How a group fitness studio made the most of online workouts
Gyms and fitness studios were some of the first establishments to close due to COVID-19 — but that didn’t stop Vinny Amendola, owner of boutique fitness studio ALTR Fit, from bringing movement to his clientele.
Although many gyms have been able to reopen during COVID-19, many small, independently-owned group fitness studios have been forced to remain closed to comply with social distancing protocols. But the inability to meet in-person didn’t stop Vinny Amendola, owner and founder of ALTR Fit, a high intensity interval training-based fitness studio in Minneapolis, Minn. Vinny and his team refocused their efforts to provide online classes, and a much-needed dose of positivity to their clients.
When the studio closed for the first time, what allowed you to make the switch to virtual classes so quickly?
“We’re a nimble business. We’re smart with how we spent and invested money, so we said, ‘Let’s continue to be nimble and pull back where we can, so we can survive being closed.’ The next question was, ‘How do we engage our community and stay present and relevant?’ The answer was to go to a livestream model. It happened quickly – it wasn’t a brand-new idea, but the pandemic pushed us in that direction faster. The main goal was simply to stay connected to our clients.”
As the pandemic went on, how did you build on your online class offerings?
“We jumped in right away, but many other fitness studios did as well. We researched what cameras and microphones would be best for livestreaming, but so much of it was on backorder because everyone else needed the same equipment. We had to be patient, and had to figure out how to work with what we had to give the best experience we could to our clients.”
Are there any business practices will you continue to apply to ALTR’s business model when you can fully open again?
“We have always prided ourselves on having a really clean environment, but now we’ll be keeping all the safety protocol we implemented during COVID-19. We switched to hospital-grade cleaning supplies and use a sanitizing machine on all the equipment. Our class turnover time won’t be as fast as it used to be, but it’s worth it and it works for us.
Additionally, we’ve learned that you really have to meet people where they’re at. Not just with working out, but with how they feel about COVID-19. The mindset [about group fitness] has changed, and people have very different opinions. We want to stay aware of how clients are feeling and what they need.”
What advice would you give to small business owners who want to stay motivated as they pivot?
“Stay nimble. Sometimes people assume small business owners are wealthy or they’re crushing it because the business looks busy, but there are so many expenses that go into it. Be careful with how you spend money, and don’t let your business go into a lot of debt. Things happen — you can survive a pandemic, you can survive your locations being closed. You have to do a lot of the hard work yourself, so stay true to who you are, stay true to your vision, and put the work in.”