“Business as usual” has an entirely new meaning

“Business as usual” has an entirely new meaning

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Mina Atia
Halifax Chamber of Commerce
Intern, Communications Coordinator

Closing their doors on March 15 paused business for Evolve Fitness, but that pause didn’t last long. They immediately went virtual and within 24 hours hosted their first Zoom workout from home.

Evolve Fitness started hosting 35 sessions per week and they’re now up to 69 including boot camps, cardio and yoga. Most of the workouts are held from home by trainers with some held in the studio while social distancing.

“We offered a lot of our private clients a free one-year daily nutrition coaching and their own personal accountability coach to help support them through this,” says Mathew Benvie, owner of Evolve Fitness Ltd., head personal trainer, and 2020 Halifax Business Awards Business Leader finalist.

He jokes he’s probably been removed from email lists by clients since he started emailing them daily. Benvie reaches out to his community with inspirational quotes, teachings and guidance by email and through their Facebook page.

Last month, Evolve Fitness held a virtual workout program to fundraise for small businesses and it went viral. Open for anyone to join, the workout’s fundraising goal was $5,000 for a minimum of $5 per donation. One hundred per cent of the proceeds go directly back into the community, by purchasing gift cards to support local small businesses.

“To date, we raised $65,000 with a list of 125 businesses and organizations being paid out with $500 to $1000 gift cards,” says Benvie. “We’re also offering the program free of charge for healthcare workers in partnership with Partners for Care.” Trainers hold programs at varying time periods to allow frontline workers to participate whenever they could.

Evolve Fitness is currently running into challenges with time constraints and planning for an uncertain future. Benvie tries to find time to navigate an unusually large volume of emails, administrative work and membership questions. The response to the fundraiser was overwhelming, and they are now working with 2,000 clients instead of 750 with the same number of staff.

Similarly, planning has been a challenge for him since there isn’t a template to follow or other examples on how to proceed in the next few months. “Can we open at 50 per cent capacity? Will it be safe for our clients? Will our clients physically come back before a vaccine is available? And many other questions that can’t be really answered yet,” says Benvie.

He also wonders how his business is supposed to afford paying the same rent, wages, cleaning costs and supplies, which are now 10 times more expensive, with only a revenue from half of their business capacity.

Despite the uncertainty, Benvie remains focused on the positive side. “We are very lucky to have a lot of close friends and clients who have become mentors and are helping us plan and make decisions going forward,” he says. Experts, through the Halifax Chamber, are sending him daily emails to keep up-to-date on and to take advantage of available resources to support his business.

“I love the Chamber and their response has been great as usual,” says Benvie who applied for the wage subsidy, the one-time grant up to $5,000 and the 40K loan with 10K forgivable. “We still have our full staff employed thanks to the wage subsidy.”

Benvie feels very supported by government initiatives. “You can tell they care, are doing everything they can in a very uncertain time and are listening to feedback,” he says.

The community response has been nothing short of incredible for Evolve Fitness. They’ve always been aware of the strong and tight-knit community at their gym, but the support they’ve received since closing their doors has been truly special and has exceeded their expectations.

Benvie guarantees there are many people ready to offer their support. For him, It’s a matter of being willing to ask for help. “I read a really great quote which I shared with our clients this morning. We all get to make a difference, and it’s our choice what difference we make,” he says.

“I hope everyone is choosing to make a positive difference each day however that looks for them.”

Evolve Fitness
Evolve Fitness Team of Trainers *Photos provided by Evolve Fitness Ltd.*

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