Tony skinner 00:03
Hi, and welcome to the podcast channel with www.podcastmybusiness.com.au. And today we’re joined from Minneapolis with Andy from snap fitness.com.au. How you doing?
Not too bad, Thanks and yourself?
Tony skinner 00:22
Yeah, cool. I am, I took a couple of days out and I’m out. I’m from Sydney. I’m out two hours outside of Sydney. So I’m one of those lucky ones I can get out and about. And I guess you are because you hand it over to Minneapolis from New Zealand.
I did yeah. came over last week actually. And he everyone who I mentioned that I was going to America for three months to thought looked at me like I was crazy. Like I was entering World War Two France and I gotta say it was the easiest journey have ever done with no people around me on any airport. It was it was haven.
Tony skinner 01:00
Yeah, that’s right. Yeah, exactly. Well, look, you know, got on them for allowing you. I think it’s a bit weird that you’re not allowed to leave the country without government permission.
A little bit easier. In New Zealand, they hippie fiddle, leave, but then they’re not too heavy. Really? Come back?
Tony skinner 01:16
Yeah. Okay. Fair enough. Okay, is at your own risk, essentially, which is? Yeah, what will be? That’s cool. All right. Enough on that. So um, but what we’re talking about, look, I guess it’s relevant because we are going through changes and a new world with COVID. And what have you. And gyms have certainly been on the front line of being hit quite hard. Initially, by shutdowns and the like, So? How’s it gone for you guys? And how’s it gone? For the industry in general?
Yeah, good question. And, you know, it’s an evolving situation. So we, only know where we are today. And we can predict where it will be tomorrow, but no one really knows, right? Like any industry, but it’s been an interesting one. Definitely, we span and span across the globe, we got over 100 clubs worldwide, mostly in America, Australia and New Zealand and in Europe, set to expand into Asia in every region came with its differences that came with different problems and challenges.
And even in Australia, every state came with its own problems and challenges is is I’m sure you and your listeners are aware today. So the first challenge the first challenge came with, like anyone the shock of it, and in the lockdowns and the announcements and you listen to the news, and you try to interpret it. And for us, it was all about making some really key decisions at the right time. And when we had to go into lockdown. The first decision was, what do we do with our membership? You know, billing a number of gyms decided to maintain their billing but reduced the rates, we stopped our billing completely we felt like with with the gyms being closed, we didn’t want to build any of our members who couldn’t use the gym. We also didn’t want to Bill our franchisees who couldn’t bill members. So essentially, we went from being a normal business to having zero revenue coming in. So you know that proves challenging. And if since then it’s been a staged approach for us in the industry, I’m guessing with other brands as well, where it’s you got to close correctly and safely. And then, you know, the shift to digital became began. And everyone started doing home workouts and virtual classes. And the digital age and fitness was was always upon us.
But I think COVID speeded up a number of years. And then of course, with the different states around Australia in different countries around the world reopening. For us it was reopening safely and to the restrictions of the local governments. But we were very, very, very adamant on our cleaning schedules and in social distancing and spreading machines that we did not want to be the gym that did the wrong thing and and got punished for it. We wanted to set the standard in the industry and I believe we’ve done that very well. They her hair shapes the industry, in my opinion is I’m not sure if we’ve seen the true effects yet. It’s it’s going to become a little bit of survival of the fittest.
And, you know, it’s who’s got the best landlords that are giving them relief out there. And sometimes in some cases, who’s got the deepest pockets. So it’s certainly been an interesting six months, but I think the next six months, potentially maybe even more interesting as we try and never never get our way out of this thing and who actually gets out of it.
Tony skinner 04:46
Well, it’s interesting, I go to the gym then like I said here in Sydney and mine is a quite a large independent gym. And what I’ve noticed is there seems to be a lot more people back at the moment. Is that everybody including me working off their COVID Baby?
