In this featured spot, Traci Bartee, who founded Fly Fitness speaks to how she's handled the COVID pandemic and how Precor has assisted in the education she's found on the best ways to keep her members safe.
AFS: Tell the audience about your background(s) and how Fly Fitness came to be?
TB: I’ve been in the industry for over 15 years. I got my start as a trainer in Westport, CT back in 2000 where I co-owned and operated a personal training studio. In 2005, I moved to Seattle and opened Fly Fitness.
Fly Fitness was born from the expression of my passions: people, fitness, entertaining, creating and helping others to live their best lives. My goal was to create a place that fused exercise and socializing because I believe it’s always easier to get to a workout class if you know your friends (new and old) are going to be there. I also believe that if you’re having fun while working to accomplish your personal fitness goals, you’ll have a greater chance of doing so.
AFS: Based on today's current economic climate, how has your business changed since COVID-19, and what does your new normal look like?
TB: The crazy part about all this...Fly Fitness is located in Kirkland WA, the city with the first reported case of Covid19 in the US on February, 29th! Needless to say, we’ve had a lot of changes. For the first couple of weeks things slowed down, but we stayed open. We immediately updated our cleaning and disinfecting protocols and studio safety policies.
Then, on March 16th, I had to close our doors because of our Governor’s mandate. I quickly learned everything I needed to know about streaming our classes and launched the new service, the following week. My team was amazing! They jumped in with me and taught from their homes.
On June 29th, we were able to open the studio again, but with very strict regulations. We can only have 5 clients per instructor, and those clients need to stay 6 feet away from each other. Currently, we are only teaching 1 in-studio class and 1 live stream class a day.
In the middle of July, we had to make the difficult decision to let go of our personal training/child care studio. I didn’t want to do this but am doing everything I can to survive.
AFS: How have you been able to compensate for any loss in revenue?
TB: The live streaming of our classes helps, but we wouldn’t be able to stay open if it weren’t for the PPP loan/grant and for a client who donated funds to help us survive. I think many of us who operate our own businesses in the fitness space are just trying to figure out what works best for them. It is definitely difficult out there, but we're doing everything we can to provide the best possible service to our clients that we can!
The crazy part about all this...Fly Fitness is located in Kirkland WA, the city with the first reported case of Covid19 in the US on February, 29th!
AFS: What have you learned from this pandemic on how to stay connected to your members/clients virtually?
TB: Communication is imperative! Without the physical space that our clients were used to, we've had to take things up a notch to continue to make them feel like they're part of our culture. I have personally called our members a few times, just to check in and let them know our status.
Simple engagement techniques such as letting them know what's going on, checking in to see how they're doing, hosting virtual networking parties, and doing our best to help them through this has become an essential part of our new day-to-day. We all know exercise is a form of medicine and we need to be there, every day, for our clients.
AFS: What about Fly Fitness is unique and differentiates you from the competition?
TB: The biggest difference between Fly and other studios is that we offer many group exercise formats, personal training, and retreats. The relationships we've built over the years has really helped us establish a name for ourselves in our community.
Another big difference is our location. This is a HUGE opportunity that many others get wrong. Before I opened in 2010, I did a ton of homework to ensure the location I found checked off the following on my list...
- In an affluent, suburban area
- Ample complimentary parking
- An attractive building (not in a factory)
- Ability to take my classes outdoors (a park, or beach)
- Plenty of like-minded or complementary businesses we could partner with and support
I'm lucky enough to have found the ideal location, which has afforded me the ability to grow and now continue to survive in today's crazy times.
AFS: When choosing your equipment, why did you decide to go with Precor equipment?
TB: In 2000 I opened my first studio in Westport CT. My business partner and I did a ton of research on equipment before outfitting our studio. Precor was by far, the best of the best! So when I opened my second studio, it was a no brainer to go with them again. Plus, I absolutely loved their new Queenax pieces.
AFS: As a studio owner, what advice can you offer others when it comes to sanitizing your equipment and facility.
TB: We have always been known for having the cleanest gym/studio around, but now with COVID19, we are going above and beyond. We sanitize the studio and equipment before and after our classes and we purchased an electrostatic sprayer. Our clients feel safe!
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