When running a business during a pandemic, there isn’t a playbook. As we navigate this pandemic together, our friends at Talent Hack offer strategies for fitness business owners — read on below.

Shift your mindset

First off, take a deep breath. If you’ve said some version of “I knew I should’ve done something about my digital business earlier,” or “I wish I could’ve prepared better for this,” over the last week, knock it off. We’re living through an unprecedented crisis that no one could’ve predicted. You can view this as a major roadblock in your career and be paralyzed by it or you can view it as an opportunity and unleash your creativity.

Let’s face it, no matter how much you love what you do, the exhausting nature of a 5-9 hustle can take its toll. Choose to see this as a chance to reset and reconnect to why you became a fitness professional in the first place. Whether the reason was to bring people together, help clients through life’s greatest obstacles or serve as a cheerleader and guiding light, this is your chance to step up.

Meet clients where they are

Before you start a livestream every day at 12 p.m. or build a library of content for a streaming platform, first take the time to check in with your clients and audience. What do they need most right now? What do their new schedules look like? What are their challenges and blockers for keeping up their fitness routine? Don’t assume you know what they need without asking and really listening. 

If you find that clients, especially older ones are resistant to remote training, get on the phone with them to understand what’s really fueling their hesitation. Is it just the unfamiliarity with the technology? Self-consciousness? Lack of confidence that they’ll stick to it? Remind them how far they’ve come and the importance of regular training in their routine. It’s a lot easier to dodge you via text which is what makes talking to them in person critical. They’ll thank you for the little push down the line.

Get creative

Maybe you’ve been meaning to take your business digital forever but put it off due to lack of time, necessity or frankly, because you were intimidated. The upside of crises like this is that they force innovation. Now is the time to explore everything. In the beginning, it’s a numbers game — how can you get your product and offering in front of as many home-bound fitness lovers as possible. ClassPass allows studios to livestream their classes on their platform to reach a wide audience, and get paid for every reservation. Get creative with what you’re offering but as well as how you’re marketing it — maybe you collaborate with a handful of fitness professionals who train in different modalities to offer a well-rounded weekly schedule. Maybe you explore referral programs, exclusive member-only benefits and perks, a 30-day program or challenge. The possibilities really are endless. Put it out there, see what gains traction and adjust as you go. 

And if streaming isn’t for you, you can still coach remotely. You can easily create workout plans in something as simple as a google sheet or use a remote training app to build programs and plans for clients. Encourage clients to train for something whether that be a virtual race, a pistol squat challenge or 30-day wellness overhaul. 

Ready to get started? Here’s our comprehensive guide to the range of platforms out there to start hosting workout content, streaming and remote coaching.

Charge for it

Whether that’s $5 a head for streaming classes, or at the very least donation-based, your time is valuable — your expertise is valuable and should be compensated accordingly. Don’t be afraid to charge during this time. You are delivering the same product you did before, just through a different medium. There are hundreds of hours of free fitness content out there, clients are coming to you for that special sauce that you bring and you’d be surprised at how eager they are to support you and this industry to ensure they survive this crisis. If you find that your clients are in a tough spot financially, explore a sliding scale or “pay what you can” model. There are ways to be inclusive without sacrificing your needs. See what other fitpros have to say about this topic.

When it comes to actually collecting the money, here’s where things get a bit more complicated. While it may seem like a no-brainer to charge for online classes or services with everyone’s favorite cash transfer app, resist the urge. It explicitly states in the Terms of Service for PayPal (personal), Zelle and Venmo that we agree as account holders not to use these apps for business transactions. As the seller, you have no protection and your money can easily be frozen if the volume you’re collecting looks suspicious. Plus, when it comes to next April you may find yourself in a sticky situation for filing taxes. Best to use platform integrations with payment processors such as Stripe, Square, PayPal Business or QuickBooks payments. They may charge a fee of roughly 3%, but this is the cost of doing business. Look into the integrations available with the platforms you currently use.

Keep learning

This is the perfect time to fulfill those continuing education credits, pursue certifications you’ve been meaning to explore, fine-tune your skills and sharpen teaching techniques. Many certifications are offering heavily discounted or even free courses for you to gain new qualifications and increase your marketability.

Take care of yourself

We know that this crisis has brought a lot of anxiety, uncertainty and unwelcome challenges but try to take advantage of this time regroup, rest, and enjoy the little silver lining that comes from a disruption to your daily hustle. Be mindful that while you’re busy giving to everyone else, you make sure to prioritize your own mental and physical health, as well. Take the opportunity to catch up on sleep (goodbye 5 a.m. alarm), eat real meals, at tables, with real silverware (!) and connect with family and friends.

Connect with the community

But above all, the ultimate key to surviving this crisis is not going through it alone. Thousands of fitness professionals are all going through all the same experiences as you — so it’s important to share knowledge, connect on similar experiences and gain support. Join the Talent Hack community slack channel for real-time advice and connection, follow the conversation on our IG and sign up for a virtual huddle for live connection and networking.

This post was written by Alexandra Bonetti, founder and CEO of Talent Hack. Talent Hack connects companies, gyms, studios and brands to fitness professionals — from instructors and trainers to managers, front desk support and social media gurus.