The COVID-19 pandemic hit martial arts schools especially hard, but every adversity carries the seed of an equal or greater benefit. Here are 10 of them…
It’s hard to believe that it’s been one year since the COVID-19 pandemic was officially declared a pandemic. The damage it has caused on all levels of our lives is insurmountable to say the least.
Every industry has been affected to one degree or another including martial arts schools and gyms. It’s a rather sobering fact to know that recreation facilities were among the top five industries hardest hit by the pandemic, according to S&P Global.
If you were one of the lucky martial arts school owners who weren’t forced to shut down completely because of the huge financial toll on your business, then you were likely left having to rethink your business model and strategies for recovery and survival.
The good news is that, despite all the havoc this pandemic has caused, there are still options available. No matter when life throws you a curve ball, remember that you always have options.
Even though the COVID-19 pandemic is not letting go of its tight grip on humanity, our team here at 20/20 Armor has 10 key takeaways we’ve learned from it. Takeaways that every martial arts school must do to prevail over this pandemic or any other crisis that may come up.
1. Have a Rainy Day Fund
As a business owner, you need cash in the bank to weather any kind of business-related storm that may unexpectedly come up. As a general rule, you should keep around 3 months’ worth of business expenses in your emergency fund at all times. More is even better, and we recommend setting aside 6 months’ worth of business expenses for some extra breathing room when the going gets tough.
2. Create a Library of Training Videos
The new normal for students to be able to practice martial arts has been via Zoom training or even outdoor training. But we find this trend to be unsustainable for clubs that are understaffed or not very tech savvy. Additionally, students who need training on their technique may learn and progress better in an in-person environment.
Consider recording live training sessions similar to the workout videos we’ve done here — Pressure Drills and Back Kick Reaction Time. This is an excellent way for your students to train using a workout video at home to help them improve stamina, speed and reaction time as well as build on the foundational learning from in-person training.
There are plenty of YouTube videos you can watch to get ideas on how to create your own training video library. One that we really like and recommend is Alex Wong’s Taekwondo Kick Training.
Other training tips to increase stamina include the following:
- Jumping rope - 60 seconds, 5 sets
- Agility ladder drills - for example, do a lateral shuffle or two feet in/two feet out for 30 seconds, 3-5 sets
- Cone drill touches - 30 seconds, 3 sets
Students can also use a BOB or a standing bag when working out at home. This way they can train at their convenience and it’s less stressful on coaches because students can do it on their own time.
3. Engage Your Students No Matter What
There are always new martial arts trends, but there is no need to jump on every one that comes along. Let’s say you’re thinking about offering personal training sessions that focus on a martial arts punching bag.
One of the best things you can do is to engage your students and ask them what they think. Do they want to see this type of training at your school? Would they be interested in trying it, or are they happy with the martial arts practice equipment you already have?
At the end of the day, engaging your students and keeping them happy keeps your doors open and your business running.
4. Be Innovative & Flexible
Steve Jobs said, “Innovation is the ability to see change as an opportunity – not a threat.”
According to Statista, about 3.6 million people actively participate in the martial arts industry in the United States each year. And the demand for martial arts will rise as economic conditions continue to improve according to the IBIS World report.
Because of the rising popularity in mixed martial arts and increased interest in recreational activities, there has been increased spending in the martial arts industry on things like martial arts training equipment.
Martial arts scoring vests are an innovative way to attract more students, increase retention and thrive with new revenue streams.
Another innovative option is to be open minded about having remote bonds with other martial arts schools. Instead of seeing other dojos as your competition, be open to cooperating, collaborating and creating with them for the greater good.
5. Enroll New Students 24/7
Enrolling new members is still the single most important thing you can do every day. You must proactively market your school, your classes and your brand on social media to get new members in the door and on Zoom.
Advertise your special deals at every holiday and always make fitness a key benefit of your New Year’s marketing.
6. Adapt to the COVID-19 Protocols
Charles Darwin said it best when he said, “The most important factor in survival is neither intelligence nor strength, but adaptability.”
We are all familiar with what COVID-19 protocols are to keep students and staff safe. They include social distancing, wearing masks, offering smaller in-person class sizes, having numerous hand sanitizers around and disinfecting everything that gets touched in your dojan between classes. We also recommend having a professional cleaning company come in and do a deep clean once a week.
Want some more inspiration where COVID-19 protocols are concerned? We were quite impressed with what the owner of Relson Gracie Jiu-Jitsu Team HK in Honolulu, Hawaii is doing at his academy. Read more.
7. Promote Physical Health, Fitness & Good Hygiene
This coronavirus pandemic has opened our eyes to the importance of being as fit and healthy as possible and having good personal hygiene like never before.
Even some World Martial Arts (WMA) superstars think the pandemic will change the way some people take care of themselves going forward.
Thanh Le said, “Overall, I think it has educated people on how to be more sanitary and how being in overall good health is a huge deal when things like this pop up. It could really change the way people approach their health and will drive people to take better care of themselves.”
Rudy Agustian said this, “There are some positive things we need to keep. More people are aware of the importance of keeping hygiene, doing sports and exercise, sunbathing in the morning, and consuming vitamins and healthy food to improve their immune systems. We need to keep this habit even after the pandemic ends because health is the most valuable thing.”
Indeed, health is the most valuable thing and martial arts certainly delivers an abundance of health benefits so be sure to use a healthy dose of that in your marketing content.
8. Encourage Martial Arts to Improve Mental Health
The pandemic has taken a toll on everyone’s mental health, especially frontline workers and kids. Because so many kids have not been able to go to school for months, their whole routine has been turned upside down.
They are now having to sit in front of a computer screen for hours on end as they attend virtual school and they are getting little, if any, exercise.
Kids need regular movement, exercise and a way to release all that pent-up energy inside them – whether it be negative energy or simply having too much of it in general.
Same thing with adults when it comes to stress. According to a survey from the Pew Research Center, 70 percent of unemployed people who have lost their jobs due to the pandemic say they are feeling more stressed.
The good news is that martial arts can act as a form of mental therapy for both kids and adults according to the American Journal of Psychotherapy. So, be sure to encourage that mental health benefit in martial arts as we continue to battle this relentless pandemic.
9. Use Smart Devices & Apps to Make it Convenient
“Innovation is taking two things that already exist and putting them together in a new way.” – Tom Freston
When the going gets tough, the tough pivot. That’s exactly what the owner of a martial arts studio in Carrollwood, Florida did when they started to see a decline in their class size because of the pandemic.
They had been using a customer relationship management software program for several years, but now it has really helped them start to rebound from the crisis faster than they had expected. They set up a TV station in their martial arts school and use Zoom and other apps to teach live classes online with no plans to slow down anytime soon.
So, don’t be afraid to get creative and harness the power of modern technology.
10. Diversify & Expand into New Markets
According to Technavio analysts, the global mixed martial arts (MMA) equipment market will grow at a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of around 7% from 2018 to 2022. What’s driving that growth? You guessed it — the increasing popularity of MMA.
Wearable technology is another consumer trend that is rising in popularity and positively impacting the martial arts industry. Fitness tech has skyrocketed over the last few years and it’s now entering the MMA space. The global wearable sensor market is estimated to reach $1.9 million by 2024.
If you’re looking for a surefire way to diversify and set your school apart from the competition, the use of high-quality martial arts training equipment is a strategic and profitable way to do that.
20/20 Armor specializes in martial arts training equipment including our patented Smart Training Vest, Headgear and 1 year app Coach View.
Contact us today. to unlock a world of possibilities for you and your students. And remember, you always have options in good times and bad.