Supporting Your Instructors and Staff During COVID-19

Supporting Your Instructors and Staff During Your Reopening

Tips for What Matters to Real Fitness Studio Staff Members

Your staff is the face of your studio and arguably one of the most important components of your fitness business.  iKizmet spoke with three different fitness studio staff to determine how leadership could best support them during in a reopening plan.

Chances are you’re thinking of your studio’s re-opening and how you’re going to safely bring back your members… but what are your plans to safely bring back your staff? iKizmet sat down with three fitness studio staff members to get their thoughts on safety surrounding reopening and what they need in leadership to feel safe. Scroll below for 4 tips you should use for your staff when planning your fitness studio's reopening.  

Danyelle has been a barre instructor and yoga teacher for several years at different studios in California. At first, Danyelle reported she was skeptical about the impact of COVID-19. As California approached the stay-at-home orders, she reported it “felt more and more socially responsible to close down.” She reported that many clients were also skeptical and were upset about the studio’s closure. “Some said ‘you can’t close down, this is my sanctuary.’ Looking back, it was a good idea to close when we did.”

Danyelle was halfway through a Barre instructor course when the studio closed and the Stay-at-Home orders soon followed. They completed the training virtually and once that was completed, there was not enough work. Danyelle unfortunately was furloughed. Luckily, when her studio applied and accepted a PPP loan (Yes! They actually got one!) Danyelle was brought back on staff. When asked how her job responsibilities have shifted, Danyelle reported that while she focuses on recording classes about 3 to 4 hours a week, she is spending another 20 hours working on getting the studio’s retail up online. “I’m not nervous to go back [to the studio], I’m looking forward to it. I miss the studio and I miss the clients.” In terms of leadership, Danyelle felt that full honesty and not sugar-coating the situation would go a long way. 

For Brenna, a teacher and instructor in the fitness space for the last 10 years, the experience was a little different. Brenna was working as a yoga teacher and cycle instructor as well as working as a personal trainer at a local health club. Prior to California’s Stay-at-Home order, Brenna reported that seeing the difference between the cleaning measures taken at the boutique fitness studio vs. the health club were what concerned her the most. Prior to the health club shutting down, she had decided to cease working for the time being for her clients’ sake. Once the stay-at-home order took effect, Brenna was furloughed and she had to apply for unemployment. 

When it comes to the re-opening, Brenna reported that she is “concerned, but not paranoid.” She’s ready to get back to her studio. “I will definitely use less manual, hands-on adjustments at the beginning. I plan on using more descriptions of poses and movements and verbal cueing.” An important thing she did note: she doesn’t want the space during class to be about coronavirus. “I’m a person who likes contact and hugging, so I hope that this doesn’t change that forever.” Brenna feels that things are going to look different for now, but she’s hopeful that clients will be ready to work out together and that they will have missed it. “I think virtual classes will grow, but I don’t think it will replace in-person classes.”

Joy, a front desk staff member at a studio in California said the hardest thing about the shutdown has been losing the sense of community at the studio. Joy recently moved from Colorado to California and felt like she found her community at her local barre and yoga studio. Although her studio is doing live and on-demand workouts, as well as social happy hours, she still misses the in-person community that she had: “It’s not the same.” While she has concerns, she is ready to go back to the studio as soon as it opens.


4 Areas to Focus on When Bringing Your Staff Back:

1. COMMUNICATION: This was a unanimous key component in making staff feel supported. Giving your employees a safe space to communicate their concerns to you will help them feel better and will help you keep a pulse on the vibe of your business. Likewise, make sure you are actively communicating how you are supporting their safety. If you don’t have staff, teachers, and instructors, you don’t have customer service… or a business. 


  • Hold a weekly or monthly all-staff meeting to promote open communication and team-building. 
  • Personally reach out to your employees and give them an avenue to discuss any comments or concerns. 
  • Check in with your employees frequently. Use an anonymous comment box or surveys to gauge true feelings. 
  • Send email updates to keep everyone in the loop of changing circumstances or procedures. 

2. SAFETY: Do your staff have recommended and necessary safety precautions in place? While these safety precautions may differ from country to country and state to state, it is important to ensure that you are following recommended and mandated guidelines.

Things to consider for your re-opening: 

  • Do you have a cleaning plan in place? 
  • Will you need to lower class and studio capacity to allow for social distancing?
  • Do you have a plan in place if you learn an employee or client has tested positive for COVID-19? 
  • Have you communicated your business’s policy on sick time -maybe that policy has changed specific to coronavirus?
  • Will your staff wear gloves and masks? Will instructors wear face shields? 
  • What will be the cleaning protocol between classes? In each room?

3. CLARITY: What are your protocols and procedures? Developing these and ensuring your staff know them can make all the difference. Many people thrive on structure and while it may seem like you are micro-managing, when things are uncertain, this may actually provide relief to your staff and clients. Laying out clear plans of action can help manage and maintain expectations. 

Try these:

  • Create a schedule or list of tasks for each staff member or job title. 
  • Create checklists or spreadsheets to ensure your team meets cleaning milestones throughout the day. 
  • Ensure you have a clean and easily accessible storage area for cleaning supplies and other necessary equipment.
  • Make yourself and other leadership available for questions or clarification on procedures. 

4. TRANSPARENCY: Finally, the future is uncertain. Do we love that? Not at all. However, it is a fact that we need to embrace. Your studio may look a lot different in 3 months or 6 months. It’s important to keep staff apprised of changes as they appear on the horizon. This doesn’t mean you need to concern them with every detail of your business’ finances. However, it could mean that you are transparent in the trends you are seeing. This establishes trust with your employees and allows them to make necessary plans or adjustments in their personal lives. 


 The Bottom Line:

You cannot control the future or the outcomes of this time, but you can control how you support your staff and how you lead them. Communication and leadership will go a long way in making your staff-and ultimately your clients- feel safe during these times.


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