34-year-old Daniel Harris, the founder of Studio 44, explains that the process was a difficult one initially, as the first lockdown cast the future of the studio into doubt.
“It was a massive shift for us in March 2020, when lockdown came I’ve never been as worried in my life,” he said, “We’d just had our biggest quarter to date and March had been our best month in regard to involvement. It was gutting for our momentum to be stopped.
“For the first few weeks, it was keep our heads down and think of a plan. We knew we were going to have to fully close, so we planned to move online in order to keep engagement and consistency.”
Daniel explains that all the classes went on Zoom – with different events to usual like family classes so that kids and their parents could get involved together while they were kept at home.
“The focus was not only to provide good outlets for fitness but also to create memories that were positive in a time where it was hard to be,” he added, “It’s not every lifetime you go into a pandemic in one of the hottest summers on record – the made it especially hard to get kids to do a lot of physical activity.
“We came up with the idea to offer all the kids a trampoline from Boogie Bounce to get them excited about being active – with trampolines being sent out to not only new but existing members from places like Manchester, Leeds and Wakefield.”
When the second lockdown came, there was even more pressure on Daniel and the team; “It was all well and good giving the trampolines away, but we still had our overhead to worry about – so we created an avenue that would use the new members and created a number of online classes so that people from all over the UK could subscribe to.
“On top of around 75% of pre-lockdown members still carrying on with us, we were blown away by the amount of responses we received to the new classes and managed to reach a new audience. We didn’t anticipate going on as long as we did – but people stuck by us and we’re grateful for that.
“We’ve taken 20 steps back, but we’re poised to take strides going forward and I cannot give our staff enough credit for how they’ve taken the circumstances on board and turned it into a positive .”
As restrictions are continuing to be lifted, Studio 44 has looked to adapt and cater to make members feel safe and welcome.
“One of our studios just wouldn’t accommodate social distancing, so we demolished the smaller ones and expanded into the office spaces around them”, Daniel said, “All the studios have been revitalised and are welcoming back members – though we will continue the online subscription classes.”
Thank you to everybody who put us forward for the award.
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A: Alfreton, DE55 7BQ