#43: 3 Major Operational Pivots to Be Successful Post COVID-19


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Why We’re Back

  • Gym industry is getting zero support, 0.4% yet we’re closed, we need information out there to help gyms rebuild. Not coming at this from a position of expertise, more “here’s what we’re doing, here’s how it’s going.” No one knows shit right now.
  • Idea is for you to perhaps consider 1-2 things we say each episode, not mirror our entire operation.


A brief recap of financials from March to now. We’ll avoid the weeds here and instead focus on the end game numbers.

  • March 1: 904 active
  • June 1: 625 active (-32%)
  • Nov 1: 782 (-14%)
  • Dec 1: 765 (-16%) mostly seasonal

What we did: rent equipment, moved online, home workouts, etc. Same thing we all did as an industry.

PIVOT #1: A garage gym in every station

Everyone did zones, we did mini gyms planted in them. More about experience than safety. We wanted people to come in and not only feel safe, but feel upgraded.

  • 49 squat racks, sets of rings, boosted inventory of free weights.
  • Emphasis on safety and distancing. Didn’t hide behind it, we broadcasted it.
  • Downside: Major loss of availability, class waitlists, loss of potential revenue
  • 225 daily spots to 153 per location (in a full schedule). Down 32%
  • We’ve trying to use it as a strength → more hands on coaching, personal connection, and from a business perspective we’ve owned it and turned it into a membership waitlist to drive scarcity.

TAKE AWAY: How can you not just be safe, but improve the experience that’s on brand for you?

PIVOT #2: Narrow Service Offerings

We paused all specialty classes, badly attended classes, open gym, nutrition coaching and everything else that wasn’t “Come to class and get fit.”

  • Do more with less, no convoluted messaging. All for one, one for all mentality. Addition by subtraction.
  • Absolute clarity to our marketplace on what we offer and we can communicate unquestioned competence in that.
  • Talk about why multiple offerings right now would convolute things: paradox of choice, increased staff tasks.

Result is a membership all on the exact same page, who want to be here, and will help you rebuild. No passive aggressive resentment. Huge if anyone wants to have a successful culture after all this.

TAKE AWAY: Where does addition by subtraction exist for you? What superfluous service are you still providing?

PIVOT #3: Being in an Open Relationship with Old Ways

  • Use some old, create some new. If you look at pre COVID expectations, you’ll chase the wrong rabbit.
  • Old acquisition, churn, attendance, projections, etc.
  • Be ready to add or do things you previously were against: ie. closed our Crown Point location, offered Remote Training, Price Increases
  • If your training style is pigeon-holed, I think it may be tough for you, ie. powerlifting gym, CrossFit traditionalist, etc. who rely on strict and specific tools and layout.

TAKE AWAY: What about your offering is inflexible? Can it be made flexible?

In All Of It -- Direct Communication

  • Consistent place for members to find what’s going on.
  • Full honesty, no pulling punches or spins. No sugar coating if it was an answer people didn’t want to hear.
  • Allowed problem members to leave without fighting for them. Rather than passive language stringing them along…”This is not coming back right now.”

The crazy thing is, I think we both feel like we like the gym more than we did one year ago.

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