When you first opened your gym, you put a lot of time and effort into how everything was going to operate. Reopening your gym is a lot like that, except it’s way more stressful and doesn’t have that new-gym smell.
In actuality, COVID-19 feels a little like opening your gym in a foreign country. Even though you’ve been given the (extremely vague and often confusing) rules, you don’t fully know how to speak the language yet and to make things even more exciting; your members are in varying stages of panic. Good times, and let’s all raise a (very stiff) drink to being an entrepreneur.
Whether we’re fully prepared or not, the show must go on because we’re here to make people better than they were yesterday. This is a huge and overwhelming task sometimes but it’s also one of the most honorable responsibilities on the planet. We’re giving people extra years on their lives, more life in their years, the ability to keep up with their kids, their fighting chance in a worldwide pandemic that’s been shown to attack the unfit.
So despite there being very few consistencies among countries, states and even cities, here’s a quick checklist for what we all have to do:
BE A LEADER.
One time I had a coach show up for class during the Open and after a quick stretch, told the athletes that they could choose between two different warm-ups. They all looked at him in bewilderment as if to say, “You mean we have to think today?” Let’s be honest: They pay us so that they don’t have to decide what to do when they come through our doors and guess what? These crazy times are no different. Let them know you have an organized plan.
One of the most unexpected compliments I got during this quarantine was in the first week, when one of my members thanked me for the update email and said, “It’s so reassuring to know you have a plan during all this uncertainty.” Even if you are literally just giving the illusion that you know what you’re doing, your athletes will appreciate your leadership and any feeling of normal amidst the chaos.
MOTIVATE YOUR MEMBERS TO MOVE.
Motivation is the core of what we do: We tell them to pick up heavy sh*t and put it down. Just kidding, we do that too. But more importantly, we make our athletes move and we motivate them to keep moving, day after day. Right now, that’s even more difficult as it doesn’t look anything like what it used to. For some of us, it’s at the gym but in smaller class sizes. For others, it’s in the middle of a park or online with Zoom. And for the rest, it’s praying to the gods of GPP that the people we used to coach every day have done at least a burpee once or twice in the last two months.
The goal of motivating our members to move remains the same even though the avenues are drastically different. Our athletes are at various levels, our cultures are diverse and even the services we offer vary from affiliate to affiliate, but no matter what, we need to provide our members the one thing they pay us for (either at the gym or at home): being better and stronger today than they were yesterday.
KEEP THEM SAFE.
Brace your core doing a deadlift. Wrap your thumb around the bar during pullups. Don’t whip your neighbor in the face during double-unders. When it comes to this kind of safety, we’re rock stars. But throw in a virus that robs us of our post-WOD fist bumps and we’re all like, ‘Ummm, HALP.’
What kind of sanitizing spray do I need and how often do I need to wipe everything down? Can I turn on my fans? Do I need UV lights? That one member that loves to chalk up for mountain climbers… is he going to cancel? Does Amazon sell self-cleaning wall balls? What’s my PR for rig sanitation?
Coronavirus has changed the game. We need to be meticulous in our quest to keep our members safe. We want them to feel confident in coming to our facilities and trust us with the best hour of their day.
Don’t stress, just be smart. Prepare your gym in a way that you’d feel safe sending your family members to. There’s no need to go overboard with experimenting, leave that to the actual scientists. There’s new info coming out every day but without definitive facts yet, no one can task you with a failsafe solution.
YOU’VE GOT THIS.
Also, don’t be too proud to ask for help or advice from gym owners whose states might be one phase ahead of you in reopening. Learning from others is how we get better and when it comes to our members’ safety, there’s no such thing as “too good.”
As we look toward navigating the next two, six, 18 months in this time of uncertainty, our best plan of attack is preparation with the ability to pivot. Have a plan, adapt as best you can, pivot when needed.
Oh, and check in on your fellow gym owners. We’re all in this together, stressing about the what-ifs, sanitizing ALL THE LIVE-LONG DAY and reminiscing back to the good old days when high-fives didn’t require PPE. Channel the enthusiasm you had on the day you opened your gym, when absolutely nothing would deter this dream you laid out for yourself, and use that to power through these long days of unpredictability. Remind yourself, as you would your athletes, that you CAN and you WILL. Be their leader, motivate them and keep them safe… with a sanitized six-foot distance and a smile.