Special thanks to Stephanie, owner of Fitness Junky, for being our special guest on this episode!
Are live virtual classes impersonal? Just the opposite, according to Stephanie.
She finds that running her studio online allows her the time and space to connect with her crew in a way that feels even more intimate than in-person classes.
The feeling of comfort that her clients get from working out at home – and the option to turn their cameras off until they are ready – lets them find joy in movement and be themselves. That’s what this former dancer is all about.
- 0:00 Introduction to Stephanie
- 1:27 Live certification training to launching a virtual studio
- 2:58 Class community
- 4:14 Bringing instructors on board
- 5:05 Where does your drive come from?
- 7:10 Building a virtual community
- 9:40 Rolling with the punches
- 11:02 The 500 Squat Challenge
- 13:20 Barefoot workouts
- 16:07 Can’t Dance? Let’s Dance
- 20:24 Movement and mental health
- 23:29 Class and content variety
- 27:42 Virtual is here to stay
- 31:45 Encouragement for large classes, coaching in small groups
- 34:31 Appointments for privates and small groups
- 35:34 Constantly evolving
- 37:45 Work/Life balance
[00:00:00] Claire: So this is, again, almost one of the benefits of being online. You don’t have to stand in a room full of people and wonder if you’re looking silly. You can stand in your lounge room and wonder if you’re looking silly… but no one can see you except the cat.
Hello and welcome to Good Moves, a podcast by Punchpass. On our show, we have wholehearted conversations with fitness and yoga studio owners to learn more about the unique ways they run their businesses and the inspiring ways they live their lives.
I’m your host, Claire. I ran a thriving yoga studio for eight years, and I’ve been part of the Punchpass team for almost as long. We have so much to learn from each other. Let’s jump right in!
Welcome to Good Moves! Today, we have Stephanie from Fitness Junky on the show. Welcome, Stephanie. Thank you so much for joining us.
Can you tell us a little bit about you and your business?
[00:00:49] Stephanie: Sure. My name is Stephanie Medford. I’m a pro trainer and master trainer. I’ve been teaching classes for many years and just love fitness for the joy of movement and the connection that it gives everyone that’s involved.
I run a virtual training studio. We do group fitness classes, dance modalities as well as strength training and flexibility. I also offer training for new and aspiring fitness professionals looking to upgrade their skills and really make a difference online or live.
[00:01:26] Claire: Awesome! Thank you so much. I know you’ve been with us for about a year now, and you’ve been running your classes exclusively online for that year. Can you tell me what you were doing before that? What was the structure of the business prior to that arrangement?
[00:01:42] Stephanie: To be honest with you, I was mainly just running certifications. I was the director for SoulBodyTM Fitness out of the U.S. and we were running live classes and had to quickly go online. I was very involved in training up-and-coming master trainers in getting online, feeling comfortable online, and being able to get everything to resonate in the same way. So that’s how it started… I was just offering certifications.
Then the idea with Punchpass was that I realized very quickly that people were willing to come online and come together for classes. If they were coming together for a certification, I thought, why not come together for a group fitness class as we did in the club?
I decided Punchpass was the way to go because it was so easy. That was the challenge because, at the beginning of all of this, even Zoom was challenging for everyone, right? The tech part of it was daunting, so we were losing a lot of people. That’s how it evolved for me: from certifications to now offering group fitness classes online.
[00:02:53] Claire: Beautiful. And are you serving mostly people that are local to you or do you feel like you’ve reached out to people further away than that? Where do you think your community is coming from these days?
[00:03:02] Stephanie: The certifications were from all over, typically. This was because I was working with a company from the United States, so we were getting a lot of Canadian and U.S. instructors. But now I find that with my own classes, we are mainly local. I think people typically follow instructors because they know and trust them.
[00:03:21] Claire: Right.
[00:03:02] Stephanie: But the nice thing about that is that referrals have brought me people from, say Ottawa, which is about five hours away, and Montreal. It’s typically in Ontario, but I think that’s just the nature of the business. People tend to follow instructors and come to an instructor that was referred to them by someone they know and trust.
[00:03:41] Claire: Absolutely.
