Drawing Back the String

reset button

Many gyms are getting excited about being open again. That is great!

But before we go charging down that path, we need to step back and do some strategic work.

“To launch the arrow, first you must draw back the string.”

This article is less about what are going to be the best practices for a ‘soft launch’ of opening up your physical space and more about what re-structuring you can do during the shut down and as you ramp back up. How you can ‘draw the string’ to launch your business to an even better future!

While times have been challenging, we have a unique opportunity that will probably never come again in our lifetime.

We get to hit the reset button.

The first exercise every person needs to do right now: figure out what you can keep out of your life and what needs to be added.

This is also true for businesses.

Imagine that you could ‘do it all over again’ with your business knowing what you know now. Here are some examples:

  • How would you change your schedule?
  • Which staff would you keep?
  • How would you change your pricing?
  • What other services would you offer?

Taking good look at these (and other areas of your business) can help you come out of this ordeal even better than before!


As you know, cutting classes is always hard to do. People will always feel like they are getting ‘less’ if you shave a dead class off the schedule (even if they NEVER went to it).

Now is your time create a ‘lean’ schedule that reduces coaching hours. Consider dropping Sunday or only offering a couple hours of Open Gym. Kill some of the ‘dead’ classes that rarely have more than a few people coming (Tues and Thurs late morning and afternoon classes).

As we go through a transition, this is also the time to get everyone on board with signing up for class ahead of time! Depending on your location, you may start having classes with hard limits due to social distancing. To do this, you’ll have to require people sign up ahead of time. The goal is to make the signing-in-ahead-of-time required from now on!


If you are happy with all of your staff, great! But over time, many gyms end up with coaches who aren’t up to the current level of skill, who have lost interest, or who are just hard to work with.

These coaches end up sticking around and going through the motions. Sometimes, they have been looking for an out themselves, and neither you, nor them, wants to have the uncomfortable conversation.

This is the time to put them in reserve (if they are part-time). Give the hours to the coaches that want them and that are helping you move your business in the right direction. “Reserve” means that they aren’t coaching, but there may be some opportunities for them in the future (which is easier than laying them off completely). Evaluate how they handle the situation. Are they still engaging with the community? Are they still being a team player? Bring back the best ones and let the rest go.

Side Note: If you are trading memberships with them for coaching, you’ll want to point out that they’ll have to start paying a membership at-some-point. Defer it a couple months and work out a seriously discounted program for them that will be enticing (unless you might not want them in the gym at all, then make them pay full price).

Ideally you won’t have to let anyone go. But considering that times will be tight over the next 6+ months, now is not the time to have any ‘excess baggage’ cutting into your margins.

Pricing and Other Services

With the economy heading the direction it is, you’ll want to have the ability to change things up as the market changes. The best way to do that is to have many different types of services that you can package in different ways.

For example, if you have been working with people remotely (as mentioned in our Thrive Mentorship Model Program), this can be a stand alone service (they rarely come to the gym), an add on to an existing membership, part of personal training, or something that new members get as part of their first month or two.

The same thing goes for the live online classes. Can you build a membership that has access to the live classes with few (or no) in-gym visits? Set up a 3-month membership with 12 in person classes and access to the Live at home workouts (this is preferable to a standard ‘punch card’ because the purchase is tied to the duration and not just the number of in-person classes – punch card expiration dates are always hard to enforce and sometimes people want refunds).

In larger gyms, some people may really enjoy the ‘small group’ atmosphere required as you ramp up to full operations. There may be an opportunity to charge extra for these and schedule them like personal training sessions going forward. A group of 5 or 6 people can pay an extra $30-50 a month each to have a once a week class with their closest friends/training mates. This class could be the standard class programming, or heavily modified for their goals.

Make a list of all the services you offer (Classes, Personal Training, Remote Coaching, Live Online Classes, etc.) and look at creative ways of packaging these up and pricing them competitively. Try to come up with new revenue streams that will reach a wider audience than before (like the punch card plus live online classes) that can be offered at a cheaper rate than your regular classes.

When coming up with these new combinations, make sure you account for all the costs and resources necessary. If a coach will have to be checking in on someone, they need to be compensated for that. If you are adding a small group class, make sure you aren’t taking up space during a prime time or taking away people from a class that is already pretty slow (schedule these during ‘off peak’ hours as much as possible).

Start Planning Now

Think about all the things you wish you could change about your business, but you couldn’t because people don’t like change. And you were worried people would quit or complain an excessive amount.

Things that would save you money, take a load off of your responsibilities, save you a ton of time, or just prevent headaches.

Look at that list and see what changes you can introduce as the dust settles.

Back to Better

I’ll leave you with some thoughts I posted to FB a week or so back. Hopefully it will put you in the right mindset as you plan for the future.

You don’t want things to ‘go back to normal’.

Or at least you shouldn’t.

We need things to ‘go back to BETTER’.

Less commuting. Less waste. Less busy.

More time with family. More time alone. More time just getting outside.

Less pointless meetings. Less rat race. Less mindless spending.

More reading. More laughter. More exercise. More cooking at home.

Less consumption.

More appreciation.

We are going to have to ‘go back’ to something…

But do we have to go back to the way it was before?

Or can we go on something better?

Thrive on.




Please share this if you found it useful or if you think it might help someone else. 

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