FARGO — Once the new year came around, business really started to pick up at the brand new Fly Fitness studio located in downtown Fargo.
Construction began back in the summer of 2019 in the Dillard Building at 235 Roberts St. N., and the gym opened in October.
“We are a boutique style fitness center,” studio director Michelle Cody said. “We offer mostly group fitness. Cycle classes, barre, HIIT classes, yoga and a combination of all those things.”
Fly Fitness also houses a strength studio that is open so people can work out on their own, while Cody said business as a whole was on the rise.
“We were building momentum, especially in January after the new year,” Cody said, adding that’s when people really started to hear about Fly Fitness.
Once Cody started her role as studio director, things took off, only for the coronavirus pandemic to stunt and halt all that drive. The gym began limiting classes to 10 people or fewer before shutting its doors March 24.
“It was obviously unexpected, and with just opening, it was discouraging,” Cody said, adding her team turned around quickly and began planning their next move.
“We immediately started thinking about what we should do to keep our community engaged with us,” Cody said. “We thought ‘okay how are we going to go online.’ We had thought about offering online classes to our current members through a private page with a private group.”
But after some discussion, Fly Fitness decided to place all memberships on hold and open things up to everybody.
“We just had the idea that 'why don’t we make these workouts public and put them on our Facebook page and YouTube, so more people could see who we are and what we do here,'” Cody said, mentioning the tactic as not only a marketing tool, but as a way to keep the community healthy.
Fly Fitness began going live on Facebook with workouts and transferred those videos to YouTube, bringing about huge success and response from all over the country.
“Our numbers have doubled with all of our socials and people commenting from other parts of the United States. It’s just had a huge response,” Cody said.
Trainers and instructors have also been hit hard, losing their space to keep people fit. Cody said the instructors at Fly want to keep doing what they love as much as possible, and strive to work out as much as they did before the coronavirus pandemic.
“We gave them the freedom to step aside if they were not comfortable doing this, but about half have stayed on, remaining positive and wanting to keep people motivated, as well as themselves,” Cody said.
Every day, a different set of instructors comes in to film workouts six days a week and also use the cycle studio to keep themselves in shape.
Despite the uncertainty surrounding the health crisis, Cody believes one thing is certain: There will be a spike in memberships once the gyms reopen.
“Now we just see it super positively. We are offering the community something positive, giving the people a glimpse of what we do here.”
A majority of gyms seem to be following suit by offering classes online and keeping members active by engaging through social media and company websites.
Family Wellness director Jenna Johnson said members have a variety of ways to stay in touch, such as Fitness on Demand, a site where members sign up individually to find workouts, as well as Les Mills on Demand. This website offers a plethora of workout videos, all made free by Family Wellness to its members.
Fitness videos such as Move of the Day and circuit workouts are also supplied on the Family Wellness website, in addition to healthy cooking ideas for families.
Facebook has become a popular spot for gyms to post workout videos, just like Courts Plus is doing.
”We started live classes the day before we closed. We do 30-35 minute live classes every single day, which are all on our Facebook page,” Group Exercise and Personal Training Director Jamie Smith said.
Just like Fly Fitness, Smith said Courts Plus has seen an overwhelming response from members and instructors, despite the actual face-to-face interactions that have disappeared due to the outbreak.
“It’s heartbreaking, because this is part of everybody’s schedule,” Smith said, adding people often ask her if there is any idea when the gyms will reopen.
“We don’t have an estimate at all right now,” Smith said. “We are playing day-to-day.”