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Alumnus takes his yoga studio classes online during COVID-19 pandemic
by Steve Falk '98, M'99, CPA
My business partner Lisa Ingle-Stevens ’99 and I found our shared passion for fitness at Trinity University in the late ’90s. We opened our first yoga studio in San Antonio in April 2004 with an SBA loan and some credit cards. Over the next 15 years, we expanded to 3 locations with the help of an amazing team and community of students.
In early March, we could see the writing on the wall and knew the shutdown was coming. This would have both short-term and long-term effects on our business and the lives of our employees as well as our students.
We had talked about adding online classes for a while, but when the quarantine hit, we had not yet made the move. We had to lay off a significant portion of our workforce and knew that many of our students would have similar circumstances. We closed our doors indefinitely on March 18 due to COVID-19 but instantly went to work. Our remaining staff began researching how to get our classes online. While we stopped charging our membership dues the day we closed, we still wanted to find a way to provide classes to our students during the shutdown.
The first week, we streamed with Zoom, Facebook Live, Instagram Live, and YouTube Live but settled on the last two. We are not audio/video production professionals (yet!), but the modern world–the internet–offers a free education for those who are eager to learn and experiment. We went from just a few videos on our YouTube page to over 100 recorded yoga, Pilates, and fitness classes along with some guided meditations in a few weeks. It was important to us that our students, and really anyone at this time, have access to the various health benefits of fitness.
It is my belief that exercise is the best way to relieve stress and clear your mind. I learned this when studying at Trinity. To this day, nothing clears my head like a great workout. With that in mind, we pushed out these streaming and recorded classes free of charge to our community and effectively the world. The response from our community was amazing, and we received great support from our students.
More than ever right now, taking care of your health is a priority. The current data says besides our elderly population, those who are overweight and obese are most at risk [for suffering severe side effects of COVID-19]. Make time to exercise each day, and make smart choices with your nutrition (notice I did not say perfect choices). We would love for you to take our classes! We have a large local community of Trinity alumni who honor us with their presence daily. Join us online, and let us get healthier together!
The days are certainly different now, but I still train every day. Instead of training with our students, it is with my 8th grade son, and often my 4th grade daughter and wife join in too. If you have teenage kids like I do, then make the most of this time. In four years, my son will be getting ready for college. Middle school was a blur and gone faster than I can fathom. It seems like my kids were toddlers just yesterday. This is it. Take this opportunity to squeeze every ounce of life with your loved ones. We do not know what the future holds for our business, city, or country, but as of now, I am grateful that my friends and loved ones are healthy, and I see this time with my family as a blessing.
Find online fitness classes with The Union Fitness on its YouTube channel.
Steve Falk ’98, M’99, CPA, is the co-owner of The Union Fitness with Lisa Ingle-Stevens ’99. He graduated from Trinity University with a bachelor’s degree in business and a master’s degree in accounting. He lives in San Antonio with his wife Kelli and two children.