We’re here to help partners like you navigate policy changes, safety concerns and business needs within the fitness and wellness industry. To help you host your outdoor fitness classes during COVID-19, we brought together a group of fitness and wellness experts in a panel discussion to discuss the following topics and answer your questions:
- Finding an outdoor location
- Opening outdoor fitness classes safely
- Deciding on class price
- Outdoor class performance to date
- Running outdoor classes and indoor classes together
Commonly Asked Questions
- What happens if it rains? Do you cancel classes?
- What do your outdoor fitness studio setups look like?
- Are sanitary facilities, like bathrooms, showers, sinks, lockers, etc. available to you?
- How many of you are thinking of pivoting your business to online?
- How are you letting users know what they need to bring, what they need to do, the setup of the class, etc. before they arrive?
- Could you each provide one piece of advice for studios looking to launch outdoor fitness classes?
These panelists take you through the decisions they made while launching outdoor fitness classes, customer demand, and whether they will continue to offer outdoor workout classes once studios open again.
- Ed Stanbury, Founder and CEO of BLOK in London
- David Blitz, Founder and CEO of Studio Three in Chicago
- Tom Moos, Founder and CEO of Saints and Stars in Amsterdam
- David Korijn, Founder and CEO of Velo in Amsterdam
Watch the full webinar here:
Outdoor Fitness Webinar Transcript
Current COVID-19 government guidelines
James Radcliff: So, I just wanted to start the webinar by quickly reviewing the current restrictions in place and the cities where our panelists are based. In the Netherlands, studios have been able to hold outdoor classes since the 11th of May and as long as they adhered to the 1.5-meter social distancing go, there weren’t really any capacity restrictions in place. They were initially given a date of the first of September to re-introduce outdoor classes, although this has recently been brought forward significantly to the first of July.
In the United Kingdom, England specifically, from the first of June, studios were allowed to hold outdoor classes, but with a maximum capacity of six people, including the instructor. They have a very, very tentative date of the fourth of July to start offering indoor classes, and those of yet, we’re not kind of sure what capacity restrictions will be in place.
Finally, in Chicago, from the 29th of May, studios have been allowed to hold one-on-one PT classes inside and outdoor classes, but with a maximum capacity of 10. And they still don’t have any, just on knowledge of when the end of fitness might be able to come back. It still seems to be a while away.
Regardless of the restrictions, it remains to be seen what the appetite will be, for indoor fitness, once classes have resumed. And there have been a number of surveys conducted detailing people’s desires and willingness to return to in-studio fitness in light of COVID-19 and also at the relative safety of outdoor activity when compared with indoor activity.
The results of one of the surveys conducted by The New York Times was published earlier this week — I thought it was quite interesting. I wanted to share that the New York Times surveyed over 500 epidemiologists who kind of mostly agree, that outdoor activities and small groups are safe for the time being, and also in the crow. And an interesting point that they believe that masks would be necessary, for quite a long time.
We can see specifically the exercising at the gym, or fitness studio scores particularly low as this summer activity, with only 14% saying it is something they are likely to do. However, it does score much higher when considering activities that they would attend in the next 3 to 12 months. With this in mind, it seems like this summer could be the perfect time for studios to explore the world of outdoor fitness.
Finding an outdoor location
James Radcliff: This first question I’m going to ask the panelists is that if you want to start offering outdoor classes, where did you start with location sourcing?
It’s been great to see studios in Amsterdam to adapt so quickly. David, how did you go about finding a location to hold a 24 spin bike studio outside? And what does it take to get up and running?
David Korijn, Owner, Velo, Amsterdam: S0, it was quite difficult because, obviously, we’re a cycle studio, so you have to bring all the bikes. You have to store them somewhere in the evening and you cannot just leave them somewhere in the park like you would with a bootcamp. We needed a set location, where we could leave everything and where we had a minimum of logistics problem every day setting up.
We started calling all hotels and all event centers that had outdoor spaces and find a way to deal with amazing locations, and then our competitor jumped on it and took that deal. We had a few locations, and eventually, we found this beautiful hotel near a park where we could store everything and build everything up every morning and tear everything down at the end of the day.
James Radcliff: Are you moving the bikes in every morning?
