Venice fitness boutique expands in southern Sarasota County


Home workouts were just as synonymous with the COVID-19 lockdown as the sourdough starter and “Tiger King.”

When statewide closures were put in place and gyms and fitness studios were closed, it seemed possible the industry would never be the same. Perhaps gyms as we once knew them would become a victim of the global health crisis that has forced people into self-isolation.

But for Kim and David Hackett, it didn’t.

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Body by Barre Fitness, the Venetian company that Kim founded about five years ago, has definitely suffered during COVID. But once the studio was cleared to reopen after closing, customers returned. Limited capacity classes quickly filled up and it became clear, as before the pandemic, that there was room to grow.

“We had the class sizes down and we were hiding in the classrooms, obviously, trying to hang out, and our clients were hanging out with us,” Hackett said. “We were like, ‘Hey, we’re going through this. We’re going to be okay, not just us, but society as a whole will be okay. “And at that point, we started looking to develop ourselves.”

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Dannie Luu is taking a Barre class with other people at Body by Barre Fitness in Venice.  The new studio B Fitness and Smoothies has opened in the Jacaranda Plaza in Venice.  MATT HOUSTON / HERALD-TRIBUNE

They moved Body by Barre to a larger 2,000 square foot space in the newly revitalized Jacaranda Plaza in Venice, at US 41 Bypass and Shamrock Boulevard. The new studio, now called B Fitness and Smoothies, has class space for bar, yoga, TRX and personal training, as well as a smoothie bar and retail space. .

The Hackett’s are both former journalists who worked for the Herald-Tribune. Kim discovered the bar after leaving the newspaper business – all the new downtime she had made her aware of injuries she was unaware of.

Other workouts she tried, except swimming, only caused more pain. But barre gave Kim the relief her body so desperately needed.

“Even after that first class when I finished, especially in my hips, I felt something change,” she said.

The problem was, there was no bar studio in Venice – she would have to travel to Sarasota or Lakewood Ranch to get her fix, and the round trip would end up taking over her day. So she got certified to teach and put her skills into practice in a home studio that she and David set up in their garage.

She first rented a teaching space at Venice Fitness with a Pilates instructor, until she and her roommate grew so big that they decided to have their own place in southern Venice. That was about five years ago. Over time, she added more services, like yoga, total body conditioning, TRX classes, and personal training.

Kim had wanted to add a smoothie bar and retail element to her fitness studio for some time. She got the idea during a visit to Syracuse, New York, where she saw a bar studio next to a yoga studio next to a smoothie bar. It was a dream, but it just wasn’t possible in his old space.

“In my old studio a few years ago, the Pilates instructor had their own space and I had my own space, and we were both kind of getting big and bumping into each other. front hall got absorbed into the classroom, ”she said.“ There was no more room to do more. The smoothie bar was right in the back of my head – if we ever grew, that was definitely something worth considering. ”

Barre class instructor Joy Sabota leads a class at Body by Barre Fitness in Venice.  The new studio B Fitness and Smoothies has opened in the Jacaranda Plaza in Venice.  MATT HOUSTON / HERALD-TRIBUNE

The new studio opened on May 1. And despite the problems COVID has caused the fitness industry, business has been good.

There is no doubt that COVID has caused long term problems for parts of the fitness industry. Several national fitness chains, like YogaWorks, 24 Hour Fitness, Gold’s Gym and Town Sports International – the parent company of chains like New York Sports Club and Boston Sports Club – filed for bankruptcy in 2020.

Kim and David Hackett founded Body by Barre Fitness in Venice.  Their new studio, B Fitness and Smoothies, has opened in the Jacaranda Plaza in Venice.  MATT HOUSTON / HERALD-TRIBUNE

According to a study by consumer-focused investment bank Harrison Co., billions of dollars in consumer spending went from subscription-based gyms to home fitness at the start of the pandemic. The study, which included feedback from 1,000 fitness club users as of April 2020, showed that about $ 10 billion a year could move from gyms to home fitness or other alternatives.

However, it appears that the shift to home training has not been fully prevalent. Another study, conducted several months later by Kelton, a materials company for the International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association, found that 50% of some 1,171 people surveyed said they were dissatisfied with their new fitness routines. in the era of the pandemic.

Almost all of the respondents to this survey – 95%, in fact – said they had missed at least one aspect of their physical presence in their gym. They missed going to the gym almost as much (59%) as they did visiting loved ones (65%) and more than they missed going to concerts or games (55%), bars and restaurants (51 %) or cinema (46%).

“While home workouts are satisfying to some, many feel they don’t measure up to the health club experience,” said a line in the report’s summary. “They are taking note and are happy with the safety precautions their club has taken, leaving many feeling ready to return to the gym – if they haven’t already.”

Kim and David Hackett founded Body by Barre Fitness in Venice.  Their new studio, B Fitness and Smoothies, has opened in the Jacaranda Plaza in Venice.  MATT HOUSTON / HERALD-TRIBUNE

Much of what people missed seems to be the community that comes from training, Hackett said.

COVID has created a kind of paradox, he said. While people have taken steps to protect their health during the virus by self-isolating and working from home, those same things have also led to things like weight gain and muscle loss.

And now that the United States is emerging from the pandemic, people seem interested in improving their fitness and health, he said.

“Customers tell us that despite purchasing home gym equipment, it was difficult to stay motivated to work out at home,” said David Hackett. “Bigger gyms have a lot to offer, especially for knowledgeable and motivated people, but small, specialized classes like the ones we offer have a sense of community, a greater concentration of instructors and comprehensive workouts and schedules that take the guesswork out of customers. ”

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