Jess and Siobhain, co-founders and owners of Dance Fit Bath are here to tell you that nothing is better than getting out on the dance floor to sweat it all out, and we couldn't agree more. Although their dance floors are currently in the kitchen, in the living room, in the bathroom, or anywhere you can get enough space, they are not holding back from giving just as much energy and enthusiasm possible into each and every one of their classes.
Although Jess and Siobhain launched their business only just a few months prior to the first lockdown, that did not stop them from continuing on with their pursuit to give incredible dance fitness classes to their customers from home. It didn't hurt either that they quickly found management software to help them offer recurring monthly memberships, give classes online via Zoom, and use email marketing to stay connected with their customers.
Not only did we sit down with Siobhain and Jess to learn more about their business, but TeamUp's very own Jessica and Melissa recently got to groove to the likes of Elton John, Adam Levine and Christina Aguilera, and the Gypsy Kings in Siobhain's Monday Max class. And they will be back! Check out our recent interview with Dance Fit Bath to learn ways how to keep your customers engaged via Zoom and pre-recorded content, what early challenges they were able to overcome thanks to the mutual support of each other (and software), as well as their keys to success.
Tell us about Dance Fit Bath and how you got started
Siobhain: We are a partnership offering dance fitness classes in Bath. We teach in real life in various venues, and now during lockdown via Zoom and Vimeo weekly pre-recorded workouts. We both absolutely love dancing ourselves fit — it's such a joyous way to work out, works every muscle, burns tons of calories and it really is exercise in disguise! A class 45 minutes long passes so fast when you're sweating, smiling and singing along to some cracking tunes.
We've worked together on and off for over 10 years - in fact, Jess got me started as an instructor; I went to one of her classes after the birth of my third baby and was instantly hooked. Her high-energy workout and brilliant choreography were both addictive, so when she asked me if I'd like to cover a couple of her maternity classes I agreed, even though it was way out of my comfort zone as a classroom teacher (I was actually Jess's English teacher once upon a time!) and web editor.
Where did you come up with the concept for Dance Fit Bath?
Jess: Before the first lockdown came about, I found out I was pregnant with my third child. Siobhain and I had previously discussed the option of teaming up and becoming a partnership. So when lockdown happened, it was a no-brainer to pair up and to offer our services to the community of Bath.
Siobhain: The concept of Dance Fit Bath started when we launched live events in a local nightclub. The experience of dancing on a real dance floor for a couple of hours on a weekend was an instant hit, and we sold out two events in 3 weeks. Sadly, the second one coincided with the first lockdown, so that's when we realised we needed to go virtual. We started with pre-recorded on-demand content last summer. Jess was on maternity leave so couldn't manage live-streams, although she did film over 30 high energy tracks while heavily pregnant. I offered live-streams and learned the Zoom ropes (cue endless hours of fiddling with cables and googling 'how to share quality music on Zoom').
How did you find TeamUp and what made you want to start using software?
Jess: Siobhain is a computer whizz and between us, we have over 20 years of dance/fitness teaching experience so it just felt right and it worked. With the amazing structure of TeamUp, everything just fell into place and it literally took only a couple of days for us to get up and running.
Siobhain: By late August Jess was raring to get back to teaching again, and I was keen to take virtual classes to the next level. I came across TeamUp via a local gym who was using it, so did a bit of research and quickly realised it was really powerful and would save hours of website editing, emails and PayPal links. We also loved that it would manage our studio classes, which we started team-teaching too. Covid-compliance meant pre-booking and customer tracking was essential, along with health and Covid waivers, all of which was easy to do using TeamUp.
It didn't take long to get going; once we had Teamup setup, we were good to go. TeamUp has provided a powerful, easy to use booking and communication platform so vital right now. We love the control it gives us! I could play with it for hours!!
What challenges did you run into early on?
Jess: We have had a few technical difficulties along the way; including dodgy WiFi connections during our Zoom lessons and rubbish laptops, but thanks to lots of research into all the latest cables and cords, we soon became pros.
Siobhain: We've faced so many challenges! We are a fledgeling business feeling our way through a ridiculous time and grappling with new tech, so of course progress has felt slow at times. We've also had to find new, larger venues to comply with social distancing rules. Mostly this has worked out, but one venue basically kicked us out for being too loud, and at another, a very fierce customer infiltrated the class to complain that we were disturbing her book club. Working as a partnership definitely helped at those times.
The other main challenge has just been keeping on top of all the chopping and changing. We've made and re-made our timetable so many times to work around our other commitments, childcare (we have 6 kids between us), venue opening dates, etc, and just can't wait now for things just to stay the same for a while.
What are some of the takeaways or lessons from your first year?
Siobhain: When the going gets tough, find someone to work through it together and nurture your tribe. Our lovely customers' kind words, support and friendly faces have kept us going, and it makes such a difference being able to connect, and knowing that what we're doing is helping. In terms of our partnership, mutual support has absolutely made the difference. This can be a brutal, fickle industry at the best of times, so there is definitely strength in solidarity.
Jess: I personally have loved running our business during COVID. I’ve been able to work from home, which I have never done before. Yes, it has been tricky to do this working around 3 children but that's the beauty of running your own business and having a partnership. You can pick and choose when you want to work. If I couldn’t teach one day, Siobhain was able to teach instead and vice versa. It has been an absolute dream running a business this way.
TeamUp has provided a powerful, easy to use booking and communication platform so vital right now. We love the control it gives us! I could play with it for hours!!
What are your keys to success?
Siobhain: Working together has helped our success, and getting to know our customers in a more direct and intimate way — we can now contact them directly, we Zoom into their living rooms, and we chat about all sorts of things. We also had a clear idea of the values we wanted to share. For the original live events, the vibe was more night-clubby, whereas since lockdown we've aimed for a brighter, more colourful, fresher feel. The last thing people want in a pandemic is more doom and gloom, so we've tried to keep things light, humorous, friendly and feel-good. We use disco lights, leg warmers, funky headbands and even the occasional wig and space-hopper to add the fun-factor. Themed classes have worked well too, for example, retro classes, or disco divas, as well as having family-friendly classes where anyone can join in.
Can you share your best marketing and growth tips?
Siobhain: I think that collaboration has helped enormously with our brand awareness —- we have a strong combined community, plus an email database, and, along with other key collaborations like TeamUp and a local fitness instructor network, we have grown considerably since August.
Jess: Social media has played a huge part in our success. We use social media a lot for our business (Facebook, Instagram, etc) and we always tag TeamUp into all of our posts which helps boost our viewings. We send out weekly emails to our customers, just to check in to see how they all are and let them know of any latest offers. And this is so easy to do with the easy layout of TeamUp’s software.
How have you kept your community engaged during lockdown?
Siobhain: We've tried really hard to keep our community engaged during Covid, and I know that lots of our customers value the friendships they've continued or made this year. Our main approach has been to try and offer something for everyone (eg evening classes, early mornings, weekly pre-records, themed pre-records) and to strive to offer fresh content and themed classes. Our customers appreciate a deal, so we do use the discount codes quite a lot and for lockdown, the monthly membership has proved popular.
Do you have any funny anecdotes that you would like to share with us?
Siobhain: My funniest anecdote would probably be rocking up to my first Zumba class many years ago and being greeted by Jess — 'Hello Miss Archer!!'. I tried to hide at the back (everyone always does this, when they start dance fitness!) but was painfully aware that my body pops left a lot to be desired!
"So there you have it, just two girls from Bath coming together and offering the community the chance to boogie and dance their stresses and worries away."
Thank you so very much Siobhain and Jess for sharing your story with us!