David Korijn, Owner, Velo, Amsterdam: We actually have to move them into a basement every day. I take them up and move them inside. We actually decided to change. the concept a bit. We used to have bikes only and we changed to a high-intensity training. So we have a biking station, a dumbbell station, and a bodyweight station. Where we have eight bikes, eight dumbbells, eight bodyweight stations and we just change spots. Everyone is changing, so of course, everyone is afraid of getting infected by a virus. So, we have cleaning stations for every person, personal cleaning stations. Everyone gets to clean their own stuff once, twice, as many times as they want.
James Radcliff: Tom, how did you go about that? And you were slightly different in that you were able to adapt some existing space into an Outdoor studio.
Tom Moos, CEO/Founder, Saints & Stars, Amsterdam: There were a lot of locations a kilometer away from our club and what we really found out is a lot of hotels were empty, like a lot, but we just didn’t have the right spacing and we also had the same problem David just pointed out for storage, to keep it covered when the weather is bad. Even in the summer, it is not always great, so I was looking for a location where we could keep the exact same cost as we do the exact same experiences we do. If you would do something outdoors, we would have it to do it really well.
We tried to look for locations that were really close to buildings that weren’t used. So we found a house with a really large garden that we rented out until the first of September. The really large garden fits 40 people at the same time. And so, basically, you are literally sitting in someone’s backyard. We just made it really nice. We made it have an indoor feeling, but it is still outdoor so we still comply with all of the regulations. We put a sign on the screens with music experience. And we just made the and the entire area look nice. We put new flooring in. We put signage up. It’s been working really, really well for us.
If you put the effort in, people will really like it. I’m getting a lot of response from, like, a lot of our colleagues across Europe actually who also tried outdoor things but also indoor things. The sooner you jump on this, the better. We managed to have a successful outdoor platform at this point. We also really want to keep it. Even if it’s indoor we’ll open up for July, because you really see that the people who go outdoors are still a little scared but they really like the feeling of being outside in the summertime.
James Radcliff: And David, in Chicago, you’re able to do something similar on your way. You can kind of convert existing space into a studio.
David Blitz, CEO/Founder, Studio 3, Chicago: So in Chicago, you know, being in a dense transit-oriented city, we find that a significant amount of our clients live within a half-mile to a mile of our studios. So, coincidentally, our company, Blitz, has a piece of land that’s about a quarter-mile away from our River North Studio that we’re actually converting from a parking lot that’s seen minimal use in the last three months because of daytime parking because of the decline in office transit. We are converting that into what we are calling Studio Three Arena.
We are building these turf covered 4-foot by 8-foot boards, working with the City of Chicago on state of Illinois guidelines, spacing them 10 feet apart so that each client is going to have their own station. We’re allowed groups of 10. We’re hoping that that changes so that you know you can have multiple groups working together. You know, our studio offers interval, cycling and yoga. psyche, cycling, and yoga. Cycling is challenging, you know, to move bikes, So, we’re going to offer your bodyweight, bands, other mobility classes, yoga, that require less equipment touching, et cetera. However, there is a hotel right next door that we’re going to be able to store sound equipment and other devices, overnight and during the day.
And we have not started those classes yet, because we’re still in the process of building this experience.
James Radcliff: We’ve got a different issue in the UK. Indoor fitness might be just around the corner, but with potentially quite strict restrictions on capacity and the amount of space that is needed per person At the moment, you’re potentially looking at hosting classes outside of your current studios and kind of a big event space or something similar.
Ed Stanbury, CEO/Founder, Blok, London: We haven’t ruled out completely outdoors, but there is so little clarity in terms of the government guidelines. It sounds like in Amsterdam they knew they were going to be outdoors from May-September. It sounds like in Amsterdam, they knew they would be outdoors only from May-September. So, it’s worth investing in those setups. But for us, at the moment, we would only be allowed five customers outside. And there’s a possibility we’re going to be able to open indoors in a few weeks. So we’ve taken the decision at the moment, It’s not worth running and classes outside with only five people in it. And so we’re gearing up for indoor open, but we’ve now contacted local venues who we have existing relationships with near our studios who have large indoor spaces.
So, there is a hotel right next to our Shoreditch location that has a 500 square meter ballroom, they do big concerts and stuff. They have a surround system, cables ready as well. They’ve given us free access to that, which is great. And I’ve got a similar setup and Clapham, and in Manchester, we’re actually based in the hotel. And so, they’ve given us use of a big atrium.
