Our Health & Fitness sector expert Emma Bullock has been busy guiding gym, spa, personal training and beauty clients through the immense challenges of the past year. As a keen gym-goer herself, Emma is passionate about the sector and has seen first-hand the tremendous impact that the COVID-19 pandemic has had on businesses.

Before 2020, the UK’s fitness sector was booming, with over 10 million memberships at thousands of locations across the country and a market value of £5.1 billion in 2019, according to independent database specialist LeisureDB. Driven by a more health-conscious population, this equated to one in seven of us with a fitness membership.

Coronavirus came as a big blow to the health & fitness sector and Emma has taken the time to make sure that CRM’s clients in this field are taking advantage of all the government assistance that is available to them. As well as the furlough scheme, business interruption loans and bounce back loans, the government also offers:

Government grants – for leisure and fitness businesses forced to close due to government restrictions, there is a one-off grant of up to £9,000 available on top of a monthly grant of up to £3,000 per premises, based on rateable value.

Business rates – local authorities have deferred business rates for the 2020/21 tax year for the leisure and hospitality sectors. You may need to get in touch with your local authority as this support is discretionary. There is also a £25,000 grant for businesses with a rateable value of £15,000 to £51,000 available via your local authority. For businesses that receive Small Business Rate Relief, a reduced grant of £10,000 is available from April.

Sick pay rebate – if you paid statutory sick pay for coronavirus related sickness, self-isolation and shielding, you could reclaim a rebate for two weeks’ statutory sick pay per employee.

Like many of us, Emma has had to adapt the way she gets her ‘fitness fix’ and one of the strategies that she advised health & fitness clients about is taking their business online. Online fitness training was already a growing segment of the industry but there have been an explosion of wellbeing, personal training and fitness classes moving to YouTube, Zoom, Teams and Facebook over the past year.

Many fitness businesses have found it encouraging to see that lots of their clients have signed up to receive their regular classes or 1-2-1 sessions via their phone, laptop or TV. With restrictions keeping us at home, fitness has become even more important for our health and wellbeing.

There are many advantages to offering your fitness expertise online, such as reduced overheads (if you can set up a mini-workout station at home with a good camera and sound equipment) and gaining new customers from further afield (they don’t need to be in the same town as your gym to benefit from your sessions online).

Most fitness consumers are loyal to their instructor or trainer when they move online, it maintains the trust and relationship that’s built up over time, and let’s face it, there is a lot of misinformed fitness instruction out there that can be avoided if you stick with your regular instructor.

Taking your gym speciality online is daunting, it’s not what most fitness experts had in mind when they set up. You can’t always see your clients and might have to communicate via messages rather than face-to-face, but being able to pre-record classes at a time to suit you and offer a wider variety of exercise types are just some of the ways that might help your business to stay fit and healthy until bricks and mortar facilities are allowed to open again.

Emma Bullock has years of accountancy experience within an industry setting and at CRM. As the ‘Xero Guru’, Emma enjoys sharing her knowledge of accounting software with colleagues and clients. She’s looking forward to being able to meet up with clients in person again but in the meantime, continues to make sure that her health & fitness specialist knowledge helps those clients get through these difficult times.

If you’d like to check that your health or fitness business is making the most of what’s available, get in touch with Emma at CRM on 01865 379272.

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