Yeah, we’ve we’ve seen good sparks and usage in different parts of Australia, we’re actually in good not just usage but new memberships coming in and and I’ll put this down to a couple of reasons and my reasons are backed up by by survey and some of our new members that came in that told us and number one was obviously with a pandemic, words like wellness and immunity and in health have been used widely. And one of the recommendations to beat the virus or at least be able to, you know, not be as affected by it was to be healthy. And so during lockdown people, people got outside more, they started walking more. And whether it’s because they they felt they needed to get healthier.
I personally think when you’re locked inside your house and getting outside for a walk, it’s not it’s not as big of a burden, as it is another times and people’s mindsets. So they actually started to get outside more and enjoy the effects of being a little bit healthier, enjoy moving around a little bit more. So when it came time to reopening the gyms, we saw a surge of people getting getting either back into the memberships or starting a membership who either haven’t hadn’t had one previously or hadn’t had one for a while. And I think a lot of this comes down to the fact that during lockdown, they found themselves getting outside a little bit more. And they wanted to take the training to the next level. And you just look at industries like retail and all the the fitness appraisal companies out there the lower limbs of the world, for example, who saw huge spikes in consumers buying, you know, fitness based clothing online during the lockdown, and it was to back up that point about getting outside walking home based workout. So snap across Australia, we were very close to our pre COVID numbers now which which has been a great uplift in the last four months. And our usage levels are bang on where they were prior and even even in New Zealand, they were above what they were prior to lockdown. So we’re really strong June, July, August was was was good, but not as good. And in September’s tracking really well as well. So, actually, yeah, they’re really pleased with how we’ve come out of it.
Tony skinner 07:16
Yes, it didn’t, you said it because exercise is good for mental health as you’re alluding to. So is that something that gyms should focus more on? Exercise being a benefit for mental health, maybe providing some mental health advice and services as part of the membership?
Yeah, I personally believe that. And I’ve been advocating for this for for a while now that if you own a fitness facility, that you you essentially have an obligation as well to, to not just help people physically, but somewhat mentally, because the two go hand in hand and the industry will will now shift to more of their holistic approach. We were sent fitness actually, we’ve been aligned with mental health partners and mental health in general, over the last three years, and every year, we run a like a six week challenge to try and raise money for a couple of different mental health charities out there raise awareness, and it’s all about getting people in the gym, getting them eating data, we provide them with nutritional content based on the goal and their activity levels, workout content in and mental health content. So try and reducing their stress levels, trying to get them engaged with other people in the community as well. Because those three things they just they go hand in hand together.
And we have a 20 day challenge, actually, that starts in October, which is Mental Health Month. And you know, I recommend everyone get behind it because it’s raises money for a great cause. But those I’ve firsthand seen it change lives. And there’s that combination of both the physical and the mental side of it, which isn’t easy to do, but it’s too late. And certainly while we are trying to tackle
Tony skinner 08:59
Yes, interesting. There’s, it is a challenge to get people engaged, especially guys because I go to the gym, and I mostly do weights and whatever. And one of the rules of doing it at the gym is that you don’t talk. So you might do it. If it’s someone you’ve seen for the past 12 months. So how could you engage more men because we are the worst people with a mental health? Give an example I interviewed sir john kirwan a little while ago, and he’s one of men. Yeah. And I’m you know him. And he’s got a mental health app. And he’s got it because he’s dealing with the issues around the gym culture and males in the locker room culture where we go out we train we play we beat the other side and we get back also how you going to face it a bit of a struggle at the moment I’d be thought of a bit of a war. So what’s a good strategy to deal with that?
in great question in john kirwan work that he doesn’t use Zealand as kind of him speak a number of times on this issue and he knows it firsthand. I’m not, I’d like to think that in the gyms itself these days there, that it has changed a little bit already, it’s certainly not the yet. But if if your blog or any person in an a club, and you struggling and you think that maybe there’s someone in the gym, who who could listen to and help, but the fear is the idea that you’re going to be ridiculed, you know, it’s quite often more, it’s quite often worse in your head than it is in reality. And I know firsthand that just taking it first is the hardest.
