The Coronavirus has changed life as we used to know it, all gyms remain closed and have been since March and still no light as to when they will be allowed to reopen. Once they can reopen, what will it be like? How will social distancing be implemented? Will gyms be able to afford the necessary changes they may be forced to make? It is an extremely uncertain time.
Martial arts is a close combat sport – how is that going to be the same with social distancing? Can we hit pads? Can we spar? Not just Muay Thai gyms. Other martial arts schools and academies such as Taekwondo, Karate, Judo and many others face the same questions.
Martial Arts gyms are at the heart of every community, allowing a vast mixture of children and adults from all backgrounds to come together to enjoy a love for Muay Thai, Jiu-Jitsu or many other sports.
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Gyms form strong bonds of friendship, almost like a second family where everyone is accepted regardless of skill level. These second families can become a solace for many people, sometimes the only reason they attend the gym for a getaway for a few hours. Without this escape many people may be suffering at home from domestic violence or fighting a mental health problem alone.
A gym is not just for exercise and many clubs, coaches and mentors are trying to adapt and carry on classes on Zoom or FaceTime, but the personal touch is missing, and this is playing on the hearts of many gym owners.
Gyms are suffering financially, although the government has put a hold on rent and business rates for some, this simply isn’t enough and some gyms have had to close their doors permanently.
Many are left with a difficult decision to protect members and freeze their direct debits and face closure or make the guilty decision to keep taking peoples monthly fee to make sure the club will remain there. Which ever decision you decide to take it has to be what you as an owner feel is right.
Once this storm has passed and life returns to a new normal, clubs and gyms will be relying highly on new members. Gyms may not be able to pay for advertising so to all members invite your friends, family, do your bit to promote the atmosphere of the gym, the health benefits and mental health benefits that it brings.
Many gym owners are asking themselves what is it going to be like? Will people still want to use a gym?
Gyms will take a new shape, with classes possibly being reduced to allow for social distancing. Bags and equipment located with enough space for members and trainers to circulate and coach comfortably. Family members unable to wait on-site or even watch their loved ones train, some gyms may set up video links to allow this.
Gyms may have to consider additional storage due to members travelling by foot or bicycle instead of car or public transport. There are so many un-answered questions and will be uncertainty for a long time to come.
One thing to be certain of; gyms rely on their members loyalty and word-of-mouth to promote them. As and when it is safe to return, it will be welcomed by everyone, when we return to our new normal.