The activities sector has had a rocky 18 months and despite COVID-19 restrictions, the focus on fitness has been enormous. The experience for businesses in the sector has seen working parents facing furlough and coaches moving out of the sector or online to cope with restrictions.
Those who worked from home chose to workout from home too, leading to gym equipment sales skyrocketing during this time. Working from home has, however, affected all our lives in various ways. Many people are now looking for more flexible options for working.
Those who are used to working from home and benefiting from close proximity to their family and friends are realising that they simply don’t need to take on expensive commutes or live in expensive cities in order to work.
These huge fluctuations mean that businesses and the rest of the world may need to adapt to these new and ever-evolving options. People are moving or looking for flexibility, so the activities sector will need to adapt to new working schedules and new organisational structures.
Here are few things that we think you should keep an eye on.
According to UK coaching and UKactive, coaches were hightailing it out of the sector at an alarming rate. About a third were looking to change sector altogether since restrictions were making it difficult for many of them to work at all.
However, to keep talented people in the sector, organisations in the sports sector have come together to provide new activities-specific digital skills and upskilling.
Sport England, CIMPSA and UKactive have all released plans for digital upskilling in the sector. You can find free access to digital packages or research into expanding hubs for digital learning, to give coaches and activities companies a leg-up in a digital world.
In part, this has been in motion for some time, but with restrictions prompting everyone to slow down and take stock, much of the sector has realised that people are looking for easier ways to interact with the activities and fitness sector, digitally.
Mental health and wellbeing
Seems like it’s a bit done to death, right? As much as this might be in the back of your mind, don’t get caught in that net. The mental health revolution is a sign of change and something every business needs to take in its stride.
The activities sector is well-placed to offer the best help and guidance to a nation of people whose fatigue is hitting burnout level proportions. Continuing this trend even when issues of the pandemic start to wane is essential for the sector and the public.
Put simply, people need to feel better. They need to do better. Sitting on the sofa, binge-watching Netflix is simply not helping. Working parents need the activities sector for childcare but at the same time, they need you to teach their children the type of skills that can make them more independent, fitter and healthier.
The more you offer, the more you ingratiate yourself into a community, the more you can show how indispensable a business you are.
Tracking trends can seem almost indescribably time-consuming when you have a business to run. So much so, it may not seem like it’s the most useful use of your time, however, there are apps and software designed to make it way less of a burden. But why bother with trend following at all?
Trend tracking offers you an insight into what people are discussing. Whilst a good portion might be their thoughts on Love Island that doesn’t mean that it wouldn’t be useful to get an idea of what might affect you in the short and long term. (Don’t forget that a quick Love Island social media post could bring in a new audience.)
The point is that if you look for trends in search terms or create alerts for policy development, these can help you understand what people are looking for, and you can make changes accordingly.
There is a range to choose from Feedly, Google Trends and Google Alerts, but each can help you automate so you can have a range of information in one place, specific to terms in and around your business.
Getting an apprentice
For many, the way people work has changed but and some have lost out due to restrictions, leading them to look for new opportunities. Young people especially were the first casualties of Coronavirus employment losses.
A great way to get them back into work as well as breathing a little life and energy into your business is to hire an apprentice for your business.
The government incentives for hiring an apprentice end in September of this year so if you want to be part of the scheme it’s time to get moving. There’s up to £3,000 on offer for each apprentice, and the money can be used in any way you wish.
Apprentices bring a huge amount of flexibility, so move them around, get them into every part of your business and you’ll have an invaluable member of staff that can turn their hand to anything.