[00:03:43] Stephanie: The possibilities are endless. You can put yourself out there and reach a wide range of people from all over which is really a nice thing in the industry now.
[00:03:55] Claire: It’s changed a lot and I think we’ve all pivoted hugely in the last couple of years. It has been such a massive learning curve. We have a lot of yoga teachers and fitness people and just learning as you said, the technology and the equipment. It’s so massive and we’re all expected to take that big leap in learning how to launch a virtual fitness studio.
Your trainers that you have on board now, are they some of the people that you’ve trained? Are they people that you’ve had come up and through and then you’ve put them in charge of some classes? Or have they come from other places? Because you have a beautiful-looking crew. They look amazing.
[00:04:27] Stephanie: Thank you. I have a small group. Originally, it was just me running all the classes and running myself ragged for a while. It was really great to have Punchpass because I just didn’t have time to do the admin part of things. It was really nice to have it all sort of set up for me.
But the instructors that I do have come on are actually people who I have certified through my certification program through Canfitpro Canadian Fitness Professionals). They’re teaching on the platform and finding it fairly easy to run their classes. They also run their own classes as well so we sort of work in a nice collaborative way.
[00:05:02] Claire: So can you tell me a little bit more about your fitness journey? Why is this so important to you? Why is this something that you feel like you’re driven and compelled to give to other people? Why is it so important?.
[00:05:14] Stephanie: Fitness has always been something I’ve done since I was in University. It was me coming out of second-year and needing a part-time job and teaching for the love of it and the love of movement. I was a dancer, so it was just a way of coming off the stage and on the stage again, in a way: still staying connected.
So for me, that’s how fitness came to be so important to me originally. But I think over the years, it’s just been—now that I’ve chosen it as a career and a lifestyle, I’ve managed several clubs and I used to have a bricks-and-mortar studio. It was more about the opportunity to give people something different, because having been a dancer for so many years, I really wanted to bring fitness and dance together.
Zumba was a beautiful tie to that so it was a fairly easy concept to get across to people because it was really movement with joy. That’s where it has evolved for me: offering people a place where they can just be themselves, rid themselves of inhibitions, and just be free.
Now with being online and being through the pandemic, it’s been really rewarding in the sense that people are not feeling isolated. And they’re feeling like they can still be together and do what they used to do in a club through virtual fitness in their own living rooms. So I just feel like it’s been my calling and it’s been my purpose to really give people a platform to be themselves and to be able to come together and enjoy fitness the way I do.
[00:06:49] Claire: Yes, I love that. Speaking to a lot of people lately, I think that’s becoming more and more the norm. Come as you are and show up as you are. And maybe it changes you and maybe you stay exactly the same, but just come and move and breathe and be together.
What we’ve been finding in a lot of yoga studios during the pandemic with the online classes is that those online sessions have become an opportunity for people to connect beyond the class and build virtual fitness community. Do you find that people are coming early and staying late and chatting? Or do you keep it just to the fitness and then on with their day?
[00:07:24] Stephanie: Oh, no. It’s been nice because they do chat afterward and everybody’s always like, “Do you have time?” And I’m like, “I always have time.”
So yes. I always love the fact that they will pop on early. And I in fact encourage it because I was managing clubs for so long and one of the things we always told our instructors was, “You’ve got to wrap up, you’ve got to move on because the next person’s coming in behind you.”
It’s really nice now because we’ve got a lot of time. There’s no class coming in behind me. There is that opportunity to connect. And I think that’s been a big part of what we’re doing right now and why I’m really loving it.
People will ask me, “Do you love teaching live or virtually?” And I have to tell you, I probably love the virtual because of that opportunity for connection before and after class, where I just don’t feel that rush of getting out of the room. And people feel a little bit—I think because they’re in their own spaces, they’re a little more apt to stay and chat. Whereas I feel that in a studio, it’s “roll with everyone else.”
[00:08:31] Claire: Totally. Did you expect to be that comfortable teaching online, or did you think that maybe it was going to be a little bit different than what it has ended up being?
[00:08:39] Stephanie: I believe I’ve always been comfortable doing this. Maybe because it’s for the dance and the performer in me. And then, I had that opportunity with the certifications for SoulBodyTM to get online and feel comfortable in front of the camera. So for me, it wasn’t as daunting.
