By Alan Shaw, Co-Founder and Head Coach of Rhapsody Fitness in Charleston, SC
Welcome to Box Building! Follow Rhapsody Fitness Co-Founders Alan Shaw and Trinity Wheeler as they continue to build one of the fastest growing gyms in South Carolina. Answer the hard questions, explore various approaches, dive into strategy and share lessons learned that go far beyond fitness to be universal across entrepreneurship and startups.
“Adapt” and “innovate” are thrown around like confetti in the entrepreneurial space, but I don’t know that I truly understood or appreciated either until 2020, or, as I like to call it, The Blip.
Although often used interchangeably, adapting is what we do in response to the unknown or unanticipated – good, bad and ugly, it’s a fast reaction to seize opportunity or avoid disaster.
Innovation, conversely, is a proactive slow burn. These are premeditated steps we intentionally take to stay one step ahead of the curve and set our business up for success in an ever-evolving landscape.
Bring these two key elements together and…drum roll, please…we adaptovate, using innovation to empower and enable critical adaptation when faced with the unknowable.
Among its many trials and tribulations, The Blip forced me and my team to adaptovate, which for Rhapsody Fitness may have been the difference between shuttered doors and coming into 2021 with gusto and 100+ new members.
Take a quick walk down memory lane with me (because neither of us will want to stay here long…) to early March 2020 when stay-at-home orders had just been issued across Charleston County and business doors were closing with no clear end in sight.
WE COULD ADAPT…
Rhapsody took the party online overnight. We packaged equipment kits for our membership with the essentials (resistance bands, dumbbells and plates), adjusted our programming to only require bodyweight or light equipment, and immediately launched a full schedule of Zoom group classes.
Team Rhapsody also began weekly personal check-ins via phone and text with every single member of our community. The primary objectives were to stay connected, support mental health and encourage physical activity. This high-touch practice reminded our community that we were in this thing together and no one was getting left behind.
… BECAUSE WE INNOVATED
In the months prior, Rhapsody had doubled down on enhancing and innovating our digital presence and building out our media resources through Rhapsody TV, Rhapsody News, Rhapsody Radio and Online Personal Training + Rhapsody Nutrition programs.
By diversifying our digital offerings and investing in the equipment to show up well across digital mediums, we were well positioned to take Rhapsody online without sacrificing our signature experience and prime coaching.
From inception, we’d also made great efforts to establish efficient communication practices and streamline internal systems, so, when the rubber met the road, we had the framework in place to pivot our team quickly and effectively relay changes to our membership.
While other fitness facilities were closing their doors, we managed to maintain the majority of our current membership along with growing our community. Numbers aside, I am especially proud of how we were able to come together and show up for each other during such a challenging time.
Although we were surrounded by fear, fear did not drive our decisions. Each move was made with confidence and certainty because we innovated when we wanted so we could adapt when we must. With all rooted in our foundation and based on our core values – the ground beneath our feet was firm.
The moral of this story? Life will happen, but you can ready yourself as best as possible and avoid being cornered into making decisions out of fear. This is what we train for, after all, constantly varied to face the unknown.
At the end of the day, it comes down to how you adaptovate – consistently and constantly innovating to put yourself into a prime position to adapt when you need to.