What does the new normal look like for boutique fitness studios in Singapore?
Covid-19’s impact on studios across Singapore
We saw a glimmer of hope for many fitnessprenurs as the Minitry of Health (MOH) Singapore announced the commencement of mask off fitness activities as of 10th August. Due to the volatile situation faced by many fitnesspreneurs, the heightened alert period forced many studios to close their operations. MOH has loosened its reins but is still following an all-hands-on deck strategy to reduce close contact spreading.
With such strict measures in place, many fitness studios have taken to restructuring schedules, implementing social distancing initiatives and adopting a hybrid business model, leveraging on virtual tools to engage clients. Under the new regulations, studios are expected to maintain a “2-metre physical distancing between individuals for general physical activities. 3-metre physical distance between individuals for indoor high intensity or high movement exercise classes unless the nature of activity requires the distance to be shortened.” Some of the other imposed regulations for gyms are as follows (from CNA):
Outlook on the fitness industry
Despite these challenges, there is positive news for aspiring fitnesspreneurs with many businesses announcing increases in membership purchasing. Market research firm Nielsen has reported a trend among millennials with a stronger focus on wellness and healthy living, and 49% of survey respondents believing that good health is important to reach personal goals. Millennials have become an important customer segment, purchasing fitness and gym memberships to help them cope with burnout during the pandemic.
Another interesting trend that has been noticed is the rise of niche markets such as pole dancing, KPOP fitness and twerk fitness classes. Customers are moving away from one-size-fits-all offerings to specialized and unique offerings.
Finally, digitalization seems to be the new kid in the block. We foresee that studios will now need to adapt to new norms with workplaces moving towards telecommuting arrangements. Many now enjoy breaking a sweat from the comfort of their homes without enduring the commute to fitness gyms and studios. Pre-recorded and live virtual sessions have grown into a popular trend across the APAC region.
Digital Engagement during COVID-19
1.Techniques and Coaching Styles
Digital engagement is undoubtedly challenging. It is often difficult to capture the complete attention of clients in a virtually simulated environment, therefore instructors should consider the ambience settings of the classes. Some studios may consider themed classes by changing up their feel-good music and surroundings. This can help boost interaction for class offerings and encourage better engagement.
2. Fitness Challenges
Creating interactive challenges that push clients to meet their fitness goals, can serve as useful motivation for them. It can be powerful to create virality through these challenges to leverage on word-of-mouth marketing and build your fitness community.
The use of rewards to nurture customer loyalty can be a powerful strategy. Some rewards that you can give include crediting free class credits or trial packages to customers to encourage them revisit your studio. Customers may feel a stronger sense of value and recognition which can help sustain long-term conversions.
Operationalizing online boxing classes, spin and personal training classes
1. Spinning to your own beat
With the roaring success of Peloton during the Covid-19 period, spin studios have also taken the opportunity to rent or sell indoor spin bikes and equipment to their members, as well as creating content that allows students to access spin classes in the comfort of their homes. Some spin studios offer live streaming classes with their pop-star instructors, while others offer on-demand videos that their clients can stream at their own time and convenience.
2. Boxing the blues away
Boxing fitness gyms have also taken to social media platforms to encourage their clients to sustain their boxing fitness classes at home. We have seen many gyms that have leveraged on instagram to demonstrate boxing techniques, and IGTV to stream boxing classes that clients can easily follow along to.
For clients who are unable to access equipment, these gyms have created no equipment burn routines such as air boxing to cater to the needs of their clients.
3. Meeting your personal training goals
Most personal training sessions are a private engagement between trainer and their client. Trainers have taken to digital platforms to communicate diet plans and training techniques through videos that are pre-recorded or live streamed. Live streaming classes allow for a fair level of personalisation and interaction between the trainer and the client. Third party softwares such as Zoom, Microsoft Teams and Google Meets continue to enable a high level of customisation for personal trainers.
For studios to remain competitive it’s important to establish a flexible business model that can adapt to the uncertainty of the COVID-19 fitness environment. Government regulations may dappen plans but creating a fully connected online-to-offline capability can help you beat the COVID-19 blues.
This article was written by Kimera Naidoo.