In this blog series we’re catching up with entrepreneurs who are ‘Reacting & Adapting’ to make sure their business can survive and thrive through these unprecedented months.
As the UK headed into lockdown and gyms across the country closed their doors to the public, founder of Phenomenal Woman Fitness, Ashley Spencer, wasted no time in adapting her business model and taking her services online.
We spoke to Ashley to find out how business is going and how support from her Business Advisor helped her to innovate and put together a plan of action…
After spending most of her adult life working in the corporate world Ashley founded Phenomenal Woman fitness in Wirral two years ago, offering a combination of 1-2-1 and online health, fitness and lifestyle coaching to women.
Ashley explains that the core values of the business were born out of her own experiences.
She says: “I had a long daily commute, travelled nationally, worked long hours, developed poor eating habits and often felt stressed. I managed to design a training plan to suit that lifestyle and it played a significant role in helping me mentally and physically. From there I started Phenomenal Woman Fitness and made it my mission to help other women like I helped myself.
“We all want to look and feel phenomenal, but for many of us, this doesn’t seem attainable when we are trying to grow our career, look after a family, have a social life and maintain a work/ life balance. As a coach, I get to the root of my client’s goals and identify what’s preventing them from achieving them. From there, I design their training and nutrition to suit their lifestyle, implementing small changes along the way to replace poor habits with healthy ones.”
Pre-lockdown Ashley was training all of her 1-2-1 clients in a gym, running three boot camp classes per week in separate studios, as well as coaching clients online.
Along with thousands of others in the leisure and fitness industry when the Government’s Covid-19 response measures meant that gyms had to close, Ashley had to be flexible and innovative. And fast.
She says: “We received the news at 5pm on Friday 20th March ordering all gyms to close that day. After visiting the gym for the last time to say goodbye to the team, I realised I was completely on my own and needed to act. On Saturday, I arranged video calls with my clients and wrote a plan of action. I then spent six hours on Sunday on calls with each client planning their programmes.
“I spent a couple of days adapting everyone’s training programmes to suit them at home and reorganising my diary. I now train a handful of clients virtually via Facetime or Zoom and have transferred others temporarily to full online clients. I have also introduced free live group training sessions with clients to keep them motivated and active and am planning another for my boot camp clients.”
Having already developed a strong online client-base and delivery capability, Ashley was able to make the transition to online speedily and seamlessly.
One of Ashley’s clients explains how she found the process: “Ashley was amazing to adapt to the changing situation so quickly. She was confident, calm and mindful. Despite her own world being turned upside down she made it feel like “Team Phenomenal” were the number one priority. I can’t believe how quick Ashley was to set up video calls with us all and get a new structure in place. It appeared effortless, but I can tell from the programme how much time and effort went in.”
Ashley’s community of clients and followers, or ‘Team Phenomenal’, are clearly at the heart of the business.
Ashley says: “My clients are on their own individual path but together make up Team Phenomenal. Team Phenomenal is my community of clients and followers who I communicate with regularly, and who support and help each other in day-to-day life.”
The strength of the community which Ashley has created has no doubt played a large part in the success of taking Phenomenal Woman Fitness online, which has been key to the business’ survival and success.
“I had already built a strong WhatsApp community within my 1-2-1 and online client base and had recently started a Facebook group for them called Team Phenomenal Community and my boot camp clients to receive useful content and support each other.
“I knew that this news was going to bring down the morale of many people and steer people away from their goals, so, during weekend of the closure, I decided to open up the group to any women who needed help and support. In one day, the group grew from 25 members to over 80, and now has over 130. I post in here daily with workouts, live updates, challenges, links to free classes, and educational content.”
As with any period of change, the transition has not been without its difficulties.
Ashley tells us that with some of her clients unable to work at the moment she has temporarily lost clients, which has impacted on her cash flow.
But she is staying positive and taking time to focus on the future of the business.
“I am spending more time working on growing my business by attending the online seminars run by The Women’s Organisation, through the Enterprise Hub, and I’m having regular calls with my business advisor there, Huda, who is helping me scale and launch the next step in my business.
“This situation has forced me to think more depth about my services and re-route it in a new direction. I have been challenged to communicate more frequently and openly with people, and it has massively boosted my confidence as a coach and a business owner.”
While this has naturally been an uncertain and challenging time, Ashley’s flexibility and ability to innovate, coupled with her rapid response to the situation, has meant that Phenomenal Woman Fitness has not only been able to survive and grow its online presence, with exciting plans in the pipeline for the future.
Do you need help reacting and adapting your business? For more information about the support available through The Women’s Organisation to help you and your business, please contact us via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org if you’re based in the Liverpool City Region.