Frustrated, COVID-Weary Gym Owners: Read This

An angry gym owner in a yellow headband screams in frustration.

On Jan. 3, Premier Doug Ford of Ontario said the province would close gyms once again, this time from Jan. 5 to at least Jan. 26.

It’s incredibly disappointing news for entrepreneurs who have been dealing with varying levels of COVID restrictions since early 2020.

The news comes with gyms in British Columbia and Quebec already shuttered and other provinces no doubt considering similar restrictions.

The good news: Two-Brain can help.

A head shot of writer Mike Warkentin and the column name "Pressing It Out."

Our “Second Shutdown Guide for Gym Owners” is full of high-speed tactics that can save your business. They’ve been tested, implemented and refined over previous lockdowns. They work, and they’ll give you the best chance to get through another tough period.

I’ll link to it below—but I want to call attention to Chris Cooper’s final note in the guide first:

“The greatest differentiator between gyms that thrived in the first shutdown and gyms that faltered? It was leadership.”

That was true in the second lockdown, too—and it will be true in this round.

Right now, it’s pretty tempting to throw your hands in the air. I understand. I’m resisting the urge, too.

Let’s be clear: It’s not fair that gym owners have to bear a disproportionate share of the COVID burden. There’s bitter irony is setting up a business to help people stay healthy and then being told you can’t operate because of a health crisis. And we’ll ignore for a moment the fact that it’s now widely accepted that being overweight or obese increases the risk of severe COVID symptoms and death.

But, as a microgym owner, you’ve got to move past that and continue leading the people who rely on you. The clients who just got locked out of your gym didn’t vanish over the last two years, and they didn’t trade your services for a Peloton bike. They want what you offer. So continue to give it to them with a smile—even if it’s forced right now.

Your clients are frustrated, too. Many are worn out or angry. But no one wants to see a leader falter, so it’s up to you to inspire your clients even if you don’t feel inspiring.

Do whatever you need to do first. Shout at the ocean, max out your deadlift or maybe write a protest email to a local politician. Get it out.

At this point, I won’t caution you against a pointed, well-considered Facebook post, blog or public statement. It’s possible the time for quiet acceptance is past and members of our industry need to be more aggressive in calling for equitable treatment. I’ll let you decide if that path is right for you and your business.

If you choose to speak, be direct and assertive rather than crass or vicious. Advocate for your business and your clients as an angry but well-informed professional. Rely on data and provide a voice of reason even if your terse words pass through gritted teeth.


Essential Reading


In the last 20 months, this article has been a hit every time we mention it: “How to Lead in a Crisis.” That’s because gym owners like you know they need to be leaders right now but don’t know how to do that when they’re angry, stressed and frustrated.

After you’re done venting, read the article, get yourself squared away, and then get back to serving your clients.

Remember this: People need you now more than ever.

That’s not hyperbole. You can actually help people avoid severe illness and stay healthy—physically and mentally.

Now, take action and dig into the second resource you need right now:

“Shutdown Plan for Gym Owners”

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