But once you do, I personally believe that you know, eight out of 10 times, you don’t get the reaction that you think that you would get, particularly nowadays more than ever. And if it’s a case as well of that fear taking over, then submit something through to your club, or to the manager of the franchisee, or whoever’s running your gym online. So it’s not as intimidating and just see the response you get, because anyone who works in the health and fitness industry will, you know, I’d like to think they will respond and that there’ll be open for a chat. So there’s plenty of people out there who are willing to chat to anyone who’s struggling, it’s sometimes just a case of just believing have a little bit of faith and just put yourself out there. And if it’s too scary to do it in a club face to face the submit something via facebook, facebook messenger to your local club or a website inquiry and just say Is it okay, if I come and chat to someone? And they’ll they’ll have the fitness professionals have the right ones? They’ll align you with the right person? So
Tony skinner 11:49
yeah, yeah, that’s interesting. I mean, again, and maintain this theme for the moment. Is that, is that what gym members are looking for? Do you think? Or are you leading from the front? Or is it just set, you have identified the importance and you’re going well, we need to do something more about this or is it members themselves that are leading that?
Now, I think that given we’ve, we have been we’ve been in it for a while and instant without along with mental health. So I personally think we’ve lived from the front with it or now I start to see a lot of mainstream brands doing fitness challenges aligned with me to health and I do believe it is a natural progression. Because, you know, it’s very clear that when you do exercise more, that dopamine release that comes with it does help you feel better. And when you when you move a little bit more and you start to feel better, you’re more motivated to the eight beta and the net helps you sleep as well and those things all all in alignment will will start to give you some positive effects which in turn will hopefully make you seek out more help and it’s not just that it’s also been around other people who are having similar issues and dance your question who is leading it it’s probably a combination of both but I think it’s up to the brands and up to the gyms themselves to put themselves out there in the public to the members to say hey, we are advocates for supporting mental health we believe that we have the facilities to do it we we’re not we’re not you know psychologists by any means or anything like that.
But we know what we are and we know what we aren’t and what we can provide as a as a positive non judgment free environment where someone can just feel a little bit better and we can take it further to ensure you eat better and sleep better as well so it’s a combination of both but it’s really up to the gym to to I think take that first step to say we are this type of club and not all gyms offer like there’s still there’s still these days the gyms out there that are the the old school you know bodybuilder pick up a weight and put it down type scenario and then it’s okay to it’s each to their own we were not there we we want to be a gym for Iran to feel comfortable and our purpose in life why why snake fence exists our purpose is to create happier and healthier lifestyles. It’s as simple as that. So that’s what we want our members to know us for and we’ll do what we have to do to make that happen.
Tony skinner 14:24
Yeah, exactly. And you’re right it’s about not a gym. It’s about a lifestyle choice and it’s part of your lifestyle. You go to the gym, because it helps you get the dopamine you feel better you sleep better. And then I remember gym years ago, and other branded, they’d have a cafe type scenario at the front and you’d go there for healthy food and shakes and whatever. Now I see a lot of gyms is just the the coin swap machines and you put in three bucks and you get your sugary water and off you go. So yeah, it’s definitely evolving. And it’s going into more healthy options.
Yeah, I think we’ll find gyms, gyms will offer a more of a holistic approach moving forward. If they don’t offer themselves, they’ll align with other businesses that do offer like nutrition and mines, I wouldn’t be surprised if we see gyms having, like sports psychologists in them at some point as part of your membership, which, you know, to really start to get that mental side going around having good relationships with food. And because at the end of the day, it’s all about creating habits that last for people rather than this, like yo yoing back and forth.
