Seeing demand as opportunity, Fitness For All bets at-home fitness is here to stay
Photo, from left: from left: Theresa Carriere, Lore Wainwright and Michelle Kerr of Fitness For All
THROUGHOUT THE PANDEMIC, fitness studios and gyms around the city shut their doors and adjusted to new ways of doing things. The sudden shift inspired creativity and flexibility for businesses largely dependent on physical locations and on-site staff, and in some cases, paved the way for entirely new businesses.
Such is the case with Fitness For All, an online fitness studio first conceived as a way to keep people healthy and connected during lockdowns.
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The business is the brainchild of yoga instructor Lore Wainwright, who is also an experienced fitness instructor and director of operations at Pillar Nonprofit Network.
According to Wainwright, when Covid first hit and gyms were shuttered in March 2020, she set out to fill the wellness gap with a few virtual classes. Finding her clientele both receptive and eager for additional classes, she invited fellow fitness instructors, Michelle Kerr and Theresa Carriere, to join her.
“What started as a free online offering to help people stay active and in touch quickly blossomed into a new way of living, as everyone transitioned to at-home fitness,” says Wainwright. “Before we knew it, our workouts and yoga sessions were generating Zoom classes of 100-plus. So, we reconsidered our individual goals, joined forces and built a virtual fitness studio.”
Together, the trio is embracing what they call an “accidental opportunity to collaborate.” With Carriere’s experience as a personal trainer, life coach and founder of the OneRun cancer fundraiser, coupled with Kerr’s deep roots in fitness, community-building and recreational services, the partners are leveraging their collective expertise and client connections while adopting and adapting to new tools and delivery methods to meet online demand.
But while they credit available technology for enabling their platform (Zoom is key to delivering their online programming), Wainwright is quick to say that technology itself is not a magic bullet. “It definitely has glitches, and we’re learning alongside our members. We’re not actors recording sessions in outfitted studios, we’re real people providing heartfelt training and support from our homes to theirs.”
Coming out of the pandemic, the trio believe online fitness will remain an active niche, due primarily to ease of access and comfort. But they also think a hybrid approach will evolve, with individuals embracing a mix of digital classes and traditional gym memberships.
They also hope one of the good things to come out of the pandemic — an increased awareness of bettering both physical and mental health through exercise — sticks around, too.
“Our post-pandemic hope is that our society, institutions and governments will include exercise, yoga and meditation as key tools to create a healthier community, with less dependence on medication,” says Wainwright.
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With over 100 years of combined fitness and training experience, the partners — each over the age of 50 — are also aware of their early success with clients of a “similar vintage”.
“Many of our clients are seeing their best results in years, because our home-based service provides three big hooks — a supportive community, value for exceptional experiences and the flexibility of online access,” Wainwright says. “On our platform, people feel they belong, and when our members succeed, Fitness For All succeeds.” Maureen Spencer Golovchenko