As we stretch into the fourth week of self isolation with no clear finish line, we cannot help but wonder how the fitness industry will survive when this is all over. We are not just talking about fitness facilities be it big, medium or small sized, this includes freelance and independent instructors as well as personal trainers whose livelihood depends first and foremost on serving people through fitness experiences. Gyms, studios, Crossfit boxes and all kinds of fitness facilities were some of the first businesses to shutdown completely to comply with governmental regulations which was a true testament to social responsibility too.
The Heya team is comprised of fitness instructors who have been affected first hand by the sudden shutdown along with hundreds of fitness professionals who have no other source of income or security for that matter. Classes canceled, memberships put on hold and shall be extended for the lockdown period - however long that may be. Everyone looking for alternatives not necessarily to keep the business running even though this is essential for most, but to help students and clients stay active while supporting them to keep their physical and mental health in good shape during those trying times. In the first week we witnessed a flood of workouts and classes by multiple entities and fitness professionals on their social media platforms, some even added 14 day challenges based on the fact that the self isolation period was initially 2 weeks. We have seen Yoga instructors come together to offer full classes and meditation sessions on a daily basis, and various platforms hosting instructors through live sessions. It was a wind of hope amid the uncertainty and anxiousness.
A tribe of givers, believers and supporters who have a positive impact on people’s lives. If you have taken any kind of group exercise class/session such as aerobics, bootcamp, Zumba, Yoga or any other program; then you know the experience goes beyond the workout, you will always remember the instructor or coach and how they made you feel.
As the popular saying goes “Where there’s a will there’s a way”, a few businesses and independent instructors took their sessions to the virtual world and created pre-recorded and live experiences for their clients. While this is not an invention, it is relatively new to the local market and quite challenging for some due to space, connection and tech requirements especially with live sessions. Here comes the big BUT, is it sustainable? Will it help them survive and keep their businesses afloat until we are cleared to go back to our regular routine? Will it help them pay the rent? Will it be enough to pay salaries? Will instructors be able to make ends meet to get through this with minimal to no losses as we hope? We are not even going to ask for how long because no one has the answer to that question.
We had even more questions running through our heads so we decided to ask a select group of fitness business owners and professionals to share with us their thoughts to help shed some light and offer insights that can be beneficial at a time like this. Here is what they told Heya!
I believe this will make the fitness industry re-evaluate how they do everything and how they run their businesses, says Deana Shaaban, Fitness Director, Ignite Egypt. Businesses will absolutely have to be centered around the needs of human beings, because services will now be inside everyone’s homes. It’s a great opportunity for businesses to reset and evaluate how they want to move forward. Deana has always been a firm believer that in situations where one is stripped of all their luxuries, they become quite resourceful and innovative in how they live their lives. She believes this is the type of situation the world is currently in, and we have a choice for how we innovate moving forward. This situation will affect every single person on this planet. There is something undeniable happening that is currently changing the course of history, and this isn’t a change that is a small temporary one, says Deana. This is a change that will last for months. This will impact myself and everyone else. How we choose to handle it is key. Deana personally believes that a situation like this is all about helping others first and foremost. To try to ease physical circumstances and therefore psychological struggles for each other. That is her goal when trying to plan how to move forward.
We also asked Deana if she thinks online training will grow locally in the coming period and if she believes people will go for it if this situation prolongs. She replied saying that online is all we have at this point, it has already grown significantly in temporary solutions. Deana thinks businesses will continue to find more long term solutions. At Ignite, they have already built an online platform for their clients to train everyday, and for them to train together. The Ignite Online Training launched on the third day after the government announced schools and gyms would be closed. Their team worked non-stop for 3 days to be able to provide their clients with what they need and they will continue to build on it moving forward.
Mila Bonvini, Founder of