DE PERE, Wisc.(SPECTRUM NEWS ) — Ryanne Cunningham is at the front of the room taking a half dozen high school football players through various yoga positions.
She built her business, Flow Yoga Studio, in part by working with athletes around the community. But in the eight years the studio has been open, she never took the leap to offer online classes.
That all changed in mid-March when it was clear she was going to have to temporarily close the physical side of the business due to the rapidly encroaching coronavirus pandemic.
“In the past I’ve thought about doing it, but just got caught up with life a little bit and the pandemic forced me to go online with my studio,” she says.
Like thousands of other businesses in Wisconsin, Cunningham had to adapt to the world around her.
“It was definitely a quick change. You had to be creative and innovative,” she says. “This is the reality now.”
Flow isn’t alone.
About 41 percent of businesses around the state have either expanded or begun offering online sales and services since the onset of the pandemic in mid-March, according to a monthly survey from the University of Wisconsin - Oshkosh. But just because a business offers an online alternative, it doesn’t mean the work is done.
“You can stand up this service within short period of time, but you really have to commit the same level of sales experience and marketing support around that e-commerce front end as you’ve done around your brick and mortar business,” says Jeff Sachse, a researcher at the University of Wisconsin - Oshkosh.
Cunningham says she expects online classes will remain part of her business for the foreseeable future.
“Basically I’m only charging $5 a month for people, so it's very affordable during this pandemic time,” she says. “But it’s helping me pay my rent here and just basically stay afloat.”
Flow recently put public group sessions on hiatus and is focusing on private and virtual sessions.