February 2020 was a time of high hopes and great expectations for the Body Electric Yoga Co. co-owner Katelyn Grady. She and business partner Jenny Miller had just launched a major expansion of the business, opening the Body Electric Athletic Co., a fitness studio and gym facility located at 655 31st St. S. in St. Petersburg’s Warehouse Arts District.
Then, little more than a month later, the coronavirus pandemic came along and forced Grady and Miller into a fight for financial survival. They closed up shop for 75 days and weathered the storm with a combination of Emergency Economic Injury Disaster loans and Paycheck Protection Program loans.
“We’re not out of the woods yet,” Grady said, but “we’ve been using that money to fill the gap every month of the money that’s going the wrong way. We’re trying to do what we do every day, keep the vibe high and branch out into cyber land, where we can hopefully also expand our revenue streams.”
Indeed, the Body Electric team cleverly harnessed the power of the Internet and online streaming to deliver yoga classes to members both local and around the world. Grady said she and Miller are now recording classes and offering them for members to view up to 48 hours after they’re put online.
“It’s a brand new thing that we developed,” Grady said. “It was epic, operationally. We had to spend so many hours figuring all that stuff out. And so now it’s a big part of our daily operation … making sure that the class is being recorded and then emailing the recording out.”
About 40 classes at both locations are available via online streaming, Grady said, adding that the service is included free of charge for existing members. New clients can sign up for streaming-only memberships if they so desire.
With gyms and fitness centers having to operate with reduced capacity, Body Electric was forced to increase its fees slightly to make up the difference, but existing members did not see a rate change. However, Grady and Miller were able to slightly reduce the dual membership rate that allows clients to use both the yoga and athletic studios. Grady hopes that a lower rate will incentivize people to give the Body Electric Athletic Co. a try.
Because of the pandemic, she said, “We just haven’t had an opportunity to build that market over there yet. It’s like a baby, a little infant born during the pandemic.”
The next few months will likely be more of the same for the company. Grady said she and Miller will apply for a second-draw PPP loan to help navigate the pandemic’s ongoing economic challenges. Despite some relaxation of mask and social-distancing requirements for people who are actively working out, Body Electric and Body Athletic will continue to make the practices mandatory.
“That means we will still continue to not be able to operate at our capacity,” Grady said. “We don’t want to upset or offend anyone … we don’t want to argue. This is just what we’re doing — it’s the rule. If you want to come, that’s what you have to do. We don’t want to have a social media discussion about it.”