So we’ve got large spaces which even with the two meters, social distancing guidelines would be able to get to 30 to 40 or possibly even more people in these spaces. And so, but, again, it’s a plan because the government is still talking about whether they can reduce that from two meters to 1.5 to 1. And that even the day of the Fourth of July as is unconfirmed.
Opening outdoor fitness classes safely
James Radcliff: Great, So now that we’ve talked about finding locations. Let’s talk about how you operate these classes safely.
We’ve got a recent survey that we did all ClassPass users show that, in addition to holding outside classes, naturally class sizes, and the increased cleaning of everything, the top three precautions that studios can take, in order to make them feel safe and more likely to return sooner.
And Tom, I know that you’ve got a number of different pieces of equipment. You gotta step up machines. You’ve got dumbbells. How do you ensure that each item was fully sanitized and so how did you go about ensuring that?
Tom Moos, CEO/Founder, Saints & Stars, Amsterdam: We clean in-between classes. But also, every time they switch they clean their own station, even though it’s not really needed because they don’t necessarily share something. What we saw, in the beginning, was that when we didn’t do that, a lot of people were like, “Well, I’m not sure if it is clean.” Or can I at least borrow something? Like, a lot of people were asking the same questions. We thought we would just double down, so we will do it but they will get a chance to do it themselves each time and actually they think that’s actually perfect.
I mean, we had a funny example where we were actually doing, we have bags outside, and everyone has their own gloves and uses their own bag. You’re not really touching the bag but that was actually the most feedback that we got from people, that they thought that they should be cleaned each time before they actually use it.
So we decided, let’s just have clean every outdoor station. We are actually doing the same thing that David is doing because people are very conscious about it. They really, really want it.
James Radcliff: Cool, thanks, and David in Chicago, and what are your thoughts on the Americans? Do they have the same opinions? Are you planning on doing the same things over there?
David Blitz, CEO/Founder, Studio 3, Chicago: We were planning on running up to five classes a day outdoors. Obviously, the indoors, you’re going to be much, much, much, much more rigorous terms of the sanitizing stations, the UV sanitizing bars, et cetera, taking temperatures. What we’re going to do is have 20 minutes in between classes where we can sanitize each outdoor station.
We’re going to have signage that reminds people clients to go specific ways in terms of social distancing, touchless hand sanitizing station, the wipes, and having someone on staff wiping down each station. And we will give it time to set in and dry and not just spritz and move on. There are ways to clean that we are going to go through and train each person on our team.
James Radcliff: I heard of one studio in the UK, which kinda like produced a 50-page document, for its employees and detailing exactly the steps that need to be taken. Will you do something similar?
Ed Stanbury, CEO/Founder, Blok, London: Definitely not. We produced some simple training stuff but I think hands-on training is the way to do these things. So we will train everyone in the new system when they come back to work and we will do the same for customers arriving back for the first time. We will walk them through all of the new procedures, make sure everyone understands what steps are being taken and what they need to do to be part of that. That is really key.
You can have as many cleaners as you want running around, but you need customers to take responsibility as well. The customer has to take responsibility for wiping down their own equipment. Otherwise, they don’t feel safe. We will be how we focus on, is providing the time, the space, and the materials, and allow customers to take responsibility for that and their space.
James Radcliff: Really drilling it down with the users and the staff that if anyone feels remotely ill they should stay away from the studio. Workout at home.
Deciding on class pricing
James Radcliff: The next thing I wanted to talk about, which is always quite interesting, is pricing. How are studios thinking of pricing classes? The outdoor experience is, in most cases, very different from the indoor experience. And so, it could be suggested that the prices should be different. For example, in the UK, you, at the moment, you can’t hold classes inside so the experience is not what you get going to one of these beautiful boutique studios. But then, again, you can only have five people in a class. So, it’s not a large group class, it’s a small group PT class, which could command different prices.
As part of our user survey, one of the things that came up was that the majority of our users are comfortable with paying the same pre-COVID prices. It also showed that the majority of partners plan to make no changes to their pricing, when their classes reopened.
Ed, you potentially have a slightly different proposition and that you could have smaller classes operating in a studio, and then larger classes operating at a separate venue. Will you price those separately? What are your thoughts about it?
Ed Stanbury, CEO/Founder, BLOK, London: We’re still reviewing this at the moment. We just got some stats back from some customer outreach. 94% of people that we contacted said they would return to the studio if we re-opened in July. And only mid-40s said they would be happy to pay 2 credits for classes if capacities were reduced by 70%. Under the 2 meter rule, that’s roughly what it would be. So for that to work for us, we would need to charge double credits. And a lot of people said that they would be able to do that.
