Founded over 12 years ago, Heartcore prides itself on being the creators of London’s fitness and wellness scene with one simple goal in mind—to touch lives. With more than a decade spent between Los Angeles and London, founder Jess Schuring has worked with numerous people on both continents whilst shaping the UK fitness landscape with the roll-out of her hugely popular studios. When she moved to London in 2007, she didn’t only bring her passion for fitness with her, but also her knack for creating beautiful spaces that make people feel inspired to work out. This is how Heartcore was born.
But like many fitness businesses all over the world, the COVID-19 pandemic forced all 10 of Heartcore’s locations across the UK to shut down in March of 2020 to help keep communities safe. For a business that was used to seeing their in-studio classes packed to the brim with their loyal client base, they knew they had to pivot their class offerings and start exploring digital options to keep their clients moving and healthy throughout the pandemic.
Growing a digital customer base amid a pandemic
Since Heartcore is such a beloved fitness brand in the UK, they didn’t have much trouble connecting with their clients online. “When we announced our shutdown, which was in March, we initially started with Instagram live classes,” says Erica Delaney, Marketing Manager for Heartcore. “So, we sent an email to our entire database, letting our clients know we wanted to stay connected and to follow along with us on Instagram.” Shifting their studio offerings to online classes proved to be successful—within a week, their Instagram following grew by 16,000 followers.
“That really showed us that our Heartcore clients wanted to stay connected even during such a tricky time," says Delaney.
The dedication to keeping a strong sense of community was also at the forefront of Heartcore’s efforts during such a tricky time. “We really encouraged community however we could get it,” says Jess Hatley, Head of Business Operations at Heartcore. “We would ask our clients to have a friend take a virtual class with them or we would offer free virtual classes every now and then.”
Hatley also stresses that they were keen on giving back to the medical community who were working tirelessly to keep folks healthy and safe, as well. “We offered free classes for NHS workers. We wanted to make sure that anyone who's involved in the medical community and doing such a great service was supported with free classes."
How Mindbody helped Heartcore's community book virtual classes
When the brand switched over to live streaming its classes, they were worried that clients would be confused with how they could sign up for classes. Realizing that consistency is key to helping their community transition to a digital platform, Heartcore’s team credits their branded app to making the process a seamless experience.
“I think the ease of being able to book a class in the same way as they did in the past—I think that meant a lot to guests,” says Delaney. “To give them that sense of familiarity and know that some things have stayed the same like booking through the Heartcore app and finding their favorite teacher on the schedule—there’s definitely something there in the beauty of routine and familiarity.”
Pivoting to a hybrid business model
Luckily, the studio has been able to resume in-studio classes since late July, but their digital offerings still play a big role with a group of around 2500 clients who continue to live stream.
“It's been a wild ride. And obviously, digital has been a big theme for us since the original lockdown,” says Hatley. “Now, we're kind of playing with the hybrid model of digital classes and studio classes, and just taking it kind of week by week and seeing what our clients want.”
Currently, seven of their 10 locations are able to welcome their clients back for the in-studio experience, and occupancy continues to be strong. However, by adopting a hybrid business model, clients who don’t feel comfortable coming into one of the open studios, or usually attend one of the studios that are currently closed, every single one of their clients can still enjoy the Heartcore experience.
Now, the team at Heartcore is making sure they future proof the business by continuing to implement other digital offerings like Video on Demand, a key benefit in getting their content to their loyal clients and to help create another revenue stream. They hope to offer this through the Mindbody Branded Mobile App to help their clients easily access and sign up for hybrid and Video on Demand only memberships.