.We sat down with more studio owners to understand their reopening strategy, how reopening went, and what they’re thinking about for the future. Read on to find out how Bonnie Micheli & Tracy Roemer (Shred415) and Mindy Anderson (MISSION Portsmouth) have navigated reopening their studios:
Bonnie Micheli & Tracy Roemer
Tell us about your studio
City: Chicago, St Louis, Indianapolis, and 20 franchise studios across the country
# Locations: 30 total
How long has it been open? We opened our Lincoln Park Chicago studio in April 2011
Modalities offered: High Intensity Interval Training with Treadmills and Strength
Do you have any business partners: We do have minority partners in 3 of our 9 corporate owned locations. Our franchise development company is a separate entity and we do have a partner in that business.
City: Portsmouth, NH
# Locations: 1 location, Letter of Intent signed yesterday on a second location in the same city
How long has it been open? 4 years
Modalities offered: Cycle, Strength, ROW, Barre, Yoga
Do you have any business partners: No
How long were you closed?
Chicago was closed for 110 days.
I was closed March 16th -June 1st.
Did you offer Virtual Fitness classes while you were closed? Yes, began Livestream at the beginning of closure and introduced On-Demand on July 1st.
What was the experience like for..
You: It was a technical challenge for all of us but once we got the hang of it, it was a great to way to engage our client base and connect with existing clients and new people to the brand all while being quarantined.
The instructors: They loved it! It was a way for them to teach and connect with our community and also develop as instructors by teaching in a new medium.
The client: Our clients loved having an at home option where they can still shred with us!
Are you still offering VF classes now that you have reopened? Yes we took our livestream schedule down to 1/day but have introduced On-Demand too and received an overwhelmingly positive response.
Did you offer Virtual Fitness classes while you were closed? Yes, through IG LIVE at no cost
What was the experience like for..
You: I strongly disliked it because of financial challenge but were we to have made money, I would have enjoyed the modality.
The instructors: Instructors loved it because they were getting paid.
The client: Clients loved it but wanted more options.
Are you still offering VF classes now that you have reopened? We still offer 2 free IG LIVE classes a week that are available for 24 hours.
When did you reopen?
Chicago: June 26th; Indy: May 24th; STL: June 15th
What did you do to prepare to reopen?
We took many steps to prepare for reopening. We developed new client check-in and cleaning procedures. We trained our entire staff on these new procedures. We developed new teaching protocols to accommodate a new class format (45 min vs 60 min classes) and trained our instructor base on these protocols. The altered class format was implemented to maintain social distancing and to provide longer breaks between classes for additional cleaning. We purchased PPE for our staff and instructors and additional inventory to sell to our clients.
We only had about 6 days notice…we bought plexiglass and disinfectant and removed bikes and touch points in the studio.
Describe the experience since you reopened
You: Many emotions for us. Most importantly, we were so happy to be able to open our doors to the amazing Shred415 community. Knowing all of the work that we put into the new programs and procedures to keep our clients and team safe makes us so proud.
Your staff: Our team has been amazing! They are excited to be back in studio engaging with clients and bringing Shred415 back to the community. They have stepped up to help support the business and each other and have met every new challenge presented. We are lucky to have such an amazing team.
Your clients: The outpouring of support from our clients has been amazing. They feel safe and are happy to be back shredding again!
Your staff: Experience has been great for instructors and staff. Instructors are still being paid full class price and staff have less workload because of the longer turnover and lack of showering.
Your clients: Members feel safe and we are giving them the same product for the same price.
You: I like it least of all due to the financial hit.
What has been the biggest challenge since you have reopened?
Cities like Indy and STL were ready to reopen and waitlists happened soon after. Chicago has been a very different experience because we opened right when all the spikes were happening across the country. IL is not requiring you to wear a mask to workout but the City of Chicago has a mask requirement. That has presented a real challenge because many people are not ready to workout in a mask. Once people try, we know they will be back, we are just working to overcome that barrier.
Biggest challenge has been the occupancy restrictions.
What is the biggest lesson learned from this experience?
Wash your hands! And.. Adapt quickly. It is an ever changing environment and moving our business to an online platform was something we did quickly and were able to keep clients engaged. Any revenue stream you can add on for people to workout at home is a good one.
Biggest surprise encountered during the reopening process?
Chicago’s last minute decision to require masks while working out. We were involved in many focus groups giving feedback to the Governor and the Mayor about reopening fitness studios but the mask requirement caught us off guard.
Biggest surprise was no need for showering and amenities!
What would you do differently if you had to do it over again?
We don’t feel like there is anything else we could’ve done differently. We adapted as fast we could and continue to do so in this ever changing environment.
I would have tried to really fine tune the on demand piece in the event of another shutdown.
Some people have said that reopening provided an opportunity to reset their business. Do you agree with that and, if so, what are you doing differently?
The best thing to come out of this for our business was the launch of our On-Demand platform. It was something we always wanted to do but never had the time or the resources.
Yes from an internal culture and operations standpoint. We haven’t had a break in 4 years so this has helped us see things a little more clearly and also given me access to other studio owners/industry peers.
Recommendations for studios that have not reopened yet?
Communication is key! We had trainings and zoom calls with all of our staff and instructors prior to reopening. Our managers each created videos about our new policies and procedures that were used for social media and email communication with clients. Our clients and staff were prepared for reopening based on all of the communication. It made the process seamless for staff and clients.