I think our solution: have in-studio classes at 2 credits and secure other spaces to run larger classes that could be done at the normal price. I think if people think they are going to pay less now, they are dreaming, unfortunately. Our margins have always been fairly tight. We don’t charge 20 something dollars per class. And If capacity is reduced by more than 50%, it’s just not feasible for us to look at the old prices unless we significantly reduce their trainers, which we try not to do.
James Radcliff: And David what did you think about this for your spin classes by the hotel in Amsterdam?
David Korijn, Owner, Velo, Amsterdam: We had a few discussions about it, but we decided to stick to current price level, so everyone that has credits in their accounts, they can use those credits. And since it was not clear at the time, when we can re-open inside, what will happen to those credits when we do reopen inside. Same credit, same everything. So does fit it so that everyone, as can they use outside and will be usable inside, again.
Margins are obviously you have to pay double, double location. And you’re only open at one location, but it’s doable. And we made some arrangements with our team, with our instructor team so we can survive at our outdoor location.
James Radcliff: Tom, did you take the same approach? Or was yours different?
Tom Moos, CEO/Founder, Saints & Stars, Amsterdam: We slightly decreased pricing and the reason for that was we opened up one day after we heard news that we could actually open up. The way I was thinking, actually two things: First of all, the people might still be skeptical to actually show up and go to the gym even though it is outdoor. And second, the experience we normally offer is not comparable. Normally, you might be changing rooms, like all sorts of amenities you can use, even though we did our best to make the other space really nice and people like it.
But still we chose to decrease price and a little bit, also, in order to just stay relevant, get as many people in as possible, And just being the first doing it in a good way with a fair pricing model because, in the end, you are still training outdoors. You can make it as nice as possible but it is still not the same as indoors. So we thought, we really have to lower our price for that.
Although I have to say now, of course, we are a little further in, if we were to do it again, I would have kept the same price. And the reason is because people were so happy and thrilled that they could go outside and that we made it possible for them to have a safe workout.
So what I would advise people, is to do the same price, English people, they, they accepted. And they didn’t notice that this is the way to go. Also, will be already decided, we can open up the first July, probably with 50% of the capacity as we could normally do with assessing the entire Benelux. But we will keep our outdoor location because people made a point to say that they would rather do outdoor over indoor, so that will be our way forward at least until the first of September.
James Radcliff: David, what are your thoughts on this now that you’ve heard what people said?
David Blitz, CEO/Founder, Studio 3, Chicago: My team and I had a lot of discussions around this. Chicago is quite unique. We’ve been really shut down indoors for three months. And we have a very tight-knit community that’s been supporting us for quite a long time. And our spaces are unique in the sense that we offer three disciplines.
We have a membership option that encompasses all three disciplines and you can also purchase memberships that are just cycling, interval or yoga. And what we’ve decided to do, ultimately, is just allow, we are going to keep the pricing the same. But if you have a cycle membership, you can take an outdoor class. And if you have a yoga or interval membership, you can take an outdoor class. Really the reason for that is because there are going to be capacities, especially with cycling. You may not get into a cycle class in which you desire. So we want to create options. We are trying to create spots.
At 5: 30, if you don’t get into you know, let’s say indoors class capacity is 15 or 20 or whatever that maybe when we open indoors, and nobody knows what that might be, we are hoping that outdoors has more spots and more availability. We want inclusivity and spaces for all and everybody. Some people may just want to go outdoors for the first 30 days, or 60 days. According to a survey that we just did a few days ago, 45% of our customers want to come back right away. And then 33% are interested in coming back within 60 days. And then 99% want to come back in six months.
Outdoor class performance to date
James Radcliff: I want to move on now to the performance of outdoor classes, and this is naturally only appropriate for the guys in Amsterdam so far. Our data shows that there’s been a really strong appetite for outdoor classes in Amsterdam, and that is something that really resonated where it’s been a really popular search term in the app. And so yes, as soon as you guys we’re offering it, our users jumped at the chance to get back to fitness.
What kind of trends have you seen with users who are attending? Are they the same as the pre-COVID ones? Have you attracted new audiences? Do you see people coming back on a day-to-day basis, or are they coming and not coming back again? I know that in other countries where we’ve seen studio fitness return, the concept of a peak and off-peak time has almost disappeared. And it’s now staggered throughout the day, and some places like 11 AM Monday to Friday have been a really popular time for classes. So, did you think about this when building out your schedule, or is it something that you’re looking at?
