Editor’s note: The following is part of Startland News’ ongoing coverage of the impact of Coronavirus (COVID-19) on Kansas City’s entrepreneur community, as well as how innovation is helping to drive a new normal in the ecosystem. Click here to follow related stories as they develop.
If COVID-19 has a silver lining for Aja James and Mallory Jansen, it’s that they now have a more intense appreciation for face-to-face interactions, the co-founders of Flexy said.
“[Social distancing and self-quarantine] has highlighted that the relationships between us, our clients and partners go deeper than just a service provider or dollar amount,” said James, whose flexible fitness brand was forced to adapt quickly amid Coronavirus restrictions. “People are checking in on us, and we are checking in on them, to see how everyone is doing and how we can help each other thrive through this separation and stress. We are trying to use this time to grow these relationships versus just staying in touch.”
Flexy typically offers fitness services in unconventional settings — apartment communities, hospitals, commercial spaces and offices — any place a fitness instructor can be sent to provide personal training, yoga classes, boot camps and mental performance training.
But Stay at Home orders changed the routine almost overnight for the Flexy team, which operates in three metros and partners with more than 40 physical locations.
“As soon as the gyms we work out of started to close down, we shifted everything online and tried to keep classes and training sessions going without any gaps in our services,” Jansen said. “It has worked out very well, so we are currently offering everything virtually — anything from live stream classes to individual personal training sessions, you name, it we do it. We are also still working very closely with the communities that we partner with and we still provide our fitness services and resources for them — just online.”
The startup’s goal is to offer consistency, confidence and stress relief during a hectic time, James added. Flexy itself — a combination of ‘flex’ and ‘sexy’ — is a state of physical and mental strength, she said, noting the two are equally important.
Click here to learn more about Flexy.
“The majority of our clients have been very receptive to the adjustments that we have made to our schedule and offerings and are still on board with us,” she said. “They seem to appreciate how quickly we have adapted to the situation and sought to provide some normalcy in their day. There is no substitute for the in-person connection we get from our sessions and classes, but we are working even harder to keep those connections strong virtually and everyone has been very receptive.”
Originally meeting over Instagram, the Flexy founding team connected over shared dreams of impacting communities through fitness and went through several iterations before landing on the pre-COVID-19 model that focused on flexible fitness at any location, said Jansen.
“We realized that we didn’t want to be stuck in one single space all day and we also didn’t have the financial backing to compensate for the overhead that it takes to open a gym itself,” she said.
That foundational premise for the business made adapting to the pandemic easier, said James.
“We think that when this is all said and done, the situation will have made Flexy and our team even stronger than we were before COVID-19,” she said. “There will be struggles but we believe that we can use these struggles to help us keep moving forward in the smartest way possible for our company and our clients.”
The team has an upbeat outlook on most things, Jansen said, and that extends to life during and after the Coronavirus runs its course.
“While we are hoping that COVID-19 ends sooner rather than later, we truly believe that we can continue to progress through all of this,” she said. “Having a team of boss women right here with us doesn’t hurt either.”
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Fresh off the BetaBlox incubator’s demo day this winter — a program Jansen said helped the Flexy team ask itself critical questions — Flexy found support during the pandemic from the startup’s BetaBlox mentors and the incubator’s lesson to expect the unexpected in business.
Now Flexy wants to be that support system for others, James said.
“We know that this is a scary and stressful time for everyone,” she said. “We want to encourage people to reach out to someone if they are feeling the effects of this mentally. If you feel alone, please know that you are not. If you feel that you don’t have someone to reach out to for support, we are here. We welcome anyone to reach out to us for support or just for someone to talk to.”
This story is possible thanks to support from the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, a private, nonpartisan foundation that works together with communities in education and entrepreneurship to create uncommon solutions and empower people to shape their futures and be successful.
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