“The industry has majorly suffered – and with the majority of gyms and studios dealing with multi-month closures and strict restrictions, there has never been a more prevalent time to understand the “essential service” of health and wellness,” says Connie McInnes. She is the Owner/Creator of R Studios and a former competitive gymnast.
Connie believes that there is a fundamental link between physical and mental health and the stress of the pandemic has only heightened the concern around issues of mental health. She further adds, throughout the pandemic, especially during phases of lockdown, it was easy to identify just how critical maintaining a degree of movement was for people. She asserts “We witnessed a rise in online platforms as the importance of reaching the population anywhere, at any given time became of pivotal priority.”
In an interview with Insights Success, Connie shared the changing aspects of wellness and fitness industry during the pandemic and how she improved her organization’s offerings to provide healthy life style to individuals.
Below are highlights of the interview:
Give us a brief overview of your position at R Studios, its vision, and your journey since inception
RStudio’s was born in Halifax in 2014. The first studio, RIO, started as an “underground” pilates and yoga studio in the back of a building in an area that was still very underdeveloped but becoming the trendy area of the city. The space was an open concept room with space for 15 people. I wanted to create a brand that would break down the walls of these traditional movement practices, and introduce music and art and host a variety of community events that would bring people together for more than just movement. The plan was always to build this one studio with no vision of expanding further, as at the time this dream seemed big enough.
Within a year we outgrew the space, added an additional space next door and introduced more strength based classes. Organically, we continued to build our community to the point where we were too big to operate under one space and RIO’s sister studio, ROGUE was created in a new location nearby. ROGUE became our high- intensity studio and classes were full from day one.
In 2019 we decided to tap into a new area and opened REBEL, a twist on the two other studios, but with even more flavor. We are about to open the 4th location in our 6 years, adding a spin studio to our diverse range of classes. The pandemic pushed us to focus on thriving, rather than merely surviving.
What is your opinion on the advancements for wellness and fitness services to improve the offerings with newer technological developments, especially when it comes to building a population of healthy individuals?
The one challenge with bringing fitness into the homes of individuals is the immediate loss of a “curated space” that fitness facilities provide. So, establishing a higher level of quality through sound, visuals and accessibility has elevated this experience so clients can feel more connected and in touch with a more replicable version of their studio space. The number one thing we learned almost instantaneously was just how integrated our sense of community was in our classes and for our members in being a part of Rstudios. The challenge was in finding a way to incorporate this sense of camaraderie and connection in moving to online platforms, so this element was not left out of the experience for our clients. With these advancements, the result has been an expansion of what we are capable of now offering to a wider scale. We can now bring an easily accessible and affordable platform to people, and stretch to a wider geographic range.
Not only that, clients now have the ability to now access their choice of class, on their own schedule, and select their classes based on their particular desire or need that day.
In your opinion, what could be the future of personalized healthcare post the COVID-19 pandemic? And how are you strategizing R Studios’ operations for that future?
Throughout the pandemic we have been pushed as a society to move away from “group” to “solo” or “small”. Staying home, avoiding gatherings, and remaining “six feet apart” have been labelled “safety”.
The “group mentality” has started to waiver in the sense that people are being forced to be more disconnected, and the shift from collective to individual is happening. That being said, I do strongly believe that the gap in all of these great advancements of fitness being accessible from the comfort of your home, is not necessarily where people will choose to stay in the future. While the convenience has been a gift, and will continue to play a role in busy lives and for people more confined on a day to day basis to their homes, it will never replace the idea of “group fitness” as the elements that make these classes enjoyable cannot be replicated with these new platforms. The need for connection and community is stronger now, more than ever.
What is your idea of Corporate Social Responsibility?
Everything we do should contribute to making an impact. Our mantra is always, to find a mission bigger than ourselves. The collective needs us right now. This pandemic has not impacted one person, one place, or one industry. It is our JOB to put ourselves a side in a time like this, and put our focus on bettering and contributing to the bigger picture. We identified and addressed health care and front line workers from the very beginning, offering free memberships, having the virtual classes applaud our front line workers before every class, and ensuring we could do what we had the ability to do to recognize and appreciate them.
This responsibility is not required to always be in the form of donation or even a massive commitment of time or demonstration. Spreading a more positive message, sharing a “good” news story during a negative time, putting a smile on a face of someone in desperation, these are what we are responsible for.
As an established Fitness leader, what would be your advice to the budding women healthcare leaders aspiring to venture into the wellness and fitness Industry?
One thing is for sure, this industry is not going anywhere. More than ever health is of pivotal priority and importance. Every single person has become woke to this through this contagious virus. We have impacted, even if we have not been directly infected.
Make sure your message, and your purpose is clear. This industry is prevalent and has taken a huge transition; in some cases it has become diluted. So, your reasoning, your intent, and your desire to make change have to be at the forefront.
How do you envision on sustaining your holistic care competency in a cutthroat and volatile world of wellness center? Where do you see your virtual healthcare in the next five years?
Still present. Though, the companionship and connection from surrounding yourself with likeminded individuals will never go out of style. Our global access to leaders in this industry and an understanding of wellness as a whole has expanded. We are learning more, understanding the importance of all- inclusive health and wellness, and hopefully the rise in care for ourselves and our individual health continues to be prioritized.