With the end of state mask mandates in March, an industry that took one of the hardest hits during the COVID-19 pandemic finally began to bounce back – the fitness industry.
“The last two years have brought proactive health to light for many of us,” said Lacy Thomas, who owns Precision Personal Training with her husband Trevor Thomas. “Since the mask mandate has ended, we think this has really led our community to feel it is safe to get out and get back to their training goals. We’ve had a huge wave of new clients coming back in the last few weeks.”
The fitness industry was one of the hardest hit industries during the more than two-year COVID-19 pandemic, with fitness studios and gyms forced to close for six months or more. Many local fitness business owners attribute their ability to remain in business to their loyal and dedicated customers.
“I am very lucky to have some very dedicated customers,” said Sherrie Robertson, owner of Vancouver Fitness Studio. “As of March 16, 2020, we had to close our doors and cancel all of our classes for the rest of the month. My customers are all members and pay monthly, so I was scrambling trying to figure out a way for them to still exercise and ‘get their money’s worth’ for the month. Thankfully, Jazzercise already had an online program available for people who wanted to work out from home, so they gave all of our customers that program for a few weeks. That was so helpful. My customers could still work out and still do Jazzercise (a bit different than they were used to), but it sure helped.”
Since Washington’s mask mandate has been lifted, Robertson said she has seen more of her current customers coming to class in the studio, but she said she’s also had several new customers trying out classes or calling to get more information about classes.
After starting Vancouver Fitness Studio on May 1, 2018, at the location of the Vancouver Jazzercise Center off of 78th Street in Hazel Dell, Robertson said she decided it needed a little change in order to encourage others to rent space from her for other programs such as yoga, Zumba and even Kung Fu, so she changed the name to Vancouver Fitness Studio.
During the midst of the pandemic, Robertson ended up finding a new location for her fitness business. After her lease was up in May of 2021, Robertson decided (with the help of her husband) to build out their own brand-new space. Although she was hoping the space would be ready by June of 2021, Robertson said that due to COVID, lack of supplies and workers out sick, they weren’t able to move into the new space until October 2021.
“They provided us with a shell of space … bathrooms complete, childcare room built, but we were in charge of all flooring and stage,” Robertson said. “So, definitely a labor of love to get the dance floor done and stage built. We are now working on installing acoustical panels to the ceiling and installing four ceiling fans. In continues to be a work in progress.”
Both Robertson and Thomas acknowledged how challenging the last two years of the pandemic have been for their fitness businesses.
“To be completely honest, the last two years have been extremely challenging to navigate,” Thomas said. “While our clients and staff have been understanding and we adapted as protocols and safety measures evolved … but as a business it has been a struggle. Oftentimes we were just happy to keep our doors open. We were closed for six months and had to halt many of the services we offered – group classes, open gym, team training, and at times even personal and partner training. By investing more into personal training and remodeling our group room, we were able to accommodate more one-on-one appointment-based sessions, which were COVID compliant.”
Robertson said the hardest part for her and her business during the pandemic has been keeping her current customers and gaining new customers.
“It’s very challenging keeping connected when you don’t see them (customers), so emailing, calling, texting, etc. has been so important during all of this,” Robertson said. “I even drove around to my customers’ houses to drop off items that they had earned right before COVID hit and shirts that they earned during the year. They really appreciated the extra effort that I was willing to do for them. That’s a special perk with Jazzercise … we really do become a close fitness family.”
Thomas said they are very optimistic for the future at Precision Personal Training, and she said they are now beyond pre-COVID numbers in terms of clients and staff and they are gearing up for their Free Summer Outdoor/Indoor Bootcamps and Free Community Educational Seminars.
“We plan to expand our small group training services, hire additional personal trainers to meet the demand for our one-on-one services, and we have big, exciting news to share soon,” Thomas said. “Ultimately, we cannot thank our team and our amazing community of clients enough for sticking it out during the tough times. Without their continued support, Precision would not be here today.”
Article Source: Vancouver WA Business Journal