For a lot of the instructors that I chat with, that is a daunting task: to get online and worry about the tech and the screen share. So I’ve spent a lot of time just sort of simplifying things for people and making sure that that doesn’t distract from what they do best—their talent.
[00:09:14] Claire: Yes, it’s difficult. When I used to run my studio, and people would get—I’d have teachers worried about checking people in or whatever they needed to do. I’d always tell them, “If it’s time to start the class, go and do the class. We’ll figure the rest out later.”
I think that online, there’s still that—you’ve still got to get online. Otherwise, there is no class. But there’s still that feeling of doing what you do best, teach the class, and we can figure the rest out along the way.
[00:09:41] Stephanie: Exactly. And people are very forgiving. I think through this, people know that there are challenges. Everybody’s challenged in some way. I always say—you know, I’ve been teaching online now for probably almost two years and there are still mishaps here and there, and a part of it is, control what you can control. Because a lot of times, the technology isn’t always going to be perfect.
Even just this morning, there was a default that happened, and my mic wasn’t (working)— and it’s one of those things where people will tell you, “Hey, I can’t hear you.” If it’s a matter of taking a couple of seconds to check your settings, as long as you have that procedure in place of knowing what to do and how to fix things as quickly as you can, people are very easy to roll with you.
You just have to take a breath.
[00:10:29] Claire: You do. And I think there’s a balance. I think walking that line as business owners between being really professional because you are running a business and it’s important to deliver the services, but also being very, very human and acknowledging that things do go wrong. That is something when—I was looking at your social media and your website, I’m a little bit biased, but that’s my favorite: when people let a little bit of themselves into their business, and it’s not all you on one side of the screen and your people on the other side of the screen being very, very different.
I want to know more about your 500 squat challenge, too, while we’re talking about it.
[00:11:09] Stephanie: It’s funny that you’re mentioning that because I have never been one for challenges. That is the very first challenge that I’ve ever offered and I’ve been teaching for twenty-eight years.
The reason I’m not a huge fan of challenges is I feel like people are challenged enough in life. Who needs another challenge? But what I was finding is, because I got to know my people so well and my community—we call ourselves Krew—because there was such a trusting relationship and they are always looking for the next thing, I thought, “You know, let’s try and challenge ourselves, I included.”
That’s one of those things where I don’t put anything out unless I’m also going to be part of it, I’m going to be challenged by it and we’re going to do it together.
So, it was just sort of an idea that came across where they could track their workouts and track their progress because I’m all about progressive improvement. I’m not one to do all 500 squats in the first shot. So I gave us a good long time to get good at doing 500.
It’s just been really fun.
Punchpass has been really great because I was able to offer some classes where we do it together. So if you’re not accountable on your own, you can join me in a couple of live classes and we’ll just count together. I was horrible at counting so it turned out that everybody had to unmute and count out loud. We’ve just been having fun with it.
I have a little prize; it’s kind of hidden behind all the plants. Because I had a fitness retail store and still do a little bit of equipment, I put a nice little prize package together. So that’s kind of a little fun thing to work towards too. Always reward setting the goal.
[00:12:56] Claire: Absolutely. I need to know how long it takes to do 500 squats because I didn’t watch it.
[00:13:03] Stephanie: It takes us about 15 minutes, so it’s not bad.
[00:13:04] Claire: Really? I need to give it a try. I still need to work out today. Maybe I’ll give it a try when I get home.
[00:13:12] Stephanie: 15 minutes of squats is long.
[00:13:15] Claire: Yes, that is a long time.
[00:13:18] Stephanie: We’re having fun.
[00:13:19] Claire: That’s good. And the other thing that I really liked the look of—because this is something that I’ve wondered about myself. I’ve been working out at home during the pandemic and all that good stuff.
Working out barefoot. This is something I haven’t seen anyone else actively advocating for, which I think is really interesting. Can you tell me a little bit more about barefoot workouts and why that’s something that you offer?
[00:13:40] Stephanie: I can talk about that passionately, not because I advocate it for everyone. There are a couple of people in my Krew that will wear running shoes.
