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The fitness industry, the pandemic, and the future

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fitness industry during pandemic

In 2019 the fitness industry grew to ever greater heights. Buoyed on by global government  understanding of the value of a healthier population, and an increasingly wide gap between the  ultra-wealthy and the middle class, there seemed to be no stopping the march towards success. A  younger population less interested in drinking and smoking and a lot more interested in looking  good on camera. Fitness had become an affordable luxury and pursuit beyond simply having a  summer beach body.

The pandemic can be seen through the prism of the different sections of the industry. For example,  outdoor bootcamps were less immediately affected, and faster to open. Large box gyms, reliant on  inactive member bases, were quick to close, slow to open and faced financial impacts that could  shape the immediate future of the industry and beyond.

Then the pandemic struck and within the space of a few weeks the industry was suddenly plunged  into doubt and fear – indoor training seemed like it could be one of the easiest spreading  environments.

The industry response was nothing short of incredible. Within weeks it had completely pivoted and  was now offering an online version of its classes and keeping members along the path to their goals  – and mental health. Beyond that, fitness classes became more than just about fitness and  represented often the only community contact that an attendee might have in a day during the  lockdown.

We have experienced three main stages so far – the immediate backlash, the response, and the  second wave of understanding. Hopefully, they will soon be joined by a fourth, but for the time  being here is what we’ve learnt so far and what it means for the fitness industry.

The immediate backlash

The first thing that we saw was that the fitness industry seemed very likely to be hit, and very early.  The second thing was that the industry was largely being ignored in favour of hospitality.

This seemed to fly in the face of mounting evidence that health and fitness largely dictated the  potential danger of the virus, with the obese and unfit hit most hard. If anything you could say that a  reasonable response to the virus would have been mandated weight loss boot camps.

Why was the industry so exposed?

Closed spaces

With rising rents and the popularity of small box fitness, the industry has been working in smaller  and smaller spaces. This was a bad sign and there were concerns over viability if class sizes were  reduced by a large amount. This immediately looked to impact the most customer-focused  businesses – small group and boutique classes.

This didn’t impact personal trainers in the same way, and with this an important revenue stream for  most businesses, many clients switched to this format.

Indoor sanitation and cleaning

Quite simply, the perception of many fitness spaces was that of bad hygiene. The reality is of course  quite different. Reputation is vital and most fitness spaces recognise that cleanliness and safety are  key parts of customer happiness and retention – and even beyond that the ability to stay open in the  face of regulations. You could say that the fitness industry was ahead of the game in this respect.

Demographics

Different types of fitness appeal to different age groups. Once it was clear that the virus was less  dangerous for younger clients, the immediate fears subsided greatly.

Level of sweat

An early South Korean study showed that low impact exercise like yoga and Pilates were actually  incredibly low infectivity risks. The study was based on two infected instructors who taught both a  high impact dance based class and also low impact classes on the same day. The clients who  attended the high impact class were infected considerably. The low impact class? Zero infection  cases.

In March 2020 most fitness businesses closed their doors with the future uncertain. In what will be  looked back on as one of the most incredible stories of the pandemic, most did not stop trying to  help their clients.

Response

The response of most fitness businesses was to ask:

• How can we help customers maintain their fitness

• How can we ensure the survival of our business

• What does that look like

There were only really two options for business owners – try to stay open and relevant, or shut down  for a time and try to survive.

In countries like the UK, this was greatly helped by grants that were made to the hospitality sector,  including the fitness industry. However, this was also tempered by the lack of help with rent  payments. So, effectively, grants were made to support private landlords. This meant that sitting still  wouldn’t be enough.

In shock, and in the space of about two weeks, around 50% of small fitness businesses had switched  to an online offering supported by software systems like TeamUp that pivoted to help their  community of users.

The response was amazing. Customers didn’t just embrace the new classes… they loved them. Communities coming together

Stuck in lockdown, many customers felt disconnected and lonely. Online fitness classes filled a  huge gap and even the before class chat became a key connection point.

Some fitness owners ran quizzes and fun sessions just to focus on that community aspect. Disposable income

Although many were struggling with loss of income there was also the flip-side with many fitness  customers on furlough. This meant more disposable income and combined with the boredom of  confinement a rise in impulse purchases.

Blended online and in-person

As studios started to re-open, new and exciting business models emerged. The main one being a  blended model where online classes now filled an important role in the consistency of training. Now  there were options for when a class had to be missed due to other commitments.

