Studio Spotlight: Mark Fisher Fitness.
Making fitness fun and approachable has always been part of the mission at Mark Fisher Fitness (MFF).
And it’s that approachability that’s made MFF a cult favorite among New Yorkers who want a side of humor and bold personality with their workout. The close-knit community of clients (or Ninjas as they’re called at MFF), is part of the culture and experience. Their goal has always been to make getting fit and healthy approachable for people who hate the gym.
So we had to know. How did they transition their vibrant in-person community to a virtual one? We hopped on Zoom with Andrew Cole, MFF’s Chief People Officer to answer this very question.
FitGrid: When did you make the transition to live-streaming?
Andrew Cole: We completely stopped our in-person operations on March 16, 2020, and started doing classes on Zoom under the fearless leadership of one of our lead instructors Amanda “Wheels” Wheeler. It quickly became evident that virtual classes weren’t a supplementary offering, but instead a necessity. Live-streaming was the only way we could stay in touch with our Ninjas and maintain a source of revenue.
FG: How did your clients react to the shift to virtual?
AC: Overall, our clients were very grateful. Living in NYC you’re always with people so it’s been a big shift to move to social distancing, but our Ninjas live and work in NYC so they get it and supported us when we decided to close. In the two weeks after closure, clients told us that this source of human interaction was what was getting them through the day.
FG: Let’s talk about human interaction. How did you replicate some of the in-person experiences online?
AC: We start all of our classes with the name game so everyone gets seen and heard. Our instructors also spend most of their time interacting with the participants and spotlighting different people instead of demoing everything themselves. We also joined FitGrid in June and that helped our instructors focus on teaching their classes in this new way instead of getting bogged down by technology and admin duties.
FG: What other changes did you make?
AC: One of our big shifts was changing our membership option. We froze all in-person memberships and started selling a new membership that we called “Homebody.”
FG: That makes a lot of sense. What’s the Homebody membership?
AC: It’s 12 classes over 14 days and we charge a set rate for those two weeks. We found that it was challenging for people to commit to longer membership options because the pandemic created instability in their lives. This membership type was the perfect solution because it allowed for flexibility, while still keeping our clients accountable to log on and workout.
FG: One thing we love about your studio is the importance of community. How does that work virtually?
AC: I’d say it’s even more important. Outside of our classes we’ve made a point to have free virtual community events that bring our Ninjas together and create a safe space to let loose.
FG: That sounds fun! What kind of events have you been hosting?
AC: Most of them have been driven by our instructors which means we have a pretty wide range of offerings. Some of the most popular ones include a stand-up comedy special watch party, group meditation, and a Friday night dance party led by one of our incredible instructors Chris Crowthers. The dance parties have been really fun for our community because we have different themes each time and people get really into it and anyone can join!
FG: How fun! What kinds of themes have you had?
AC: They’ve been all over the map. We’ve had back-to-school, intergalactic gala, Loud & Proud, and more!
FG: Have you thought about charging for these community events?
AC: No. We want to keep these events free and as a way for our clients to be with their people. We also want to provide value for people so they’ll invest in our community long term.
FG: What keeps you going when things get tough?
AC: We believe in our mission and what we stand for -- community and showing up to serve people. We exist to unlock and amplify each human’s inherent ability to live their best life!
MFF’s experience proves that being part of a community is so important to your members and there are ways to activate them beyond classes. Whether you’re looking to live-stream your classes or add dance parties to the mix, we can help. Start your 30-day free trial of FitGrid today.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Lindsay McClelland manages social media and influencer marketing for FitGrid. As a self-proclaimed "people person" who loves group fitness classes for the social aspect, she was immediately drawn to FitGrid for its innovation in keeping fitness communities together during a crisis. Her passion for fitness and wellness brands stems from her personal interests as a yoga teacher, competitive marathon runner, and former collegiate swimmer.
FitGrid is a community management system designed for boutique fitness studios to engage clients on a personal level