Small Business Success Story: Studio G Fitness

How do you successfully operate a fitness studio during a pandemic? Stay flexible.

Malcolm Hong Mar 29, 2021

After working in big gyms for 15 years, Gilly Funk started Studio G Fitness in Twin Falls, Idaho, to provide a more personalized approach to fitness. By focusing on personalized nutrition, coaching and accountability, Funk built a dedicated customer base.

Although gyms have been disproportionately affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, Funk was successful by quickly adapting to the new normal.

She shares her insights on running her company and how small businesses can be flexible in meeting customer needs.

What do you want people to know about your small business?

I’ve always been passionate about helping people reach their fitness goals and I wanted to provide a smaller, more personalized fitness experience.

When people walk through my doors, they’re not just renting a piece of equipment. They’re benefiting from a trainer that can evaluate their goals and recommend a personalized nutrition, fitness and accountability program.

Our staff are highly experienced and passionate about helping clients, especially because personal wellness is so important during a pandemic.

How have you adjusted your business model in light of COVID-19?

Because of COVID-19 safety protocols, we cut back on our group sizes and increased the frequency of cleaning. Our business was heavily impacted by these constraints and we lost some customers who felt uncomfortable working out in person.

Given the COVID-19 landscape, we needed to be flexible to meet the changing needs of our customer base. We pivoted our business to provide remote training to people at home, which was delivered through a subscription model. We also gave our customers the ability to rent our equipment for home use.
It was challenging to overcome the technical hurdles, but our team worked hard to adapt the technology for our needs. We currently serve about 15–20% of our clients remotely, but at the peak of the pandemic, all our clients were served remotely.

We’re proud that our clients have made incredible progress during the pandemic. Even with remote coaching, many of our clients have lost between 50 to 60 pounds — and they’ve kept the weight off through our nutrition and accountability coaching.

Why is physical fitness important during the COVID-19 pandemic?

It’s well known that physical fitness helps boost our immune system. I’d like to also emphasize that fitness is a critical part of boosting our mental health, because it can help lower stress and bolster our social needs.  

There is power that comes from working out with like-minded people towards a common goal. Moving our bodies generates the endorphins that can play a huge role in our happiness and well-being.

What tips do you have for other small businesses seeking to grow?

It’s critical to be flexible and open to new ideas about how to run your business. You’re more likely to keep your doors open if you can make adjustments to best serve your customers.

COVID-19 has been incredibly disruptive to small businesses, but if you can’t adjust to the new normal, you may be left behind. Adapting to current circumstances will make your business more likely to succeed.

What was your experience working with your Zions Banker and how did it help your business?

When the pandemic first hit, I was banking with another financial institution. I applied for a Paycheck Protection Program loan and was denied without a clear explanation.

One of my clients, Jodi Schulz, works for Zions Bank and encouraged me to apply again for a PPP loan at her branch. 

She introduced me to her colleague Sarah Thompson, who made the application process so much easier. I was approved for the loan and it made a huge difference in helping my business operate until we pivoted to our online fitness program.

I’ve switched over all of my banking to Zions Bank and I really appreciate Jodi and Sarah being so awesome. They’re great at communicating with me and being responsive to my needs.

Looking to start or grow your own small business? Zions Bank offers online business tools including business templates, columns, videos and financial calculators. Our Business Resource Centers in Salt Lake City and Boise provide counseling and training for entrepreneurs.

Zions Bank’s team of relationship managers can help you find the right SBA loan* for your business. Apply for a business loan online anytime or visit a local Zions Bank branch to learn more.

Malcolm Hong is a Public Relations officer for Zions Bank in Idaho.

*Subject to credit approval and SBA approval. Terms and conditions apply. See banker for details.

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