The current Coronavirus is effecting everyone in some way.
Arguably one of the hardest-hit groups has been independent business owners. We put a call out to our community to hear your stories and we must say, we are so inspired by the tenacity shown by you all in these trying times. We are delighted to share with you the amazing ways Canadian businesses are staying agile and pivoting to adjust to the many ways daily life has been disrupted in a new series, #NotableBusiness.
To kick things off, we spoke with Julie Harrish, the founder behind 6ix Cycle Spin, who started her business in her basement and is no stranger to being an inspiration. Read more about how she’d adjusting below.
1. How has COVID-19 has impacted you and your business?
I am the owner of 6IX Cycle Spin Studio in West Queen West. In 2017(?), my husband and I left our careers in the oil field, as well as our home in Calgary, to bring 6IX Cycle to life in Toronto. It all began with a few spin bikes crammed into our Parkdale living room and, for the next two years, we built 6IX Cycle into what it is today: a thriving community which we refer to as our 6IX Squad. On March 15th, we (along with many other studios in the city) had to close our doors ahead of the mandated shut down of non-essential businesses; as we knew it was the socially responsible thing to do.
Of course, the success of our business is based on our ‘in-studio’ experience and offerings, so the closure of our space required us to think quickly, and adapt to the changing landscape to the best of our abilities. And so, I came up with the idea of ‘Rhythm-Based HIIT’ classes, offering our clients a way to sweat (6IX Cycle style) from home with little or no equipment. Think: A booty band, lot’s of pulses, heavy beats, and a do-or-die attitude (delivered to your living room). ‘6IX STRONG IG Live HIIT’ is the closest thing to a spin class we could offer, so that’s precisely what we gave our squad.
While this pivot to a virtual offering allowed us to keep our community engaged, we knew we had to think ahead and determine a way to generate revenue and, more importantly, keep people spinning. So my husband, Sheldon, and I did full maintenance on all of our 52 spin bikes and rented them out to members on a monthly basis beginning on April 1st. We loaded up a U-haul trailer and made drops around the city (in a socially distanced manner of course) to bring spin to the people. We have also been working around the clock to create an on-demand spin library for both our members who rented bikes from us, and others who may have already had access to a bike. Our business went from being strictly in-studio to strictly online with the snap of a finger. Adapt (or die trying) seems to be our motto right now.
2. What has been the best surprise in how people have shown up for you or your business during this time?
We always knew we had a strong community, but these circumstances have truly demonstrated how incredible our members are; truly, they take ‘ride or die’ to the next level. Not only has the response to our online classes and bike rental service been overwhelming, but several community members have even gotten together to gift Sheldon and me a gift card to help with groceries.
3. What has been the easiest shift to make?
Fortunately, I was a Bootcamp instructor in a past life, and I was able to tap into that past version of myself to come up with the HIIT program format in, quite literally, 24 hours. Staying true to the musicality of spin, we were able to create an experience our members love, with limited resources, in record time.
4. What about the hardest?
The programming part might have come easily, but the online fitness world is a whole different beast. All the studios we know and love in Toronto had to switch to a virtual model, practically overnight, and it’s definitely been a learning curve. Sheldon and I have been working around the clock to provide an on-demand library for our members.
5. What have you learned about connecting with your community during this time?
That we don’t have to be sweating on a spin bike in a dark room together to stay connected. Over the past few weeks, our community has become an even stronger unit with IG HIIT workouts, challenges (and plenty of FaceTimes, too).
6. What’s the most important thing you’ve learned about yourself (or your business) in light of what’s happening?
Resilience. I knew I was tough, and I knew I could stick it through hard (or uncertain) times, but this is a whole new level. Circumstances like these aren’t something we ever prepare for; quite frankly, there is no playbook for small business owners. But we’re forging ahead – quarantine style – doing everything we can to keep our community and business intact.
7. What is the easiest thing people can do to support your business right now?
Purchase gift cards or class packages for when we are able to re-open, tune in to our IG live workouts and say hi, or sign up for our on-demand spin platform when it’s launched!
8. Do you think is is going to change your industry going forward? How?
Yes. Timelines are pretty uncertain right now, and I think the online fitness world will continue to solidify its importance to our larger community until we are able to (slowly) return to some version of normalcy.
9. Any exciting things coming up?
We’re launching an on-demand spin & HIIT workout platform (stay tuned!)