We sat down with three different 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 Dana Dreifus (Whole Body Fitness), Barbie Bent (Lagree West), and Becky Cerroni (JoyRide Cycling) have navigated reopening their studios:
Q: Did you reopen on the date your state/local government allowed it? How did it go?
Yes, we opened for 1 one 1’s and small group training–Colorado allowed that in early May. It’s going well, but we’re limited: I limited instructors to those who were personally trained by me and/or who worked in the health industry prior to this.
The Vancouver Coastal Health region never mandated fitness centres to close. We closed voluntarily as we felt it was the right thing to do. We re-opened on May 20th, the day after Phase 2 in British Columbia started. Phase 2 permitted restaurants and personal care businesses such as salons to re-open with additional health and safety measures. Our re-opening went very smoothly! All of our classes were waitlisted and customers were very receptive to the additional precautions we have put in place for health and safety.
We have not reopened yet in Connecticut. Our Texas studios opened three days after the government allowed. We used the three extra days to train our desk staff and instructors on and host mock classes to practice our new policies and procedures. We’re so glad that we spent the month before reopening preparing because our staff and instructors are confident and our clients are beyond happy!
Q: How did your clients respond? Did people show up? What’s the layout/capacity you’re working with? Are you making it work at the lesser capacity?
People definitely came back! I have been in business for 8 years and have a relationship with every client–every one of them knows me personally and trusts me.
In terms of revenue, I’m definitely not maintaining pre-Covid-19 levels. I’m breaking even. I got very lucky to be able to do that–my landlords are giving me a discount during this time.
A lot of our clients are out of work and can’t pay at the levels they were paying before, so I created a sliding scale for payment. Though I’m in some cases making less, I look at that as still bringing revenue in the door that I wasn’t.
We are currently operating all of our Lagree studios at half capacity and at Jaybird we went from 36 mats to 14, to accommodate 6 feet of physical distance. Demand at this capacity has been really strong and many of our guests have been really excited to return to a physical space. We’ve seen a drastic reduction in our online classes as many clients start returning to the studio. While half capacity is not ideal, we have shifted from a growth mindset into a break-even mindset and that is what we are focused on right now. We want to engage with our clients in a safe and healthy way that keeps our community connected so that we can emerge stronger as restrictions start to lessen.
Yes – our clients have told us they are so grateful we reopened with so much thought and care for their health and safety. The state of Texas allowed us to open at 25% capacity with bikes spaced 6 feet apart. For now, we have not reopened our JoyX (off-bike) studio, and will host those classes outdoors until the next phase of restrictions are lifted.
We have been sold out with waitlists each day at 25% capacity. After the first week, we went from 3 classes a day to 7. Normally we run 6-12 classes per location per day. We are making it work!!
Q: What new measures/protocols did you put into place, particularly around cleaning, staffing, and training?
- Staff Zoom meeting with a doctor to help explain policy
- Masks to enter
- Hand sanitizing station
- No touch check-in
- Sick questions-no fever, no cough, no travel
- Take temp – have to be under 100 to enter
- No locker room open or changing clothes in studio – just go in and out, no purses. Keys, cell, shoes only.
- All medical grade cleaning supplies with products and labels on display
- No mats, Pilates handles for purchase
- 2 people max in class – up to 4 people could be related and or know/be comfortable with each other, etc.
- X marks the spot, no shared props, disinfected before and after class
- Added virus killing air purifiers to all class spaces
- 30 minutes between classes for cleaning
- Cleaning products all kill COVID
We spoke with a representative from the public health agency in our region, front line workers, solicited guest feedback and used government recommendations to advise our new health and safety strategy. So many changes! More time in between classes to allow for additional cleaning procedures between each class. Non-contact temperature checks for all guests and staff upon arrival. Health pre-screening checklist for each guest and staff member upon arrival. Guided floorplan to accommodate 6 feet of physical distance between all guests and staff members. Masks for instructors while teaching and encouraged for front desk. Mandatory use of gloves for any cleaning procedures. Mandatory use of hand sanitizer or washing hands upon entering the studio for all guests and staff. Frequent hand washing encouraged for staff. Training around the use of masks and not touching face. No lockers or change rooms- guests encouraged to bring only what they need and keep belongings with them. No mat, towel or shower service for the time being. No hands-on adjustments.
We have a detailed SOP around all new procedures that were shared with staff and conducted recorded training sessions on zoom for all team members.
I think the most important thing is communicating with guests and staff that anyone attending the studio must practice personal responsibility and be aware of the additional risks presented by covid-19. For those in a higher risk category or who may take care of someone who is, we understand returning to the studio may not be the right decision at this time. It is our guest and staff members’ responsibility to refrain from coming to the studio if they are feeling unwell, are experiencing symptoms associated with Covid 19, have travelled out of the country within 14 days, or have come into contact with someone who has or may have the virus.
We are a privately owned company and cleanliness of our studios has always been #1 priority. Our staff was well-trained in the level of cleanliness we expect. We made some aggressive changes too, which are described on our website (too many to list here!) Check out https://www.joyridestudio.com/covid-info for a complete description of our new policies and procedures.
The most important thing honestly was keeping our team engaged while we were closed, that way we were able to call them back to work easily and they were ready to be trained and reopen successfully! We have weekly happy hours on Zoom, check ins with different groups and I write a weekly email to the entire company giving them open and honest insight into what is going on with JoyRide. On the instructor side, because we are streaming 6+ classes a day, the team stayed engaged with each other. We also did a series of staff questionnaires to gauge what was most important to our staff in terms of being comfortable about coming back to work. By putting in that real prep, we were able to keep the team engaged, which I think was key to reopening.
Q: What are you doing differently now than you did pre-COVID (across the board)?
I’ve been on the mental track to take things virtual for quite some time–I had taken some classes at a local college to learn to edit videos, and I already owned some equipment. So I just more quickly than I had expected pivoted to working with clients virtually and making my virtual teacher training strong–this was the push I needed to diversify my revenues streams online!
We are offering online classes which have been a lot of fun! Many of the new cleaning processes are new and likely here to stay for a while. Shifting mindset from growth to maintenance has been a big change for us, but the key to maintaining a positive attitude throughout this difficult situation. We are excited about the demand we have seen post-studio closures and think there is a great opportunity to emerge stronger with many new lessons under our belt. There is a lot of doom and gloom out there, but I am ultimately feeling positive about the future.
Smaller classes, more time between classes and lots and lots of policies and procedures. I have seen how grateful our community in Texas is about the reopening. I think that many things about our industry will change – what will not change is the incredible sense of community that we create in each studio.