At BASH Boxing, clients and coaches are used to throwing a one-two punch to get their heart rates up, calories burned and moods boosted. But that doesn’t mean that a few months ago they knew they’d have to go head-to-head against an unprecedented pandemic. “In all honesty, we had no game plan,” says BASH Boxing co-founder and owner Alex Trakas. “But we knew the health and safety of our members, our staff and our surrounding community was, above all else, the most important thing to all of us at BASH.”
Here, Trakas shares how the gym quickly adjusted to the pandemic and its lasting effects, what keeps her inspired, how BASH is reopening safely to clients and why the brand is ready to keep pushing through the COVID-19 era. Highlights from our conversation are below.
When the pandemic hit the region, how did BASH react?
We were just as surprised as any business owner to be closing our doors in the midst of a week of preparing for the worst. We listened to and adhered by every state and federal guideline, and we ended up voluntarily closing before we were mandated to do so. We felt our best efforts were served from home, and we quickly pivoted to connecting to our community more than we ever thought possible.
What is the positive that has come out of this experience for BASH?
The BASH brand and community strengthened day after day in quarantine. We saw just how much we positively impact and affect our members’ lives. Our saying at BASH has always been, “We’re in your corner,” and this was tested and proven in every way. Actually, our community turned around and was also there for us! They bought every T-shirt we launched and BASH at Home bundle we created, just to ensure their coaches were able to be paid for their efforts. We committed to doing one free workout a day on Instagram Live, every day. We did not miss a day: For 90 days straight we brought BASH to anyone and everyone who tuned in.
Did you all offer virtual classes through the pandemic? Will those continue in the future as you open up the studios to in-person classes?
Yes! Many times we weighed what others in the industry were communicating and moving forward with in their communities and regions, but we had to do it our way. We decided to stay free the whole time. We know it was not just BASH, or the fitness industry suffering, it’s a global pandemic. Everyone has been affected by this, everyone was in a vulnerable space of not knowing what’s next. So, we wanted to be that constant. At 6:30 you were turning off your fear and anxiety and you were shadowboxing in your room, kitchen or basement and we were there with you every step (and punch!) of the way.
What was the biggest challenge during this time? How did BASH overcome it?
I made a promise to my team when we began BASH that I would forgo 100% of the small salary I take before they ever missed a paycheck. Having to go back on that promise, looking my team in the eyes over Zoom and letting them know I wasn’t sure when or how I could pay them was debilitating. It broke me a little, but I am so happy to say it did not break us. BASH is stronger than ever, and I cannot thank my team enough for trusting me as their leader and for pushing themselves to keep growing into the community leaders and amazing human beings they all are.
What keeps you hopeful and positive right now?
Our community. I cannot say it enough. We have special people that come in and out of BASH every day. I have this saying, “When you care, it shows.” Every person that is a part of BASH cares deeply about it. They want to see it succeed, to be a winner in this fight, because they just feel better when they’re here. When I set out to start BASH, community was at the forefront of importance to me: How do we positively impact people’s lives day in and day out? I can confidently say we do that every day. I love celebrating birthdays in class, milestones and watching friendships form in the lobby, even from 6 feet apart.
What does it feel like to be back in the gym? What have the reactions been like from clients?
Our members couldn’t be happier, they have commended every single step we have taken to put their safety and well-being first. I get messages every day about how thankful they are that we are open, here for them when things feel chaotic, and taking every precaution possible. The No. 1 feeling I feel is joy. We are ready and capable of any change or challenge that comes our way because BASH is truly stronger together.
How are you keeping clients safe as they come back for in-person classes? Did you have any hesitations about reopening?
In addition to adhering to, and exceeding in most cases, all federal, state and local requirements, we have altered the way our studio operates to ensure we are prioritizing the health and safety of our members and staff above all else. First, we have limited our class capacity. Studio staff is required to wear masks at all times, and members are required to do the same, with the exception of removing the mask during exercise (when class starts). We have placed 6-feet stickers around the lobby to promote proper social distancing and have launched a non-contact check-in experience where our members can check in for class via their mobile apps. In addition, we have partnered with SurfaceGuard, a local company who coats our entire space (studio and lobby, as well as all individual pieces of equipment and gloves) with an antimicrobial barrier that protects surfaces against COVID-19 for 90 days. They will consistently apply this barrier moving forward and test for effectiveness.
Furthermore, we have changed our class schedule to ensure there is ample time in between classes for proper disinfection of the studio, all equipment and stations, the lobby, the bathrooms and all common areas with hospital-grade disinfectant.
We did not have any hesitation as we prepared to reopen because we had spent the past month preparing our systems, processes, staff and supplies for our new “normal.” We invested countless hours and dollars in ensuring we were leveraging the best products and the best practices for member protection and safety.
If you could go back to the beginning of this year, what would you tell yourself?
I would say that it’s going to get really, really hard. In most areas, harder than you’ve ever known, but the lessons you will learn and growth you will see in not only your business but yourself will be worth every second of uncertainty. I would tell myself to get ready to slow all the way down and see the true meaning of what matters. I think we all can attest to that, right?
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