For us wellness enthusiasts, it has been truly heartbreaking to see the devastation the pandemic has brought to the fitness industry over the last year. It’s so unprecedented (yes, we’re using THAT word) and has placed such a threat on the livelihoods of those working in fitness. For many, exercising provides a real sense of community… studios and gyms thrive off of high energy, good vibes and endorphins and have a special way of connecting like-minded souls together. Since March 2020, that important physical aspect vanished and almost a year on it’s hard to know when we can safely return to sweating it out with our pals again. BUT… through the darkness came light and the digital space became an absolute lifeline for gyms and their customers. So much innovation has occurred within the virtual fitness industry and we wanted to chat with one business owner who turned a horrible situation into a positive one by embracing online. Below Jess Schuring, founder of the super successful (and H&H favourite) boutique fitness studio concept, Heartcore, shares what the last year has been like and how she overcame the challenges of the pandemic.
Can you share what the last year has been like for you as a business owner in the fitness industry? It must have been a tough few months!
Temporarily closing all 10 Heartcore studios in March 2020 was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do. And to be honest, building an online business was never on the cards for me, because I’m all about human-to-human connection — I love a hug, so this past year has been especially hard! I’ve always been passionate about good form, ensuring our guests are moving safely and correctly whilst challenging themselves enough to access transformational results! In our studios we are able to create this ‘personalised experience’ in a group class setting and being physically present is key to that. Or so I thought….
But only five days after closing the studios we introduced free online classes via IG Live, connecting with thousands of guests in the Heartcore community. Weeks later we launched livestream classes via Zoom, and now on 8th April 2021, we’ll be unveiling our all-in-one live stream and on-demand Heartcore At Home experience! Months of dedication and hard work have been put into creating our new digital offering and we are so excited to share it with the world. Technology never slows down, and we continue to strive for a virtual experience that matches the in-studio magic of Heartcore. Holding together our team of amazing teachers, loyal guests, and not compromising on transformational effects of the Heartcore method has been my top priority during our move to the online world. Three lockdowns and two re-openings later, our team continues to adapt, roll with the changes and hold a space of positivity, strength and familiarity for our community.
Living through a global pandemic is new territory for us all… how did you adapt when the physical connection that a fitness studio like Heartcore thrives off of could no longer continue?
Heartcore At Home champions a two-way live experience and communication between the teacher and guest (think zoom); allowing time to connect, encourage and guide you through the workout – bringing with it a true community feeling. Moving together as a group is an important aspect of the Heartcore experience and was key for me when we moved online. It’s proven to deliver more effective results through increased accountability, creating routines and rituals that last, and the positive energy is amplified through the human-to-human connection. The new platform encourages you to show up and be accountable by sharing your screen with the Heartcore community so that you can be both seen and heard (don’t worry – sharing your screen is optional). In addition, the teacher will be visible on two cameras, offering different angles to demonstrate moves more easily. Our method is focused on empowering the heart, head and body and your overall mental health; we aim to make you feel strong from the inside out, motivated, happy in your body and create a sense of discipline so you’re ready to take on whatever life throws at you.
The amazing teachers are the heart and soul of the company… how did it affect them?
On a personal and emotional level, we have all had our share of heartbreak during the pandemic. Since last year, we have offered weekly calls and more recently personal development courses to ensure our team feels connected and supported. The teachers have had to explore and develop a digital presence, and we’re really proud of how they’ve succeeded and continued to impress and deliver in the same outstanding Heartcore way.
You’ve worked so hard to build an incredible sense of community over the years… how will you strive to keep those connections alive
It’s all about the community at Heartcore – we’re completely committed to connection in every possible way – whether that’s in person or online. We believe every heart matters, so every heart is welcome. Our physical London studios and our new online studio create a welcoming, encouraging atmosphere which inspires you to show up for yourself and others around you. Our strong emphasis on live classes helps fuel motivation and instils a sense of accountability, and the teachers can be found in the livestream classroom before and after class to connect with guests, a great way to unite us from across the globe and bring a powerful energy to the moment.
Can you tell us a bit more about Heartcore At Home? How and where do we sign up!?
Absolutely! We will be launching the new and enhanced Heartcore At Home digital experience on 24 February. The platform will help transform your body, fuel your mind, and fill your heart with live and on-demand workouts that fit around you, wherever you are! We’ll continue to strengthen the live experience by bringing you fresh classes every day, extending our class variety and expanding our team of brilliant teachers. In Spring 2021, we will also be launching the Heartcore At Home App! To book classes and sign up, you can visit www.weareheartcore.com.
Will clients see some familiar faces leading the online workouts?
Yes, our in-studio teachers are the same teachers leading the Heartcore At Home workouts.
What sort of classes are on offer with Heartcore At Home?
I took time to craft and translate the signature Heartcore method to the mat and I’m extremely proud of the classes we’re now offering – they’re accessible, challenging and truly transformational. The Heartcore Class builds on both strength and mobility in an empowering, energising and uplifting way. The class celebrates the free spirit and leaves you with a clear mind, open heart and a strong, yet flexible, body. Dynamic Mat Pilates is our signature Dynamic Pilates workout adapted for the mat. This class provides transformational physical results through a dynamic, motivational and fun flow. If you’re looking for a slower-paced version of our Dynamic Mat Pilates class with a deeper focus on release and breath, Pilates Flow is the one. Stretch is for those looking to release tension, improve flexibility and bring peace to mind and body. In addition to this, we will have express 30-minute Focus on classes (Strength, Stretch or Energy), designed for those with less time and aligned to specific goals, as well as Pre & Post-Natal classes, combining the principles of dynamic Pilates and Yoga in a way to offer support and motivation at every stage of pregnancy and beyond.
How are you feeling about the digital fitness space since re-imagining your own business model?
It’s an exciting space to be in – and while the competition is strong – we now have the opportunity to reach, engage, meet and move with a global audience – through our trusted method, our commitment to creating exceptional experiences, convenience to meet a more flexible lifestyle and adapting to the latest technology. Our lives have become more fluid with the lines between work/home-life being blurred. Online fitness is here to stay and it’s important to provide a service that fits into this new way of living.
As much as 2020 threw many spanners in the works, what is something positive that has come out of this challenging time?
The pandemic was certainly the catalyst for going digital. We now have an opportunity to introduce Heartcore to a global community which is so exciting. Our guests definitely appreciate the convenience of working out from home and keeping fit in mind, heart and body. For professionals, parents and guests on the move, we’re able to bring Heartcore straight to you, whenever you want to move, from wherever you are. And there’s something truly magical about that!
We cannot wait until we can get back into the Heartcore Studio again but we’re so excited that we can now get the Heartcore vibes at home. If you want to check it out head to Weareheartcore.com