I’ve had chronic plantar fasciitis for years. So oftentimes—I’m always in running shoes; I’m always in orthotics. And what I found is that personally, I really needed to strengthen the muscles of my feet. And so when I started doing SoulBodyTM Barre, the barefoot classes, dance, and getting back to my dance roots where everything is barefoot, I found that I was healing my plantar fasciitis. And I haven’t had issues probably since I started barre, which was about five years ago. So it worked for me.
It doesn’t work for everyone because obviously, a doctor might advise that you’re always—and it depends on what stage of healing you’re at too, right?
But the other part of that is that if you can strengthen the muscles of the feet, I always like to give us an opportunity to do that. Because we are so held in position, and if you’ve ever seen the Vibrams—I’ve never actually owned a pair, but that whole concept of being close and grounded—I just really liked the feel of the ground under my feet and being able to say that when I push my weight onto my baby toes, I can actually feel my baby toes to the floor. And so you can give people that kind of mind-body connection of where they should be transferring their weight on their feet.
Everything I do is low-impact, except sometimes I go crazy. I love soca and carnival. So when we do a dance class, we wear running shoes. But for the most part, most of it is low impact. And it’s about softening the landing. If you look at a dancer, a ballet dancer, it’s a soft landing in a saute. So that’s, that’s really just my concept that I teach. But it’s not mandatory.
[00:15:39] Claire: I really like it because I come from a yoga background, and I found that when I started working out, it didn’t feel right, or I would go between yoga and some HIIT and things like that, and I didn’t want to put shoes on and take shoes off.
So I just started not putting shoes on in the first place. And it’s really nice to see that that’s something that is encouraged and supported in some circles because it felt kind of wild to me for a while. But now, it feels really natural. I think the body is designed to do what the body is designed to do.
And you’ve got a dance challenge coming up with one of your teachers? I love, love this idea, actually, “Can’t dance? Let’s dance” because I think it’s one of those lines in the sand. I think when people arrive at dance—people who dance or they’re just like, “I can’t. There’s no way.” And I find those sort of lines in the sand really, really interesting. So tell me more about that one coming up.
[00:16:27] Stephanie: Sure. It’s a friend of mine, April Power. She is a dance instructor. She actually has a dance studio in her house. So back in the day, we used to dance for the Toronto Argonauts dance team, so we were connected through movement and hip hop and the love of just performing. We actually live in the same area, which is really convenient. And we thought, “Why don’t we put together a dance class?” Our styles are very similar and I’m sure that my Krew will really resonate with what she has to offer. So that’s how we sort of came together.
And the whole idea—it’s funny because although I have this dance background and I teach all these—a lot of my Krew aren’t necessarily dancers. I do have a lot of people who just love dance and that’s how they came to me. But a lot of people are experimenting and maybe haven’t danced and don’t necessarily feel very comfortable.
This is an opportunity for me to give them a chance to sort of slow things down. Not necessarily in a fitness way, but really looking at the downbeats, the isolations, the patterning: all of the pieces that make up a dance, and week-by-week focus.
She’s basically teaching rhythm and how the body moves in technique at a really nice, slower pace so that people can just really connect to the music. And so what I’m hoping is, when they come to my classes which are more fitness-based, everything feels a lot more natural, and that awkwardness kind of goes. Because that’s the thing: we’re all up in our heads most of the time. So it’s just about letting go and going, “Okay, I got this, and even if it doesn’t look perfect, it doesn’t matter.”
[00:18:11] Claire: I guess it’s probably less confronting to do an online scenario. So this is almost again one of the benefits of being online: you don’t have to stand in a room full of people and wonder if you’re looking silly. You can stand in your lounge room and wonder if you’re looking silly, but no one can see you except the cat. I think that’s really, really brilliant. And I think that breaking it down into those small parts is really brilliant because it’s like learning a language. And some people naturally pick it up faster, some people slower.
I think, again, coming back to my yoga background, it feels like the same thing: you’ve got to learn the little bits before they kind of coalesce and become a flow, and dance is a type of flow too.
That’s a beautiful thing to start. The idea of teaching someone to dance freely, I think, is really unique because you can learn to do jazz or tap or ballet, but just the idea of learning to dance to be in rhythm is a great thing to do.
