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As we continue to navigate the landscape that is COVID-19 and the “New Normal,” we’ve come to terms with the fact that things may never go back to how they were before. The simple act of shaking a stranger’s hand for the first time, or hugging a friend you haven’t seen in a minute both seem so foreign now. Almost to the point of, “I can’t believe we ever did that!” Think about getting adjusted by your favorite yoga teacher at your favorite studio. Or your personal trainer motivating you to do just one more rep on the bench press at the gym. Or even just a barre workout before brunch with your best friends.
Times have changed. You’re adapting. “The earth is healing.” Everything is different. But what does that mean for you “getting back into the swing of things” at your favorite fitness studios? We’re shining a light on what yoga and fitness studios are doing to reopen, as well as keep you safe, post-COVID-19.
No business is immune to what is happening right now (or has happened in recent months). And of the most impacted have been fitness studios; gyms, yoga, Pilates, HIIT, barre, etc. These fitness modalities have had to shutter doors and adapt quickly to a new virtual environment, one where their clientele must continue their yoga practice from their living room, personal training from their patios, barre in the bedroom, and Pilates in the kitchen... But now, with reopening plans being dispersed across the globe, we enter a new phase of “all of this.”
Whether apprehensive about returning to hot yoga, or ready for a sweat with a friend (or a mix of the two), fitness studios have been hard at work on their reopening plans and making sure every t is crossed, lower-case j is dotted, and regulation is followed to ensure your safety. Let’s look at what they’re doing to reopen post-COVID-19 and into the new normal:
In the new normal, will 6 feet be the go-to for space between one another? Too early to really tell, but for now, it is.
As we start to re-enter studios, there will most likely still be some sort of social distancing procedures. There will potentially be changes to the layout of your favorite studios. Additionally, class structures and sizes will change to allow for adequate social distance. Make sure you’re booking well in advance if you want the front bike, or primo spot near the instructor in your next yoga class.
Studios are paying super close attention to federal and state guidelines and updating as needed. Check your Mindbody app often to account for new rules and class times for your favorited and bookmarked fitness studios.
Potentially the most talked-about item on this list, you can expect fitness studios to take the sanitization and disinfecting and overall cleanliness of their spaces very seriously. Considering 65% of salons and spas plan to put their disinfection and sanitization practices into overdrive*, you can expect gyms and yoga studios to follow suit (and maybe even take it even further.) In fact, 92% of you polled* noted that the importance of studios following rigorous disinfecting guidelines will be a deciding factor if you visit them again or not.
You're pretty much guaranteed that all surface areas and floors will be sanitized regularly, and there will be plenty of tissues and hand sanitizer readily available. (Note: Don’t be surprised if you don’t see props in your next yoga class. Many studios will be doing away with them.) There's a chance you'll see signs across different fitness studios to remind you that cleaning is being done on the regular. Hopefully, this will give you a small piece of mind.
Bob Algard of Solid Rock Training in Normal, Oklahoma, re-opened recently after putting a focus on cleaning. “Every single day, we do a professional, deep clean, and then we also we disinfect. You could eat off our floors now—not that you’d want to.”
Questions about cleaning procedures, find your favorite studio on the Mindbody app, call them up, and ask. Right now, most everyone will want to let you know how they are keeping their spaces clean for you!
Keep an eye on what your studios are doing on social media and email. There will be a lot of content flowing through the Instagrams while everyone posts memes about reopening. But if you’re able to sift through the clutter, you will find your studios planning their social media strategies carefully, working to build up trust and awareness.
If you see repeat or similar messages, go easy on them. They may be getting creative to attract brand-new clients who are excited to check out the studio for the first time, in-person. Regarding content, expect to see:
• Welcome back videos
• Insider tours of the “new space”
• New products, features, and classes offered
• Sanitization and disinfecting routines and how-to's
• Updated class schedules
If you are going directly to your fitness studio’s website, chances are, you’ll be met with some new messaging, imagery, and navigation.
