Pivoting in 2021

If one had to sum up and choose the keywords of 2020, they would be ‘pivot’, ‘navigate’, and ‘unprecedented’. With only a month into 2021, much of the excitement and momentum for an easier year ahead is fading as the realization that what lies ahead this year, means more resiliency. The good news is, as a collective we’ve become more resilient. The ramifications from COVID-19 resulted in ample growth and adaptation, from changing business models to becoming tech-savvy, along with learning about and unlearning systemic patterns in society and our industry. Regardless of your situation, 2020 has made you stronger and more capable to face any challenges that lie ahead, and let’s face it, 2021 is looking like it has a few hurdles up its sleeves. To guide and offer some advice, business savvy leaders Lesley Logan and Jared Kaplan share a wealth of knowledge that is steeped in ingenuity and sincerity while being pragmatic.

2021 vs. 2020

2021 is certainly going to look and feel different, as the process of a major shift that started in 2020 will continue to evolve. Jared Kaplan, who continues to operate a brick and mortar studio alongside virtual sessions, believes people will either declutter and turn their focus on the what/how they initiated in 2020 or they’ll begin new ventures. He also believes that clients will seek out experiences, products, and people better suited to them.

Even as vaccines roll out around the world, there is no going back to life pre-2020. Lesley Logan, whose business is elevating Pilates businesses, says, “studios and teachers may want to consider if they will be all in person, all online, or a hybrid model. As things ‘open up’ (eventually), teachers and studios need to be thinking about how they are going to continue to make sure their services are protected appointments in their clients' lives. And that really should start now.”

The challenges of 2020 have proven that many in our industry are creative and have the fortitude to adapt and pivot, which are all necessary qualities for rebuilding. Studio owners will have to get crystal clear with their goals and understand what their communities need as new opportunities present themselves. A stronger foundation of synergy for the entire team, with teachers playing a bigger role, will be crucial for rebuilding.

Pausing to Pivot

Is another pivot necessary? How do we know when it’s time to pivot or give up? Both Lesley and Jared agree that a pivot is not static. A continual assessment, effort, and change are vital to business and life, whether there’s a pandemic or not.

Pausing to evaluate is essential. Lesley accredits a monthly, quarterly, and/or yearly reflection practice as one of the keys to success. Both warn against pivoting because everyone is doing it. Knowing your numbers, goals, and who you’re serving is key, hence why a pause to reflect is important. Jared sensibly adds, “If you don’t know what question to ask, no amount of data will matter. The fitness/wellness industry tends to default to a culture of breathless operations due to its lack of focus. Those who succeed tend to do more with less and focus on doing one thing really well while letting the rest be deprioritized.” Every decision in your business (and life) should be a step towards where you want to go!

For those that are literally hanging by a thread and contemplating giving up, Lesley reminds you, “Your people, your future people need you! You have to show up every day and tell people who you are, what you do, and how it helps them.” Jared suggests deciding now if this is who you really are and if the industry fulfills you at a soul-level. If the answer is yes, then ask for help and seek out resources to get you through the next months. Hang in there, there is light at the end of the tunnel.

How Can We Pivot This Year?

As you’re navigating 2021, it’s important to stop waiting or asking ‘why is this still happening?’ and instead ask ‘what can I do? And what does my community need?’. Jared sees boundaries, communication, and priorities as critical principles for 2021 and advises to simplify, declutter, and make space before moving onto the next thing.

Here are some additional examples from our experts of how you can pivot in business, practice, and life this year:

  • It may sound simple or selfish but ALWAYS put your practice first. Maintaining a consistent practice and time to yourself provides inspiration for what you do, how you show up, and who you want to teach.
  • Identify ONE area you know you need to make a change in, do an audit (track it) to see where you’re putting your energy. Then, set a S.M.A.R.T goal for where you can improve, find an accountability partner, and go!
  • Write down everything you don't miss about the business you ran before the pandemic. How can you make sure you don't bring those back when you can fully reopen?
  • Write down everything you have loved or are grateful for from this last year. How can you have more of that as you reopen?
  • You may not need a completely new business venture, it might be more productive to simply get your toes wet as you learn something new, or make a substantive change in HOW you do things, rather than what you do.

Lesley urges the use of intention with all of these aspects in order to avoid doing business the way it’s always been done, which in most cases wasn’t pandemic or emergency proof. Jared reveals that context is King: those who pivoted last year to survive will likely have to again, those who pivoted in massive ways hope to see the fruit of their labors, or will adjust a bit, those with a quasi-pivot will continue to learn and adapt in order to stabilize and grow their business, and those who didn’t pivot will need to make some changes to compete with a local or online business.

Many Pilates professionals have taken this opportunity to pause and focus on other priorities. From the outside, it may seem they’re stuck or waiting it out, however, it’s another example of a pivot. At some point, they will re-enter the industry and while there will be hard work and hustle needed, it’s doable.

When I asked Lesley and Jared if they’re hopeful for our industry in 2021 and beyond, their answers were inspiring, confident, and positive. Lesley’s was a resounding, “Absolutely! I think there’s so much possibility for teachers and for studios to be a leader in their communities and there’s more opportunity for growth.” Jared said, “1000%. Humans have been moving, working out, and seeking expertise on health, wealth, and exercise for thousands of years. We’re not going anywhere.”

Roxy Menzies
About the Author

Roxy Menzies

Roxy’s curiosity for life and movement has led her to teach, present, live, grow and travel around the globe. She's reset her roots back in her hometown of Toronto, is mama to Jazz Ezgi, partner to Mem's and is known for droppin' truth bombs! Check out her website for more.


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