My Response to COVID-19 as a New Yoga Studio Owner

Blog
18-days after taking over ownership of Greensboro Downtown Yoga we were forced to press pause due to #covid19. We found the positive by creating the Movement Mantra Project.
Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on pinterest

For years I’ve dreamed of having my own studio. A place to move in ways that feel authentic to me. A space where I could bring the dreams of GXunited to life. A studio to call my own.

In December 2019 an opportunity was presented that would allow that dream to become reality. The owner of a local yoga studio was ready to step back and was looking for new owners. She wanted someone who would maintain the amazing community focused yoga studio that had been built over the past 7-years and bring it to the next level.

After many discussions, we fit that vision she had, and Michael (my hubby) and I decided to take over the reigns effective March 1, 2020.

For 3-months we worked tirelessly to create a smooth transition for members and instructors. We dove into member management software (because we knew it was time to ditch MindBody), we had painters, electricians, and blind people came to give quotes for redecorating the space. We purchased new equipment. And we developed a new schedule that expanded the offerings for members.

Then on March 1, or first day as owners, we dove in with excitement and joy for all that we knew was to come.

And then the world changed.

COVID-19 (aka. the coronavirus) started to make its way to the US and talks of the rapid spread began.

Like so many, we didn’t know what was best. As brand new owners, we didn’t want to do something that didn’t feel authentic to the space. So we monitored and made decisions daily (hourly) on how to best support our members.

We held on for as long as we could. Removing all the equipment from the studio. Limiting classes to 8 or less. Cleaning everything, all the time. But finally the reality set it, and on March 18 we decided to press pause on live operations at the studio.

So just 18-days after taking over ownership of Greensboro Downtown Yoga, we were sadly telling members that we would be closing the doors for an indefinite period of time (read our full announcement to members).

Our decision was not easy.

The 72-hours leading up to our decision were really tough. Let’s be real — I was stressed, terrified, and honestly not prepared to deal with a national health pandemic.

But then we talked to my father-in-law, a medical doctor, and he said something that made so much sense to the entire situation. He said…

“If your mission is to promote health and wellbeing, staying open and potentially spreading this disease is doing the exact opposite of that. If you really want to help your members, you’ll shut down and give them ways to manage their physical and mental health from the comfort of their own house.”

At that moment, I knew I had no option other than to shut down. I knew that if I was to truly practice wellness, then we needed to encourage our members and instructors (and ourselves) to stay home.

And then the real challenge set it…

The next day we set-out on a plan to press pause on the live studio experience, and find different solutions to help our members (and the greater Greensboro community).

As I watched other fit pros and studios jump into taking their classes live on Zoom (or Facebook Live), I just didn’t know if that was the solution that felt authentic in the moment.

It just felt rushed and not sustainable long-term (and realistically we know this isn’t a 2-week situation). It didn’t feel like the solution for providing true mindful movement experiences. It felt like so little, in a time of so much turmoil.

In many ways, I didn’t know what was authentic and real to me and our studio.

So I slept on it.

I paused and I breathed.

Then it hit me.

Instead of just creating live workout classes, I wanted to do something different.

I wanted to provide short moments of comfort and joy in times of unknown.

I wanted to bring to life one of our long-term idea of bridging the movement and arts community to create mindful movement experiences.

And that’s when I decided to launch The Movement Mantra Project (MMP Project).

The project is a journey to create movement and mindful experiences that people can do in the comfort of their home.

It’s a way for us (GDY) to provide support to our community (both inside and outside the studio) in a way that truly feels authentic to our mission.

We don’t have it all figured out (which is a major struggle for the perfectionist in me), but we’re trying – and that’s all we can do at this moment in time.

Ultimately, the project will provide a daily movement focused experience and a daily mindset focused experience for people to do wherever they might be. These could include yoga flows (because we’re a yoga studio), movement practices, meditations, breathing activities, journaling prompts, calls to action, or anything else to inspire and empower people at this moment in time.

Let’s be real, it’s not going to be perfect, but neither is life. And in some ways, I actually think that is a really nice element of this project. We’re all going to be a little less than perfect during a time of unknowns. And maybe that can help us better unite.

We’re taking this project and opportunity, one day/one hour at a time. And we hope you do the same.

Which is why we invite you to be part of the project

We’re not closing this project off to only our members. There are millions of people being impacted by COVID-19 (and all the other challenges of daily life), and we want to be there for them as well.

