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A simple guide to prepare your gym for reopening

After over a year of closures, gyms are finally preparing to reopen their doors again. But in post-COVID times, reopening needs a little bit more preparation. Gym owners are expected to introduce guidelines to ensure both member and staff safety. Here at PerfectGym, we’ve created a simple guide of how you can prepare your gym for reopening. 

A simple guide to prepare your gym for reopening

Although gyms are now able to reopen in some territories, they are required to follow government restrictions. One of these restrictions being a capped capacity to at least 50 per cent. So, this is something worth considering prior to reopening. Operating at capped capacity means at least half of the revenue, but the full cost of upkeep. Do think about these points before reopening your gym:

Reopening costs vs member engagement

Be aware of the costs associated with running your club. Sit down and work out whether reopening your gym to the public is a viable option for your club’s finances. F45 Belconnen's business strategy focuses on member retention. They understand that acquiring new members will cost them more than reopening at a limited capacity.  This is why Sam Issa, F45 Belconnen’s owner decided to reopen his gym as soon as he could, “even if it isn’t financially viable for just 20 clients at a time”. To him, member engagement is his top priority.

Ask yourself:

  1. Is reopening at a limited capacity cost-effective?
  2. What is important to me and my gym?
  3. Does member engagement outweigh gym maintenance costs?

Cost vs. memebr engagement


Capitalise on online content

If you were quick to jump on the online/virtual classes at the start of the pandemic, this doesn’t mean you have to give them up once you reopen. Creating a business plan that includes streaming online/virtual classes at a discounted price may allow your business to continue to bring in revenue. What’s more, it could be a way around capped capacity, offering both in-class and online spaces.

Ask yourself:

  1. How to incorporate online/virtual classes into your membership packages?
  2. How to price online/virtual classes?
    1. Add-on to existing memberships.
    2. Online/virtual-only memberships.

Don’t forget to review your pricing

It’s expected that not all members will return to their gyms when they reopen. The contributing factors include hard financial situations, loss of motivation or gym anxiety. Reviewing your membership prices may give members an incentive to return. Fee reduction can also encourage new members to join for the first time.

For existing clients

It’s important for your club to recognise loyal members. Loyal members that have kept their membership throughout the pandemic. If you offered online/virtual classes then recognise those members who have participated in them. You can do this by offering discounted add-ons for X amount of time. A discounted membership for a limited time is also an option.

IMPACTS, a firm responsible for making data-informed decisions, measured the value of new vs. renewed members. The case study looked at three criterias:

  1. Cost to acquire vs. retain members
    1. As the results show, it is easier to sell to an existing member than a new one. This is because the existing member has already been sold on your brand. They already associate with your company and what it stands for. 
    2. “The average total cost to acquire a new member was five time the cost of keeping an existing member”. Member cost by type


  1. The average annual revenue value 
    1. This criteria looks at on average how much revenue a new member and existing member brought. Here, both members started as new members in “Year 1”, and in “Year 2” only one renews. Renewing members are more invested with their club, and are more likely to spend more money accordingly. “The average total value of a renewed member was worth 35.7% more than of the average total value of a newly acquired member”.

Member revenue by type


  1. Net revenue of retained vs. new members
    1. “The average net value of a retained member was 66.1% greater then that of an acquired member”. Member net revenue


You can’t argue with hard numbers. Growing your member base is important, it allows your club to expand but retaining members is more important for your clubs revenue. So, when preparing to reopen, don’t forget to prioritise your existing gym members. 

For new clients

Although there are a lot of people who will not be returning to gyms, there are just as many who will. To encourage new member sign up, offer limited-time introductory promotions. Upon reopening, to encourage new member sign-up Pure Gym is offering a variety of promotions. The promotions range from limited time £0 joining fee to an additional 10% off the first 6 months for students. If that isn’t an incentive enough, they are also offering a 30% discount on fixed term memberships. Offering such value for money membership packages is sure to encourage new members to sign up.

Pure Gym offers


Has your business plan changed? Will your gym be now offering online classes as an add-on? Or maybe all your memberships will include online/virtual classes? If yes, it might be worth reviewing your gyms prices to reflect these changes. When reviewing membership prices keep in mind that COVID may have affected your member’s financial situations. 

