Founded During a Pandemic: How Britsbarre Found its Opportunity

The coronavirus pandemic has left its mark in a very big way — completely shifting the way we work, exercise, celebrate, socialize, eat, and even shop. Unfortunately, many faced unemployment after an estimated 20 to 40 million lost their jobs during the midst of the shutdowns, but in the middle of all the mayhem, some businesses have flourished. Liquor, grocery, and outdoor equipment sales, delivery and cleaning services, and at-home workout services were several industries that saw growth during the pandemic. 

As the world begins to wake up from its hibernation, many businesses have already implemented or are considering keeping both services and employees virtual in order to keep their businesses operating. Challenges that were previously thought to need in-person employees are now handled remotely or with minimal contact, and some businesses have found it’s not only possible but beneficial to go 100% virtual. Of course, the option to go fully remote as a company depends on what the business is; regrettably, concerts, events, and entertainment venues can’t make money by going completely online for instance. 

But what are the common setbacks and the overall pros and cons of opening a business — specifically, a virtual barre studio — during a pandemic? 

How the Pandemic Changed the Fitness Industry 

The global online shift triggered by the pandemic has permanently changed how the fitness industry works. Active people suddenly became sedentary with everyone’s work, commuting, and fitness regimens being completely upended, leaving many turning to the internet and social media. During the peak of the lockdown, gym and studio bookings had an 85% cancellation rate, which forced them to adapt or go out of business. Currently, about 72% of fitness clubs and gyms now offer on-demand or Livestream workouts — even as things open back up because so many people are still marred by the fear of another outbreak, and because they fell in love with the privacy and convenience that comes with working out at home. 

One huge legacy the pandemic left behind is the ability for us to juggle and multitask most aspects of our lives virtually, and it’s made us collectively more aware of how important our cardiovascular health is when it’s under attack. This has motivated people that weren’t working out before Corona hit to start, paired with the fact that home workouts broke down a lot of the “gym-timidation” that can deter many people from exercising or working out in public. Even though 2020 was one of the worst years for most of us — there has been some silver lining. 

How Britsbarre Got Started

Founder of Britsbarre, Brit Shimansky, is a former professional NYC ballerina that caught on to barre while she was rehabbing her ankle after a serious injury; unknowingly jumpstarting her current fitness career. After becoming one of the most in-demand Master barre instructors in all of New York, she became the Northeast Regional Manager of Flybarre where she trained hundreds of barre instructors around the country. In 2017, she and her husband moved to Austin, TX where she became the Director of Training for Mod Fitness and a National Academy of Sports Medicine certified personal trainer, and a pre and post-natal certified trainer. 

Fast forward to 2020. As we know, this year wasn’t easy for anyone, but there is some silver lining here; if it wasn’t for COVID-19, Shimansky may not have started the Britsbarre virtual studio we all know and love today. Keeping this in mind, this past year was far from a cakewalk. Shimansky navigated becoming a first-time mom during the middle of the pandemic — which is partly why her appreciation and love of barre runs so deep. She was able to completely rehabilitate her body postpartum solely through barre strengthening exercises, it has kept her strong and injury-free outside the dance world and throughout her pregnancy. 

The Britsbarre virtual studio was created so she could share her love of movement to music through barre, and as a way for people to incorporate a little normalcy into their days by participating in a safe and effective workout program while being stuck at home. 

The Challenges and Benefits of Starting a Virtual Barre Studio

As with any big life change or adventure, you’ll be faced with plenty of benefits and challenges — and starting a virtual fitness studio during a pandemic has proven to have its ups and downs. If you’re curious about the pros and cons of starting or transitioning into a virtual company, we would love to educate you! 

Benefits of Starting a Virtual Exercise Studio

Saves Money on Operating Costs

Not having a physical brick-and-mortar location that needs to be staffed with employees definitely saves money on expenses like rent, furniture, utilities, parking, and commuting cost. All this time and money saved allows smaller businesses like Britsbarre, to invest more resources into research, marketing, and development.   

It’s Easy To Stay Connected 

Thankfully we live in a time that makes it easier to stay connected despite being under quarantine. To communicate, engage, and network with our members and followers is a click of a button or a tap away, and being able to virtually come together has been essential in the creation of Britsbarre and in keeping everyone safe and mentally sane. 

Time Is On Your Side.

Since so many people were working from home, things became much more relaxed time-wise. This meant developing Britsbarre wasn’t a rushed process. A lot of research and planning was put into it — but this gave us the time we needed to create highly detailed and beneficial workout routines that build endurance, confidence, and motivation. 

Challenges of Starting A Virtual Fitness Studio

Marketing Challenges

Considering there is no storefront to hang a sign on, a lot more focus needs to be paid on digital marketing and networking. There are so many ways to get a virtual business off the ground – to attract the attention a business needs, business owners need to leverage social media, email marketing, content marketing, and direct mail. The big downside with this is being able to stand out among the other thousands of marketing messages most people are bombarded with on a daily basis, so putting in a little extra effort is required in order to get noticed. 

Financial Resources May Be More Competitive or Limited

Another gift this pandemic has bestowed upon us is the threat of a potential recession — which means there could be fewer resources available to get a virtual business going, but more competition. 

Less Control

One of the biggest hurdles to starting any online business, but especially for a virtual fitness studio, is the fact that you have less control or power to help members if they’re struggling with form, posture, or modifications. However, Britsbarre does its best to prevent any confusion by providing clear and detailed instructions for each and every move. Shimanksy also encourages members to reach out if they ever have any comments, questions, concerns, or if they run into any snags. Good communication and being transparent goes a long way for running a successful virtual studio and keeping everyone safe and happy. 

The Future of Remote Businesses and Fitness

The entire world experienced a historical shift in the job market because of the 2020 Covid-19 pandemic; while there were some companies that offered the choice to work from home as a perk, it’s now the new normal for most businesses. In fact, the number of permanent remote workers is expected to double by the end of 2021 according to an Enterprise Technology Research (ETR) survey.  Large companies like Twitter, Facebook, Square, REI, Coinbase, Nationwide, Hitachi, Siemens, JP Morgan, Verizon, and Capital One are just a few of many to go completely remote, and some like Amazon, Ford, and Microsoft are planning a remote/on-site hybrid work model that allows employees to choose. 

It goes without saying that a strong remote and virtual approach to business, work, and fitness is here to stay, but at what capacity — only time will tell. We suspect that as technology advances, the need for more remote or online working, learning, entertainment, and fitness outlets like Britsbarre will become more and more in demand. 

Final Thoughts  

A lot of research and planning goes into opening a virtual fitness studio during a pandemic, but if the Covid-19 shutdowns prove anything, it’s that we have what it takes to work, exercise, and run a business efficiently and effectively from home.  

Even so, the future of virtual entrepreneurship, work, and fitness will bring about many changes to our current way of life, some good and some bad. As with most of life’s challenges, how we chose to act and adapt determines whether we will sink or swim.                     

Angelee Editor

Highly skilled professional with experience within the healthcare industry in network management, facility contracting and quality operations