24 Sep 2021 World leisure: news, training & property
 
 
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SELECTED ISSUE
Health Club Management
2020 issue 6

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Leisure Management - Dan Bond

HCM People

Dan Bond


We’d explained leading up to the lockdown that if everyone decided to freeze or cancel, then there would be a possibility of not having a gym to come back to

Bond reports that only 10 per cent of members froze payments
A hand-written note with wax seal was sent to every member
Bond has made improvements to the gym during lockdown

Can you give us a short overview of your career background?
I started training under the CrossFit methodology in early 2012, began working in the fitness industry later the same year and opened CrossFit Fort Ashton in 2015. My time in the fitness sector has been a mix of me working as a personal trainer at David Lloyd, coaching generic fitness classes at local gyms and coaching at a number of Bristol based CrossFit boxes.

How was the Fort Ashton club tracking before COVID hit?
Pre-lockdown, CrossFit Fort Ashton was as busy as it’s ever been. Fully booked classes with waiting lists, consistent joining enquiries and a solid membership base of around 300. Obviously our core programme is CrossFit, but alongside that we also run a weightlifting programme and more recently we had begun a weekly gymnastics class.

How have you looked after your members during lockdown?
When the announcement was made that we would be closing, we actioned a few protocols that we felt would help our members whilst they had no access to the gym.

We lent the majority of our equipment out to members. Barbells, weights, kettlebells, dumbbells, sandbags, skipping ropes and more. We tried to make sure as many members as possible had something.

We began a ‘home workout’ programme. This consisted of daily workouts, which had bodyweight options for people with no kit, and limited kit options for those with something. We also created a YouTube channel where we uploaded demonstration and explanation videos to go alongside the daily workouts.

We began online classes via Zoom; this way people could still receive coaching while they were training. On top of the Zoom workout classes, we’ve also been doing a Friday night social on Zoom, which has included quizzes, scavenger hunts, Bingo, games of Cards Against Humanity and more.

Basically, we’ve been doing as much as we can to keep the members engaged with us and to keep them fit throughout lockdown. We’ve also done some live Q&As, and nutrition content with the coaches.

In what other ways have you kept in touch with members during closure?
Alongside our online classes and all of the above, we’ve been sending out a weekly newsletter every Sunday evening. This consists of relevant information regarding the gym and all that’s going on, plus useful information and content such as stretching and mobility videos, shout-outs to members on their birthdays and just letting everybody know what’s happening and that we’re being proactive in our approach to the situation.

We also sent every member a hand written, wax sealed letter – a little note to let them know we’re thinking about them and that we’re here if they need us.

How have you managed memberships during this time?
We closed at the end of March. We took payments for April as usual and during that month we had around 10 per cent of members freeze. From there we reduced our membership fees by 40 per cent, and since doing that we’ve only had a few people freeze.

We’d explained leading up to lockdown that if everyone decided to freeze or cancel then there would be a possibility of not having a gym to come back to. The culture and community at CrossFit Fort Ashton is incredible and the support from members has been amazing. We’ve been able to keep some staff wages going and make some improvements to the actual gym space.

How did you feel about the controversies surrounding Crossfit CEO Greg Glassman [who resigned after posting a racist tweet]?

What I will say is this; I communicated our position in relation to this matter to our members and it has been fully supported. We didn’t agree with Greg Glassman’s comments and HQ’s silence [in relation to Black Lives Matter] doesn’t align with our values as a gym.

However, I do believe change can be better achieved from within and at the time of this interview we will be remaining as a CrossFit affiliate.

Do you have advice for other operators on how to look after members during difficult times?
From what I’ve witnessed, especially locally in Bristol, everyone has been on top of this and doing a great job. Nationally, most CrossFit gym owners have been doing similar things and the sharing of information has been next level. The community within CrossFit has been invaluable to us.

My advice would be to keep members in the loop. Even if you’re unsure, communicate that. It’ll be appreciated over silence and uncertainty.


Originally published in Health Club Management 2020 issue 6

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