Coronavirus pandemic: Fitness market reinvents itself – Economy

(photo: Paulo Vitae/Gympass/Disclosure)

So Paulo – Few sectors suffered as much from the coronavirus pandemic as the market fitness. Closed gyms, canceled plans and uncertainties about the return of normal activities forced the segment to find ways to survive.

In the following interview, Leandro Caldeira, president for Latin America of Gympass, a startup that offers users unlimited access to gymsstudios and other physical activity establishments, explains what his company has been doing to fight the crisis.

What initiatives has Gympass taken to reduce the negative impacts of the coronavirus crisis?

Gympass is present in 14 countries, including Italy and Spain, two regions that have been heavily impacted by the new coronavirus. Having quickly understood the situation there helped us to act in all the other regions where Gympass operates. Since then, we have worked in Brazil and other countries to adapt to the new reality. To mitigate the effects caused by Covid-19, we use technology as an ally, allowing our more than 23,000 partners in the country to continue offering training to their students, whether they are Gympass users or not.

How is this done?

We have launched some support measures for gyms and are working to bring more solutions in the coming weeks. Among the initiatives, the anticipation of the transfer referring to the March visits (usually the transfer is made every 15th and this time we did it on the 6th, as we know that this income is important for our partners), the live class platform, at no cost , the digital incentive program, to financially support partners who are giving live classes, and the recorded class platform, which offers 1,500 training sessions in different modalities. In addition, we seek to help our partners through the Gympass Plus marketplace. In Minas Gerais, for example, we closed an agreement with a solar energy company for partners in the state. By migrating to this more sustainable type of energy, they can get up to 15% off their electricity bill, which is one of the gym’s three biggest expenses.

”To mitigate the effects caused by COVID-19, we use technology as an ally, allowing our more than 23,000 partners in the country to continue offering training to their students, whether they are Gympass users or not”

Leandro Caldeira, president of Gympass

Did the pandemic force Gympass to review its business model?

We are living the “new normal”. The pandemic meant that all segments of the market had to reinvent themselves. With Gympass and the fitness industry it was no different. We do not know how long the crisis will last, nor how long it will take for the user’s behavior to return to normal. We believe that, more than ever, it’s time for people to keep exercising to stay healthy mentally and physically. The solution was to adapt as quickly as possible. In just two weeks, we adjusted our business model to enable our partners to continue engaging their users with physical activity online. For free and 100% digital, our more than 23,000 partner studios and gyms throughout Brazil can offer live classes. It is important to emphasize “live” because it generates more engagement, given the possible interaction between the user and the teacher.

For partners, how important is it to offer live classes?

Among the benefits of this new model, in addition to revenue generation (partners are paid by Gympass for each class scheduled by the user), gyms have the opportunity to grow in the digital universe and reach a greater number of people.

How to be the fitness market after the end of the pandemic?

It’s still hard to say. We believe in the power of face-to-face classes and human contact, but we see online classes as a complement, a new source of income for our partners.

In many industries, the crisis has forced companies to accelerate digital transformation. Should the same happen with the fitness market?

No doubt. Companies need to be quick to adjust the model. The gym and studio industry is still very dependent on in-person classes, but the pandemic has forced the sector to think about digital solutions. It was remarkable to see how quickly our partners innovated to offer live classes.

Is it now possible to scale the impact of the coronavirus on the sector?

As this is a global crisis, we know that our partners and the entire fitness industry, as well as ourselves, will be impacted. We will only be able to measure the real impact in a few months, but we believe that, although the situation will not be easy, we will come out with more diverse solutions for users, with a positive legacy.

In the case of Gympass, what was the impact of the pandemic? Was there a drop in revenue and layoffs?

In several countries the population has received the recommendation to stay at home and many companies have already adopted the home office policy. Industries, stores, restaurants and gyms have closed their doors. We saw our visits to gyms drop to zero and we had many cancellations and pauses in plans from users. It was necessary to make some changes to reduce costs, which included the most difficult decision of all: reducing our team.

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