Home workouts were just as synonymous with the COVID-19 lockdown as Sourdough Bread Starters and “Tiger King”.

When statewide shutdowns were introduced and gyms and gyms closed, it seemed possible the industry would never be the same. Maybe gyms as we once knew them would fall victim to the global health crisis that forced people to self-isolate.

But that wasn’t the case with Kim and David Hackett.

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Body from Barre Fitness, the Venice-based company that Kim started about five years ago, was definitely suffering from COVID. But when the studio was allowed to reopen after it was closed, customers came back. Limited capacity classes were filling up quickly and, as before the pandemic, it became clear that there was room for growth.

“We had reduced the class sizes and obviously tried to mask in the classes, and our customers were hanging out with us,” said David Hackett. “We thought, ‘Hey, we’re going to get through this. We’re going to get through this, not just us, society as a whole is going to get through this.’ And that’s when we started looking for expansion. ”

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They moved Body by Barre to a larger, 2,000-square-foot space in Venice’s revitalized Jacaranda Plaza on US 41 Bypass and Shamrock Boulevard. The new studio, now called B Fitness and Smoothies, has classrooms for barre, yoga, TRX and personal training, as well as a smoothie bar and retail outlet.

The Hacketts are both former journalists who worked for the Herald-Tribune. Kim discovered Barre after she left the newspaper business – all the new downtime that had made her more aware of the injuries she had ignored.

Other workouts that she tried, except swimming, only caused more pain. But Barre gave Kim the relief her body so desperately wanted.

“Even after that first hour when I finished, I felt something moving, especially in my hips,” she said.

The problem was that there wasn’t an easy studio in Venice – she had to go to Sarasota or Lakewood Ranch to find her solution, and the round-trip shuttle would take her day. So she got certified as a teacher and practiced her skills in a home studio that she and David had set up in their garage.

She initially rented a classroom at Venice Fitness with a Pilates instructor, until she and her roommate grew so big that they decided to look for a place of their own in southern Venice. That was about five years ago. Over time, she added other services such as yoga, full body conditioning, TRX classes, and personal training.

Kim had wanted to add a smoothie bar and retail component to her gym for some time. She got the idea while visiting Syracuse, New York, where she saw a barre studio next to a yoga studio next to a smoothie bar. It was a dream, but it just wasn’t possible in her former room.

“In my old studio, the Pilates teacher had her own room a few years ago and I had my own room and we both got kind of big and bumped into each other. As time went on, the front lobby became the classroom,” she said. “There was no more room to do more. The smoothie bar was just in the back of my mind – if we ever expanded it was definitely worth a look. ”

The new studio opened on May 1st. And despite the problems COVID has created for the fitness industry, business is doing well.

There is no question that COVID has created long-term problems for some parts of the fitness industry. Several national fitness chains like YogaWorks, 24 Hour Fitness, Gold’s Gym, and Town Sports International – the parent company of chains like the New York Sports Club and the Boston Sports Club – filed for bankruptcy in 2020.

According to a study by consumer-focused investment bank Harrison Co., billions of dollars in consumer spending shifted from membership-based gyms to home fitness at the start of the pandemic. The study, which included feedback from 1,000 health club users in April 2020, showed that about $ 10 billion per year could be switched from gyms to home fitness or other alternatives.

However, it appears that the shift towards home training was not entirely widespread. Another study, conducted a few months later by Kelton, a material company for the International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association, found that 50% of the approximately 1,171 people they surveyed said they were using their new pandemic-era fitness programs to be dissatisfied.

Almost all of the respondents in this survey – as many as 95% – said they missed at least one aspect of exercise in their gym. They missed going to the gym almost as much (59%) as they missed going to loved ones (65%), and more than they missed going to concerts or games (55%), bars and restaurants (51%) or the cinema (46%).

“While some are satisfied with exercising at home, many feel like they are not up to the gym experience,” the report’s executive summary reads. “They take note of the safety precautions of their club and are satisfied with them. Many feel ready to go back to the gym – if they haven’t already. “

Much of what people missed seemed to be the community that training creates, said David Hackett.

COVID created some kind of paradox, he said. While people took steps to protect their health by self-isolating and working from home during the virus, the same things also led to things like weight gain and muscle loss.

And now that the US is coming out of the pandemic, people seem interested in improving their fitness and health, he said.

“Customers tell us that despite purchasing home exercise equipment, it was difficult to stay motivated at home,” said David Hackett. “The bigger gyms have a lot going for them, especially for the knowledgeable and self-motivated, but small, specialized classes like we offer them, have a sense of community, more focus on the trainers, and full, planned workouts that take the guesswork out of customers. ”

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