When Victoria-based The Pole Room closed its doors in April due to COVID-19, owners Andy Eastoe and Jasmine Zapka didn’t expect the fitness industry to stay closed for the majority of the year.
Whilst they were forced to step away from all four locations, the studio owners embraced virtual as their new normal and pioneered a ‘mobile’ pole studio and online store to keep going.
Introducing Alternative Fitness
In 2015, fitness trainer Andy and his pole-trained partner Jasmine took a leap of faith to bring a non-traditional fitness offering to Victoria. What started out as a side hustle quickly evolved into a multi-location business, booming with a loyal group of women committed to progressing in pole dance & alternative fitness.
“Pole brings people together for fun and empowering workouts that increase confidence,” Jasmine said. “Fitness outcomes are the by-product of the classes but it’s not the aim. Similar to martial arts, you are progressing to the next trick or combination as opposed to upping your reps and sets.”
However, when the pandemic forced The Pole Room to close – including its in-studio retail store which earned 10% of The Pole Room’s revenue, Andy and Jasmine acted quickly to move their entire business operation online.
After a few months of one of the harshest lockdowns anywhere in the world, The Pole Room decided it was time to create a sustainable virtual model to meet the needs of Australians stuck at home while also investing in long-term growth.
Their first hurdle? Creating a virtual regimen without a pole. The Pole Room diversified to offer dance, flexibility, heels and core strength classes. Wanting to keep pole at the heart of their business, Andy and Jasmine moved their retail store online allowing members to purchase their own pole, resistance bands, grips and heels for an at-home set up.
“No one knew how to approach virtual at the start, so we watched and absorbed what others in the fitness industry were doing before deciding how we wanted to explore the new category,” Andy explained. “After some months of steady success we wanted to step it up; that’s when we engaged Mindbody regarding its virtual wellness platform.”
Streaming Studio in Your Pocket
Thinking outside of the box, The Pole Room created a fully integrated branded app from Mindbody. With this app, members were able to book into virtual classes, purchase merchandise, and watch on-demand or replay workouts all inside the app.
Members now had a pole studio in their pocket, providing them with a complete library of alternative fitness classes with new classes uploaded each week.
By providing exclusive member-only offers and giving members the chance to work out through the app, The Pole Room managed to retain 50% of their core member base as well as welcome new members to the studio—even while it was closed.
“Like all physical locations, our studios are geographically restrained, so it’s rare that someone will travel outside of a five-kilometer radius to visit your studio,” Andy said. “With our virtual app we have been able to hold onto our members who moved interstate – and find new ones who want to try something new.”
With so many new bookings, Andy and Jasmine found great value in the functionality of Mindbody’s features to secure payment and manage class schedules from one software.
Extra daily dose of inspiration
But the Pole Room wasn’t done. To build on the momentum and help members stay motivated, The Pole Room introduced monthly challenges and competitions and built out a long-term rewards program—all within the app.
All of this work paid off—The Pole Room now runs more than 30 online classes a week, and class size has grown with some virtual classes reaching over 100 attendees!