Cycle 360 isn’t just a gym to us or to everyone that uses our boutique services. The fitness ‘club’, as we like to call it, is a place where everyone feels like family – a unique community, it’s an escapism, an experience. A place where you can just be you and do something for you without ever being judged.
On Friday March 20, my husband, Mark, and I were in the kitchen with Alexa playing, on full volume, the Coronvirus Daily Briefing, to which all know now as, Howard O’Clock.
Everyday up until this point, it was a case of listening while grimacing, eagerly anticipating the announcement that all cafes, gyms etc must close. That Friday was the moment we had been dreading, when HQ said, “We are advising against any social gatherings and management of gyms and alike must make the right decision and be sensible here”.
There was a lump in my throat at this point and I have to admit, a few tears welled in my eyes too. Although there was an overwhelming sense of emotion, I wouldn’t say I was stressed or anxious by this point as the inevitable had happened. Instead the realisation that this was really real.
Once Mark and I had chatted and, ultimately, made the executive decision it was time to close the fitness club over the weekend, we both spoke to our parents (as you do). Under the pressure of the clock ticking, I started making all the necessary internal and external communications.
It turned out on the Sunday, the day we had chosen to close, they announced that all fitness facilities should close as of that evening. This cemented the decision we’d made the day before and we were able to no longer feel guilty about ‘giving up’.
Following communications, it was onto the systems where we had to ensure all memberships were manually frozen/suspended and any expiry dates on class packs were extended beyond Saturday 21st March. A mammoth task conducted from my dining room, which took days – much to my dachshund’s delight that he didn’t have to leave my side.
Be as Agile As Possible
Since then, a month has passed and I feel we’ve achieved so much in very little time. We have tried to be as agile as possible within our business framework.
We have offered to lease equipment to our members, of course at a cost – let’s not beat around the bush, we’re paying staff, rates and deprecation on equipment, so with the loss of a source of revenue in the form of memberships this was going to be a small but a hugely appreciated cash injection.
We see it as a win, win – it has allowed us to generate a small amount of revenue to help the fitness side of the business survive and people are able to stay active and healthy by using our equipment in their homes.
After drawing up leasing agreements (shout out to my Auntie Gill for doing this for us at no cost 🙏) we delivered all 21 of our wattbikes, benches, rowing machines, barbells, free weights and kettlebells to homes over the Island.
The one positive out of all of this, for me, was that everything that was happening to us was happening in the UK first. Poor Boris. That said, all our favourite fitness places in London we’d used for inspo and places beyond too, including America, were starting to stream classes via Instagram Live. This was interesting and after accidentally clicking on several live streams (how awkward is it when that happens by the way?!) I could see why they were doing it as hundreds of people were tuning in.
Now as much as I love the Isle of Man, and I believe the service we offer is great and unique to our community, we were never going to get hundreds of Manxies tuning into a live stream of a fitness class. I also didn’t believe this was the best way to keep a solid community going in what was going to be our new virtual world. So, I started looking at ‘Zoom’ and how others were using this as a platform for virtual reality. I’d used Zoom lots before in past jobs within the corporate world, so knew exactly how it worked and how easy it was to set up.
We went on to trial this by soft launching a few classes one week with a few of our freelance fitness instructors. After a few hiccups (technology is fun isn’t it 🤦♀️) it turned out to be a success with really good attendance and feedback.
Following the soft launch and the trial of some classes to our regular members, we sent out a questionnaire with a few simple questions, to the public, to understand when and what classes they would like delivered via our talented pool of freelance fitness instructors and coaches.
I know that for, those who attend our regular fitness classes, it’s about guidance and motivation, as well as friendship and being part of a community. For our freelance instructors taking the classes it’s their life, it’s their passion and for most of them it’s also their main source of income.
That said, it was important we operated a donation scheme – but an optional one. This means that, because we recognise everyone has been hit hard by the pandemic, with some losing their income, we want to keep it free and accessible to those that can’t afford to make a donation but equally, for those that can and are willing, to have that option there for them to do so.
Let’s be honest, exercising on your own for an hour sounds great in theory, but it’s harder in practice! Everyone that has attended my indoor cycling sessions so far have been super enthusiastic, with some sending personal messages after the class like “having an allotted time to do exercise in the diary really helps with motivation and some sense of normality.”
This makes sense as it’s a lot easier to be motivated and guided by an experienced and motivational coach when it comes to working out – and then doing this live so you can all speak with each other adds to that morale and sense of community.
In the grand scheme of things, not being able to work out with your friends and visit the gym isn’t the end of the world when compared to the problems our local community and economy is currently facing, however, during a time like this, most would be at the gym or coming to fitness classes and working off any anxiety and stress.
I want to highlight the fact our virtual fitness classes are accessible to all, wherever you are in the world. They allow you to organise a time in your diary for you and your mate in Manchester to do a class together. With a class a day, sometimes multiple on one day and a variety of different times to suit everyone’s schedule right now, I want to encourage everyone to get involved. In the words of that big supermarket, every little helps.
To access Cycle 360’s virtual fitness class a day as well as details on how to join in the live class via ‘Zoom’ can be found online by visiting: www.cycle360.com/fitness/timetable.