Continuing the Port's Road to Recovery series, this week the Examiner looks at how COVID-19 has impacted the fitness industry in Port Stephens. The Port's Road to Recovery series aims to paint a picture of individual industries and social issues, how they have been impacted and what the future looks like for them - as told by those on the ground.
Sammy Pincovai did not slow down during the three months that her Pilates studio in Fingal Bay, Core Central, was closed during the height of the coronavirus pandemic in Australia.
If anything she was even busier, using the time to do something she had been dreaming about for three years.
"I took the initiative that I think quite a few people in a similar case to me did as well and opened a virtual studio," she said.
"I sub-contract out to Studio Pilates International and facilitate courses for new budding, training instructors in Sydney. Between that job and running the studio here in Fingal Bay I hadn't found time to create that online resource.
"The government's closure of gyms and recreational fitness centres like mine gave me the ability to do finally do what I had been intending to do for three years. I took the time off, created the online platform and ran three online classes a week."
The classes were pre-recorded and uploaded to the online platform, accessed through Core Central's website, with help from the studio's instructors Sue Heenan, Montie Thompson and Amy Watson.
It was not only local clients flocked to sign up once the virtual studio went live. Core Central's database expanded to include clients from across Australia and the world including France, where Pincovai worked prior to opening the Fingal Bay studio in 2012, England and Washington.
"It has developed into a whole new business," Pincovai said.
Core Central, a boutique Pilates studio, closed on March 23 and reopened on June 13. Pincovai said the forced closure, directed by the Australian and state government, did not come as a surprise.
"We had already implemented so many restrictions in the studio before the lockdown," she said.
"I had almost been contemplating closing anyway as a health precaution because of the demographics we see in the studio - mums and bubs, mature aged clients and a diverse range of ages from teenagers up to 60 and 70 - and for the health of my own family."
In the first weeks of reopening, bookings have been strong for in-studio classes which are currently running at half the size due to physical distancing requirements.
While COVID-19 restrictions remain in place, the studio's barre and yoga classes will remain online.
The virtual studio is now a permanent fixture of Core Central with the platform relaunching on the website on July 10, making it easier for clients to access and use.
Pincovai thanked her clients and the community for its unwavering support for her business not only during the pandemic but in the eight years it had been operating.
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