In the last two weeks, you’ve completely changed your business.
You’ve successfully led your clients through a potential tragedy—the closing of your bricks-and-mortar location. You pivoted to a brand new delivery system. You kept most members engaged, and almost all of them are still paying clients in April. You’ve even gained two new clients, and you can see the potential to scale up this new online coaching service.
But you hate it.
You miss your gym family.
You don’t want to coach people through text and Zoom. You want to see them, hug them, put your hand on their backs to correct movement.
You didn’t sign up for this. And I get it.
Missing the Human Touch?
While the majority of gym owners are really excited for this new opportunity, others are already rethinking their place in the industry. After all, COVID isn’t going away soon. And shelter-in-place will become the go-to response for the next pandemic or public emergency.
If you don’t like online training, should you get out now?
I spoke with several online-only coaches who have been successful for at least three years. Here’s their advice:
First, give it a month. You’ve just gone through a traumatic period in which it looked like your livelihood would be taken away. You’ve been placed into social isolation. Your cash flow is still at risk. You’ve had to fire people and have all kinds of conversations that made you unhappy. Subconsciously, you might view online coaching as part of that depressing mess. Give yourself the opportunity to try it when things are a bit less chaotic.
Second, know that it will get easier. Imagine if you opened your gym and had 150 clients the first day: You’d be exhausted and overwhelmed. That’s what happened with online coaching: Suddenly, you had to figure out delivery and client management and a whole new system under tremendous pressure. But you’ll get in a rhythm. If online coaching doesn’t take less time than running a gym now, it soon will.
Third, go back to your “why.” If your clients do well online, does that affect your decision?
Fourth, prepare to pivot to the “flex” model of in-person plus online coaching (we teach this in our Online Coaching Course).
“I Hate This. A Lot.”
Now, if you still despise coaching people online, that’s OK. You have three options:
One, focus on the other side of your business (building an audience and selling its members on your service). Let your coaches focus on the delivery of your online program.
Two, prepare for future shutdowns. Coach people in person but plan to be closed the next time a pandemic or other public emergency hits. Sure, it might never happen again—but “shelter in place” will now be the default response of every government during times of crisis. When this is over, you can go right back to what you were doing. But I recommend you plan for the worst while you hope for the best.
Three, get out now. Build up your business with the intent to sell it when you reopen.
Even if you want to get out, this is the worst possible time. Shoulder the gym through this crisis and prepare to sell it in the summer when you reopen. That means maximizing client retention and systemizing everything so your business is turnkey.
Download our “How to Sell a Gym” guide for free here:But if you don’t want to run your gym through another shutdown, this might be a good time to sell. Just remember that your greatest asset is your audience, not your equipment. It’s hard to build an audience.
You don’t have to pivot. You don’t have to sell online only. But online coaching isn’t going away. That doesn’t mean it has to replace your business. Online coaching can be the “fourth leg on your chair,” with personal training, group training and nutrition coaching.
Soon, you will be back to your in-person coaching. My gym will, too. We’ll all be happy about it. But knowing what you know now, will online training become a permanent part of your business or just something you survived?