Studios most likely made some changes during COVID-19 regarding closures, COVID-19 specials, and virtual services. These pages will most likely remain, but they will be updated again with new information. (It might even be a good idea to bookmark them, if you still use bookmarks.)
Lauren McAlister of McAlister Training in San Luis Obispo, CA is busily updating her site to ensure her clients stay in the know. “Transparency is so important right now—and our clients deserve to know what we’re doing now, and what we’re planning for as we reopen, to keep them safe.”
With updates to today’s IRL landscape changing rapidly, you may see more pop-ups... but don’t be so down on them this time around. These pop-ups could have important reopening information and some pretty sweet promotions to book classes.
Be sure to check out the pricing page to see if there are new deals for virtual, in-person, and a blend of the two. Additionally, if your studio live-streamed before reopening, chances are they will have a library of that content for you to revisit when you’d like. Try to find that in case you’re in a pinch and need a quick yoga workout you know how to do.
As studios start to reopen, they will have to answer an important question: What happens to my membership now? There’s a chance you switched from your normal monthly membership to a virtual-only model? Or you’ve abandoned your membership altogether and are going class-to-class. Regardless, your fitness studio is thinking about it and planning for it.
Be on the lookout for re-introductory offers if you’re already a client of the studio. There’s a chance you may get a week free just for coming back, or other perks we all love.
If you’re considering a new studio, this could prove to be the most ideal time. We taught you why it’s the perfect time to try a different exercise during COVID-19 and shelter-in-place orders, but now it’s time to put those learning to IRL use. Reduced pricing for new members, and other introductory offers that seem too good to be true will be on display for you.
The check-in process will get a complete reevaluation and revamp. As mentioned, it’s not going to be uncommon for physical contact to be all but obsolete post-COVID-19. Studios will be very cognizant of crowding in the main lobby area and may work to eliminate all possible physical touchpoints. This is where booking ahead of time, through Mindbody is going to come in extra handy. We talked about reduced class sizes, and if you don’t book in advance, there’s a chance you won’t get into a class or the gym. Even salons and spas are talking about the “death of the walk-in,” and this is no different.
Pre-booking of classes may be required to limit crowding and contact at the front desk. Just keep that in mind and be sure to book in advance.
Keep in mind that your faves want your feedback on pre-booking and check-ins. John and Sierra Tarkington of Threshold Climbing and Fitness in Oklahoma City re-defined how their climbing gym operates, including pre-booking and creating zones for the climbing areas of the gym—all based on feedback from members. “We got really lucky and received stellar feedback for this first week of being open to our members—because we were able to think through a lot of those details.”
Let’s no sugarcoat it, okay. We’re all adults here. Regardless of what you think about all of this, there’s a chance that a second wave of COVID-19 may be coming. While that is less than ideal, the silver lining here is your studios are now very much more prepared for it to hit, as are you.
“Now that we know what to do during a temporary closure, we have a plan in place if we need to do it again,” McAlister says. “We really hope that doesn’t happen but we’re ready—and hope our clients are too—if it does.”
You now know what works and what doesn’t, as do your fitness studios, when you’re forced to shelter-in-place, and they are forced to temporarily closing and reopening your business. Hey, we might not need to plan for this at all! Wouldn’t that be good? But, just in case, do plan. It’s always better to be safe than sorry.
It seems like we’re all starting to reintroduce ourselves to the “real world,” whatever that means anymore. Whether you’re diving headfirst into your routines and chomping at the bit to get back to the studio, or are dipping one toe in at a time and taking baby steps back out into society, there’s no wrong way to do it.
Just remember some key things:
• Be patient
• Keep your distance and be respectful of others
• Show your studios some extra love
• Be well!
Let’s do this.
BONUS: If you’re a studio looking to reopen but need a little help, check out this free resource - Reboot Kit: How to Reopen Your Fitness Business Post COVID-19.
Well, here we are—a couple of months into 2021. A year that we all (still) hope will be much better than the last. This past year was nothing short of a dumpster fire—between the pandemic, ongoing racial injustice, and the most dramatic election ever, 2020 was riddled with anxiety, grief, anger, and was just downright exhausting.
