| April 21, 2020
When it became clear that COVID-19 was going to have a serious impact in Canada, The Community Gym founder, Amie Seier, had to make a tough decision. She wanted to ensure her instructors and her clients were safe, so she chose to shut down her studio, five days before the province mandated the lock down. The Community had been gearing up to celebrate their first anniversary on a high. Classes were sold out and wildly popular. Now the pandemic threatened to be a major blow to the young entrepreneur and her studio.
Seier had no idea what was going to happen to her company, but she says she got some great advice from another entrepreneur. “They told me I have the ability to pivot, and I don’t want to take that for granted,” remembers Seier. “They advised me to keep an open mind and maintain a positive attitude. It was really impactful,” she adds.
Seier didn’t waste any time putting that advice into motion. She quickly came up with a plan to convert her classroom space into an online video recording studio. Within two days, the studio was up and running and offering some of its classes using Instagram online. The shift proved to be popular. The Community soon had over 300 people watching their classes and over 40 people tuning in live to do workouts with their instructors.
Shifting classes online has been one of the top ways that businesses like The Community have been able to pivot during the pandemic. The potential snag for The Community, though, is that many of their classes require special equipment. The studio typically offers in-studio classes including Crush, a music-based boxing class, Camp, a strength and condition class, along with Spin, and Yoga.
It didn’t take long for Seier to devise a solution so her clients who didn’t have equipment of their own could still participate in the gym’s specialized classes. Less than two weeks after closing the studio, Seier and her team developed an entire online bike rental service. To minimize contact, she and an employee spent 12 hours delivering 27 bikes around the city. Two days later they added weight-lifting packages for rental and procured 12 more bikes for delivery from a local gym.
Just a few days after that, COMMUNITY [ONLINE] was launched. “We busted our butts to prerecord classes, record our IG live classes, and edit videos to create enough content,” recalls Seier.
The new subscription-based platform offers a wide array of on-demand workout classes that users can pick from. Subscribers can choose a new video every day of the month, and more videos are added weekly to keep things fresh. COMMUNITY [ONLINE] also offers live Zoom classes for one-on-one or small groups that give clients more in-depth instruction.
A typical entrepreneur, Seier recognizes opportunity even while she’s fighting to keep her dream business alive. “We’ve discovered that videos are a safe way for people to try us out before they come to the studio. It’s really intimidating to come into a fitness studio for the first time. This may turn out to be an innovative way to help new customers out,” she says. She now plans to continue offering online classes even after social distancing restrictions are lifted.
“I will do whatever it takes to make sure everyone is getting the movement they need to be healthy at home. And of course, I’ll fight for my business so that The Community has a home to come back to after this.”