[00:19:08] Stephanie: And people like the structure. They want you to break it down. “Where did the hip go here? Where did—and how did you make that happen?”
Sometimes it is like taking it down to the basics and really just working through the movement where they then get that feeling of “Okay, this feels natural. This is going to flow. When I pick up the beat and when that rhythm changes, I can still stay on beat with that movement.” So, yeah.
And she’ll show different rhythms, which is really great because in a typical Zumba or, in my case, fusion dance fitness, we’ll go from hip hop to Latin to sometimes, a Bollywood-type track. And they are so different in the movement. The patterns are the same. It’s just that the intonations are different with some of the movements: the way you move your hip in one versus another, but they’re very similar.
[00:20:05] Claire: I think giving people those moments where it clicks is just such a beautiful thing to give someone, especially if they felt very uncoordinated. That moment where they piece together three or four movements and get the flow of it all, I think, is such a beautiful thing to give people.
Do you come at it from a mental health standpoint? Do you feel like dance is—I know a lot of people are talking about intuitive dance for just shaking out negative feelings, not as a replacement for therapy or medication, people, but as a way to really support yourself. Is that something that you feel as well? Is that something that helps you?
[00:20:44] Stephanie: 100%. That’s why I dance. In the end, my whole concept is—I’ve been in the gym environment for years where it’s so body-conscious. And I feel like people really just need to move the way their bodies are going to allow them to move and just really love what they’re doing and the release.
Typically, if someone finds a release of stress or just sort of that adrenaline rush that you get from working out, that’s going to motivate people to build consistency in a workout anyway. So if you can tackle it from there where they really find that connection, then the consistent workouts, that routine, that wanting to work out on a regular basis becomes less like, “I’ve got to work out three times a week.” And it becomes more about what you’re doing.
[00:21:37] Claire: Right. Or, “I’ve been working out for three months, and I haven’t lost a pound, and oh my god, what’s gone wrong?” But if you’ve enjoyed 30 workouts, and then they were beautiful moments, and the endorphin kicked in, and there was no reason to need to lose weight through them.
How do you find the body image side of things, especially with your training side and being in the fitness industry in a bigger picture in your area? How are you finding that is being approached these days? Has it changed?
[00:22:05] Stephanie: In the personal training side of things? Well, I think for the most part, when people typically approach you and want a personal trainer, it’s usually because they want to lose inches or they want to gain strength, which is great. That’s typically why you’d want to hire a trainer to give you that guidance on how to do those. And we follow a certain protocol on how to make that happen for a client.
Obviously, it’s individual to the client. I don’t think it’s changed so much there. But I really try to use my background in all of these different modalities to give the variety and make it more about the fun and the workout so that they don’t just go through, “Okay, now we’re squatting; now we’re lunging.” Music’s a big part of that, so it’s not a boring session. Because the thing is, you need to always find that spark in the client, and you need to find out what they like.
There’s always an end game that you’re going for in the end, but how to get there is the part that I really focus on as well as making sure that they’re feeling motivated all the way through.
[00:23:23] Claire: I think one of the things that’s great about your business, in particular, is the variety of classes that you offer. It’s probably one of the widest varieties I’ve seen recently because it really runs the gamut. It’s great. Do you find that people stick to the same type of class and get stuck in, or are there a lot of people that kind of bounce around and enjoy different things every week?
[00:23:48] Stephanie: Not every week. I have to graduate people into different things. In fact, it’s funny. Because I managed clubs for so long—you change the schedule every quarter, and people are always complaining, “Why did you change? I loved that class. That was my favorite class.”
There’s always that thing as a manager, you’re always like, “Okay, get ready. They’re all going to be knocking at my door.” So actually, before I make—I do the same thing online: I change the schedule every quarter. Not drastically, but I do it enough that it gives them an opportunity to try something new so that there’s muscle confusion; there’s that opportunity to feel motivated by something else and feel the challenge. So variety is really important to me, but at the same time, I want some consistency.
When I look at the schedule, I want to make sure I have three Strong and Shapelies. I have a couple of dances right now. I’m missing one of the dances because I really want them to have those two opportunities to do cardio during the day or during the week. So yes, the variety is there to keep them intrigued, to keep it balanced between the weight training, the cardio, and the flexibility. That’s a big one, obviously.