A second wave of understanding

Most gyms re-opened in the early summer of 2020. With smaller classes and continued online  classes, it felt like a short term break from what was coming next.

Gyms and studios emerged as one of the safest environments

A UK study found that in 300,000 cases there were only 72 confirmed cases of the virus in gyms.  That was incredibly low and testament to the safety measures that fitness business owners had put  into place.

Customers desperate to get back to fitness

A study run by TeamUp with one of their Pilates customers showed that 50% of customers were  desperate or willing to get back to in-person classes. This was tempered by the other half of  customers wanting or being willing to continue with online classes in some form.

Misplaced fears

As the second wave gained pace, the UK, like many other countries, implemented a tiered system  for determining how businesses should respond. They included gyms closing which provoked a  furious backlash.

One owner in Liverpool refused to close his doors, and was fined by the police multiple times. The  industry rallied behind his story and others, and the overwhelming sentiment led to the changing of  the rules around gyms, meaning they only had to close in the most extreme of cases.

The evidence supported this approach and it was another great example of the industry being able to  effect change.

The future holds different risks and opportunities for different sectors. The format and size of  classes is a key part of any response.

What does the future look like?

For each type of fitness business, the future looks different. Class size, membership models, facility  specifications and the demographics of their members are big factors.

Class size

Class size is a big factor in the success of in-person or online classes. If a business is not profitable  with small classes they might be unable to run them, or if they cannot help clients in a personal way,  then they will face competition from pre-recorded sessions.

Membership models

Memberships that are too inflexible risk cancellation if circumstances change. The same for  offerings that are dependant on a particular set of equipment that can’t be replicated at home.  However, some fitness offerings like pole fitness did not struggle to replicate their programs to keep  customers motivated and happy.

Facility types

Entrance size and physical safety of common areas are factors. Also, the shape and overall floor  space will likely dictate class size for a long time to come.

Personal training is less affected but the number of trainers on the floor and the extra time spent  cleaning will impact profits.

Member demographics

It goes without saying that the older the customer group, certainly for the first wave, the more  impacted a business will be. An outstanding example of a response to this is the Pilates industry  which, despite unfavourable demographics, found that their help extended easily through screens.

What does the future look like for…?

Depending on the type of business, there is also a very different outlook and set of opportunities. Box box gyms

Without a doubt, big box gyms are the most at risk. Despite having the space for larger classes and  occupancy, their financial model is not based on the members actually at the gym. With huge costs  including rent, equipment and cleaning, they are under a lot of threat.

There is also the perception of less safety in a bigger environment.

With customers at home they are also not close to the big gym they use near their office.

In an industry whose profits are based on membership fees for inactive clients and who naturally  have a less active community, the future is looking challenging. Of course there are outstanding  businesses in this sector who will find a way to thrive.

Boutique and small studios

In-person might vary in availability but the good news for the smaller class sector is that they have  shown themselves to be able to adapt quickly and customers being willing to accept change.

Coached online – small classes via platforms like TeamUp for Zoom. This is the perfect blend of  online and small group coaching. The industry has adapted and the quality of classes and delivery is  very high.

It’s clear that customers place their fitness relationship at the centre of their world and independent  fitness businesses who do the same will survive and thrive.

However, it is the time to adapt and blend models if these businesses rely on large indoor classes,  specialist equipment, or coach heavy training that cannot be replicated online. With a bit of  imagination and innovation, this shouldn’t present an impassable obstacle.

Home gyms and pre-recorded online classes

Home gyms and pre-recorded online classes are likely to boom for the foreseeable future. New  programs launching and equipment sales are at breaking point. The only thing stopping this sector is  the availability of global shipments. Even movie stars have jumped on this wave. However,  competition is high, and the problem remains that when you pay for a coach you pay for  accountability and results. Online interest tapers off quickly and results can be disappointing.  However, this is not true of coached online…

The conclusion

Whatever the immediate future holds, the fitness industry has shown itself to be capable of  incredible feats of change and adaptation. Fitness customers wanting results aren’t going anywhere,  and even with a more diverse offering of routes to their goals available, are never going to stop  needing accountability and support. The industry is ready for whatever comes next.

About the Author: The article has been written by Tim Green. Tim is the Head of Marketing and Partnerships at TeamUp.

Guest Post

7 Quick Ways to Take the Startup Hiring Process to the Next Level

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Startup Hiring

Recruiting for a startup is one of the first and most rewarding hurdles to overcome in a new business, whether in tech or fabrication. To propel your dreams that may have been developing in your entrepreneurial mind for years, you need some help. But the job market is troubled and quality talent is hard to find.