David Korijn, Owner, Velo, Amsterdam: Yeah, unfortunately, we can not offer a full schedule at the location where we are at. We have a limited schedule and limited hours. Unfortunately, we cannot choose all the hours that we really wanted to open. A good thing is, every hour we’re open, we sell out spots. We don’t have that many spots. But, everyone is jumping on those spots.
We chose not to open at 7 AM in the morning because we thought, so in our extra studio, where we are now, we have class at 7 and we sellout. Normally people go to work, take a shower, and go to work. And life has changed a bit. So they’d like to work out a bit later in the morning, so we see the 10 AM and 11 AM selling out more quickly. We only have roughly 25 classes a week instead of the regular, 70 classes we have here, normally. So it’s, for me, It’s difficult to say, but classes we offer, people like them and they show up.
Tom Moos, CEO/Founder, Saints & Stars, Amsterdam: We’re already having a pretty full schedule, so having the same amount of classes as we used to have. I believe we have like 120 classes on it, so it’s on the schedule is pretty much the same as when you were indoors, in that way. The only thing is, of course, but they won’t change if we open up our doors, the capacity went from 40, 44 to 20 24, so you just, you just lost half of your regular capacity apart from that though, reservations are a lot higher because we offer half of it. It works with our current schedule. If we could move up in hours, we would. We are three weeks away from opening our indoor gym, where we will have all of the extra inventory, so we’ll wait for that.
James Radcliff: Ed, I know that you have probably one of the fullest timetables, all the studios in London, with all different genres. Are you planning to open up with a similarly large set schedule? And I know, when you open your Manchester Studio is brand new and like, from day one, you were offering a ton of classes.
Ed Stanbury, CEO/Founder, BLOK, London: We normally launch with 200 classes a week at locations across the three studios. I think we’re still reviewing it, and we were waiting for the data to come back from our customers today. And then we now have to review that, and given people’s reluctance to pay a premium for small group classes, because that’s what we’re hoping is that people would see value in a class with 4 or 5 people in it and be happy to pay two credits, which most people are paying around £12 of credit or something like that.
We might now look at potentially only using the big studios. So, we’ve got here in Clapham a boxing studio over 2000 square foot square meters. And so we could just use that and the external space, and that would give us two studios that we could run back to back classes all day. And we will run, we will probably do a week or two soft launch where we do slightly less, and once we see that it all works and the methodology works, and the customers are happy, we will go back to back all day.
James Radcliff: David, would you do the same schedule as pre-COVID or would you cut it down or extend it? Would you potentially try to capitalize on times when previously you would not have been busy, but now, with people working from home, their lifestyle may have changed. So, essentially, you can make money on different class times.
David Blitz, CEO/Founder, Studio 3, Chicago: Right now, we’re only, we’re only doing live with us three. With reduced capacities, pre-COVID, we had a pre-rush hour, obviously extremely busy, lunch hour was pretty busy, 4:30, 5:30, 6:30 was very busy. With reduced capacities especially, obviously peak times will be sold out. We’ve thought about adding some more mid-day classes, just because there’ll be, that’ll spill over and keep live classes on and on-demand options. And when it is still warm out, having outdoor classes.
It really is about where demand lies. And following the science. If the world backslides or we move forward to the cases going down, and hopefully we have immunity or vaccine, so things could change. We are optimistic but following what happens with the world, and it is changing almost by the day here with science. We are listening to our members and our community to see where the demand lies and match that up to our reservations.
Running outdoor classes and indoor classes together
James Radcliff: Finally, moving on to the last question that I would like to ask. Before moving on to some audience Q&A. I would like to discuss with you what your plans are, about re-opening your studios. Some interesting data from Amsterdam, since outdoor classes were permitted on the 11th of May, we kind of saw its usage and the percentage of total fitness reservations that were made up by outdoor classes. It surged very quickly and has settled around the 85% mark. It proves digital is still popular but outdoor classes are popular as well.
Given the popularity of these, is it something that you are likely to continue in the short or long term when classes resume? Even after September first and maybe even next summer, would you like to start doing outdoor classes again?
