Recently, Michelle found herself in a chat with a journalist on Twitter who was looking for businesses who had had to ‘pivot’ the way they had been doing things, as a result of the Coronavirus.
Along with hundreds of others, we shared an overview and that was that, we never heard anything else. So, imagine our surprise, when a few weeks later, we received an email from the journalist in question to say that they (the Guardian and Visa) had chosen us as one of only 12 UK small medium businesses for how we have supported our clients, staff and community and pivoted the business during lockdown. READ THE ARTICLE- VISA in THE GUARDIAN!
Within days, Michelle was interviewed on the phone and then a socially distanced photoshoot was arranged in the studio.
Rewind back to the beginning of March.
Following our transition to a fully classical Pilates studio in 2018, and all of the significant investment that entailed both in putting our team through the same training Michelle had achieved and in all the apparatus, we had been enjoying a fantastic year since and everyone was loving the benefits . Visits were up, memberships were introduced and the feedback on our services was fantastic. So when Covid-19 started taking a hold of the country, and we received news that we would have to close our doors overnight, we were devastated.
A meeting was held with our wonderful team, and there were tears (predominantly from Michelle and I) as we explained that the future looked pretty dark at that moment. There could be no guarantees as to the future of the Pod, post-covid. It was our most worrying moment in our 9 years as a business. (and we’ve been through credit crunch, recession having two children, a couple of serious illnesses, many staffing let downs and crisis, an expansion that fell through and cost us greatly, a nasty year long trolling attack on Michelle and then Brexit and finally Covid19 to boot!)
But, as a team we dug deep. Michelle and I reverted back to our origins as a business and spent many hours discussing our strategy over a few glasses of wine as husband and wife, business owners and team! We discussed a variety of options, including freezing the business altogether – furloughing the entire team and waiting for it all to blow over.
However, we quickly decided that this was not really an option. With everyone stuck at home under lockdown, the need for people to move their bodies and to have some social interaction was more important than ever. We are unique in our industry, in that we employ our staff where mostly you see freelance contractors, so we strongly felt the need to support our staff and give them the best chance of a living.
We committed to continuing our classes and 1:1s to the best of our ability online via Zoom. There was a very steep learning curve, not just for ourselves and the team – but also for our customers – and many early weeks spent in ‘tech support’ phone calls, dealing with behind the scenes tech work to get things smoothly integrated with our booking tool, and to train the team weekly with how to deliver the sessions to be the best quality for sound, light, and having our Pod stamp on things; all of course whilst everyone was dealing with home schooling, family life stresses and panic!
In time, we all got to grips with things together. Our virtual classes were operational within 7 days of lockdown, and continue to this day – with loads of members, and people who were new to the Pod enjoying the change of Pilates from home with our incredible team.
We had no choice but to change, learn, evolve, modernise and digitise to survive. We have, and we will continue to do so.
Fast forward three months, and a fantastic – long-form piece was published on the Guardian about us and others like us in the UK!
For a small, family business like ours to feature on a national website, having been picked out by a massive brand like VISA and Guardian is enormous. It’s also incredibly validating. Michelle and I don’t see ourselves as business people most of the time. We make things up as we go along, we’re reactive, creative and full of passion and dedication but ‘business’ is not our business. Our business is people. Love. Laughter. Fun. Movement. Body Positive. Inclusive Fitness. Mental Health and Happiness.
We’re now about to celebrate our 9th birthday at the Pod on 5th July, the same day as our wedding anniversary (15 years!)
So please raise a glass with us, and here’s to the continued good times being part of the #podsquad!
Thank you for all your love and support. Let’s keep going shall we 🙂
Ed and Michelle x