Writing a blog is something that’s been on my ‘to do list’ for about errr…. 5 years…!
I really enjoy writing. I often find my Facebook posts end up super long, because I just have so much that I want to talk about!
So, here’s my first effort. Given the situation we currently find ourselves in with the Covid-19 pandemic, I thought I’d share my lockdown experience, and why I made the difficult decision to close my beloved gym to launch an online business.
I hope you enjoy it…
At the start of 2020, business was going really well. I had my own Personal Training and Fitness studio, offering 1:1 Personal Training, small group training, and fitness classes, and three brilliant Coaches who delivered sessions for me. Financially, the gym was making a profit and I was comfortable. It had taken me around six years to get to this point, and I was working with more than 50 fabulous clients.
However, there had been a spate of vandalism, including my signs being vandalised and torn down, my gym had been broken into, and we’d had some items stolen.
I also had a few personal things going on, including a few issues with my son’s school and this had been affecting my mental health – I was stressed and anxious.
When the announcement came that gyms had to close, I was absolutely devastated.
I cried. A lot. I sent out the email I’d drafted to my clients, telling them that we had to shut. They were understanding and sympathetic. I actually think they were as heartbroken as I was that we had to close.
The next morning, Saturday, I got up at 2:45am and, powered by coffee, I worked on how my business was going to look moving forwards and how I was going to support my clients, with the help of my fantastic team. I utilised every bit of information and advice I could from Lift the Bar (a professional group I’m a member of). I wrote home training programmes, signed up to Zoom, I wrote emails and Facebook posts, and at 8am, I went into the gym to film workout videos and to lend all of my equipment to clients.
I put on a brave face, but I felt like my world was falling apart.
The first Monday of lockdown, I couldn’t get Zoom to work. I thought I was going to have a nervous breakdown! I also had to try and help my son with his maths homework, which ended incredibly badly. Anyone who knows me knows that maths is not my strong point!
I couldn’t stop crying.
Ten of my clients cancelled their memberships straight away, due to their own fears about their jobs and their financial situations; I totally understood where they were coming from, but it didn’t make it feel any nicer.
Over the coming weeks, life got a bit better. I got into the swing of things, figured Zoom out, and I got better at coaching online. I was actually really enjoying working from home, and I felt like my mental health was really improving.
When the announcement came that PTs could work outside, I had a full blown panic attack.
I didn’t want to do it. I didn’t feel safe and, mentally, I was not prepared for this. I was so worried that clients were going to expect me to offer this service, and I really didn’t want to!
I spoke to a trusted Coach I was working with, and she reminded me that “Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.” I told my clients I would not be offering outdoor sessions, and they understood and supported my decision. To be honest, I don’t think they wanted to train outside either – dodging dog poo, crowds of kids, and the great British weather.
We settled back into Zoom training, and soon there was talk of gyms reopening. I started to panic again. My unit was only small. I could not see how we could safely accommodate clients and social distancing. I worked out that we’d only be able to offer 1:1 Personal Training – no groups or classes. I’d lost most of my 1:1 clients throughout lockdown, and only had four left at this point. I just could not justify continuing to pay full rent on the gym (which I’d done all the way through lockdown with the help of a Government grant) to use it for four sessions a week. I had no idea how long this would go on for either – a few months, a year?
I very quickly came to the very sad conclusion that I didn’t want to reopen my gym.
I’d always had a goal that in five to ten years, I’d step back from coaching in person, and maybe focus on running the business and delivering online coaching, while my other Coaches delivered the majority of sessions at the gym. I love coaching but, after 20 years in the fitness industry, I had started to wonder what was next for me. I’d already started studying to become a nutritionist, and had dabbled with online coaching previously, although hadn’t done anything major with it.
I had a long chat with a friend of mine who also owns a gym, talked to my husband, spoke to my Coaches, and spoke to one of my longest standing clients (and friends). The decision was made.
I emailed to give notice on my unit and I started planning what my online business was going to look like. Within a week of giving my notice to my landlord, I’d sold all the equipment and cleared the gym.
Now, I’m working from home, and I’m really enjoying it.
I’m still offering Zoom sessions to my long-standing clients, and I have two new services that I offer – 1:1 Online Coaching and Group Online Coaching. I’m so proud of these services and the amazing results my clients are already getting. They’re a culmination of everything I’ve been doing for the past 20 years!
This has been really exciting – it feels like a brand new business, but it’s off to a good start.
I think it helps that I’ve started a business from scratch before – I’ve been there, done that, made the mistakes, and bought the t-shirt!
My business has always been built on big, bold, brave decisions, and I feel positive about the future.
I am really excited to see what the next 10 years in business will bring for me, and how many more busy ladies I can help to lose weight, tone up, feel fitter, and healthier.