Fortunately, there are tech tools and strategies to optimize your hiring process, no matter the size of your enterprise. Startups can enjoy time and money saved by researching – before hiring new talent – ways to make your startup hiring process streamlined, fair, and effective.

1. Create a Wishlist

One of the most efficient ways to sift through copious amounts of candidate information is to create filters from a wishlist. Using technology can automatically eliminate any candidates who do not fit certain criteria.

Each person hired costs $4,700 on average, so being strict with your company’s values and desires will help mitigate those costs. These wishlists don’t have to be just hard skills, either, like having a certain academic degree. They could also represent company culture, such as individuals who have added specific skills to online applications, such as problem-solving and team-building.

2. Solidify Your Brand Identity

Even if you do not yet have a graphic designer or creative team, there are free online tools to help build a brand identity. You can choose fonts, colors, and iconography that speak to your brand’s mission. You will also want to consider brand voice because social media can be a profitable and organic way to publicize your job openings. The style you post in could entice professionals to research further.

Free graphic design tools like Canva, GIMP, and Photopea – and countless free brand identity brainstorming templates – can jumpstart any branding campaign until you hire more qualified staff. Professionalism will go a long way in helping candidates be tempted to apply, especially if they know you’re investing time in creating a company that will thrive for the long term.

3. Make Specific Job Descriptions

Vague requirements in job descriptions are attractive to employers since it requires less effort to be specific. To applicants, it could reveal the employer hasn’t given the position enough consideration. Therefore, the responsibilities of entrants could be muddled. Non-specific descriptions can lead to a surplus of applications that could become impossible to manage.

Job candidates want transparency in job descriptions, such as specific job titles, salaries, and explicitly mentioning company benefits. This means putting exact starting salary information instead of a range.

Especially with startups that don’t have household name recognition, it helps create credibility with employers to load descriptions with information. Startups have inconsistent reputations, and this provides applicants with the sense that they shouldn’t fear submitting because they know the company is stable.

4. Get Immediate Face-to-Face Contact

The pandemic forced the adoption of higher-quality video conferencing tech for video interviews and allowed professionals to network digitally, unlike in previous years.

Startups can use platforms like Facebook and MeetUp to find local career events for meeting candidates in person without wasting time scheduling and sifting through applications. Embrace the value of going to in-person hiring events, as it helps employers get genuine first impressions that a written online interview may not reveal.

It also helps put text to faces. Most applications are screen-focused, and job-seekers have unique personalities and concerns that aren’t reflected in an automated application.

5. Implement Smart Screening Software

Automate processes that aren’t worth your time. You’ll save hours by leaving various responsibilities to different software. Many career platforms like Indeed and LinkedIn use applicant-tracking software (ATS) to expedite processes like:

  • Creating a talent pipeline
  • Optimizing application flow
  • Gathering applicant intelligence
  • Sending automated communications
  • Advertising positions
  • Requesting paperwork and tasks

AI is even helping refugees obtain jobs because it can analyze the gaps between languages. It allows everyone worldwide – especially as remote jobs become more commonplace – to communicate easily while providing equal opportunities worldwide.

6. Highlight What Professionals Want

Job seekers are looking for more than just salaries from workplaces nowadays. They look for flexible schedules, work-life balance, ongoing learning opportunities, and definite career advancement. The Great Resignation proves that new and seasoned professionals are realizing employers should have greater respect for their workers.

You can decrease turnover and simplify startup hiring by being as honest as possible so professionals with specific and high standards know what they’re signing up for when they apply. This involves creating an employee value proposition (EVP) or a portfolio of what comes along with their job offer.

Avoid candidate rejections after weeks of wasted time when they find the salary or remote work opportunities aren’t what they expected.

7. Don’t Ignore Onboarding

The hiring process isn’t just about the interviews – plenty of hiring aspects come after you send the offer letter and before your new hire takes on their first assignment. There’s tax information, procedures, and vacation protocols, among all the other rules about your startup, to brief new hires on. This part of the process is easily streamlined with the help of technological aids.

Ignore lengthy background checks and printing out paperwork for drug screenings. Create a robust learning management system (LMS) that houses videos, informational paperwork, processes, and first-day expectations without even setting up a formal meeting.

Smooth Out Your Startup Hiring Process

Startups lack the financial support to engage in lengthy hiring processes and excessive interviews that yield no entrants. Recruitment for startups is highly competitive, as young professionals see the potential in areas like Silicon Valley and sometimes put startups on a pedestal, believing they lead to quick career development.

