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
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.
“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.
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.
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.”