We are in the middle of some crazy times, and that craziness has brought about a lot of economic worries. Many of us in the fitness industry saw our incomes drop drastically at the end of March as gyms shut, and many found themselves wondering how they were going to pay the bills. I was one of those people and found my income drop by over 65% practically overnight. I thought I had been doing pretty well to recession proof myself - I have a rental property, some shares and a diverse range of ways to earn money as a fitness pro. But when gyms shut and the stock market crashed at the same time, all my income vanished. This led to a lot of sleepless nights and a lot of research and strategising, some of which I'm going to share with you today. So, here are the three best ways I feel you can recession proof your fitness business:
1. Create multiple streams of income
Now I thought this was one of the things I was doing really well pre-lockdown. For anyone who hasn't read my previous content, I am a group fitness manager at a gym in London, teach group fitness classes, swimming lessons and am a sports massage therapist. I had a lot of different ways of earning money, but they all relied on me being there in person.
I now believe that the key to surviving any economic crisis is to have an online service or business. Amazon have seen sales skyrocket since the end of March as nobody can physically get to the shops and supermarkets have had unprecedented demand for home deliveries. If you have an online service to offer then you can continue to market it even if your customer doesn't live in the same area as you. You can market and deliver it when you are stuck in your own home, on holiday or simply anywhere with an internet connection. You could deliver workouts via Zoom, create online programs for clients, write e-books or sell a membership program, for example.
Now I also believe that in-person services aren't dead, despite what some voices around the industry have been saying. Humans are a social species and we like to interact and connect with others, so there will always be a demand for face-to-face coaching and classes. I believe that a real recession proofed business will have both an in person element and an online element. If your in-person PT services are doing really well then you can simply lean into that a little bit more and focus your efforts there. If you want to take a 6 month break to go and travel the world then you can start to amplify and promote your online offering more. Having both elements gives you flexibility to create a business that suits you and also gives you security and insurance.
2. Create a service that gives more value than it costs
Put simply, if you charge £200 for a month's worth of PT sessions, you need to deliver more to them in terms of results and value than that £200. A PT or gym membership can often be seen as an unnecessary expense, something that is quick to cut when clients are looking to dial back their expenses. This is where you need to make yourself invaluable. Clients may come to you because you are someone who provides guidance, not just on their physical fitness, but on their mental health, relationship with food or simply your sessions may be a great stress relief for them. Make sure you can offer additional services than just a PT session or group fitness class. Be a listening ear, be their motivation, be the person who keeps them accountable and you will start to become a necessity in their life. If you are the person who is helping them to create good habits like self-discipline and determination, they will be unlikely to sack you off when they need a bit of cash freeing up.
3. Do something different
By going on Instagram, you'd be inclined to feel that the fitness industry is over-saturated. There's a sea of influencers doing some weird booty workout, wearing head to toe Gymshark and giving out knowledge (although not all of it good/correct knowledge!!) for free. You may feel like you struggle to stand out from the crowd and make yourself heard. I feel the best way to do this is simply to do something different. This is what I am trying to create with GFT. As far as I know, I am the only group fitness manager in the UK who is creating training and services for the people in my field of expertise.
Maybe you have a history of competitive sport, maybe you are ex-military, have competed in bikini comps, done triathlons, run marathons, are super knowledgeable about strength and conditioning, provide unrivalled nutrition support, are the go to pre/post natal trainer. Whatever it is, find what makes you different and lean into it. Think of the biggest companies in the world; Amazon, Disney, Google, Apple, Facebook. All the founders of these businesses did something that their competition weren't doing... and look how that turned out for them!
So there are the three ways in which I think you can recession proof your fitness business. If you enjoyed this content I'd also recommend you check out this article, on how to survive and thrive in the competitive fitness industry.