Like many business owners forced to close amid efforts to control the spread of COVID-19, Brenna Wyman was left with an unsettling question: Would she ever open the doors to her yoga studio again?
Membership fees were quickly drying up at Inner Revolution Yoga, a Kanata North facility founded by Wyman approximately five years ago. The business employs dozens of instructors and provides a valuable opportunity for local residents, including members of the local tech park, to improve their physical and mental well-being.
“We were watching things evolve like a dark cloud and I knew I had to make a decision to shut our doors and put all the memberships on hold,” she says. “At that moment I realized I was essentially losing my business.”
Wyman says she immediately started brainstorming ways to adapt the business and continue to serve her community – and her employees.
“I had started to watch other companies restart online and I was curious if that could work for me,” she says.
One of the first places she turned for help was the Kanata North Business Association, which announced in late April that it would be assisting its members through a new $200,000 fund aimed at helping businesses acquire digital solutions to get through the COVID-19 crisis.
“I think I was the first person to apply,” jokes Wyman, who knew the non-repayable $2,500 grant would be critical in helping her rebuild and purchase the software needed to get her online services up and running.
Inner Revolution Yoga launched its reduced-price online membership and virtual classes, enabling Wyman to recall employees and re-engage with longtime members. By charging just under $10 for a membership, she was also able to cater to members and families feeling the economic pinch of COVID-19 and those who typically couldn’t afford to join the studio.
Within the first week of business, online customers had access to nearly 30 virtual sessions, a feat she says wouldn’t have been sustainable without the help of the KNBA.
The initial success of the online programs have prompted Wyman to expand the offerings to include corporate sponsorship options for companies looking to give their employees a perk, with fellow Kanata North company Prontoforms signing on as the first client.
Bringing wellness to people on the job, especially in stressful and uncertain times is critical, says Wyman, who has continued to evolve the sponsorship to include health and wellness talks, family-friendly workouts and nutrition tips.
While it has taken some time to adapt to leading yoga through a screen, Wyman says the opportunity to keep her business afloat and support the community is worth it.
“Having the option to be able to still virtually work with companies in Kanata has been amazing,” she adds. “Knowing that everyone’s open to collaborating and working together is definitely a good feeling for someone that is pivoting and needing the support.”