My name is Brittany Welk, I am the Co-Founder of LadyStrong Fitness and we have been one of the many fitness studios affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. We were forced to temporarily close our doors 3 weeks ago and have been working through these changes and adjustments ever since March 19th. This piece is a synopsis of where we were then and where are now, just 3 short weeks later. My hope is that the ideas, challenges and successes I will share here will inspire and motivate you to shift your mindset and find ways to pivot your business for an opportunity to not only survive during this time but thrive.
Rewind back to the morning of Monday March 17th, LadyStrong Fitness had just been featured on NBC 5 in Chicago for a story during International Women’s Month! It was a beautiful day and a beautiful story that was featured, we couldn’t have been more excited. We just came off back to back record membership months at our studio in January and February and March was looking to be the same.
We knew that there was something going on with COVID-19 but even that day we had no idea it would affect us just 48 hours later.
On Tuesday March 18th, we found out that restaurants were being closed. The CDC guidelines had changed to gatherings of 10 people or less and we were forced to move our classes to 10 people only. We got through Tuesday the 18th and Wednesday the 19th and due to concerns from staff and the increasing concerns with the virus we made the difficult decision to voluntarily temporarily close our studio. We were devastated.
We spent a few hours thinking about what we needed to do in order to keep our members satisfied and our staff safe and taken care of. Fortunately, we had a virtual platform partially built out that we never used and in a matter of hours we had updated it to be a fully functioning virtual program.
The next day we started our LIVE Zoom Workouts at 8AM daily, we recorded them and decided to put the recordings on our virtual platform so that they could be replayed later in the day because we knew some of our members wouldn’t be able to join in the morning, we found out many were still working but just from home.
This is unchartered territory for EVERYONE. There is no business, person or family that is untouched by this pandemic. Everyone is being forced to pivot, shift and do things that they wouldn’t normally do, including fitness studios.
Thankfully we are part of a group, Loud Rumor. They are not only our marketing company but have been single handedly the one group that has helped us overcome this crisis and rise above. We are actually GROWING during this time and you can too!
I want to encourage any fitness studio or wellness business owner reading this article right now to think outside the box, no idea is too strange or too out there! Right now, as one of my mentors/friends told me, people are okay with unusual things in unusual times! It’s like a room full of upside-down lamps, the one right side up lamp is the one that seems out of place, not all the upside-down ones! This is the same thing.
Right now, what your members and staff need most is a leader. They are looking to you for support, guidance and answers during this time and there should be no shortage of effort on your part to get It to them!
Play BINGO, run challenges, offer virtual social events, over communicate, to the point where you feel like they may be getting annoyed, create a member only Facebook group, run virtual classes, do SOMETHING! Because doing nothing and “waiting it out” won’t work for you, not now and not in the future because the “normal” that we knew, will not return.
Be prepared for your world to be even MORE upside down when you are able to re-open than it is now. Because there will be many ramifications from this but you as a business owner must be prepared. Plan. Plan for what your re-opening looks like, with your members, with your classes, with your staff. Now is a PERFECT time to change things you’ve been wanting to change, adjust staff, adjust workouts, adjust schedules, adjust everything! It’s like an opportunity for a fresh start!
The one thing you shouldn’t do right now is sit back and wait, don’t wait for opportunities to come to you, don’t wait and “hope” that your members will come back to you! Make them WANT to come back to you, make them CRAVE coming back to your studio by providing them so much value now that they couldn’t ever imagine leaving, open or closed!
I want to share that we’ve actually GROWN here at LadyStrong Fitness. We are actually thriving in a pandemic, which is NUTS to think but it’s because we have the full support of our members and they know that they have our full support too! We’ve pulled out ALL the stops, we’ve done everything and anything we can do to make sure that they THRIVE during this time so that we can thrive too!
Remember, this is a unique time full of potential and opportunity. You HAVE to seize this opportunity, seize this moment! It could be the beginning of something amazing for you!