And in it, there’s a bit of naturalness to that as well. So I think holistically going forward COVID speed that up. Because, you know, we, we used to always get people who most of the time just wanted to lose weight. It was like 90% of members, I think comfortably say in the industry, they just wanted to lose weight, and it’s cool. girls want to lose weight, guys want to lose weight, guys, when you get big, it was kind of the last the last eight, eight to 10 years, it’s dramatically changed particularly with females. And I think social media is a big part of this, they have shifted from the treadmill to the squat rack, and they have started to want to get stronger and give more time to then just be stick thin. And strength has become one of the main reasons people are joining that. Nowadays, it’s it’s not necessarily a look thing they want to feel and be stronger. And now since COVID, with without membership surveys out there, people are saying I want to feel better, I want to feel healthier and feel more energized. And so you know, it’s dramatically gone from a, I just want to lose weight, which is quite often that comes with a feeling I speak to a bit of visual one as well, too, I really just want to feel healthier, and be healthy in general. And and that’s that holistic approach that I was talking about. So I’ve seen I’ve seen personally seen that shift in the last few years.
Tony skinner 17:17
Yet certainly, again, keep going back to the gym, I’m a member of that. They’ve got a machine Dixon or Dixon or something machine that does the full measurements of the weight and the height and body fat percentage and tells you what your body fat percentage is. And you can go back every month or two months and check body fat percentage, because it’s not just jumping on the scales. In fact, I’m not a scanner fan of jumping on the scales because I’m terrible. I can put muscle mass on pretty rapidly, then you go well hang on for that. And you’re right. If you use the weight rack, you’re going to put muscle on, you’re going to put strength on that’s heaven and fat. So people are going to get a little bit frustrated seeing that as well.
Oh, yeah, that and that’s 100% Yeah, so the, the old number on the scale, it can it can play tricks on you, that’s for sure. Though, the good thing about those the body fair in the in the deck so one that you’re referring to that that’s the best in the business out there. So your credit to your gym for investing in that because you know putting on muscle mass and even going as far as things like water retention, for example. And that that quite often will tell the real story about why someone may or may not be able to lose weight who’s been trying and and then the people who train hard and don’t necessarily lose weight, but drop but body fat and increase muscle mass, they’re gonna feel a lot better. And then if they just get on the scale and compare numbers that maybe hasn’t changed, you know that there’s not going to help me too well. So really knowing things is power and that’s that’s why I personally believe it’s hardly the best investment anyone can make is in physically in themselves but it’s having a physical coach like a personal trainer and some sort of mental component to it like a counselor as well and and you can’t go wrong if you if you had those two avenues because not knowledge is power and put putting into action is even more powerful than then things like body scanners, personal trainers, they just keep you accountable and they know all the technology out there as well as you know, we didn’t have this five years ago.
It’s incredible how far it’s all come. You can have an item on your wrist tells you your sleeping patterns and tells you your steps and calories burned. And you know now Yes, turned into a game that gamified and you know, we didn’t have time to make fitness fun. We didn’t have this sort of stuff back in my day. So it’s you know, a hope that more and more people get involved with you know, things like that. That’s coming out.
Tony skinner 19:53
Yeah, absolutely. Yeah, that’s true. All right. Anything else you’d like to add?
No, just Yeah, I’d be everyone. Thought thought and prayers are out there with you know Victoria and our clubs and franchisees and members out there and any region member at the event some unable to get to the clubs on the light the end of the tunnel and just stay positive and from for business owners out there by all means, you know reach out it’s the same as members reach out for for support if you’re if you’re feeling you know that you need it but main thing is is you know this this won’t last forever and and you know, we’ll all come out of it. Okay, I think
Tony skinner 20:31
Yeah, I completely agree we, you know, I keep saying to people, if this isn’t a zombie apocalypse, it’s not that bad.
So as bad as the movies, that’s for sure.
Tony skinner 20:43
Not the truth. Nobody’s trying to eat my brain yet. though. Yeah. I try