Startup recruiters are responsible for creating enticing but also realistic expectations, and to provide young professionals with a seamless and transparent hiring process that briefs them on their responsibilities and benefits. Despite the financial and time investment needed to find the perfect candidates, the benefits will become apparent when profits soar in the coming years.

Emily Newton is the Editor-in-Chief of Revolutionized, an online magazine showing how technology is disrupting many industries.

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The rise of the teacherpreneur

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rise of the teacherpreneur

Disruption in the education  market 

Over the past few decades, education has been radically transformed. Today, there are hundreds of millions of people learning things outside of the traditional classroom… things like yoga, fitness, dance… music, drama, art… languages, programming, business skills… we could call this the “alternative education” market.

But traditional academia, too, is experiencing massive disruption: enrollment in undergraduate and graduate programs has been declining since roughly 2012. More and more people are realizing that to learn something useful or to build a solid foundation for a career, they don’t have to pay the massive tuition that traditional “gatekeeper” institutions charge. All they need are some good teachers.

Covid19 and the associated lockdowns have only served to dramatically accelerate this transformation. All around the world, remote learning and remote employment became completely normalized during the pandemic. Even those (few) people who previously hadn’t used the internet much for anything beyond shopping are now very familiar and comfortable with Zoom.

It turns out that in the post-covid world, students actually prefer taking classes remotely. Online classes and e-learning are not only here to stay, but things are increasingly moving in that direction.

In 2021, the e-learning market surpassed $320 billion, and it’s projected to reach an astounding $1 trillion in 2028. The global online fitness market alone is predicted to increase at an annual growth rate of nearly 50%, from $11.4 billion in 2021 to $80 billion by 2026.

Teachers and instructors of all sorts make up the “passion economy“, which in turn is a subset of the so-called “creator economy” that includes millions of independent content creators. Creator economy startups which enable these content producers pulled in US$1.3 billion in capital investment in 2021, roughly three times more than in 2020.

These major changes imply that the outlook for schools, studios and institutions is bleak. With more and more people learning online, it’s no longer clear what role, if any, these brick and mortar businesses still have to play.

On the flip-side, the shift is good news for teachers, bringing massive opportunities to independent teachers and instructors. Because fundamentally, nothing has changed in the market: there are still hundreds of millions of people who want to learn or practice something with a teacher.

Startups in the passion economy  

There are a number of tech companies that are gaining traction in the passion economy. Some are helping teacherpreneurs with marketing and finding new clients, as marketplaces for classes and courses. Some are helping instructors to manage their business and logistics with payment and admin solutions. And there are numerous products that facilitate new ways of monetizing the content that teachers produce. Below are just a few examples:

Tutoring marketplace: thousands of teachers in the United States are earning thousands of dollars each month teaching live, virtual lessons on Outschool, an online marketplace for live video lessons for children. These classes are taught primarily by former school instructors and stay-at-home parents.

Course creation: for alternative education subjects, Podia, Teachable, and Thinkific are three major SaaS platforms that enable educators to create and sell video courses and digital subscriptions. The top educator on Podia earns more than $100,000 a month.

Teacher admin solutions: for managing live classes (both in-person or online), there are already numerous platforms that have been in existence for many years — but they largely cater to schools or gyms that have complex requirements. This makes them prohibitively expensive and much too complicated for indie instructors. For example, MindBody Online is the most well-known class management platform for yoga studios and gyms — but it costs $300/month and requires a person to take a course to learn how to use it.

But some newer startups are focusing on the teacherpreneur opportunity. For example, an emerging player that’s exclusively designed for individual teachers is Ubindi. Billed as “simple software for teachers”, Ubindi satisfies the needs of educators who are not very tech-savvy, who don’t need complicated rocket-ship dashboards and who don’t want to pay for expensive bulky class management systems.

Other tools for teacherpreneurs: an interesting example of a platform that helps educators monetize their craft is Teachers Pay Teachers, an online marketplace where teachers buy and sell original educational materials that they create themselves.

The dawn of a new age

Professor Klotz at Texas A&M University coined the phrase “The Great Resignation,” forecasting a large number of people who will be abandoning their employment after the covid pandemic, simply because they are no longer happy doing things they don’t enjoy and not being very paid well for it.

The passion economy offers anyone with a skill or passion alternative ways of earning income, providing innovative paths towards both personal and financial freedom. People can pursue their interests and hobbies in ways that also allow them to earn a living.