Tom Moos, CEO/Founder, Saints & Stars, Amsterdam: We’re going to try this year to see how it is. If people who actually work out outdoors are afraid of COVID or they just like the outdoor experience. Hopefully next year, we’ll be talking about this subject anymore. So hopefully we are just discussing if people like the outdoors, and we might consider it. Summer is getting better and better out here. So if people like the outdoors, it would really be something to keep doing for sure.
James Radcliff: And, David, I know you’ve probably got a slightly harder job and the fact that you’ve got to cart spin studios around and get them to the hotel. But as it’s been so successful, like, what would you potentially look for next year to hire a venue to do outdoor classes in the summer given its popularity?
David Korijn, Owner, Velo, Amsterdam: Yeah. So now it’s easier to find locations outside now. We’ll definitely keep our outdoor location when we can re-open the studio. We’ll see next year with the situation. If there is a reaction that people like to workout outside, I am open to it. It’s extra spots and we will make the investments on the extra bikes. And we get good feedback.
James Radcliff: And David, in Chicago, given that this is going to be a place where you have real estate developments, if it’s successful, do you envision keeping it as is or would you rather turn it into something else?
David Blitz, CEO/Founder, Studio 3, Chicago: The space that we’re using is, it is a great space, but outdoor classes have always, you know they have been a hit as long as I can remember. It is something that I think will be bigger over the next X amount of years. It is definitely something that we will keep in mind in the future and definitely utilize.
But, you know, whether it’s here, you know, in a lot of the local parks or on a rooftop, you know, there is always a hotel looking for a partnership, restaurants, looking for strategic partnerships, rooftops. You know, it’s because it’s really a huge win-win for, for like-minded companies around, too to have a local boutique fitness company and come in and work with them.
The answer is yes, it is definitely something we would love to work with when the weather is nice.
James Radcliff: I’ve always thought the nightclubs would be a good partnership with studios, with the sound system and large open spaces. And the operating hours of a nightclub is somewhat different to a studio, you can almost clear the ravers out, and then get fitness ones in.
James Radcliff: I want to move to some Q&A that we’ve had from the audience.
So the main one and probably very appropriate looking outside my window in the UK at the moment, is what happens if it rains? Do you cancel classes? What level of rain does it have to be?
David Korijn, Owner, Velo, Amsterdam: So, I became a weather expert the last few weeks. I get to read clouds better than anyone. If it rains, we cancel classes. It is unsafe with the bikes. It’s super annoying, but we don’t have the roof yet. Hopefully, I will move to a location with the roof. We’ve had to cancel two days.
James Radcliff: Presumably just refunded all your users?
David Korijn, Owner, Velo, Amsterdam: We refunded everyone. It’s been worse the past few months, but it has only been two days.
James Radcliff: Tom, have you had any instances where you’ve had to cancel the classes? I know yours is largely covered.
Tom Moos, CEO/Founder, Saints & Stars, Amsterdam Yeah, we try to cover as much as possible that way, so that everything goes on as planned unless there is lightning or a big storm, but we haven’t had that yet.
James Radcliff: We then got another question for David in Chicago, where someone just wants clarity on your setup. You’re basically setting up makeshift stations with walls outside> Can you elaborate?
David Blitz, CEO/Founder, Studio 3, Chicago: We are building pods with turns. Four foot by eight-foot pods with ten feet in between each one and it is on a pretty large piece of land that is encapsulated with insets. We are going to have up to 50 stations, whatever the city will allow. And we will adhere to social distancing within each pod.
James Radcliff: Another question on the sanitary facilities, bathroom, sinks, showers, etcetera. When do you think they’ll be able to re-open when indoor fitness is allowed? And for the guys in Amsterdam, have you opened up these for your outdoor classes? David, have people been able to go into the hotel to use the toilet or is that not allowed?
David Korijn, Owner, Velo, Amsterdam: So at the moment, everything is just closed off the hotel. As they’re set rules, you just follow those rules. So, no. There’s no toilets. And we refill water bottles during class for the customers to minimize the walking of customers around the place. So we refill their water bottle, but no showers, only workouts. No lockers. You keep your own stuff with you. Of course cleaning stations for everyone, special sprays, paper towels.
James Radcliff: Tom, was it the same for you?
Tom Moos, CEO/Founder, Saints & Stars, Amsterdam: Exactly the same. We are confident that for July 1st, we can open up changing rooms. We’re not sure yet. The government decides in a week. What we see now is that it really becomes a mess. But they can probably open up again. We’re not sure yet. A lot of people just take your stuff at their workstation and put it somewhere else and lose it. It gets wet. Just a lot of things you don’t want.
