When we opened Blessed Body Pilates 3 years ago, all I knew is that I wanted to create a space welcoming to all people. I started with 5 private clients and after 3 years, with the support of my amazing staff, we have built a strong community of women and men from all walks of life. As most of you know I “work” almost every day. Yet never feel like I’m working, because I’m welcomed each day by my Blessed Body family. This has been the most satisfying and fulfilling adventure I’ve ever been on. We love our studio’s teachers and students as family.
Since we opened, many of our students have told us they’ve reduced or completely stopped needing medication for chronic pain, blood pressure, anxiety, depression, thyroid conditions, diabetes, and more. We have instructed them in the healing practice of Pilates and provided a brave space for them to take charge of their bodies and minds after trauma, surgery, grief, and addiction. We have seen women through their pregnancies and postpartum periods, helping them keep their bodies strong and healthy in preparation for parenthood. Many of our students have told us that Blessed Body Pilates has been the main place where they have felt part of a community—often saying that they come for the community as much as for the Pilates. Countless friendships and bonds have been forged in our studio. Quite often someone has told us that doing Pilates with us has saved their life. We have witnessed miracles at our studio!
Then everything changed this year. In early February, when worry of the COVID-19 pandemic was spreading, we started adjusting our operating procedures and ensuring that our equipment and space was thoroughly disinfected throughout the day. However as things progressed we began to realize that we would soon have to cease operations. On March 16th we closed our doors temporarily in order to do our part to try to “flatten the curve” of the pandemic. That was a week before the Texas governor issued an executive order closing all gyms and fitness studios in the state. We had been closed just a few days when we began trying to pivot our entire business model and launch online classes to support our community. We downloaded Zoom and switched our entire business to this new platform. It was not easy!
We are extraordinarily grateful to our students who are still with us during this unprecedented crisis and are lending their financial support to help keep Blessed Body Pilates viable. We are very fortunate and grateful to our students who continue to support the studio by participating in the live-streamed classes we are providing.
Our studio has always relied on sales of memberships and class packages to generate revenues. As of today, memberships have fallen almost completely due to cancellations, and package sales are at zero. Our payment processor has put an indefinite hold of 20% on funds to cover the anticipated onslaught of charge-backs that are coming, further squeezing the flow of funds.
Our biggest concern right now is keeping our doors open. While we do not have income currently being generated we can not cover our costs. We have cut costs where we can including changing booking software, hosting our own website and more. The other massive expense we have is for rent and common-area maintenance for the building in which the studio is located (regardless of the fact that we were not able to use it by order of the state for 3 months). Our landlord did not offer any sort of break on rent while we were closed down. All rents and other bills accumulated over the course of the lockdown. Other expenses we have include POS software subscription, utilities, insurance, music licensing, and taxes.
In the short term, with no revenue, Blessed Body was able to cover some of our expenses. But we cannot continue to do so while our business is shut down. While some expenses can be eliminated to cope with less revenue, our commercial lease is an exception. When we signed it in December 2018, we never imagined that, even when the government needed to shut down our business, we’d still be expected to pay base rent and CAMS covering garbage removal, landscaping, security, and taxes for the building. Yet this is a major expense that continues to accumulate and who knows for how much longer. This has affected us during the fitness industries busiest time of year. Typically the money we make through April floats us through the slow summer months. However with this interruption in service we won’t have that cushion to get us through.
We, like many other small business owners, have applied for EIDL Grants and loans through the federal paycheck protection program. But we have received nothing from those programs to date, and we do not know when or if it will possible come through.
We know Blessed Body Pilates is not alone in this time of economic hardship: most small businesses cannot withstand a long period in which the owner does not have the resources needed to keep the business alive. Without an emergency fund, most small businesses are 60 to 90 days away from having to close their doors due to insufficient cash flow. Unless they provide a service, they do not get paid and cannot pay their bills. We have been closed for 45 days already. Our small business’s service is Reformer Pilates, and to provide it, we built a clean, quaint, oxygenated studio, pouring heart and soul into it. It is impossible to deliver the same experience to our clients via Zoom. Needless to say Reformer Pilates has been virtually impossible to transfer online as most people don’t have the equipment needed. Reformer clients also have not been as eager to move to home based workouts.
We are eager to open again, God willing. Even as we worry we cannot open fast enough to survive, we know we must wait to reopen until it is safe. We will never put our profits before our people. We will listen to medical professionals and follow what is safe for our community. We have always known there were much easier ways to make money than running a reformer Pilates studio. But we have believed in doing something meaningful for ourselves and others. So, for as long as we can hang on financially, we are dedicated to being here for our community during this crisis AND when the crisis subsides. People need Pilates now, and they will need Pilates when this is over!
This fundraiser is part of our effort to meet our expenses over the coming months. We understand that the whole world is struggling right now, and we are deeply thankful for any and all donations. Even if you are not able to donate to our studio yourself, we would appreciate your sharing this with your friends, for that could make a difference, too!
No donation is too small, and every little bit will allow us to keep serving our community and helping people greatly improve their wellness—and perhaps even save their lives.
- Val Coleman
- Mary K Harris
- Kimberly Marks