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The Latest
Published Friday May 15, 2020 by Will Price

How Yoga and Fitness Studios Are Reopening Post-COVID-19

Fitness
Mindbody Community

As we continue to navigate the landscape that is COVID-19 and the “New Normal,” we’ve come to terms with the fact that things may never go back to how they were before. The simple act of shaking a stranger’s hand for the first time, or hugging a friend you haven’t seen in a minute both seem so foreign now. Almost to the point of, “I can’t believe we ever did that!” Think about getting adjusted by your favorite yoga teacher at your favorite studio. Or your personal trainer motivating you to do just one more rep on the bench press at the gym. Or even just a barre workout before brunch with your best friends.

Times have changed. You’re adapting. “The earth is healing.” Everything is different. But what does that mean for you “getting back into the swing of things” at your favorite fitness studios? We’re shining a light on what yoga and fitness studios are doing to reopen, as well as keep you safe, post-COVID-19.  


Reopening yoga and fitness studios post-COVID-19 

No business is immune to what is happening right now (or has happened in recent months). And of the most impacted have been fitness studios; gyms, yoga, Pilates, HIIT, barre, etc. These fitness modalities have had to shutter doors and adapt quickly to a new virtual environment, one where their clientele must continue their yoga practice from their living room, personal training from their patios, barre in the bedroom, and Pilates in the kitchen... But now, with reopening plans being dispersed across the globe, we enter a new phase of “all of this.”  

Whether apprehensive about returning to hot yoga, or ready for a sweat with a friend (or a mix of the two), fitness studios have been hard at work on their reopening plans and making sure every t is crossed, lower-case j is dotted, and regulation is followed to ensure your safety. Let’s look at what they’re doing to reopen post-COVID-19 and into the new normal: 


Updating studio space to accommodate for social distancing regulations 

In the new normal, will 6 feet be the go-to for space between one another? Too early to really tell, but for now, it is.  

As we start to re-enter studios, there will most likely still be some sort of social distancing procedures. There will potentially be changes to the layout of your favorite studios. Additionally, class structures and sizes will change to allow for adequate social distance. Make sure you’re booking well in advance if you want the front bike, or primo spot near the instructor in your next yoga class.  

Studios are paying super close attention to federal and state guidelines and updating as needed. Check your Mindbody app often to account for new rules and class times for your favorited and bookmarked fitness studios.  


Disinfecting and an increased focus on cleanliness 

Potentially the most talked-about item on this list, you can expect fitness studios to take the sanitization and disinfecting and overall cleanliness of their spaces very seriously. Considering 65% of salons and spas plan to put their disinfection and sanitization practices into overdrive*, you can expect gyms and yoga studios to follow suit (and maybe even take it even further.) In fact, 92% of you polled* noted that the importance of studios following rigorous disinfecting guidelines will be a deciding factor if you visit them again or not.  

You're pretty much guaranteed that all surface areas and floors will be sanitized regularly, and there will be plenty of tissues and hand sanitizer readily available. (Note: Don’t be surprised if you don’t see props in your next yoga class. Many studios will be doing away with them.) There's a chance you'll see signs across different fitness studios to remind you that cleaning is being done on the regular. Hopefully, this will give you a small piece of mind. 

Bob Algard of Solid Rock Training in Normal, Oklahoma, re-opened recently after putting a focus on cleaning. “Every single day, we do a professional, deep clean, and then we also we disinfect. You could eat off our floors now—not that you’d want to.” 

Questions about cleaning procedures, find your favorite studio on the Mindbody app, call them up, and ask. Right now, most everyone will want to let you know how they are keeping their spaces clean for you! 


Purposeful and mindful social media and email strategies 

Keep an eye on what your studios are doing on social media and email. There will be a lot of content flowing through the Instagrams while everyone posts memes about reopening. But if you’re able to sift through the clutter, you will find your studios planning their social media strategies carefully, working to build up trust and awareness.  