I’m a trainer to trainers, so I want to make sure I hit the basic components. But I don’t profess to be an expert in all of those. In fact, the yoga—I tried a—not really yoga, but I do fluid flexibility, which is more dancer based. So it’s a dancer’s warm-up and cool-down. That resonates with me so that I can execute well, but I actually hired someone to teach a yoga class. It was important to me that they were able to experience yoga in its authentic form as well.
[00:25:37] Claire: Yeah. I think there are definitely some gray areas there, but I think a pure yoga class is a fantastic thing to have on a generally fitness-based schedule. But then you obviously have people filling the gaps with your—what we call the content library: your recorded videos. So have you found people jumping onto those for their favorites or something?
[00:25:57] Stephanie: I really wasn’t sure if people would get into those because there is YouTube: there are all of the different options for free workouts, right? But I think they’ve been. popular because I will usually give a theme for the week for what we’re going to be working on and I’ll recommend certain videos. So sometimes I’ll pop it up—and I call them replays.
In fact, I record a video on the weekend, put it up as sort of the theme for the week, and then they are able to do that workout on their own. So what’s beautiful is that I’ve been able to offer a live class and then if you can’t make the live class, there’s this prerecorded class available.
[00:26:37] Claire: Yeah, that’s awesome.
[00:26:40] Stephanie: So it’s been huge. And in fact, I stopped recording because sometimes, the only thing when you’re recording a live class—which is great because I can just record me, but I really want that connection with my community. So I don’t necessarily feel really great calling out, saying so-and-so’s named so-and-so and that going on a library.
I typically will record some, and then I call the others replays: ones that I do on my own. And I tend to spend a little more time. But just having the variety is huge: having the content.
This week, I had something going on. We had a funeral last weekend and so, unfortunately, I couldn’t record a video. So I was able to go through my library and pop one up and say, “This is basically what we’re going to be doing this week.” So this is a perfect fit. It’s nice. It offers that opportunity to give someone a workout in spite of whether or not you can be there live with them.
[00:27:42] Claire: And do you foresee—do you think you’re going to make any sort of sweeping changes as hopefully over the next six months or so, obviously, we can all be out and about and going back to gyms and things? Do you feel like this is your structure for the foreseeable future? Is this how it’s going to roll?
[00:27:56] Stephanie: Oh yeah. Well, I keep telling it: virtual is not going anywhere. Because the one thing I know from managing clubs is that when someone came through the door, it was a big deal. It was a big thing to celebrate someone coming in.
A very small percentage of the population actually works out and steps foot in a gym? As a manager, I was always about retention. How do we keep them motivated? How do we keep them here? How do we give them that personal attention? This, I can do in my space, which is really nice. And I have a smaller group and a really personal connection so that’s probably why I love it so much.
Retention is such a part of who I am in fitness that I can do it really well online. But I always tell people, “You’re hitting that group, that huge part of the population; the missing piece; the ones that won’t necessarily come into the gym.”
And they can turn their cameras off. I love to have a conversation with someone, just like I would if someone came into a gym and sat down and talked about their goals. I’ll have a conversation like, “How comfortable, are you? How new are you at working out?” And I’ll prescribe a certain starting point. But I’m a big one for saying, “Turn your camera off until you feel comfortable. I’m right here.”
It is so amazing because I can remember one of the Krew members; she was camera off for a long time. She turned her camera on one day, and she was like, “I turned it on; I turned it on.” And we celebrated that. And honestly, I just think for that reason alone, I’m so grateful to do what I’m doing because it allows people to take this progressively: feeling comfortable but moving their bodies in front of other people.
[00:29:52] Claire: And I think people come to it in such different places in their lives, too. You have people that come wanting to make friends; wanting to chat with everybody; wanting to get connected with everybody. And then you have people that just want to come in and work out and leave.
I think there’s such a fine balance there between drawing those quieter people out of their shells, but also just respecting the fact that maybe that’s okay and that’s just what they need in their lives right now. It is super exciting when it changes, and you can feel them sort of opening up a bit. But there’s just a certain number of people that will not ever want to stay after and chat and connect, which is a beautiful thing too, I think. And that’s the beauty of online, I think, the flexibility of it. It’s just so great.
