Before I officially became a Jazzercise instructor, I attended a workshop. After the workshop, we ended up going out to lunch with other instructors from other centers, and I was asked that dreaded question. “When will you become a center owner?” I laughed it off, answering never.
Flash forward to now. I’m a slightly-seasoned instructor, a co-owner of a satellite center midst a pandemic. What a year this has been! My partner and I took over in January, we got shut down in March, and wasn’t able to reopen again until June. We had to scramble to stream classes online from our homes, host outdoor classes in the heat, and just pivot whenever something new was thrown our way.
Never in a million years did I imagine myself a fitness instructor, let alone a business owner. My parents owned a convenient store while growing up, and they worked tireless, from dawn to dusk every day. There was no calling in sick, vacation days, or appreciation for the work. The grind was hard and relentless, and when I became an adult, I had made up my mind that I would not allow myself to be consumed with owning a business.
But I knew I made the right decision when we purchased Jazzercise Tyrone. Amy and I had the same goals when we took over: build the community. Yes, we wanted to increase membership, make money, recoup our investment, but we felt that that would all come back naturally if we built the community.
What does it mean to build the community? To me, I define it as a sense of belonging to the same overall purpose. This belonging provides unity, a common goal, a genuine caring for one another, and an extended family. When I first started Jazzercise Tyrone and the following several years after that, a budding community was there. But then everything fell apart. Without going into details, the center went through 3 different owners in less than one year. That’s a lot of turnover!
However, Amy and I were determined to bring the joy back. We worked hard on bringing back open communication, getting to know our clients, adding personal touches, team taught classes, and celebrating our members. It was less about us and more about YOU. We can only exist because of the wonderful clients, class managers, and instructors that make up Jazzercise Tyrone. Southside Jazz (our business’s name) cannot be successful without that community we have been striving for.
And I’m proud to say that I think we’re there. We may not be as big as we want to be in membership size, but I think Covid has a lot to do with that. We may be small in number but we are mighty in impact. We hosted our very first Pink Out event and attempted to raise money for breast cancer awareness and Breast Cancer Research Foundation. Through raffle sales and swag purchases, we were able to raise over $500! To me, that’s amazing for our first attempt at any type of fundraiser.
So we haven’t even wrapped up our first year yet. We’re stilling running into strange issues (such as internet being down at the rec center! Hard to stream classes with no internet.), but we keep fighting every day. Every day, Amy and I discuss (literally, I think we have talked/messaged each other at least once a day this year) on how to improve, move forward, and plan for the next event. Yes, I can proudly say our community is up and running. Mission accomplished.