Maniac Community Fitness in Portland, Maine, initially “reopened” on May 11, but their classes were limited to 10 people and had to be outside. The gym is now in the next Phase of reopening where members are allowed inside but must social distance.
Brayton Chase, the owner and head coach at Maniac, said they have seen a great retention rate so far. All but five to 10 members have returned, and those not back in the gym yet have expressed they plan on returning.
“We have been very clear with all members during the last four months, there is no rush to return,” said Chase. “We have launched an at-home program everyone took advantage of when we were fully closed. Some have not come back and still use this program. But, in the last six weeks we have added 15 new members.”
While retention and membership sales have been going well for the business, they have some struggles with members registering for classes. The gym did have class registrations prior to the pandemic. Now with limited capacity in classes, the staff are facing a new learning curve.
“While Coaches have enjoyed looking ahead and preparing for classes based on knowing what members are attending, it also can be challenging,” said Chase. “Life happens, busy schedules, work, etc. So, to have members register and cancel at the last minute, which then prevents another member from possibly attending, it’s a tough situation. We are learning as we go and being as fair as possible with everyone. Just a learning curve for all of us.”
Chase and the rest of the Maniac staff have credited their success to taking the pandemic seriously from the start. Their motto the entire time of the shutdown has been to use it as an opportunity to learn new things, and to evolve as Coaches and a business, and it paid off.
“When given a challenging situation like this, the individuals who complain are just wasting time,” explained Chase. “We chose not to complain, but instead we understood what we could control and what we couldn’t. We put all of our effort into the controllable and have become a better staff and better gym from it. Which in the end, is a win-win for the business and, most importantly, our community of members.”
The gym took this time to restructure their membership prices. Their regular unlimited class rate was $170 per month when they closed their doors. However, they lowered their rate to a forever price of $125 per month. “We did this for a few reasons, but No. 1 is to make us as accessible as possible during these times,” said Chase. “People need their mental and physical health right now more than ever. Another reason is to then be able to offer more services at affordable rates.”
Additionally, the gym has launched a more focused personal training membership, as well as a nutrition program. These services can be added on to memberships for either $60 or $100 more a month. Chase said the response has been incredible with their members.
While the pandemic was a pivoting point for Maniac that has resulted in better prices and happier members, there was one takeaway Chase said stood out from the rest.
“It isn’t always about the fitness and cueing of the coaching staff,” he said. “Of course, getting more fit and receiving feedback from Coaches was happening and will continue to happen. But it was crystal clear when reopening everyone simply missed everyone more on a relationship standpoint than they did a fitness standpoint.”