[00:30:35] Stephanie: That’s exactly what it is. And I think, for the most part, people are—it’s funny because I am back at the clubs right now. I’m teaching a few classes a week, and I love that too. It’s nice to be live and in-person and feel the energy that way. It’s just different, but a lot of people are doing both.
Now, they’re getting the best of that experience online when they don’t have time, and they can fit it in the middle of their day. Offering lunch hour classes, for example, where they would spend half of their lunch traveling. And then maybe they go to the gym after work or on the weekend.
I think it’s complementing the needs of people who are consistent with the gym, but then it’s also complementing the ones that aren’t necessarily comfortable with going into a gym. And I always say, “We sort of feed each other.” Who knows if people who come into my community start getting comfortable with fitness and feeling comfortable in front of the camera and then decide they want to go and join a gym, right? It’s a win-win in the end for all of us.
[00:31:40] Claire: Yes, it does make it easier to take that first step. I think it’s absolutely fantastic. And I assume for the people that do have their cameras on—are you providing feedback and form information and things like that? Are you teaching out into the group more or do you like to talk to people individually?
[00:31:57] Stephanie: It’s funny because there’s—I would consider them two modalities. I do a performance. I find that in group fitness, you are typically performing, like when you’re doing a dance class. I turn my mic off, and we’re just kind of celebrating together, and the communication is non-verbal.
But then, there are classes like Strong and Shapely where we have a theme, and we might be doing a build phase or a burn phase, and I’m watching them. But I’m doing the workout with them, so I’m motivating them. Still, to me—because it’s unlimited people coming to a group and you have a large group, there’s only so much coaching you can do.
I can sort of give encouragement for the most part and always give them form cues to hope they change, which is typical of a group fitness class. But where I’m moving into because I’ve been doing one-on-one personal training more recently—I’ve been training for years, but now finally getting online, I can do this one-on-one as well. I’m really excited about adding in an option for small group training.
So that’s where that opportunity will be to train and coach a little bit more: so less of me performing music, more coaching. So I think you have to set up the environment a little bit more to be really effective in that way and have a set number of people because there are 15 blocks across the city.
[00:33:30] Claire: It so hard; cats and dogs and kids, and all kinds of chaos. It’s sort of a beautiful thing, but it’s hard to be in touch. So you would work with the same small group over a period of time and then get to know them and their goals a little bit more intimately?
[00:33:43] Stephanie: Yes. That’s a service that I’m actually launching in December. I’m really excited about doing that and just giving that option to those who want it. It’s obviously a little bit more money to do that, but for some people, that’s really important and would be a good option.
[00:34:00] Claire: Is the idea that people bring their own group? Or is the idea that people join at a certain time and end up with the same three people? Because I love the idea of getting my husband and my kid in and saying, “Hey, we’re going to do this at home.” I think that’s a really good option too because that’s a really hard thing to find: family training or a small group with a friend. So that’s brilliant.
[00:34:20] Stephanie: Totally. And with Punchpass—I love that, because you can set it up as a class, you can set up a set appointment; there’s the option.
With my one-on-one clients, now I’m setting up as just our sessions, but I can offer it like I would offer any of my classes that I’m doing right now, but limit the number of people.
Once they reserve, it makes them a lot more of a call to action. If there are only three spots available, they want to get in there, and they’re going to be more accountable for it because they know they had to go through hoops to get that spot.
[00:34:56] Claire: The psychology of having it booked in and knowing that it’s your time, I think as humans, we’re like little hamsters. If it’s on the calendar rather than I think I might go to her class at six o’clock on a Tuesday night, being booked in for a small group training session at six o’clock on a Tuesday night, it’s a completely different feeling.
I think, it’s an appointment, like a doctor’s appointment. And somehow, that hacks off rain a little bit, and we’re like, “Well, we’re booked in now, and we’re ready to go.” It works pretty well with classes as well, but I think with sessions like that, it works particularly well to get people motivated and consistent.
Is that the final sort of little addition you’re going to be making over the next six months? You seemed pretty happy with how things are set up. So this small group training and then just carry on as you are?