If you see repeat or similar messages, go easy on them. They may be getting creative to attract brand-new clients who are excited to check out the studio for the first time, in-person. Regarding content, expect to see: 

• Welcome back videos 

• Insider tours of the “new space” 

• New products, features, and classes offered  

• Sanitization and disinfecting routines and how-to's  

• Updated class schedules 

 

Updated online presences and websites 

If you are going directly to your fitness studio’s website, chances are, you’ll be met with some new messaging, imagery, and navigation.  

Studios most likely made some changes during COVID-19 regarding closures, COVID-19 specials, and virtual services. These pages will most likely remain, but they will be updated again with new information. (It might even be a good idea to bookmark them, if you still use bookmarks.)  

Lauren McAlister of McAlister Training in San Luis Obispo, CA is busily updating her site to ensure her clients stay in the know. “Transparency is so important right now—and our clients deserve to know what we’re doing now, and what we’re planning for as we reopen, to keep them safe.”  

With updates to today’s IRL landscape changing rapidly, you may see more pop-ups... but don’t be so down on them this time around. These pop-ups could have important reopening information and some pretty sweet promotions to book classes.  

Be sure to check out the pricing page to see if there are new deals for virtual, in-person, and a blend of the two. Additionally, if your studio live-streamed before reopening, chances are they will have a library of that content for you to revisit when you’d like. Try to find that in case you’re in a pinch and need a quick yoga workout you know how to do. 


New pricing structures for virtual and in-person 

As studios start to reopen, they will have to answer an important question: What happens to my membership now? There’s a chance you switched from your normal monthly membership to a virtual-only model? Or you’ve abandoned your membership altogether and are going class-to-class. Regardless, your fitness studio is thinking about it and planning for it.  

Be on the lookout for re-introductory offers if you’re already a client of the studio. There’s a chance you may get a week free just for coming back, or other perks we all love.  

If you’re considering a new studio, this could prove to be the most ideal time. We taught you why it’s the perfect time to try a different exercise during COVID-19 and shelter-in-place orders, but now it’s time to put those learning to IRL use. Reduced pricing for new members, and other introductory offers that seem too good to be true will be on display for you.  


A different front desk experience 

The check-in process will get a complete reevaluation and revamp. As mentioned, it’s not going to be uncommon for physical contact to be all but obsolete post-COVID-19. Studios will be very cognizant of crowding in the main lobby area and may work to eliminate all possible physical touchpoints. This is where booking ahead of time, through Mindbody is going to come in extra handy. We talked about reduced class sizes, and if you don’t book in advance, there’s a chance you won’t get into a class or the gym. Even salons and spas are talking about the “death of the walk-in,” and this is no different.  

Pre-booking of classes may be required to limit crowding and contact at the front desk. Just keep that in mind and be sure to book in advance. 

Keep in mind that your faves want your feedback on pre-booking and check-ins. John and Sierra Tarkington of Threshold Climbing and Fitness in Oklahoma City re-defined how their climbing gym operates, including pre-booking and creating zones for the climbing areas of the gym—all based on feedback from members. “We got really lucky and received stellar feedback for this first week of being open to our members—because we were able to think through a lot of those details.” 


Ongoing planning 

Let’s no sugarcoat it, okay. We’re all adults here. Regardless of what you think about all of this, there’s a chance that a second wave of COVID-19 may be coming. While that is less than ideal, the silver lining here is your studios are now very much more prepared for it to hit, as are you. 

“Now that we know what to do during a temporary closure, we have a plan in place if we need to do it again,” McAlister says. “We really hope that doesn’t happen but we’re ready—and hope our clients are too—if it does.”  

You now know what works and what doesn’t, as do your fitness studios, when you’re forced to shelter-in-place, and they are forced to temporarily closing and reopening your business. Hey, we might not need to plan for this at all! Wouldn’t that be good? But, just in case, do plan. It’s always better to be safe than sorry. 

It seems like we’re all starting to reintroduce ourselves to the “real world,” whatever that means anymore. Whether you’re diving headfirst into your routines and chomping at the bit to get back to the studio, or are dipping one toe in at a time and taking baby steps back out into society, there’s no wrong way to do it.  