Heck—if somebody even dared to ask me how I was doing last year, I couldn’t help but roll my eyes and say, “Omg I can’t even.” I mean, what other year can you think of that became its own expression? When something would go horribly awry, we would literally blame it on the year by saying, “2020, am I right?” complete with a sheepish chuckle —and eventually some tears when you realized just how many times you’ve said those words. Seriously, I lost count a long time ago. It was not healthy.
Sorry, tangent—where was I? Ah yes, 2021. The good news is there’s still hope that this year won’t make us want to roll into a tiny little ball on the floor and cry. Well, at least not as much as its predecessor—I’m not a miracle worker, you guys. However, I do have some wellness tips to help you stay just a little bit cooler, calmer, and collected-er this year.
If there’s one thing we learned last year, it’s that wellness is always here for us. Maybe at this time last year, your goal of going to Pilates five days a week came to a screeching halt as fitness studios were required to shut down to protect the community. For a time, we were all frazzled because our usual workouts and wellness routines were turned upside practically overnight. I think I speak for us all when I say that our favorite fitness class, and the community that comes with it, plays a huge role in our overall happiness. The good news is the wellness industry has come a long way in just under a year.
While it is true that some areas still aren’t allowing the in-studio experience for their workout classes due to the pandemic, we have more options to practice wellness safely than ever before. Right now, some studios are allowed to operate with in-person, socially distanced classes—and pretty much every studio broke into the virtual space to provide fitness classes you could participate in from the comfort of your own home. Not to mention, at-home virtual options are typically cheaper and allow you to try our studios from all over the country. With online gym memberships like Mindbody Flex, you can have access to thousands of live stream classes at your fingertips for less than $5 per class.
Look, 2020 was scary. After a year like that, it’s can be hard to tap into a positive mindset. But it’s more important now than ever before to let go of assumptions and focus on the good that 2021 can bring. This shift to acceptance will ultimately help you put your best foot forward in any situation that arises.
Take a step back and try to focus on the things we can be grateful for in this moment. Like what? Well, for starters more and more people are receiving the COVID-19 vaccination, which means things are slowly, but surely, getting back to normal. I, for one, am grateful that my at-risk family members have already received their first rounds of vaccinations and are on the path of staying healthy since they are protected from the coronavirus.
The best thing we can do right now for our mental health is to learn to give ourselves some grace through practicing self-care. And this can look different for everyone. Maybe your version of self-care comes in the form of daily journaling, getting a workout session in, curling up with a good book, or having that glass of wine while taking a bubble bath. Whatever makes YOU feel good—keep doing it.
To keep my mental health in check, something that I’ve started incorporating into my daily self-care routine is practicing mindfulness. Some days that means I focus on my breathwork practice—other days I may scroll through the Mindbody app to find a virtual meditation class or Yoga Nidra class. I’ve also embraced the motto there’s an app for that. Right now, I’m really loving the Headway app because it helps me set daily intentions from the moment I wake up with a morning survey and then checks in with me at the end of the day with an evening survey. Having the ability to write down my goals and hold myself accountable for them has really taken my self-care routine to the next level.
Some days we fall a little short of our goals—and guess what? THAT’S OKAY. Honestly, I think we should all just focus on being okay for the rest of the year. The past year caused us to be tough on ourselves and I encourage you to make this year kinder. Any new goals you set that involve changing habits or overhauling your lifestyle will likely have some setbacks. So, when that happens, remember to be compassionate with yourself.
If there’s anything I want you to take away from this blog post is to let go of the illusion that perfection is always the end goal. When in doubt I always remind myself of something my favorite spin instructor (hey Steph!) says: “If you look for perfection, you'll never be content. Just focus on your growth.” Allow that to sink in and make it a goal to remind yourself of this every single day.
And remember: You don’t have to—and really shouldn’t—give up hope that things will get better this year, even if you feel overwhelmed now. Having a positive mindset is never a silly thing. In fact, it is actually quite admirable; you’re an admirable badass.