FALL RIVER: A fitness and wellness specialist feels fortunate as a small business owner to not have some of the same worries other due because of the shutdown of businesses due to COVID19.
Deborah Hann, who runs Journey to Wellness, said she began seeing a reduction in business during the second week in March as more awareness spread of the dangers of the illness.
“Since the closures on March 19th, I have had to cancel all fitness classes and all in-person personal training sessions,” said Hann. “I’m fortunate that because I run my business out of my home studio, I have not had the rent worries that many other businesses deal with.”
The classes she teaches are usually held at the Gordon R. Snow Community Centre in Fall River. HRM cancelled all rentals until further notice.
“There was a very steep learning curve with online platforms but in just over a week, I was able to adjust my space and my strategy to offer virtual training and small group sessions,” she said.
While she lost 100 per cent of her business from the fitness classes, she is happy to report that 75 per cent of her clients chose to remain for the virtual classes.
“I wanted to make sure that my current and any future clients were able to stay healthy and accountable during such an uncertain time. I provided a discount for private sessions to help alleviate their costs,” Hann said. “I also started a free virtual weekend fitness class that is open to the public and uploaded a few videos to YouTube, to give anyone an opportunity to stay active while at home.
“I feel truly fortunate that I am still bringing in a little income.”
She said her family always ensure that they have an emergency fund to cover at least a month or two worth of expenses should there ever be a loss or reduction of income.
“I felt that my way of paying it forward would be to offer affordable fitness to everyone who needed it, for as long I could afford to do so,” she said.
As for what type of financial hit she’s taken, Hann said she lost approximately 50 per cent of her income for March and April, but as time goes on, she’s seeing increased interest in virtual training so that is helping with the losses.
“It is exciting working on new platforms and because of the virtual training, I am now able to work with people all over Canada,” said Hann.
Gyms and fitness specialities have not been mentioned as opening anytime soon, and while Hann misses seeing her clients in person, she said they’re all comfortable keeping the virtual platform until it is safe to return to in person sessions.
“My hope is that I will be able to return to my weekend outdoor classes for the summer, where we can maintain distance between each participant,” she said. “But we will have to wait and see how and when the restrictions are lifted from the government.”
Hann said many clients have expressed an interest in her keeping the virtual option once things return to normal. She sees that as a real possibility.
“I love learning and I am taking this tumultuous time as an opportunity to learn and grow into areas I didn’t consider before,” she said. “I’ve had good and bad days, but I’m trying my very best to keep a positive outlook for myself, my clients and my family.”