Just remember some key things: 

Book in advance 

• Be patient 

• Keep your distance and be respectful of others 

• Show your studios some extra love 

• Be well!  

 

Let’s do this.  

 

BONUS: If you’re a studio looking to reopen but need a little help, check out this free resource - Reboot Kit: How to Reopen Your Fitness Business Post COVID-19.  

 

*Source: May 2020 Mindbody App Consumer survey 

Will Price Mindbody
Written by
Will Price
Senior Manager, Marketing Content (good guy to know)
About the author
In so many words, Will is a content marketer by trade and a story-telling appreciator by passion. Since grade school history & social studies classes, Will knew he wanted to someday be the one telling the stories versus just hearing them. Aside from unsuccessfully teaching his cross-eyed dog how to fetch, you can find Will on the Enso blog, chilling in shady spots under palm trees, and acting as the Senior Manager, Consumer Marketing at MINDBODY. He might answer on Twitter at @The_Momentum or @LordWilliam.
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The Latest
Published Tuesday May 19, 2020 by Shanila Sattar

Top Breathing Exercises for Anxiety and Depression and The New Normal

Meditation
Renewal
Personal Growth
Expert Advice

Inhale. 
 
 
Have you been feeling it? The big emotion floating around the last few weeks is the Big Anxiety. Coupled with the stress of what the COVID-19 pandemic has bought for millions of people, disturbed wellness routines, and worry, we have a recipe to create massive damage to ourselves. 
 
 
Exhale. 
 
 
Adjusting to the new normal, with social distancing practices in place and adapting to precautions and routines, may be the root of even more anxiousness for many as we’re navigating uncharted territories.  


Long-term anxiety and stress can harm our bodies 

During times of high stress, our bodies experience a physiological strain, where essentially everything from our heart, muscles, blood, and energy have to work harder than needed in order to keep functioning at a minimum. Our body’s natural processes, like breathing, can get compromised, lessening the healing functions of the nervous system, and overworking our adrenal system. Stress management is almost non-existent. This overtaxing of the body disrupts the natural flow of energy and resources, and puts us in something known as the “fight or flight” mode. In this mode, we are constantly deciding if there is some kind of real danger and how to survive it. We feel these signals when our heart rate and blood pressure rise, our stress responses like sweating and either constricted or super fast breathing occur, and our feel-good hormones become compromised. 
  
As we process anxiety, not only do we mentally and emotionally feel the repercussions, we also physically confuse our systems that are doing their best to naturally heal us. Staying in a state of continued anxiety with an overactive sympathetic nervous system can be incredibly damaging to your health, even if it is a small amount of stress that collects over time. Stress suppresses our immunity, digestion, deep breathing, disrupts sleep, and eating patterns, impacts mood, energy levels, and much more.  


We are holding our breath

Studies show that over 50% of adults are essentially holding their breaths. They do a shallow type of breathing known as thoracic breathing, where you breathe lightly into your chest instead of into your diaphragm. For example, notice how you’re breathing right now. You’re likely holding your breath to some extent and you’re probably not breathing much at all. If you’re asked to partake in a deep breathing exercise now, you’ll puff up your chest and shoulders, and empty out your stomach. Guilty? 
  
If you’ve ever seen a baby breathe or the breathing technique of someone in deep sleep, you’ll notice that their bellies rise and fall; the oxygen goes directly into a natural deep belly breath. Adults, however, have become acclimated to holding our breaths without meaning to. When we can slow down and practice deep breathing, we send physical and neurological signals through our entire body that asks us to rest.  


Breathing exercises can reduce stress and anxiety

The great news is that there are easy breathing exercises we can do at home that do not take a lot of time or effort. An incredible tool that anyone can use in times of high stress is remembering to inhale and exhale. Yes, breathing. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention also recommended breathwork not simply as an immunity building tool, but as a way to balance emotional and mental wellbeing. Deep breathing and other breathwork improves the body’s overall functions; improves the respiratory system, builds protective mucus in the nose, oxygenates and blood and brain, improves digestion, alkalizes the full body, and much more. Each style of breathwork sends special physiological signals—some ask us our bodies to slow down and chill, to get out of fight mode, and bring us back to equilibrium where our body’s natural healing systems can be activated; some styles of breathwork ask to pump up and energize


Top breathing exercises to reduce anxiety and stress 

It’s common to find yourself rushing through breathing practices or feel like you need to set aside special time for it. But that’s the point. We get to slow down, and we get to implement these practices even if there are distractions, business, and no perfect zen meditation corners in our homes. We can do these anytime, anywhere. 
  
