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Planning for a post Coronavirus fitness industry that will not be the same

Planning for a post Coronavirus fitness industry that will not be the same
April 23, 2020

With Coronavirus having had a significant impact on the fitness industry, Dan Henderson, Director of the Functional Training Institute and founder of Dan Henderson Coaching, has suggested that post lockdown the industry will not be the same.

Henderson (pictured above) writes, that the worst mistake operators can make is to assume that the business model that worked so successfully for them pre-COVID-19 will work for them once the lockdown is over. 

The fitness industry is saturated. There is more competition than ever before with new franchises, boutiques and mega gyms popping up on every street corner. However, that is now likely to change as we see a ‘thinning of the herd’. The longer we endure this lockdown the more likely we will see several operators not reopen their doors. 

The financial impact and stress are immense and not every business or operator is built to withstand it for an extended period of time. 

For those that navigate this period successfully, there will be opportunities but only if they adapt to the new consumer demands that will emerge. 

My great friend and mentor Thomas Plummer has this great ability to read the future and many of the insights that I share have been inspired by his profound gift. 

Coronavirus will be here for the immediate future and beyond and that is why we must take heed of it and the impact will have. 

When the lockdown restrictions get lifted within the next few months then I believe seven major areas that will change. 

1. You will need to Maintain an Online/Virtual Delivery Model 
This is important for two reasons:

Firstly, there will be some consumers that still don’t feel entirely comfortable in crowds of people and would prefer to train from the safety and comfort of their home. They will continue to train virtually even though there is now a face to face alternative. 

Secondly, people have now experienced the convenience of training online and would like to continue to do so. This may complement their face to face training and means they now have extra flexibility and can attend more frequently. 

The hybrid model will be a necessity moving forward if you want to succeed. 

2. Semi-Private Training will be In Demand and more Popular than Ever 
I have been an advocate of semi-private training for many years and have coached over 200+ people in how to implement it. 

It will now be more popular than ever as people will appreciate more space, their own equipment and less people. 

They will feel safer and more comfortable in their own pod. They want equipment only they touch and space where they can move uninhibited by other people. 

The group numbers will be dictated by the size of your facility and equipment available but I believe the magic number will be between 4-8. 

One on one training will be in demand but there will also be economic limitations for quite some time and hence the attractiveness of the semi-private model. 

3.Team Training will be Popular but will look Different for some Time 
Team training has been the ‘it’ product within the fitness market for the last five or so years. 30 or more people crammed into a small space with pumping music and sweat everywhere have been tokens of success, but not anymore ...

People will appreciate more space, less sharing of equipment and not having to crash into people to move from one space to another. 

Team training models will need to adapt with lower numbers, clever programming to minimise the sharing of equipment and a better utilisation of space. 

The next four areas where fitness will change once the lockdown is over will follow next Tuesday.

About the author

Daniel Henderson

Director of the Functional Training Institute and founder at Dan Henderson Coaching

Having achieved a BA in Sport and Exercise Managment, Honours in Human Movement from UTS, Dan Henderson started training in the fitness industry in 2007.

In 2008, he set up personal training studio ‘Coastal Bodies’ in Sydney. With seven trainers, the studio became one of the top performing training premises in Sydney, before he sold the business in 2017 to focus on other projects.

In 2009, he co-wrote my first accredited course, the ‘Fundamentals of Kettlebell Training’. This course has been taught to thousands of trainers worldwide and is the most popular course in Australia for personal trainers.

In the last three years Henderson and his company has produced 10 more accredited courses that are taught to trainers, becoming Australia’s leading ‘Functional Training’ education institution, employing 28 presenters in eight different countries.

Dan has presented at leading Australian and international fitness conferences and hosts his own podcast.

He can be contacted on

Read more from this author

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2nd April 2020 - Fitness Australia encourages Australians to ‘Keep on Moving’

31st March 2020 - With clubs closed fitness providers go online

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3rd August 2017 - Opportunity for fitness sector to maximise marketing and communications exposure

11th February 2014 - IBISWorld predicts flat growth in fitness industry through 2014

3rd December 2011 - Focus on good manners in the gym

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