So the project is open and free to anyone who goes to our website (or finds us on YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, or any other social platform we end up sharing these on).

This includes you.

Watch the videos and find ways to destress yourself. Sign-up for the email list or bookmark the page to get the posts daily.

If you want to share these with your members, friends, family, and community, please do (just let them know it comes from GXunited and Greensboro Downtown Yoga).

We hope that some people may be inspired by what we do and support us with donations for our efforts, but we don’t expect it. We just want to give and support others during this time.

Ultimately we hope to bring you the Mindful Movement Project longer than the outbreak of COVID-19. I hope it’ll become part of the brand identity of both GDY and GXunited.

I have no idea what that will look like, but alas, that is the fun of the unknown!

Oh, and for all those who are asking…

 

YES, we are going to offer class online.

They will be available for anyone who wants to watch them on YouTube. Which is actually really exciting for me, GDY, and GXunited.

One thing I’m super stocked to bring you through online classes is CounterFlow Yoga. This program is GXunited’s first branded program and I was supposed to launch it at the ACSM Health & Fitness Summit in March. Since the summit was cancelled I’ve been trying to think of other ways to launch it and bring it to the world (outside of my members who’ve been doing it with me!).

And this is the perfect way.

CounterFlow Yoga is LIVE Thursdays at 9:30am (EST) on the Greensboro Downtown Yoga YouTube page. I would love to have you join me!

And remember, right now, this is all free to anyone who wants to watch and participate. We’re simply asking that if you want to support us (Greensboro Downtown Yoga & GXunited) during this time, they do so using our donation platform.

Let’s all embrace this change together…

 

As a person who loves change, but struggles with not being in control of that change, the unknown can fill me with anxieties. I’m with all of you who are sitting in your house hording toilet paper (okay, we’re actually one of those houses that doesn’t have any TP, so if you are hording it and want to send us some, please do!) and fearing the next day.

But then I look at what I can do to control those anxieties, and I start to look at the positives in the negative situation.

I am reminded that now I can be with family more. I can hang out with my puppies whenever I want. And I can (maybe) dive into some projects that I’ve been wanting to do but simply ‘haven’t had time’.

And while I might struggle at times, I do know the best way to survive this is to maintain a positive mindset. To not worry about how long we’re going to be in this situation, and instead just deal with it one day at a time. (One day at a time became our family mantra this summer as my dad suffered a massive hemorrhagic stroke and we didn’t know what the next day would bring. Dad is now home, and we still don’t know what each day will bring…so it’s still one day at a time.)

So join me in finding the positives in the negative.

Final Thoughts

 

I do question the long-term impact this will have on the fitness/yoga community….

This is a huge economic blow for a group of professionals who make very little money to begin with.

It’s a huge challenge for all of us who love to help people move, and now are quarantined inside our houses.

All we can do is try…

Try to connect with our community in new ways.

Try to embrace a world that is going to be different on the other side.

Try to be positive in times of unknow.

And most importantly, we CAN connect with other professionals and build a bridge and tighter community.

This isn’t the time to be selfish and think you’re the only one out there struggling. It’s not the time to think that your method of teaching and offerings is the only way.

Instead it’s time to unite together for the greater cause and help each other out.

We all bring something special to the table. We all are unique. And we all will connect to people in different ways. Maybe this is just the right time to make a new fitness friend and bring your skills together.

If you’re in this together, we would love to help bridge this gap in our Facebook Group.

Let’s start a conversation about how we can expand and grow, instead of separate and fight.

Until next time,
Summer

Summer N. Sides, M.S.

Summer N. Sides, M.S.

Summer N. Sides (MS, RYT-200, CSCS) is the Founder of GXunited, an educational resource hub dedicated to group fitness and the owner of Greensboro Downtown Yoga. For almost 20 years, she’s helped participants ‘stand taller, move easier, and perform better’ through science backed mindful movement experiences. She’s worked with companies such as NETA, Les Mills, IGNITE360 (a division of IMG Performance), and ACE as a national presenter, assessor, curriculum/program developer, and freelance writer. As a former Lecturer of Exercise Science, she aims to elevate the next generation of fitness professionals through fun and creative educational experiences.

Share Your Idea

Blog

Are we missing something you want to read about or think you've got a great idea for an article?

Drop us a note and read our newsletter to see when it gets posted.

Thanks for Singing-Up!!

Stay connected on social media!

You Might Also
like these articles