And it’s not just about personal fulfillment: independent teachers are also finding that they can do very well financially. This is especially true when it comes to teaching online:

  • When teaching from home, overhead and expenses are minimal.
  • On the internet, the size of a potential client base is virtually unlimited.
  • Independent teachers can keep virtually 100% of any revenue that students bring in — in stark contrast to how things used to be when teachers earned between 10 and 20% of the revenue collected by a gym or school.

In today’s world, it’s incredibly easy to set up and operate your own teaching business — one where you can teach exactly what you want and how you want. Teachers can pursue their passion on their own terms and enjoy the highest level of professional fulfillment as teacherpreneurs.

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6 Effective Ways to Improve Your Employability in 2022 and Beyond

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Employability

You really don’t have to be an expert to see that the present-day labor market is a mass. On the one hand, the global economy is experiencing a prolonged labor shortage. On the other, the recent crisis has caused massive layoffs and the shutdown of entire industries.

Throw into the mix the lightning development of digital tech, changing job profiles, generational shifts, and gradual transition toward new work models like contingent teams and telecommuting and you will get a pretty hectic environment that offers very few certainties and easily throws aspiring job candidates off the rails.

So, what are the skills that should help you land the job you always wanted, and what you can do to improve your employability in 2022 and beyond? Let us try to find out.

Master the interview techniques

Sure, it’s always good to have a rock-solid and well-put-together CV to back you up. But, if you fail to make a good first impression at the interview your academic accomplishments and previous work experience will be worth very little. With that in mind, we would like to point out that interviewers don’t really want to get practiced answers to generic questions. They will use this short time to assess your communication skills, your ability to stay calm under pressure, your ability to engage in creative thinking and problem solving, and your confidence. So, be sure to give these soft skills a proper workout before applying.

Embrace the attitude of lifelong learning

We are living in a time when the business world moves so fast that the skills you have mastered this morning may become obsolete the very next day. So, instead of trying to nail down any specific part of the business landscape or specific technology so you are able to move on, you should embrace the attitude of lifelong learning and use every new day to try to keep up with everything going on in the world. With that in mind, proper learning, memorization, and time-management techniques will prove to be much more valuable than any bits of knowledge since you will be able to use them on any future task you get.

Develop entrepreneurial mindset

The times of obedient grunts are long gone. Modern employers much prefer workers who are able to demonstrate a bit more initiative and bring more value to the table. And you can’t possibly be more valuable than by thinking like an entrepreneur. If you are, for instance, working in the construction sector you can try to improve the efficiency of your team by using the more comfortable Hi Vis workwear, trying out new construction techniques of adjusting the shifts. The workers who are able of improving the operations that way are not only in higher demand but also climb up the ranks much faster.

Start developing a professional network

For better or for worse, the business world was always built on strong personal and professional relationships. So, if you want to increase your chances of finding a good job. Make sure then to get to know the people that can help you out. Start by creating a website, making a presence on relevant social media platforms, and, why not, even engaging in casual blogging. Also, try attending courses regarding the industry you are most interested in since you will be able to meet a lot of future business leaders and high-value professionals. Eat where successful people eat and hang out where they like to hang out.

Expand your interests and hobbies

Even though this doesn’t look like having anything to do with your career outlook finding an interesting hobby can prove to be of tremendous help here. First, you will find some areas where you can excel and, thus, improve your self-worth and mitigate the pressure of professional accomplishment. Second, you will be able to meet dozens of new, interesting, and possibly even influential people that may not be present in your current social circles. Finally, new hobbies and interests always make you a more worldly and social person, and out of all the soft skills you need to land a job, these are the hardest to acquire.

Set clear and tangible goals

Last but not least, we would like that all the pursuits we have covered above should be driven by clear and very specific objectives. Otherwise, your efforts will soon become very muddled and your career plans wishful thinking. So, break all the ongoing plans into more immediate short-term objectives and then break these objectives into concrete steps you need to make every single day to get to the finish line. While you are doing that make sure your objectives are made SMART, or in other words, Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Measurable, and Time-constrained to always get the best possible results.

We hope these few examples gave you a general idea about the strategies you can use to make your pursuit of your next employment, faster, more effortless, and even more fun and engaging. The old times when you would spend whole decades at the same job are now long over. But, this new more dynamic labor market also presents endless opportunities for personal and professional growth if approached correctly. The tips we gave you should definitely nudge you in the right direction.

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