James Radcliff: We’re talking about digital classes as well as, how many of you are seriously thinking of pivoting your business to online? Ed, you obviously have BlokTV, so I assume that is a long term project for you?
Ed Stanbury, CEO/Founder, BLOK, London: Yeah, absolutely. It was always a long-term project we had in the pipe work anyway. We had a new Head of Digital that just started one week before the lockdown kicked in. It was supposed to be a 12-month project, do the R&D, look at the industry and decide if we wanted to enter and how and that changed very quickly.
On day one I sat down and said how many weeks until we can launch? And we launched a few weeks later. We never imagined having a major live offering, but now it is a big part of generating revenue. We do 28 live classes a day, and then of course, all of the genres. Some of them are done in people’s homes. But some of them do come into the studios as well. We’ve set up a system where they can just come in and get a key out of the safe, and let themselves in, and film, clean up and show themselves out. I don’t think we will keep that level of life. When studios reopen, we will drop down to ten a day, but BLOKTV is definitely here to stay.
James Radcliff: David, I know you’re doing live stream classes. Is this something that you’d look to continue once you have your outdoor place up and running and when indoor fitness is allowed or was it just a stop-gap?
David Blitz, CEO/Founder, Studio 3, Chicago: You have to see the numbers and look at the demand to make a decision. When we closed our doors in mid-March, there was a huge demand, and our team continues to innovate and we continue to come up with ways to meet our clients demands. Ways to keep them fit, giving the conditions here and the economy. With what’s happening and what could happen, if our clients are telling us that they want to be outside or want to come inside, I don’t know if it will or won’t make sense to have extra classes per day on the schedule and what that will look like for us. We are going to do what our clients tell us to do. That’s our business model.
James Radcliff: Are you getting lots of questions from the users before the start of the class, about what they need to bring, what they need to do, the setup of the class, et cetera? And if so, how are you marketing this to your users?
Tom Moos, CEO/Founder, Saints & Stars, Amsterdam: Definitely got a lot of questions on that. So, I think a very detailed FAQ or a very detailed email where all the details, that’s really something we need to do. The same thing when we open up our regular studio, because people will have a lot of questions because when things change, people want to know everything and normally they don’t like it.
Yeah, I think just be as clear as possible in terms of communication and what they can expect and what they need to bring or where you need to bring it because the questions are a lot for sure.
James Radcliff: I‘d just like to end by asking each of the panelists one bit of advice that they could give to studios who are looking to do outdoor fitness.
David Korijn, Owner, Velo, Amsterdam: Yeah, so the main thing that we’ve seen people really, really look forward to doing their work out. For us, it was different workouts than we originally planned. People like to see the faces and are addicted to attending the classes and seeing the faces. People are super happy to see people at the studio. Everyone is so happy to see our front desk people working again.
So, open up. I’m sure every single fill up, quite quick. Again, make sure to communicate all FAQs. We then, every time for a confirmation email that we send out with every booking every rule questions to make it possible.
Tom Moos, CEO/Founder, Saints & Stars, Amsterdam: I would say stay relevant at all times, Keep quality really high and stay relevant. If it is live, TV, or outdoors. Try to do it as good as
Ed Stanbury, CEO/Founder, BLOK, London: If you are in London, get a space with a roof because it rains even more. We wouldn’t have had any classes all week last week. Listen to your customers because that is why we haven’t got clear plans yet. I wouldn’t make the decision that outdoors isn’t right for your customers without talking to them. They just want to get back, even if it is not ideal, and it is going to be in a park or in the rain, they want to do it anyway.
David Blitz, CEO/Founder, Studio 3, Chicago: Health always comes first. The clients and the team and the outdoor classes, being in Chicago, where you truly have four seasons here and it rains a lot. It is not about the money. It is about getting ready and training everyone for what it is to come. We are getting ready for this new norm. It’s been going on for 3 months. It really is true. We are not back in the studio, we are really getting ready. We are training ourselves, our team, and our clients for what’s to come. We are all learning lessons here. It really is all about health. It is not just us. It is every client. It is every team member.
Want more information about outdoor fitness classes? Don’t forget to subscribe to the After Class newsletter for updates on facilities management, business owner insights and more.