We caught up with the brilliant and insightful Samantha Friedman a few weeks ago and have shared our conversation below.
Alright, Samantha thanks for taking the time to share your stories and insights with us today. Covid has brought about so many changes – has your business model changed?
Prior to covid, we were operating two brick and mortar fitness studios with a full staff, at least 20 people deep, and a schedule to accommodate every member. We had vendors for everything from cleaning to equipment maintenance and also ran retail shops out of both studios for items like fitness apparel, accessories and energy bars.
Like many businesses, ours abruptly stopped on March 16, 2020. Before the government-mandated shut down, we had purchased gallons of hand sanitizer and antibacterial soap, thinking that would be the bulk for our “pandemic expense”. Little did we know what was ahead.
In August of 2020, we made the difficult decision to close our physical doors due to the uncertainty in the world and more specifically in our members. Many people at this time had no plans to return to in-person training and we weren’t sure we could weather the storm. Meanwhile, we had 5 months of on-demand streamed classes built up since March and our members were loving the experience.
Fast forward to present-day, we are still operating exclusively online, with thousands of live and on demand classes for our members to choose from. Our member base might be much smaller than it was with two physical studios, but so are the expenses. We are able to operate a much leaner business with control and flexibility. The pandemic forced a pivot, which we were fortunate to tackle successfully and it changed our business model forever.
Samantha, before we move on to more of these sorts of questions, can you take some time to bring our readers up to speed on you and what you do?
Fuse45 started as an in person studio concept, founded by my mom and I. Since I was in college, we always had a dream of one day opening a studio together. With her fitness/personal training expertise, and my business education, we knwe we’d make a great team. We waited until our concept was just right. After trying classes around the world, we knew we could fill the void of high intensity + low impact training. At the time, the only classes accomplishing both were Spinning classes, which we loved, but strength training is too important to skip! We wanted a “one stop shop.” We were tired of the classes that required a compliment. For example, cardio classes where you feel like you need to lift weights after, or vice versa.
Two + years into the pandemic, we’ve shifted our studio class to digital, but still with the same philosophy (high intensity + low impact). Fuse Live is a concept that will keep you fit and healthy throughout time, regardless of age. Since the beginning, our community has been as important as the concept itself and that’s still true today, even online.
Can you share a story from your journey that illustrates your resilience?
In mid March of 2020, not only was the world shutting down, but I was also 10 days into bed-rest. On March 9th, I rushed my two-year-old son and my 35-week pregnant self to the hospital. The afternoon started like most others. I picked my toddler up from school and we were headed to the toy store as a special treat, since this was his final month as an only child. At least we thought we had a month. While shopping, I thought my water broke, but it was only a matter of seconds before I realized I was leaking blood and not water. I was filled to the brim with fear, but also had no choice but to be brave for my live son and hopeful for my future son. At the hospital, I was monitored and evaluated every minute of every day for 10 days, until I was lucky enough to bring home another perfectly healthy and beautiful boy. This experience, coupled with the pandemic, was enough to make anyone re-evaluate their life. The nightmare of possibly not being able to bring my son home was one of the darkest of my life. But the experience really taught me to value each moment and not to take anything for granted. It allowed me to re-think priorities when it comes to balancing work and life and was also a driving factor in turning our business digital.
Can you tell us the story behind how you met your business partner?
She birthed me :)