Green Monkey Yoga in Miami, Florida offers a hybrid business model. Members are given the opportunity to decide whether they wish to attend in person or online yoga classes. Those members who chose virtual class drop-in will pay $10 per class in comparison to in-class drop-in which costs $25. 

Green Monkey in-class

Green Monkey Virtual


  1. Improve member communication

Effective communication with members is vital. So, before you reopen your gym, it might be useful to review your communication methods. To keep members engaged, it’s vital to find balance in just the right amount of communication. Below are three instances for which you may need to reconsider your communications:

Prevent existing members from churring

Regular communication can do wonders for member retention. Finding the right balance between not enough and too much communication is the key. Tailoring communication to member's interests can increase engagement and prevent members from leaving. So, before you reopen it’s good to reconsider your communication systems. Switching to a system that offers automated messages might be a good solution.

David Lloyd is a health, sport and leisure group that operates across Europe. To re-engage their members, David Lloyd decided to go with an image that is worth a thousand words. In the re-engagement email there is a sad teddy bear that quickly attracts attention. The sad expression of a teddy bear fit well with the headline “we feel lost without you”. 

David Lloyd Marketing Campaign


Re-engage members who have left

It costs 5 times as much to attract new customer than to keep an existing one. So you may want to consider focusing on those members who cancelled their membership. Reaching out to those members is much easier than reaching new members. This is because you already have all the necessary data on them, reducing your work by half. Check out our How to Outreach to Your Former Members blog article to find out useful tips to do this.

COVID announcements

The future is uncertain, that much we can tell you. No one can be certain whether after everybody has been vaccinated, life will return to normal. So, it’s important to have an automated messaging system in place. This system will make sending mass communications such as gym closures easy. It might be worth creating a system that will help you notify members if they've come in contact with COVID.

COVID announcments



How to prepare your gym for reopening under limited capacity 

At the start, we asked you to think if reopening your gym at a limited capacity is cost-effective. If you’re still reading this, it means that it is, which is great! Limiting your capacity will need some strategic thinking.

Be aware of the local capacity restrictions

Each country is easing off restrictions at their own pace. There are many factors that influence when and at what capacity gyms will reopen. For example many states in Australia have allowed gyms to reopen at a capped capacity. Whereas in California, each county can set its own capacity limits. This is dependent on the number of COVID cases. So, check the local guidelines before reopening your gym to ensure you're adhering to them.

Capacity management software

We don’t know how long your club will have to operate at limited capacity. So, it would be wise to think about investing in capacity management software. Such software will allow you to set a limit on the number of in facility members. With PerfectGym, staff will be able to check the live dashboard of current in facility members. The software will help your staff manage member wait time expectations.

Before visiting, members can check the club availability through the PerfectGym mobile app. This will reduce the number of calls your staff will have to answer regarding capacity. Through the mobile app or client portal, you will also be able to allow members to pre-book time slots for their workout. This will allow you to know exactly how many members to expect.

Keeping outdoor classes where possible

Of course, gyms cannot move all their equipment outdoors, this would be impractical. But, outdoor group classes can be an option now that it's getting warmer. So, if your gym has an outdoor space, plan to organise classes there. This will allow your gym to monetize from classes even when the capacity is capped. Upon reopening, you will be able to ensure member safety by doing this.

Offering a hybrid fitness class model

A hybrid business model offers live streaming of in-person classes. This brings gym experience to members who are not ready to return to a gym. You can do this by offering a limited number of in-person and online spaces which members can reserve. So, before your gym reopens, sit down and plan how many online and in-person spaces you can offer. A hybrid fitness model would help you navigate around the limited capacity.

Pre-booking is a must

The easiest way to check and limit capacity is by introducing a pre-booking system. The pre-booking system can be used within the hybrid model and within the gym. Before reopening, look up the capacity restrictions. Once you've done your calculations, you can set appropriate user limits. An online capacity management system will make it easy to set restrictions.

Class pre-booking system

Socially distance your equipment

Gyms like David Lloyds or PureGym are spacing their equipment. This is to ensure members keep a safe distance when working out. If you’re unable to do this, you can put out of use signs on every other machine. This is something that needs to be done before reopening your gym.

