Health Club Management_April_ 2020

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C o ro n av i r u s

How did Chinese clubs tackle the shutdown? While Europe and the US are in the thick of coronavirus shutdowns, health clubs in China are starting to reopen. Jak Phillips examines how three Chinese operators tackled the challenge of the pandemic and came out ahead


athematician John Allen Paulos famously wrote, “Uncertainty is the only certainty there is…” China’s health club operators would almost certainly agree, having spent the past three months battling unprecedented challenges at the epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic. But despite having to close their doors for two months as the country went into lockdown, many clubs were able to survive, and indeed thrive in spite of the uncertainty, building their digital presence in a matter of weeks to dramatically transform their businesses. Now, in April, as much of the rest of the world starts to adjust to life in lockdown, gyms all over China are reopening their doors, welcoming back

existing members and also new customers they’ve attracted with their online offerings. So how did they pull through the biggest crisis clubs have ever faced? And what can the rest of the fitness world learn from their approach? Here are 12 key insights into how Chinese clubs overcame the challenges of the coronavirus disruption.

Across every industry, coronavirus has forced businesses to re-think their go-to-market strategy. For the Chinese clubs featured in this article, this has meant ripping up the rule-book and using coronavirus as the catalyst for a completely new approach to meeting people’s fitness needs. Necessity has been the mother of invention. Operators who previously relied entirely on visits to their gyms to bring in revenue have been forced to reconsider their strategies. In these cases, they’ve emerged from the lockdown with complementary digital channels, more efficient systems, plus fresh opportunities to grow their revenue and customer base. By looking at new ways to support their employees and customers during a crisis, these agile club businesses have unearthed solutions that will set them up for greater success as fitness evolves towards a new normal.

photo: lefit

Rip up the rule book


April 2020 ©Cybertrek 2020

In a country where the average family home has just three occupants, going into lockdown instantly sparked increased demand for online communities and shared experiences, so gyms were quick to step up and forge connections with their members. For Asia-based premium operator Pure International Group, which has seven clubs in Shanghai and two in Beijing, this meant mobilising

photo: lefit

Clubs quickly built a digital presence to stay connected to members

photo: shutterstock

Strengthen personal connections