That’s a wrap on 2020. What a year this has been. Every week has seemed to bring about new challenges. The year has been unpredictable, sometimes exhausting, but I sincerely hope that Kardia has played a meaningful role in your life and has acted as a source of fun and normalcy during this very unnormal time.
More than ever, I am grateful for you, our Kardia Crew. You have inspired every action I’ve taken in 2020. Showing up daily for you has given me some normalcy and structure, so thank you for being on the other side of the screen, for waving as you ran by the studio windows, and for sliding into our Instagram DMs to say “hi”. It’s been a wild year; here’s how we’ve come together:
Within less than 24 hours of closing our doors on March 16th, we pivoted our in-person studio community online, and have subsequently sweat through over 1010 Zoom workouts. Something I didn’t anticipate with this shift online was that it allowed us to welcome back Kardia Crew who had moved to an international home after being with us in Toronto. Daily we now connect with members in the UK, Italy, Florida, Vancouver, Tokyo, Calgary, San Francisco, Texas, Ottawa, and Edmonton to name a few places, and seeing our community’s global reach has me truly at a loss for words.
We brought our community together through a variety of free virtual social experiences and fee-for-service online workshops, including a goal-setting workshop with Kelsey, cooking from home sessions with Megan and Emilie, a cannabis education session with Dr. Shawn Meirovici, New Moon Meditation workshops with April, a summer skin health session with Allison from CityMommaStyles, wine tasting with the team from ED Wine Co, and flower arranging with Makin’ Me Daisy. And we helped over 50 runners take their first steps going from couch to 5km and from 5km to 10km – all online.
We stayed motivated through in-person and then online class challenges. Our March Madness Challenge was just finishing as we closed, and our April Class Challenge, October Sweat-fest Challenge, May Fitness Bingo, and 7-day Run Streak kept us motivated to move more. Our December Hibernation is Not an Option is just ending, and our 7-day Goal Setting Meditation series will start January 1st. While our doors were closed we set up a virtual photo booth outside the studio so we could see your smiling faces while out on your weekend walks/runs, and created two fitness circuits around the city to keep you moving. We also teamed up with some of our favourite partners including Ciele, Toronto Triathlon Festival, Brava, and Canada Running Series to bring you workouts and events online from home. And we launched a Spotify channel to keep you moving and grooving to what’s grown to almost 90 playlists.
We found ways to give back to our community by hosting free weekly Instagram workouts, gifting 25 monthly memberships to those in our community in need, and by donating $450 to Jamii Esplanade through the sales of our 2020 Summer Party Singlets.
When forced to close our doors for the second of three times, we pivoted again, developing an on-demand streaming site for our workouts – Kardia On The Go. A site like this had always been a personal goal of mine since opening the studio, and while it wasn’t ideal to create it under such a stressful environment, that pressure is what truly pushed me forward and motivated me to take the leap. With an ever-growing library of workouts, ranging from yoga, to HIIT, cycling, meditation, foam rolling, and pre- and post-run workouts, KardiaOTG has allowed me to flex my creative muscle, and allowed us the opportunity to connect with you on your terms, in a place and at a time that works for you.
The most important change in 2020 was our name. As communities around the world came together to stand up against racism and affirm Indigenous and Black lives matter, we listened and learned more. We talked to you, our community, and we heard your thoughts. We talked with community partners and diversity consultants, and created a new identity for us. One that continues our efforts of inclusion, community love, and crew love. Thank you for giving us the space to learn and your support as we continue to learn.
A big thank you for your continued support of Kardia. These past nine months have been hard as an independent business. Watching 30+ GTA fitness studios close their doors for good has been emotional. Your support is what is keeping us here and is keeping us motivated to charge forward in 2021. You, our Crew and our community, are at the heart of what we do. We are truly better together, and I can’t wait until we are physically together again in 2021.
After 9 months of chaos and uncertainty it has been amazing to be nominated through Impact Magazine as on of their 2021 Canada’s Top Fitness Instructors.
This award nomination has provided me with a great opportunity of reflection during the pandemic and the steps I’ve taken to keep my Kardia community together and keep my business alive and because find these ideas was challenging, as many business had never been through such a thing, I felt it appropriate to jot down some of the actions we’ve taken in hopes to support other small business in similar situation.
Here’s our Kardia COVID Story:
We closed our doors on March 16th and I took my love of movement and experience with video content and all classes online March 17th. Without skipping a beat we started offering free Facebook Live and Instagram Live classes – offering 2-3 classes a day. I knew I needed to keep our community connected, and keeping in touch with our members to support their physical and mental health became my number one priority.
After one week of social media classes I established our Zoom platform and we added fee for services classes back in addition to our free classes – we continue to offer free classes 9 months later. I was very aware of the reality of our clients losing their jobs and their need for movement and connection – even if online and so I did everything possible to help them feel connected and seen, even if they couldn’t pay.
I created multiple community scavenger hunts, labeling key monuments and locations around the downtown core with specific exercises which people could do on their own, and I set up a “photo booth” outside the studio, so people could stop by on a weekend and get their photo taken from a distance and then I merged the photos together into a video for them to see we are all together even when apart.
I also offer free social “workshops” weekly through Zoom. We’ve had many cooking demos, goal setting sessions, virtual wine tastings – simply free opportunities for people to see each other and hang out together while apart.
After 7 months of operating in this Fee For Service Zoom and Free Social Media class model I added an On-Demand service to support clients who might not have the hours of our classes and offered this and a reduced cost to make it more accessible.
Over the past 9 months I’ve kept us flexible to the government changes and have had a hard focus on community and connection, providing our community with many ways to stay connected, either for free, or fee for service.
While I look forward to the pandemic being over, this force to online has allowed me to reconnect with clients from around the world who had moved away (Italy, Tokyo, San Fran, Vancouver, Calgary, Florida), and it’s forced me to establish an on-demand streaming site that I had always dreamed of, but never had the time or real need to do. While things might look very different to 9 months ago, my community has never been stronger.