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R Studios

Written by the Symplicity team

Maritime Resilience is a series of stories on how local organizations are adapting to COVID-19.

R Studios stays true to its community focus, shifts to virtual platform to push through the pandemic

R Studios is known as a collective of like-minded people blending fitness, community and fun. The brand includes three boutique exercise studios – Rio, Rogue and Rebel – which are known to deliver the widest variety of classes anywhere in the city with a sense of community and fun unlike traditional gyms.

Started in 2014 by former competitive gymnast Connie McInnes, the first location, Rio, opened in a small loft studio in downtown Halifax. In 2017, McInnes opened Rogue in a repurposed industrial warehouse on Lady Hammond Road, followed by Rebel in downtown Dartmouth in March 2019. The studios offer classes that include yoga, barre & Pilates, boxing, kickboxing and strength training, all with a unique twist.

McInnes said her plan has always been to find ways to get people moving in a fun environment.

“R Studios has something for everyone, whether you’re looking to restore, rebuild or really, really sweat.”

Although R Studios is a series of bricks and mortar fitness studios there is more to it than that. McInnes said her primary purpose has always been to bring people together and nurture a community. It’s that purpose that drove her and her team to keep going when the COVID-19 virus forced them to close their doors in mid-March 2020.

McInnes is driven to keep members connected, engaged and motivated to move. When the three studios closed, the R Studios team immediately got moving to distribute fitness equipment to members and put together a collection of favourite classes that members could access online.

“Right away, we knew we had to find ways to keep our members moving. People came and picked up equipment and we delivered to people who had no way to get to us. The instructors mobilized to capture some video classes so members could have something to follow from home,” McInnes recounted.
With no wage subsidies or rent assistance for the first few months, McInnes said it wasn’t long before she realized the business would have to find a way to generate new revenue to keep operating as COVID-19 continued. 

R Studios shifted to a virtual platform using Zoom. The R Studios team started delivering regularly scheduled classes live via videoconference so members and non-members could get the benefits of live instruction from R Studios teachers and interacting with others in the class for a minimal subscription fee.

“The experience on Zoom is as close as you can get to an actual studio class. You can see others taking part and can interact with the instructor and get tips on form. It’s more fun and builds a sense of connection. Everyone is sweating and enjoying themselves together.”
R Studios has a full schedule of Zoom classes every day, with names like Full on Fire Pilates, Booty Fusion, Hustle & Flow and more. Regular R Studios instructors are back on contract delivering classes. 

For McInnes, the biggest lesson has been how important it is to move and take care of your physical health during stressful times. She heard from R Studios members how their time in fitness classes is one of the highlights of their day.

“I heard from members how much they felt the absence of collective movement and the chance to connect with others. Members crave that part of the day when they get a chance to retreat from their daily lives and connect with like-minded individuals, in a safe and comfortable environment,” she said.

Maintaining a consistent revenue stream is challenging during these times. As a small business with a team of contract workers, McInnes explained R Studios doesn’t qualify for the majority of the government support programs. 

“But, keeping our community connected and active has kept R Studios working and the team plans to emerge stronger than ever.”

R Studios is offering online fitness classes and training.

Visit their website or social media for more info!

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