Madlab gyms thriving in Covid pandemic

While many other independent gyms have been advised by consultants not to let their coaches develop individual, one-on-one relationships with the gym’s clients—out of fear they might one day pack up and take these clients with them—the bedrock of our business has always been based on the coach-client relationship.

It’s these one-on-one relationships—and the trust and the loyalty they contain—that have helped MadLab gyms retain 85-90 percent of their clients and continue to pay their coaches as we enter month two of operating our businesses in an online capacity.

MadLab coach of 11 years Emily Beers explains her experience and the importance of her relationships with her clients

Heading into month two of lockdown, I haven’t lost a single client yet. That being said, I reduced the rates on one couple—they had been paying $260 a month each—to $200 each a month. Though it’s a scary time, I realize just how strong my relationships with clients are.

Yesterday, I did a Zoom workout alongside a client—a dentist who can’t work right now, who has two mortgages and whose insurance company isn’t paying out his pandemic insurance to his business. He was stressed out to say the least.

We warmed up and did some upper body strength work, and then he broke down in tears. We talked like friends for a bit and then we got into some conditioning. I could see the stress seep out of his body as we raced each other through a short piece of burpees and V-sits. He looked like a new man by the end of the session.

“I wouldn’t have done that without you,” he said, adding that he felt so much better after his session. I left him knowing he was in a better place than an hour ago, knowing he valued what I can still bring to his life even without a gym.

Today, I did a hybrid pt with a client, who has trouble hinging and often experiences low back pain. I provided him some guidance specific to his issues and provided some daily homework. Then we talked for 20 minutes about his medical supplies company—how he is doing all he can to keep his sales revenue going and his 20 employees employed. At the end of the call, he told me he knew his membership was due at the end of this month and to bill him for another 12 months up front, meaning $3,000 for his hybrid membership with a once-every-six week personal training session, which we have seamlessly moved to an online platform.

After a month of Zoom calls, I have realized the logistics of how we deliver our service has changed, but the relationship, and the value our coaches provide to our clients, has remained the same.

MadLab Gyms after five weeks

Graph 1

Revenue over time since C-Day: While there was an initial dip just after C-Day (the day we closed our doors), it has been climbing back each week getting closer and closer to pre-COVID-19 levels

Graph 2

Long-time coach at 7 Mile Strength and Fitness in Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands Chris Spigner had 70 clients when their gym closed in March. Since then, he has only had two people go on hold, one of whom returned home to South Africa to look after his mother, Spigner reported.

# of clients over time since C-Day: Same trajectory as revenue.

Graph 3

This graph shows coach pay over time. After C-Day, it dipped, but has been ramping back up in weeks four and five to closer to the professional wage they were making prior to COVID-19.

The top coach at MadLab School of Fitness in Vancouver, B.C., for example, earned a little over $9,000 in March, dipped to $6,500 in April and is projected to climb higher in May.

Graph 4

This graph shows the number of hours our coaches have had to work in the last five weeks. While there was an initial increase as we scrambled to reach out to each client, change programming, brainstorm creative solutions etc, hours have since normalized and are beginning to ramp up as we begin generating new sources of revenue in the online setting.

While keeping our businesses going during this pandemic is still utmost on most of our minds, we need to also consider how we’re going to come out of this disaster.

The future of fitness

Three billion people around the world are overweight or obese. $2.5 trillion is spent annually on diabetes treatments.

A professional coach and the professional gym have the opportunity to fix this. By forming relationships with endocrinologists, neurologists, orthopedic surgeons and other health professionals, we can start bridging the gap between medicine and the gym.

More importantly, we need professional coaches to change the current reactive medical model into a preventative model that helps people regain their health, put their diabetes into remission, fix their chronic back pain etc.

As we say, an endocrinologist isn’t going to refer a diabetes patient to the group exercise facility down the street. A physiotherapist isn’t going to refer a hip replacement patient to the Orange Theory. But, an orthopaedic surgeon will refer a post-op client to a professional coach they know and trust and have a relationship with.

That’s the opportunity we have in front of us.