David Lloyds social distancing


Implement new cleanliness measures

Members safety should be your number one priority when preparing to reopen. So, before reopening your gym introduce strict cleaning and disinfecting guidelines. You should create guidelines for both members and staff to follow. Gyms around the world are coming up with innovative ways to keep gyms clean and safe for their members:

Maintaining high-level of cleanliness

Create a vigorous cleaning schedule to maintain high levels of hygiene. Remind staff of their responsibility to ensure regular disinfection of equipment. Put up posters to encourage disinfection of equipment before and after every use. Place touchless hand sanitisers through our facilities. This should limit the germs spread by encouraging regular disinfection. 

According to Boris Johnson's Roadmap out of Lockdown, gyms have been able to reopen on April 12. Amid reopening, New Forest Health and Leisure put up posters around their facility. These posters are meant to remind members to wipe down equipment. After all, 

*Wipe it down* For the health and well-being of other customers, please ensure you wipe down any equipment before and after use with the wipes provided. Thank you for your cooperation.

— New Forest Health and Leisure (@newforestl) March 5, 2020

Staff training should be regularly conducted

It is your responsibility as a gym owner to ensure your staff have the right materials to keep your club clean. So, before you reopen stock up on all the essentials. Think about organising a training to teach staff how to properly disinfect equipment. Create strict cleaning schedules to ensure staff is aware of their responsibilities. Maintaining a schedule will ensure staff complete this within a timely manner. If you’re interested in finding out more, check out our article on best practices for a hygienic facility

Cleaning schedule


Disinfecting stations should be easily accessible

Members should disinfect the equipment before and after every use. To ensure members are doing so, disinfecting stations should be accessible. As a gym owner, it is your responsibility to ensure this. So with your staff identify the most strategic points to place disinfecting stations.

Members should be responsible for cleaning the equipment used

Your members should also be responsible for maintaining cleanliness. Before reopening post reminders throughout the club. These reminders should inform members of the gyms safety guidelines. If your gym has a PA system, record announcements staff can play through the PA system

Rethink your air filtration system

As we’re on the subject of cleanliness, air flirtation should be mentioned here. COVID is an airborne virus, which means it can remain infectious when suspended in the air. So, gyms like SoulCycle are considering upgrading the air filtration systems. This is something you may want to think about as well before reopening. Upgrading to air purification technology will improve ventilation and reduce the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

An alternative to the above is the HVAC system. This system maximises the amount of fresh air collected from the outside. This ensures the air brought back into the facility is fresh. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed that improving building ventilation lowers the risk of covid-19 exposure

Health check policy 

Before reopening the gym, it would be wise to create a health check policy. This policy can include a consent form, temperature check and even a legal waiver. This is why you may need to think about these factors before reopening your gym:

  • Consent form -  the consent form can verify whether a member had contact with a sick person. It can also check that  they are not under quarantine at the moment of entering your facility. Through this form, you can also verify if the member doesn’t have any COVID symptoms. Having such form would ensure your staff and member safety. 
  • Temperature check - you can request for staff to check members temperature prior to entering your gym. 
  • Legal waiver - a legal waiver will ensure your gym is legally protected. The waiver states that the member is aware of the risks of entering your facility. They also understand that your gym is not liable if they contract COVID. What’s more, you can request for them to notify you if they contract COVID. Having a measure like this in place will allow you to notify other members and minimise the spread.

Temperature check


Prepare for the worst

Predicting the future in 2021 is impossible. There are so many uncertainties that it’s hard to predict what will happen. Many gyms have been able to reopen before closing again and reopening. So, it would be wise to have a plan in place which would prepare your gym for another potential closure. This plan can take into consideration your clubs finances, staff and virtual classes. Remember, it’s always better to be safe than sorry.

Concluding remarks

This has been a strange year for the fitness industry. It required a lot of creativity from the gym owners to ensure their gyms remain afloat. As restrictions begin to ease off, gyms begin to reopen. Before reopening, gym owners have to consider many factors to ensure member safety. By following this guide, you should put your gym to a good start before reopening.

Cover image source.

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