November 5, 2020, by Postgraduate Placements Nottingham
Working in the Health and Fitness Industry during Lockdown
This week we hear from Nick Ratnarajah about his PPN postgraduate placement with Reformer Studio.
During the Summer Term of 2020, I had the opportunity to work as Corporate Wellness Ambassador for The Reformer Studio, a position created in collaboration with Postgraduate Placements Nottingham. What started out as a role aimed at expanding the studio’s corporate client roster quickly became an exercise in helping a fitness facility, which was less than one year old, survive perhaps the single most significant challenge the industry has ever faced.
As someone with a vested interest and previous experience of the health and fitness industry, the opportunity to work with The Reformer Studio was one that I was really looking forward to. The original remit of my placement was of outreach, marketing, and relationship management. The goal was to communicate with Nottingham businesses about the opportunities for bespoke employee wellbeing programs available at the studio. These typically involved booking out the studio for exclusive Reformer Pilates classes, the main offering of the studio, along with yoga and mindfulness sessions either outside of business hours or, ideally, during lunchtime sessions or late-morning and early-afternoon slots. However, after a week of preparing marketing strategies and assembling a database of corporate contacts, the UK went into a full lockdown and all fitness facilities were instructed to close until further notice. At this point, it was obvious that the studio was going to have to adapt very quickly, and the placement took on a different shape to what I had been anticipating.
The problem facing The Reformer Studio was that the main offering, Reformer Pilates, requires specialist equipment and thus needed people physically coming into the studio. Unlike other facilities, such as gyms and yoga studios, we couldn’t transition the Reformer Classes online. While we did launch a ‘virtual studio’ delivering yoga, floor pilates, and mindfulness classes to continue some semblance of normality during lockdown, we had to look at ways to boost the studio’s reach without actually being able to offer what made us unique.
The strategy was to deliver as much value as possible to existing clients, along with establishing relationships with local businesses in order to create new clients once lockdown was over. Along with the virtual studio, we developed a regular newsletter and wellness blog, with a big focus on mental wellbeing and holistic practice to reflect the studio’s values. We were very much looking at the medium to long-term, as we were able to maintain the relationship with existing clients not just with the virtual studio, but by providing free resources to assist in their health and wellbeing journeys at was a very difficult time. The theory was that, if delivered well, these clients would remain loyal to the studio and return when we came out of lockdown. As it was, when the studio reopened, classes were waitlisted several weeks in advance, even with new ones being added, so it was great to see tangible results to the work done over lockdown.
I’d definitely encourage any student looking to gain experience to apply for a placement – the opportunity to work with local businesses is fantastic, and you get the chance to work in the real world so there’s every possibility you have to think on your feet and adapt to some really challenging circumstances.
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