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After a year of crisis, it is clear that not all business sectors have been in the same boat.
Some companies have been particularly affected, even though they play a key role in the physical and psychological health of citizens: companies in the sporting world.
Today, entrepreneurs in the world of sport are faced with a number of challenges, including :
- prolonged downtime due to the closure of sports halls and a regulatory maze ;
- digital sprint to develop new online activities;
- a financial marathon.
It's hardly surprising that too many market players find themselves "on the sidelines", or even in "intensive care".
However, despite the circumstances, some have succeeded in surpassing themselves and reinventing themselves.
In this article, discover companies for whom the game is not over and who offer a glimpse of the "world after". You'll see that we all have a role to play in winning the game.
Forced immobilisation or the regulatory labyrinth
Despite an ephemeral decontamination after the first wave, gyms and group physical activity have been forcibly immobilised for an indefinite period.
Sports operators know the value of effort, patience and self-sacrifice. But after more than 6 months of stoppage, asphyxiation is close at hand.
Many voices have joined together to make themselves heard by the Government, highlighting in particular :
- the essential role that sport plays in people's health;
- the safety protocols that can be put in place to enable ;
- the need for specific, proportional and retroactive aid.
To bring this appeal to the Government and unite a sector that feels forgotten, a collective has been set up: #SportisEssential (and a petition has been launched: https://www.sportisessential.com/).
Here is the team behind this collective:
- Miguel van Ackere (Aspria Belgium) ;
- Corentin Poels and Pierre-Yves Romanini (CrossFit Dansaert ) ;
- Stéphane Rutté ( David Lloyd);
- Pierre Rousseaux (Yoga Room) ;
- Vincent Espejel (l'Usine).
One of the arguments raised is the complexity of health regulations. Between social distancing measures and restrictions linked to the opening of premises, operators find themselves in a real bind. regulatory maze.
In principle, precautionary health measures are essential. However, the proportionality of their application in the sector raises questions.
The debate focuses in particular on studies into the exact extent of the risks of contamination in the context of frequenting sports halls.
In practice, even the simplest rules can raise questions: if indoor or outdoor sports activities for under-13s (courses, training sessions, competitions) are authorised, what can be said to children who turn 13 during the current season?
The online sprint: a race towards online courses and new sports services
Some operators have embarked on a sprint to be able to continue their activities and keep in touch with their members.
Yoga Room: popular (and paying) online yoga classes
This is the case, for example, of Yoga Room, which quickly launched an online yoga offer:
By May 2020, Yoga Room had undergone its digital transformation and was beginning to generate online sales. Pierre Rousseaux (founder) told L'Echo about the positive side-effects of this - forced - switch to digital. :
- "deconfinement will not kill online",
- "In addition to offering continuity to our members, it makes yoga accessible to people who are not able to come to our studios," she realised along the way. "
- "We're seeing a lot of people joining from towns where we're not yet active".
Marvelous Marvin: outdoor and online boxing lessons
Marvelous Marvin are premium boxing clubs based in Brussels and, since July 2020, in Waterloo (a magnificent club that has not yet been able to operate).
We spoke to Axel Kuborn, founder of Marvelous Marvin and co-founder of the Silversquare coworking space chain. For him, boxing is above all a passion.
Digital technology has been an integral part of the business since the club opened in 2007. Lessons are booked via a mobile application and the club maintains a community spirit.
After offering outdoor lessons, Marvelous Marvin is now offering its members free online boxing lessons.
According to Axel Kuborn,
"Online activities are not a source of income. Above all, they enable us to keep in touch with our members. To keep going, you need patience and theoptimism."
It is Axel's savings that keep the clubs afloat and the job prospects of the coaches, most of whom are on employment contracts.
Fortunately, Axel Kuborn's core business (Silversquare coworking spaces) is weathering the crisis well and keeping his days full.
Marc Baudaux: personal coaching on Zoom
Clubs are not the only ones who need to explore new ways of working online in the sporting world.
Take the example of Marc Baudaux, a 26-year-old physiotherapist and sports coach who works in fitness and well-being at work.
During the confinement period, Marc Baudaux launched a range of Zoom wellbeing and health workshops, both for group sessions in companies (such as at the SeedFactory business centre) and as part of individual coaching sessions on Zoom.
Marc explains: "The idea of group health prevention sessions was developed before the pandemic broke out, but the project was accelerated by the consequences of the crisis: high nervous tension, stress, pain, work stoppages, loss of social links, and even an increase in obesity and all the pathologies linked to a sedentary lifestyle (fitness clubs were closed 6 months out of 12 in 2020...). Added to this is the pressure on the economy, of course, but in terms of well-being at work, there's a lot of work to be done..."
Over the course of a day, Marc Baudaux alternates between virtual and face-to-face sessions (which is permitted by his status as a physiotherapist).
Some days start at 7.30am with individual coaching sessions on Zoom :
Photo of Edouard Cambier, who says he keeps fit with weekly training sessions on Zoom.
The financial marathon: the sports sector needs credit and long-term financing
For a large number of companies, the long-awaited deconfinement will only be the line for a new start. To hold out over time, they will have to engage in a veritable financial marathon.
We know that public aid has been slow in coming and that in many cases it will not be enough.
So those involved in the world of sport need to capital and credit.
Thankfully, levers exist, in particular to mobilise citizen savings.
First of all, there are the loan mechanisms set up at the initiative of the public authorities to encourage private individuals to lend to :
- Le Proxi loan (in Brussels);
- Coup de pouce" loans (in Wallonia); and
- The Winwinlening loan (in Flanders).
In addition, participatory financing provides another funding lever for companies in the sporting world:
- Crowdfunding Fundraising campaigns can help to collect "kitty" funds (via crowdfunding or donation platforms);
- Crowdlending : Crowdfunding campaigns enable operators to obtain larger loans by going public. By using FSMA-approved participative financing platforms, it is possible to raise up to €5,000,000. Enough to "get through the crisis", but also to safeguard jobs and support long-term investment (and innovation).
For example, Yoga Room has turned to BeeBonds, the crowdlending platform to finance its growth. The campaign, which will be launched shortly, will finance the company's continued growth through the opening of new yoga centres. This is a "wellness" market where demand continues to grow.
We all have a role to play in supporting the efforts of entrepreneurs in the sporting world in the face of the crisis:
- by following their online courses;
- by signing the #SportisEssential petition; and/or
- for those who can, by investing part of our savings in participative financing campaigns to support certain players in the sector.
Participate in the refinancing and development of the YOGA ROOM concept, a chain of studios specialising in Yoga, established in Belgium, France and Portugal.