(This article originally appeared on Yellowhammer)
Like countless other businesses, Iron Tribe Fitness, a Birmingham-based gym, closed its doors in mid-March to prevent the spread of COVID-19 to its members and coaches. With five gyms in Birmingham and more than 30 others throughout the country, Iron Tribe Fitness Founder and CEO Forrest Walden said the decision to temporarily close was met with a mix of emotions.
“This is something none of us saw coming,” Walden said. “Everything was changing by the hour, and we knew we had to put a plan in place fast to ensure our 1,200+ members in Birmingham continue to get the high-quality experience they’re used to and deserve.”
Thanks to the brand’s commitment to delivering a consistent experience to its current members, and launching a virtual membership option, Iron Tribe Fitness had not needed to lay off any of their coaches. In fact, Walden said, the gym has used this time to invest its dollars back into its gyms by doing a complete rebranding and renovation.
“Everything was changing by the hour, and we knew we had to put a plan in place fast to ensure our 1,200+ members in Birmingham continue to get the high-quality experience they’re used to and deserve.”
“We’ve chosen to double down on our physical spaces and client experience during this time of shut down,” Walden said. “We can’t wait to welcome our members back to a completely renovated gym.”
On March 17, Iron Tribe, like many other area gyms, hosted its first online workout through Facebook Live. From there, the online Iron Tribe experience grew to include several online classes a day, a private Facebook group that now has close to 1,000 members, and a virtual membership that expands outside of Birmingham.
Despite their five gyms remaining closed today (the gym has diligently followed CDC recommendations and abided by state mandates), Walden says the brand has continued to grow and reach more members of the community.
“Simply put, we’ve decided to pivot,” Walden said. “We’ve ramped up our online experience and scaled that experience so others can experience our gym virtually.”
Watching other gyms close, Walden says, has not been easy. As a 20-year veteran of the fitness industry, Walden has worked as both a personal trainer, a small-group instructor and now a business owner. Fitness, Walden says, has always been a rapidly-changing industry. Add in an unprecedented pandemic, and it’s easy to see how many would suffer.
“It’s heartbreaking to see other gyms close for good,” he said. “This means there are countless people who are no longer receiving the fitness and nutritional training they need to improve their lives.”
As for the future, Walden says nothing is ever for certain except for one thing. “We will always adapt,” he says. “Tomorrow is not guaranteed and there will always be obstacles to overcome before reaching your goals. We will continue to strive to create fitness communities that change lives in and around Birmingham, no matter what.”
To learn more about Iron Tribe, visit irontribefitness.com
To join the gym’s 21-Day Virtual Challenge, visit21dayathomechallenge.com
Sarah oversees social media and internal communication for Iron Tribe Fitness. Her goal is to share the mission of Iron Tribe so others can be transformed by the program, and ultimately become the healthiest version of themselves.