February 12, 2022

Escape the Circle of Vulnerability

Fitness businesses rely on clients from a relatively small area. While this is a sustainable model during normal times, the past few years have proven how fragile this model is.

Because in person clients must be very close by, anything that stops in-person classes will hit that fitness business hard. COVID-19 was simply the first event to reveal the flaws of this model.

The traditional fitness business model’s reliance on in-person clients to thrive embodies the business and financial mistake of putting all your eggs in one basket. Many amazing businesses had been created in spite of this mistake, an easy one to make when living inside the experience of what was “normal times”.

Suddenly, with covid, that seemingly large circle of clients became much smaller when the usual in-person classes got disrupted by the pandemic. The immediate impact to any business that relies on a single revenue source is a devastating loss of revenue. For brick-and-mortar fitness studios, it was practically inevitable that we’d find ourselves in this difficult situation. 

When COVID-19 hit, many studios were forced to shut down for extended periods of time. While many survived by providing online classes, most businesses during this time did not extend their reach beyond their traditional 300 sq mile or so range. Unfortunately, some great businesses are gone forever.

Studios that scrambled to adjust to online classes began to lose a significant amount of clients who weren’t willing to make the transition to virtual fitness classes for very long.

COVID-19 forced us all to discover that only a percentage of the in person clients were willing to follow that business online during quarantine. The new realization was that in person clients, and virtual fitness clients are different types. To further compound the problem, many businesses did not fully commit to the new online environment, using it as a stopgap measure until in-person classes returned. 

This choice is the equivalent of wanting to remain in the circle of vulnerability.

They didn’t take the time to discover they needed to learn to appeal to a different and additional client type, the virtual fitness client. As a result, no new revenue streams were created to compensate for the loss incurred from the loss of access to their in person clients.

After the Quarantine

The world is not back to normal yet. It may not ever go back. Fitness businesses have to make a choice; adapt to the new world and extend their reach beyond the circle of vulnerability, or simply accept the losses caused by the next event that forces them to lose their in person clients for a period of time. 

Rather than trying to increase the amount of clients in the neighborhood, focus on expanding the reach of your business to a larger area that will guarantee more clients.

It might seem like there's only doom and gloom for brick and mortar fitness businesses. However, that is not the case. COVID has given businesses an opportunity to pivot into online fitness, which exponentially increases their circle of potential clients. In contrast to the 300 square miles of in-person business the normal fitness studio is limited to, the world has over 25 million square miles of potential clients. By winning over new virtual clients from the world outside their small local circle, a business can massively increase both the amount of clients and revenue. All it takes is understanding the virtual fitness world and catering to that additional demographic.


Fitness businesses can start to attract clients on a global scale by tapping into the virtual fitness marketplace. 

With proper execution a brick-and-mortar business can not only retain their in-person clientele, but expand into creating online content for a second audience that creates a secondary revenue stream. Over time, with care and attention to details, this secondary revenue stream can eventually match, and exceed, in person revenue. What business wouldn't want a huge increase in revenue during normal circumstances, and extra financial security when the world experiences the next disruptive event?

About the author 

Mark Firehammer

When is he is not creating content for Pilates Business Pros, or training business owners to be better marketers, you can find him playing with his cats, working in his metal and woodworking shop or sharing a meal and a bottle of wine with friends.

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