Just over four weeks ago, Innovative Fitness decided to close its 12 locations – 11 of which are in British Columbia.
“Literally we stand on the cliff the minute that we shut the door,” said company president and CEO Curtis Christopherson. “The minute we shut the door is the minute we stop producing revenue.”
The company, which employs 250 personal trainers who offer services at those dozen bricks-and-mortar locations, committed to pay its staff for the week after it shut down its operations.
Next, as Christopherson explained, Innovative Fitness had two choices.
“It was, are we going to be resilient and push through this … or lay off all of our staff and hunker down, close the doors and just wait until this blows over, in the hopes that it blows over in a timely fashion?” he said. “We literally hunkered down, like war-room style.”
Christopherson spent four days working from 5 a.m. to 1 a.m. on a game plan with his team. The result: a digital platform, built by Coquitlam-based SaaSberry Innovation Laboratories Ltd., that offers home-to-home personal training services.
“We were able to essentially reinvent our business in five days,” Christopherson said. “We flipped our training services that were brick-and-mortar, in-person, to online.”
As of March 30, Innovative Fitness was offering a 30-day fitness plan complete with an at-home workout program, fitness tips and community support. The company also offers virtual personal training programs. This week, Christopherson confirmed that around 40% of the company’s 5,000 to 6,000 clients had adopted virtual personal training services.
Half of the 30-day plan fee – $99 of the $199 cost – will go to a COVID-19 relief fund Innovative Fitness has set up with the Peninsula Community Foundation. The proceeds will support local businesses that have been hit hard financially by the spread of COVID-19.
Around 90% of the company’s personal trainers have decided to stay with the company through its reinvention. They will all receive training at the new Innovative Fitness Virtual Academy to help them shift their personal training online.
“All we said was, ‘What does this look like if this lasts six months?’” said Christopherson, who added that Innovative Fitness plans to keep the platform post-coronavirus outbreak. It has also started a Facebook group to build a community around at-home health and fitness, which attracted 1,500 members in 48 hours. The group now has more than 2,100 members.
“We feel that the pressure and the shift and the force that was created to make us make this decision will turn into an opportunity.”