[00:35:43] Stephanie: It’s funny because it’s just been a constant evolution. I think it’s just going to keep growing from here. And as I’ve been an entrepreneur for years, I just have too many ideas, and I just want to do everything.
I try and do it in a nice formalized fashion so that I can do it well. But yes, I think, for now, the next phase would be—now that I have a community and group fitness—to sort of offer that more one-on-one personal coaching. And then, those small specialty classes, like I have April coming to teach so that people can just join for say, six sessions, learn to dance, and then join the group fitness. So everything sort of relates to one of the other services that I’m offering.
Because I come from pre-pandemic—I actually left my job as a manager of a club to really get into certifying instructors and be a mentor for fitness instructors and personal trainers. So I’m trying to get back there. This has been really taking a lot of my time, and I’m really passionate about what I’m doing right now with the clients.
But at some point, when all this sort of settles and I’ve got a really nice streamlined program, I’d like to come back to my fitness instructors and have a six-week mindset course. It would be helping aspiring and new fitness instructors build their businesses and their brand and up-level their skills so that they can teach effectively, whether it be live or online.
That is the other piece of what I do. And I’m really anxious to get back there, and I’m doing it. I have a couple of clients on the side, but eventually, to have both of those streams between the fitpros and the clients themselves would be a beautiful thing.
[00:37:39] Claire: That would be everything? And then you would just settle down and relax for a little bit? I did want to ask you about balance in your own life because obviously, you have a lot going on. But I also noticed that you are a good proponent of having some balance in your life. Can you just speak to that a little bit? I did see dogs. I’m going to need details on the dogs.
[00:38:00] Stephanie: Balance for me is super important because I didn’t have it for a long time. I have been running this business for probably almost 20 years, which is strange when I think about that. And I think of all the time that went so quickly because you were just so wrapped up in doing what you were doing.
[00:38:18] Claire: Right.
[00:38:19] Stephanie: I came from having a studio in stores when my kids were very young. They were practically in—I was teaching classes, and they were in the backroom fighting, and I’m like trying to yell, “No, stop! I’m teaching a class.”
I come from fairly high stress, trying to build a business with a young family. And then obviously, going into that sort of high adrenaline of managing a club and lots of people. So it’s probably in my nature to take on a lot of things, but I’ve really enjoyed just focusing, kind of coming back and letting a few things go, and really just putting my 100% into now building this business as it is in a virtual studio.
But I do really believe that doing this from home is allowing me a lot of that balance because I’m able to come and teach a class, I can go right back inside, and I can drink my coffee. When I’m ready to have a coffee in the morning, I can come back out. I can take breaks in the middle of my day.
I’ve actually structured my day where I do classes. Now, I’m starting at 6:30 a.m. in the morning until about 12:00 pm in the afternoon if I go and teach a live class. And then I don’t teach again until 5:30 p.m. But I make that schedule.
I can go and take the dogs for a walk—CeCe and Charlie—I have Boston terriers—at like two and three in the afternoon. And I just feel that whole rejuvenation for the evening classes. And I’m able to think—I listen to my AirPods; I listen to the music and kind of plan what I’m going to do. And I have more time to just think and plan and take sort of what I call power hours in just me-time with journaling and making this plan. So it’s not as chaotic. And I think being virtual has really lent to that.
[00:40:18] Claire: Yes, it’s become this amazing gift, I think. And letting people get balance, and you have balance in your teaching and your business. I think it’s really a beautiful arrangement.
[00:40:29] Stephanie: And it’s such scheduling. It’s really scheduling that day in pockets and making sure that you’ve assigned certain parts of your day to just yourself.
[00:40:41] Claire: And that’s such a hard part to do. You put in your meetings and your Zooms and your admin and things like that, but you have to put in those chunks. I completely agree. We’re going to wrap up Stephanie. I really appreciate you being a part of the podcast today. Thank you so much.
[00:40:56] Stephanie: Thank you. Thank you for inviting me.
[00:40:57] Claire: Oh, you’re so welcome. It’s been absolutely my pleasure, so thank you so much.
If you’d like to learn more about any of the guests that we featured on the show or about Punchpass, you can head to our website at punchpass.com.