Gillian Reeves, instructor and studio owner at Croydon Yoga Hub, shares some of her experience
Gillian Reeves, instructor and studio owner at Croydon Yoga Hub, has written two guest blogs for us. Gillian is highly experienced in managing club timetables having spent seven years as National Group Exercise Manager at Virgin Active. This first blog offers advice for studio managers which she hopes will provide some practical things that can be used straight away.
So, we’ve made it this far, over several months of huge change, and everyone has adapted quickly. I’m sure I’m not the only one to have experienced good days, bad days, a roller coaster of emotions and some soul searching along the way too. Once we had the news that gyms and studios could reopen my reaction was of pure joy and excitement as I couldn’t wait to be practicing and teaching in studio classes again with others sharing energy and real-life interaction.
I’m aware that not everyone had the same reaction. Some people were anxious, some were still shielding, others were worried about whether they had work to go back to, while others were enjoying the comfort of exercising at home. Studio owners and managers were unsure what the response from instructors and clients would be.
Six months on, and with the benefit of that experience, here are some pointers to help you in this continuing period of uncertainty
I really understand the work that you do and that you’re often overworked even without a pandemic! Often a thankless role with a mound of admin behind the scenes that not many see.
Do communicate your plans with the instructor team as early as you can and still communicate with your team even if you are not sure what the plan is!
It is absolutely necessary to create a plan although these plans will be the most reactive yet compared to how you usually plan schedule changes. Just remember to take your team along with you on this seemingly bumpy ride. Your team may be able to support you and offer insight you had not considered. You’ll earn respect and show your team you really care when you seek out their opinion and listen.
If you have a large team, you may like to run video calls to communicate updates. I’d encourage all studio owners and managers to include everyone, not only at this time but ongoing, again to show respect and support. That means your cover instructors as well as those who teach classes regularly.
Offer a few different times for video call meetings so everyone has the opportunity of attending around their current schedule, responsibilities, and life, but be understanding of why some instructors are unable to make the video calls. Again, include your cover instructors. If you leave your cover instructors out, you may well find yourself in a situation where they are not available or don’t have the time to get up to speed with the new rules when you need a last minute cover.
Whatever your future plans, include everyone who had been teaching for you prior to the lockdown. Consider how you would like to be treated if you were in their shoes.
Follow up with email updates to all instructors who were previously teaching for you.
Make sure that you have been transparent with any instructors who you don’t plan to work with in the future before creating separate email communications with groups of instructors who you plan to work with in the future
Instructors all talk to each other. It’s best for your own reputation to be as transparent and open as you can as early as possible to show respect to the instructor that you don’t have work to offer.. This allows the instructor time to take in the news, understand where they stand, and plan for work elsewhere.
Ensure you have communicated, ideally via phone or at the very least via email, to all instructors before you publish a revised timetable or schedule changes at any time. Some conversations may be difficult, especially if it means the class that the instructor used to teach is not included on the schedule. Again, try to put yourself in the shoes of the instructor and treat them as you would want to be treated.
Instructors have a great rapport with the participants and it’s likely that they will have been in contact with your customers during lockdown. They may have set up and taught classes that your customers have attended. An open conversation to look at opportunities on how you could work together will help you both understand the impact of schedule changes once the studio reopens or classes are available online.
At some point, you will inevitably need cover for a class in the future. Even if you don’t have work for every instructor to return to, you may be calling on them to cover. With good, respectful communication now, the instructor is more likely to support you in the future.
I understand it is a challenging time with so much change and I hope this information is useful. Do let me know what you think whether you are an instructor, studio manager or owner and get in touch if I can support with any specific advice.
You can reach me at Croydon Yoga Hub on 07540 051250 or email me via email@example.com.
For further guidance, EMD UK has a free to download Group Ex Support Pack available together with a Return to Play document which includes a comprehensive list of how the venue you operate in can be COVID-19 safety compliant.