Local Gyms Continue Creating Community Online

The 11 co-owners and instructors of Fly Together Fitness. Photo by Beren Jones.

Opening Fly Together Fitness—a pole fitness studio in Somerville—required a monumental effort from its 11 women co-owners. They had a vision: An inclusive, empowering space in Somerville where people could build personal strength and a community alongside each other. And then, four months after it opened, the gym was required to close as a nonessential business. 

Everything from the gym’s unorthodox governance—all decisions are made during weekly meetings by committees and consensus among the co-owners (who all double as instructors)—to its intimate class structure is based in connection. Operating entirely online was never in the plan.

But when it became necessary to bring Fly Together’s offerings to the digital realm in order to stay afloat, each of the owners pitched in to make it happen within only a few days.

“I was really grateful that we had 11 co-owners,” says co-owner Jenn Quirnbach. “There was a learning curve with Zoom, but we were able to piece together the different knowledge of every owner and figure out a way that works best for us. We took a couple of days. … We went into the studio, we tested it together, people validated it from … home.”

All classes are now taking place in password protected Zoom meetings, which are capped at a certain number of students depending on the class. On average, there are between two and five students in each session. 

Students are encouraged to keep their cameras on during the duration of the class so that instructors can provide feedback, and so that a sense of camaraderie can be built between the gym members. Quirnbach says she begins each class by encouraging all students to introduce each other.

The online class list includes options like Chair Dance, Inversions and Balances, Mindfulness Flow, Intro to Sensual Movement, and targeted flexibility and conditioning classes. The majority do not require a pole, and the co-owners tested out how to substitute any necessary equipment with common household items like stacks of books. For those who do have a pole at home, the studio is currently offering two pole classes.

They’ve also been adjusting to new guidelines day by day. When the studio launched online classes in mid-March, one instructor at a time would go into the space to teach their class. An hour and a half period would take place between one leaving and a new instructor entering, and rigorous cleaning protocols were maintained. Now, the majority of classes are taught from the instructors’ own homes. 

One benefit of offering entirely remote classes has been pulling in students from across the U.S., and even from different countries, Quirnbach says. This has been made possible through heavy social media promotion. 

“A key goal of our studio is to foster a community,” she adds. “As we transition to online classes, it’s been amazing to be able to meet everyone from across the world… We’ve had students from Oregon, Brazil, Ohio.”

Students can sign up online for either an unlimited 2 week package for $70 or individual classes for $10 each.

For those looking for a quick workout that doesn’t require a membership, Somerville’s Achieve Fitness has been staying connected with its community by being a constant source of information. Their Instagram page is updated daily with new demonstrations of push-up variations, mobility sequences, partner workout ideas, and more. 

Achieve is also offering a robust selection of live cardio and strength courses online using Zoom, with a few different options for purchase: a single virtual class at $9 or a three-pack for $21.

Click here to learn more about Fly Together Fitness and Achieve Fitness Boston

To read more of Scout Somerville‘s coronavirus coverage, click here.

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About the Author

Lilly Milman
Lilly Milman is the managing editor at Scout Magazines. She started as an intern while attending Emerson College in downtown Boston, where she received a B.A. in Writing, Literature and Publishing.

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