This Message Is Only for You, the Fitness Operator Feeling Alone and Adrift During the COVID-19 Pandemic

(Photo by Ridofranz/Getty Images Plus.)

Right now is the worst time to feel alone, like you are the only person on the lifeboat who doesn’t know how to put on the life vest, and no one seems to notice that you need help. You don’t know who to turn to, who to ask for help because you don’t have the connections you always had planned to create in the fitness industry. You may feel paralyzed right now, not sure what decisions are the right ones and having no one to run your ideas by. You may be waiting to hear the perfect plan from someone so that you can copy that.

But here’s the deal: There is no perfect plan. As Brent Gallagher, co-owner of Avenu Fitness, told me: “Everyone’s waiting, holding, idling for the perfect plan to come together instead of taking massive quick actions and asking for a lot of grace from their community of clients and members as they seek out the best ways to continue serving them during this time.”

But waiting is really a course of inaction. And inaction gets you no where. So here is what Gallagher recommended: “Just do something. Don’t keep meeting about it. Test it out. What you do today might be wrong tomorrow, but at least you’re moving forward.  If there’s ever been a time to try out something new without upsetting clients and members, now is that time….as long as you communicate clearly with them about the awkward steps you’re taking, how internet connections will be lost, tempers will be short, and tomorrow, things might all change.“

I thought that was excellent advice. And then I spoke with Crystal Reynolds, owner of 43 Degrees North Athletic Club, who shared how much she longed to run ideas by someone and wasn’t there some sort of group she could belong to that was small and intimate that she could be a part of?

Why yes, that are roundtables in the industry and private Facebook groups, but if you need help now and want a more intimate group, then Club Industry wants to put you in touch with other club operators who also want to develop a group of contacts, mentors, mentees and advisors who can help them through this difficult time and continue to be resources as clubs begin reopening—and even after the COVID-19 crisis.

So let Club Industry hand you a life vest and connect you with others who can help you put that on.

If you want to be a part of an intimate group of about six to eight operators of facilities similar to yours, then email me at [email protected] with the following information: your name, title, email address, phone number, club name, location, number of members and club type (studio, multipurpose commercial club, YMCA, university rec center, etc.). I will gather details from others who also email me, put a few groups together and connect all groups of six to eight of you together based on your facility type.

Here is the deal, though. If you reach out and want to be connected, you have to go all in. You have to be an active participant in this group. I will ask one person to be the initial leader, which will entail getting calls together on a regular basis. The leader will work with the group to decide how often the group will have a call. The leader does not have to have the answers to every question. The leader simply is tasked with ensuring the group continues to meet. Later, each group can determine whether they want to rotate leadership.

Once Club Industry makes the initial connection, this group is yours to do with it as the group decides. 

We don’t want to see anyone sink or swim in this time of crisis. So let us do what we do...and that is to help connect the fitness industry.

(Check out what Gallagher is doing at his facility during the COVID-19 pandemic by going here.)