The novel coronavirus hit the pole and aerial industry hard. An invisible thread that seemed to come out of nowhere quickly escalated into a serious problem - triggering a dramatic shift for many studio owners around the world.
It all started when a few countries started going into quarantine, or implementing certain lockdown measures in an attempt to slow the spread of COVID-19...
The Initial Response
As the virus began to spread throughout communities, studio owners found themselves thrust suddenly into new responsibilities. They were now checking the media and government reports daily to find out whether their business was at risk, what cleaning measures were advised and what social distancing requirements should be adhered to. Many turned to social media to find clarity from other studio owners 'ahead of the curve' in other parts of the world.
Dedicated to keeping their customers safe and their doors open, studios around the globe quickly implemented new systems to cope with the changing demands and worked tirelessly to keep their students and staff in the loop - and morale up!
The Closures Start
Before long, the news started to roll in: gyms and yoga studio, health centers and local businesses would be required to cease all in-person gathering, to help limit the spread of the novel coronavirus known as COVID-19.
The revelation rocked the pole industry. Studio owners and their teams, their students and their families all around the world were devastated and shocked. Many feared that once they closed their doors, they may not be able to open again.
Some studios closed earlier than others, while others stayed open as long as legally and ethically able to, given the intense cleaning regimes and social distancing practices they would need to abide by.
Enter: The Pivot
Once it became clear they would be required to close, most likely for several weeks if not months, many studio owners started seeking alternate options.
A huge number of studios started offering online classes, many for the first time (a few businesses were fortunate to have existing diversification in place, in the way of digital delivery or strong online communities) which made it a little easier to get up and running quickly in response to the unfolding crisis.
A New Normal
In a matter of weeks - many of us went from knowing nothing about virtual classes, to shifting our whole studio online in the space of days!
As various studios around the world catch up with the lockdown measures in their areas we are seeing some of the 'early adopters' (those in countries affected faster) bravely taken the challenge in their stride.
Today, many are already sharing feedback of highly successful online classes and looking forward to leveraging their newfound digital presence even more in the near future!
It remains to be seen how this global pandemic affects the pole industry in the long run. It is likely many studios will re-open in time, while some will fold. Studio owners may be burdened with debt, or may find themselves lucky with lenient suppliers/providers and generous government subsidies. Their ongoing success is likely to hinge on a number of factors both within and outside of their control. It is a difficult time for many, with their location, local authorities, client base, business foundations, marketing skills and chosen survival or transition strategy all weighing into the future of their business.
I am sure over the coming days and weeks we will see hundreds of business owners stepping into new shoes and facing the challenges of digital delivery with open arms. Others may not be prepared for such a shift. But with every disruption, every challenge, every tragedy - it is true that there is also opportunity. This period will test our studio owners, and may in fact propel several businesses into a stronger, more successful, more diverse and more resilient future.
Good luck studio owners, we love you!