By Sareena Nickoli
As a small business, we’ve all been faced with the biggest, most unexpected challenge we could have ever imagined; and the reality is, that only one month could be devastating. I still have to pay rent, put memberships on hold, and I realize that everything I’ve worked so hard for in over 5 years could go down the drain JUST LIKE THAT. It’s been a pretty hard pill to swallow.
March 16th 2020 was a day I will never forget. That evening, I decided to post on our social media that I had made the decision to be socially responsible and close my doors. I was heart broken, because so many expressed how Soul Studio has been their happy place despite everything that has been going on.
I spent the next day at my empty studio and the question that kept going through my head is “how can I make it possible for all of us to connect and move together and to help bring some joy to people during this really sad and challenging time?” The answer – VIRTUALLY (which I knew at one point would be my next step down the road). Yes, it sounds simple… but boy, let me tell you – what a learning curve this has been. Not to mention the 12-14-hour days I have put in since I’ve closed my doors.
A few challenges we needed to over come were:
- To understand and dive into new technology,
- How to make the process on the members friendly and seamless?
- Are we able to create the same type of energy that we do in the studio… virtually? Soul Studio is known for its energy, that is why people are drawn to this place. We are a community first, and fitness is the bonus!
Despite the challenges, I had to figure out very quickly how to PIVOT my business in order to adapt to the challenges we were facing by shutting our doors. Before we did anything, I wanted to make sure we ironed out kinks as much as we could; I also understood that this was all a work in progress.
In such a short period of time and a pretty amazing team by my side, I am proud to say that Soul Studio is now a virtually run studio with over 20 classes a week with a HUGE variety, Zumba, Barre, Yoga, Pilates, Pound, and more, plus we’ve added our Indoor Cycling Classes, and rented out all of our bikes! Everything we did in person at Soul, is now available to anyone, anywhere!
I have been so impressed with our members, and their ability to adapt to the new systems we have put in place. I credit that to the fact that we have trained from the beginning, as everything at Soul is done through an app. We have had record breaking class attendance, and people from different cities that have visited us in the past, have joined us again, and some that moved away can still be a part of us. We’ve even had a bunch of newbies from all over Canada, and even a few from California.
The ability to CONNECT to each other virtually has literally been the bright light in all our tunnels as we get to see each other before and after class to connect. We joke at how we are all going to be so fit when we open again.
I could NOT have done what we’ve accomplished without the support of my husband and family, Sue Zimmerman who spent endless hours with me helping me perfect the technology end, my amazing team of instructors, as well as the support of my members. In December 2014, I opened Soul Studio in 3 months from thought to finish; then on January 2018, I expanded and opened Soul Ryde in 4 months, and now I am excited to see the next chapter of Soul unfold… Soul Connect, that launched in less than 4 days.
When life throws you a lemon – you make lemonade.
About Sareena Nickoli
Sareena Nickoli has been in the fitness industry for over 20 years. She was also top 5 FIS last year at canfitpro. She LOVES teaching because she gets to witness the most amazing transformations in body, mind and spirit for so many! She finds so much JOY watching people allow themselves to do things out of their comfort zones, to do things they once never though before. Watching people grow into their “own” skin has always been a highlight for her over the years.