To the collective relief of local clients, Piedmont’s favorite fitness centers and gyms quickly pivoted to virtual formats at the start of the Bay Area’s Shelter in Place order. By adjusting their class formats, small, locally owned gyms and studios have been able to keep their businesses afloat, instructors employed, and have created a much-needed space for exercise, stress relief, and community.
The Dailey Method on Piedmont Avenue, co-owned by Piedmonters Susan Willrich and Kerry Corcoran, offered their first virtual class on March 16. Transitioning to Zoom involved a steep learning curve but has proven very popular among clients. “We’re laughing and connecting in ways that I never imagined possible,” said Willrich, “and we’ve had an overwhelmingly positive response from our client base.” One of the hallmarks of The Dailey Method classes is the dynamic group energy, instruction and support in a class. “Since we’re able to ‘see’ our clients, we can still provide corrections and adjustments, but we’re also having a lot of fun. Laughing together and being able to connect with others is what we all need right now.”
Lindsay Barstow is among those who are grateful for the continued classes. With a house full of ‘work from home’ family members, she takes the classes on her phone from their attic. “The workouts have been so great and totally essential to my mental and physical health. Susan and/or Kerry always say hi to everyone so the class feels connected,” says Barstow.
Nest Yoga, owned by Piedmonter Kim Lally, also moved quickly to offer livestream classes through Zoom. Nest opened its doors last year and became a local favorite in part because of the number of Master Teachers instructing classes. By offering livestream classes, Lally has been able to keep her instructors employed and her loyal client base engaged.
Amy Settlemeier is a fan of Nest and says that the virtual yoga classes are a great way to keep her practice rolling. “The key is to get something scheduled on the calendar. My husband and I usually take the Vinyasa classes together – it’s our new ‘stay at home’ date night! The livestream format is great because of the interaction with the instructors. It’s so nice to feel connected and I appreciate their messages of staying positive and calm.”
In Montclair, Golden State Fitness & Performance has taken a similar virtual approach, but with the goal of keeping smaller, more vulnerable businesses going. As an established business, owner Dave Bolduc says he wants to help neighborhood stores weather the Covid-19 storm while also keeping their members and the public moving. GSFP is offering on-line workouts through their “21 Day Stronger You At-home Fitness Challenge,” with donations on a sliding scale. All proceeds will be used to purchase gift cards from local stores and restaurants; the gift cards will be the prizes at the end of the challenge.
Virginia Davis and Karen Stanton are long-time clients of the gym and said that for them, exercise has become more important than ever. “To me, if I get my exercise in for the day, then I can take anything on. And that’s still my motto. There is no excuse now. We all have too much time on our hands,” says Davis. Her trainer is keeping private sessions through Facetime which focus on using only body weight.
Stanton says she is a social exerciser, so working out remotely has been an adjustment. “I miss going to the gym, but I’m grateful to all the fitness instructors at Golden State for making it so easy for us to keep the endorphins up and the stress down; besides, I love that my dog can now participate while I exercise!”
Local gyms and studio owners say this is the perfect time to give their classes a try. All are offering specials to the public and new clients; The Dailey Method and Nest Yoga both have new client specials and an affordable drop-in rate of $15. They’re hoping Piedmonters will resist the pull of Netflix and the couch – stay healthy, reduce stress and support local businesses by signing up for local world-class virtual workouts.