The importance of supporting local businesses

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Journies’ Opal Higgins talks about Covid-19 lockdown and the future.


What have your main challenges been?

During lockdown our challenge was figuring out how to run a gym, without a gym. We were days away from opening our gym in central Hamilton when Covid hit, so we needed some income quickly, but wanted to keep the same level of quality, for remote clients, that we planned for our gym clients. Our biggest struggle became finding, and figuring out how to use, the right technologies to provide this support. It was a very steep learning curve – I grew up with a Commodore 64, and my partner Sam couldn’t even figure out Bebo back in the day. With the help of our teenagers, input from our younger, more tech savvy coach Monic, and hours of you-tube videos and tutorials, we managed to figure things out.

What have your successes been?

Developing our online product so quickly helped us relieve our immediate financial pressure, and our efforts on social media created more awareness of our gym in Hamilton which has led to some of our local, remote clients joining up for in-gym memberships.

What difference has moving to Level 2 made for you?

Being able to open Journies gym has been huge. We still have some on-going remote clients, but are so excited to finally utilise the facilities we spent so much time and energy on pre lockdown. We get that some people are still tentative about venturing out in Level 2, and we’ve found that communicating our plan and procedures around Covid with them seems to put them at ease.

We’ve also noticed that in lockdown, people had a bit more time to focus on their health and well-being, but now the balancing act of work and family is back so the accountability aspect of our service remains vital. Also with fast-food chains are open again, and their popularity (especially in week 1 of Level 2), our services are definitely going to be needed going forward.

What long-term changes do you see yourself making to the way your business operates?

We had initially planned on opening our physical gym first and then figuring out a remote training option later, but thanks to lockdown, we were forced to figure out a remote option first, so it will remain a part of our service long-term, on its own and in combination with our in-gym sessions.

Final word?

We’ve been super impressed with the ingenuity of Kiwi businesses over the lockdown period and what other businesses have done to adapt. This experience has reminded us of the importance of supporting local businesses and networking with others even if they’re in the same industry. We’ve also learned, and made use of regional and government services that support small businesses, and encourage companies to check out what’s available in their area.

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