouts and provide all relevant details. Our studio was grateful to be featured on the local news along with other local businesses offering online workouts.  

  6. Use social media to connect with customers. If your members follow you on Instagram, use stories as an opportunity to showcase what you’re up to and local resources available to them (including those businesses you’re cross-promoting). Jenny Schatzle of Bond Fitness in Santa Barbara, California is doing just that for her community—she’s sharing workouts on Instagram Live daily and keeping her community motivated with regular Instagram Stories

  7. Create a members-only Facebook group. Again, use social media to your advantage. Make it private and encourage members to engage by sharing healthy recipes and Netflix recommendations, coordinating FaceTime workouts, and offering exclusive content from your business. Consider marketing your Facebook group as a perk of being a member to help maintain autopays during this time.  

  8. Start an at-home challenge. Challenges help keep clients motivated throughout the year—and in a time like this, an extra dose of motivation will be just what your community needs. Have fun with an at-home plank or squat challenge with rewards like discounts or free swag. Our studio is hosting an at-home bingo challenge to keep our community engaged. To get the word out, we used our members-only Facebook group.

  9. Do a review campaign. Your loyal customers want to help you, and getting more reviews is a great way to engage them while strengthening your brand (and your SEO), too.

  10. Let your customers pre-buy packages, memberships, or services. Loyal members will feel good knowing they’re helping our businesses in the short-term so they can receive the services they love (hint: our workouts) later down the line.  

  11. Discount memberships or packages. Ideal? No. But if discounting memberships and/or packages for a month means saving clients in the long term, it's worth considering. Turnstyle Cycle in Boston, Massachusetts has special COVID-19 discounts on class packages with extended expiration dates to keep cash flowing even while they’re closed.

  12. Ramp up retail. Whether it’s offering to send swag packages, opening an online retail store, or both, our clients will be looking for gear to wear and use while at home. Our studios can help them out with branded sweatpants, bands, or other equipment, and more.  

  13. Take it outside. This may not work for everyone, so be sure to check any municipal government, logistical, or weather-related restrictions—especially if your city or county has sheltering in place restrictions like ours. For those who can, however, moving workouts to the great outdoors will help clients get their sweat on with ample room to spread out. CSS Wellness in Lexington, Kentucky took the first three parking spots in front of their gym and turned it into a mini classroom.

  14. Rent or check out your equipment. Some members may not have access to the equipment they’ll need to effectively work out at home—and won’t be able to go to the store to purchase. Rent equipment like weights, kettlebells, yoga straps, and yoga blocks for a fee or as an exclusive perk for continuing a membership. Here's how to get started.

  15. Host an online workshop or workshop series. Give paying members additional value with a single or series of online workshops on topics like foam rolling at home, proper form, nutrition, breath, etc. Offer workshops for free to paying members and charge for those individuals who’ve cancelled but want to tune in.  

  16. Pick up the phone and call, text, or FaceTime your members. That’s right, we’re talking good old-fashioned connection. If our clients aren’t seeing us in person, they’ll miss those interactions. Make their day by contacting them directly and letting them know you’re thinking of them. It’s a simple gesture that means a lot—several of our clients told us so. 

Doing something unique or creative to reach your customers? Send us an email—we'll be adding to this list as ideas come in.

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About the author:

Lauren McAlister

Lauren McAlister

Senior Marketing Content Specialist


Lauren is the co-owner of a fitness studio and a certified Nutritional Therapy Practitioner (NTP). Born and raised in California, Lauren has a heart for fitness, travel, and baking. She's also passionate about crafting meaningful content for others in the wellness space, which makes her role at Mindbody a perfect fit.


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