How Fitness Studios Pivoted to Teach Online—Without Equipment
By Meredith Simmons
As fitness studios across the world have switched to teaching virtually, indoor cycling, pole fitness, and boxing gyms have had to get creative with how they deliver the same challenging workouts to their customers while they can’t be in-studio.
Here’s how three businesses that traditionally rely on equipment have pivoted to teach online during the COVID-19 pandemic.
When forced to close, Upcycle Fitness at the Grant in Collingswood, New Jersey, originally planned on leaning into its non-cycling classes during the closure. But within 24 hours, owner Kimberly Oberg decided that she didn’t want her bikes to sit unused for a long time.
“We threw something on Instagram to see if there would be interest in renting the bikes,” Oberg said. “Within 45 minutes, all our bikes were accounted for.”
It was a win-win for the studio and the customers—the bikes were going to good homes and get use while the studio was closed, and the studio kept revenue flowing.
“We’re teaching live classes and created on demand videos,” Oberg said. “For the same amount as our monthly unlimited membership, they are getting equipment rental and unlimited virtual classes.”
Pole and aerial fitness
Shine Pole and Aerial Fitness in Hurst, Texas, entered its closure planning on focusing on floorwork and exercise to keep conditioning up.
Knowing not everyone has access to a pole or other specialized equipment at home, the studio wanted to offer classes that can help members stay strong without the usual equipment. “We really wanted to focus on highlighting our supplemental classes,” owner Kristen Rodriguez said. “These are classes that are non-apparatus based like flexibility and conditioning. Now they've become a big highlight, and our students are able to really see how beneficial taking these classes is to their practice.”
In addition to the classes focused on retaining strength, enough of Shine’s customers have a pole to work out with at home to support a live pole fitness class. “Those have been really fun to be able to do at home,” Rodriguez said. “A lot of times students that have home poles, at least at our studio. Their main form of instruction is at the studio and then they go home and practice what they’ve learned. Now we're bringing it to their house.”
Shine’s strategy has paid off—it’s had students drop into their virtual classes. They’re even getting new clients to drop in from across the South, including from Florida and North Carolina.
“They found us through hashtags on Instagram,” Rodriguez said. “That’s the reason we've tried to be as active as possible on social media.”
Each boxing bag at UNDRCARD Boxing is extremely heavy—so there was no way the studio could expect customers to have them at home. “The perception is that a boxing bag is easy to mount,” CEO Joanna “Magik” Majcherkiewicz said. “The forty we have in our workout rooms have steel beams.”
Luckily, UNDRCARD had a bit of practice teaching boxing classes without equipment. Before the studio started, it taught pop-up classes in night clubs, so Majcherkiewicz knew that the workouts would easily translate to people’s living rooms.
“We’re able to provide a sweaty, fulfilling, fun, results-driven workout for people without boxing gloves and a bag,” Majcherkiewicz said. “It feels like a sprint or HIIT workout, so UNDRCARD translates well into a home workout.”