My yoga studio in Orlando, Florida, has been “open” for a few weeks now. I use quotation marks because we’re not open at the same occupancy as before the pandemic. We’re offering about 20 percent of the in-person classes we had previously and those classes are only about 10 percent filled. FitGrid has helped us make up the difference, by making it easy to live-stream our classes and keep our community connected through virtual options.
Reopening is a challenge, so I’ve provided my opinions and practical advice below to help other studios owners navigate this new reality:
1) Prepare your communication strategy
Make sure you’re prepared for the worst-case scenario. Create a detailed plan for when someone comes to you with a positive test and draft the necessary communication, including emails and phone scripts, to go with it. Make a spreadsheet for your team of test results and communication logs so you’re covered when you get questions. Then, have your legal counsel review everything and provide their feedback.
Do all of this before you reopen. Do not simply hope someone doesn’t get a positive test -- prepare for it.
2) Don’t stop live-streaming
The future is uncertain and the best way to be prepared is to keep your backup plan running. Even when you open, you may have students that aren’t comfortable coming back. By keeping a regular live-stream or hybrid class schedule you’ll be able to retain more members and be prepared if you have to close your studio again.
3) Share the rules, then share them again
Go over the rules every day with your staff and clients and post them in several visible places in your studio. Consider ways you can be creative and use these updates to engage with your community. For example, record a video from your team to update clients on the rules and new policies in the studio. Your team can express how much they miss their students while delivering critical information.
4) Reduce staff meetings and use online communication tools
Do not have your staff all meet at the same time, even with precautions. Conduct your meetings online, in groups, or not at all. Take advantage of the Zoom account you have for FitGrid LIVE to conduct these sessions remotely. If one teacher exposes all of your teachers, your schedule will collapse and you will have more to deal with than just scheduling staff in shifts.
5) Talk about your feelings
This is a challenging time. People will have feelings and questions so build time into your week to have those discussions. Part of leading through a pandemic is respecting your team as resources who will probably want to vent and work through feelings and challenges.
Give your team resources that allow them to step away from stressful situations and focus on self-care. Share your favorite meditation class with them or encourage your staff to drop in on a fellow instructor’s class as a way to unplug and enjoy the method of teaching they have worked so hard to create and share with others.
6) Above all, be transparent
Transparency is everything right now and to retain your clients, they need to be able to trust you. Cultivate trust by providing answers before the questions arise in the first place. These answers might be uncomfortable and require some vulnerability, but in the long-run, a client that trusts you is one that’ll stick around. To do so, familiarize yourself with exactly what you can and can’t share about any outbreaks at your studio (and consult with your legal counsel as needed).
This is an unprecedented time for fitness studio owners that requires high levels of communication, transparency, and flexibility.
To seamlessly integrate live-streaming into your reopening strategy, book a free trial of FitGrid LIVE today.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Katie Donzanti is the owner of The Peaceful Peacock, an Orlando-based, intentionally inclusive yoga studio. She is also a mother, wife, former digital marketing executive, and animal rescue fanatic who is partial to savasana. As a results-oriented leader with equal commitments to colorful hair and changing the world, Katie is always working to create solutions while fostering an impactful staff. She loves merging new ways of thinking, with yoga, with technology to build accessible communities.
FitGrid is a community management system designed for boutique fitness studios to engage clients on a personal level