If you’ve been feeling any small symptoms of anxiousness or stress, now is the perfect time to incorporate some incredibly easy and effective breathwork techniques into your day-to-day. 


Belly breathing 

This breathing technique can be done at any time of the day, for as long as you want. It’s recommended to practice this for at least 30 seconds to start and several times throughout the day. It’s a breath technique to practice before going to sleep as well. As you’re doing this breath, imagine your stomach like a big pump. As you breathe in, you’re expanding; as you breathe out, you’re emptying out. 

1. Put your hands on your belly/abdomen area. 
 
 

2. Take a big breath through the nose and PUSH your hands away from the belly as you breathe in. Expand your stomach as much as possible and try not to puff up your chest. 
 
 

3. Slowly exhale through the mouth and constrict your belly inwards. Feel free to make a sound with the mouth when you do this.  
 
 

4. Repeat for a minimum of 30 seconds. 
 
 
  
  

6-7-8 Breath 

The 6-7-8 breath can be done at any time of the day to calm anxiousness and stress, especially before doing to sleep. It’s a self-soothing technique that helps relax and calm the nervous system. You can do this practice sitting up or laying down.  
  
1. Close down your eyes. 
 
 

2. Relax your mouth. 
 
 

3. Take a deep breath in through your nose for 6 full seconds. Count in your head and maintain an even pace. 
 
 

4. Hold this breath for 7 seconds. 
 
 

5. Pucker your mouth and exhale out through the mouth with a “whoooooossh” sound for 8 seconds. 
 
 

6. Repeat this 6-7-8 breath for at least 5 rounds, or as long as you wish. 
 
 


You can adjust the 6-7-8 counts to accommodate your pace. You can try a 4-5-6 sequence, or an 8-9-10 sequence. Play around with the length of time that feels good for your body. Some people love to sit by an analog clock for the ticking sound to help keep pace; some love to incorporate music. 


The Box Breath 

This is another easy technique that can be done at any time of the day. 

1. Breathe in for 4 seconds through the nose. 
 
 

2. Hold for 4 seconds. 
 
 

3. Exhale for 4 seconds through the nose. 
 
 

4. Hold for 4 seconds. 
 
 

5. Repeat at least 5 times. 
 
 

You can play around with the timing for 6 seconds, 8 seconds, and so on to see what works best for your body.

These are the top three breathwork techniques to manage anxiety and stress. Plenty of other techniques work on sleep, inner healing, subconscious programming, altered states of consciousness, and more. Play with the three techniques above and see what feels great for you. It’s common to find a sense of calm almost immediately, some gentle tingling, and relaxation! As we’re adjusting to the new normal, let’s all contribute to creating peace both inside and out. 

If you'd like to try a guided breathwork class with me, click here to find one that works with your schedule! For other breathwork classes, browse Mindbody

Shanila Sattar
Written by
Shanila Sattar
Founder, AlwaysPlay Studios
About the author
Shanila is a sound healer, breathwork coach, women’s researcher, and speaker. She trains sound healers and breathwork facilitators through her mobile studio, AlwaysPlay Studios, and is the founder of the Integrative Wellness Leaders based in Los Angeles. She practices integrative wellness - considering a person's emotional, mental, physical, and spiritual wellbeing. Her background is in tech, having co-founded an award-winning web agency, and in women’s research, specifically in mindsets, implicit bias, perfectionism, women's health, and societal experiences supported through the National Science Foundation, National Institute of Health, and several universities. She has implemented several health and wellbeing programs in underserved populations throughout Los Angeles. Shanila mentors women who are wellness entrepreneurs and on their confidence journey.