Holy Pandemic! Five months in and we are, finally, kind-of, catching our breath enough to talk about it. Many of our clients, friends, and fellow small business owners have asked us what this has been like, and what we have done to shift our business to meet the current needs of our clients and community. While it has not been easy, and although we are far from perfect, we want to share some of the things that have helped us navigate this crazy time.
ACT FAST Pandemics don’t wait for anyone, and we learned very quickly that we were going to have to make quick, efficient adjustments to our studio and business model if we wanted to keep clients engaged. So, we talked multiple times an hour for days, making moves faster than we are normally comfortable with, because it was necessary. We listened to our hearts—and were even sometimes the first in our industry, or in our area to act—but we trusted our guts, and we made decisions quickly to ensure timely and efficient adjustments in a quickly changing situation.
PIVOT While many fitness studios were able offer close-to-their-normal classes from a virtual platform, spinning studios didn’t have that luxury. Most of our clients (and instructors) are not equipped with bikes at home! So, while we decided to make a quick transition to virtual fitness, we were going to have to (at least temporarily) offer an entirely new model of teaching. Our incredibly versatile instructors began teaching alternative workouts styles from their homes, where they could adhere to the proper social distancing and quarantine guidelines. While some videos included interruptions from small children, or the occasional technical issue, our instructors took it all with stride and kept moving.
THINK OUTSIDE THE BOX Pretty quickly into the statewide shutdown, IC memberships started dropping. People were canceling due to their own financial struggles and/or because they could not justify paying without riding. We are a spin studio—people come to us to ride. After hours of brainstorming we decided to rent our bikes out. We sent our precious babies—our inventory, our well-watched and well-taken care of money-makers—off to new, temporary homes to increase our ability to offer people the on-the-bike experience that they so needed. We even went on to make a deal with our bike distributor and offered bike sales, through us, for people who wanted to make more of a long-term at-home commitment. This decision was crucial for us—both for now and for our future, as we can now expand our offerings and client population!
LOSE SLEEP While we normally advocate for a healthy, well-rested, well-balanced lifestyle, those things go out the window in unprecedented times such as these. We have been working ten-hour days and had countless sleepless nights. We have said, “No” to many things that we would typically say “Yes” to, because we needed to focus all our time and energy on our business. Family time has suffered, connections with friends have taken a back seat, and we have been exhausted. But we know this is short lived. We know we can do this, and we must do this if we want our business to make it to the other side. So, we have dug deep, sucked it up, and moved forward—even in our darkest moments.
DON’T FORGET THE DETAILS In the past five months we have had to move too quickly and make decisions on the fly. It has not been perfect, but we have tried extremely hard to stay focused on the small details to maximize the experience of our clients. We worked tirelessly to maximize music and mic quality through our screens. We tried many different cameras, microphones, ear buds, and angles to find a combo that we felt worked best. Some of these smaller things we could have paid less attention to, but we knew the importance of the entire experience, and wanted to make ourselves valuable to our client base.
GIVE YOURSELF GRACE Being a business owner during this time has been emotionally, physically, and financially draining. We often were not sure whether or not we were making the right choice in the moment, we had disagreements with one another, and we worried about our staff, clients, families, and ourselves. This has taken a toll! We have tried to make it a priority throughout to take moments to pause and pat ourselves on the back. We remind each other that we are doing our best, that we are freaking rockstars, and that we can do this. Without the support of each other, the road would have been a lot less bright.
ADJUST Just when you think you are prepared and the rug gets pulled out from under you in the middle of it all (…like when you have been waiting patiently for the announcement of phase three where there is a general expectation of six foot social distance requirements for indoor fitness studios and last minute you are hit with FOURTEEN FEET, say whaaaa?!) you adjust. Instead of crying (or maybe, after a little cry, who are we kidding) we got to work. We spent hours rallying bikes back to their studios. We moved them up and down flights of stairs, being bumped and bruised by handlebars and wheels. We measured and remeasured spaces, organized and reorganized bikes—repeatedly, until we found something workable for our classes. And after we opened our doors, we quickly realized that although we were filling up classes, riders at home wanted more online options! So, we upped our On Demand library, and we started live-streaming in-studio classes. It was a quick adjustment, and something we were not anticipating but we rolled with it, and we are happy to say, it is paying off.
LEAN ON YOUR SUPPORTS This has been a long road, and we are still on our journey. We have needed advice, support, and love. We have leaned on each other, family, friends, mentors, and clients. We have worried about the safety of our clients and instructors, and their desires to come back into the studio during such a strange time. We have also worried about our families, and our friends. We are business owners–but we are wives, mothers, and daughters first. In the middle of a health pandemic where things are so uncertain, and risk factors were so unknown we worried about our own exposure and how that would affect those closest to us. We had staff members and close friends who became ill, and some who lost loved ones to this horrible illness. In many moments we were scared, unsure, and sad. We leaned heavily on those around us to keep us motivated. We fed off their strength and bravery, and we moved forward.
SEE THE BIGGER PICTURE Our little slice of spin heaven is so much of our world. Sometimes, it can be easy to get totally wrapped up in it, ignoring the fact that we are such a small part of such a big, amazing community. These difficult times have opened our eyes to what matters most—family, health, love—the real big stuff. People are strong AF. We are resilient and brave, and we can do hard things. There is an immeasurable strength in community, and IC bonds don’t break. The Inner Cycle is BADASS. We come together for each other—instructors, riders, everyone—and we won’t quit. When the big stuff happens, and we really get tested, we will pass. And for that, we are so proud.
BE GRATEFUL We are here! Our doors are open, we are healthy, and we get to live another day. We are grateful, beyond measure, for the support we have received from everyone. While we could focus on the losses (because there have been many), we are choosing to focus on the feeling we get when we reach the top of an unrelenting hill in our studio of well-distanced bikes. Looking out seeing the faces (both in studio and on-screen) of our true ride-or-dies, dripping in sweat—knowing that in this moment, we are all okay. And while we wish there were a lot more bikes in front of us, we are confident that we will make it to the other side of this—where we will jam pack our studios, blow out our speakers, and pop a post-sweat bottle of champagne in the lobby—and we can’t fucking wait.