Hannah:
Welcome back Burn Pod listeners. This is BurnTheory’s awesome podcast, all about whole self health. And today’s episode is, I guess, a little bit different to our usual ones. It’s not necessarily about health, so to speak. We’re not going to dig into injuries or nutrition or exercise, but what I thought you might be interested in is getting a little bit of a sneak peek behind the curtain to the launch of our new studio. So I’m going to take you on a little bit of a journey, I guess it’s BurnTheory’s last, I’d say, eight, nine months. And what it took, really, to get Moonah off the ground and to get us creating this whole new, beautiful community out there. So for our new listeners from Moonah, welcome, this is so exciting. And for our regular listeners, I hope you get something out of it, even if it’s just a little bit of entertainment for the next 25 minutes, just to, I guess, get a sense of what it takes to get this big, crazy dream off the ground.

Hannah:
If you haven’t yet already, I did a podcast, I think it might’ve even been our first podcast, which was a welcome to BurnTheory and a little bit of the story of BurnTheory. So if you wanted to jump back and check that one out, that will just give you an idea of, I guess, where the inception of BurnTheory started, why it happened, what got asked to create BurnTheory. And I guess this is a bit of a follow on, now that we’ve got our beautiful Moonah studio open.

Hannah:
Now, I’m just going to warn you. I do have a puppy in the background, so if he starts growling or tugging on something, you might hear that. His name is Wally. And yes, we decided to get a puppy in the middle of opening a whole new studio. Very stupid idea. Wouldn’t recommend it down the track for anyone thinking of doing that.

Hannah:
So last year, we all know what 2020 was like, and it was a shemozzle and there’s words that we don’t like to use anymore, like unprecedented and all that sort of stuff, and pivot, couple of words there where no one likes to hear them anymore. But it was, it was a scary time and particularly scary for fitness businesses. We were considered not essential and the government shut us down. And it was only due to just this incredible community, you guys, that BurnTheory really got through and we sort of all came together, not that we had any other choices, to be honest. We were all stuck at home. But we all stuck by each other and we created this online programme and did of all our live classes from home. We got boxing bags shipped to people’s houses, so they could fill them up with water and hang them.

Hannah:
It was a pretty random time. Some people had a pretty busy time. Me, I was one of them. I didn’t feel like I actually got a break, but at the same time it was something kind of refreshing or nice to be not needing to be anywhere. No FOMO going on. If anyone out there knows what I’m like, FOMO is a big one, fear of missing out. It was a traumatic but interesting time. And I think BurnTheory really did quite well by keeping the community together, keeping that connection and that engagement up. And when we were able to reopen the doors in June, officially really in July, we had this beautiful inundation of all of our clients coming back and we got to welcome a whole bunch of new faces through the doors. Crazy and surprisingly BurnTheory just really thrived after the return to the studio with our hybrid options and all the other bits and pieces that we had and I think everyone was just really excited to have that connection with other people, again, to see faces, to be able to get out of their own house.

Hannah:
We created this new, beautiful community and it kept on growing in late 2020. And I guess it was at this point where our gorgeous studio manager, Danielle, really, really shone. She came on board in a little bit of a admin or support capacity through COVID, but continued to sort of grow and create and mould this role. And I got to about, I think it was September and I went, “Right, well, I can’t do this by myself anymore. I need someone to come on and be my full-time and my 2ic. And so Danielle started a full-time role with us at the, I think it was probably the end of September, and Fuddy, my partner, laughs at me because he said, “I think, Han, you just didn’t know what to do with yourself. You got so bored.” And I did. I watched that many movies because Dani was just too good. She just did everything and everything was thriving and everything was working. And I sort of, I did, I got a little bit bored and I watched a lot of movies and sat on the couch a bit and kind of twiddled my thumbs and went, “Okay, what’s next?”

Hannah:
And for some of you out there, I know that it does take having a bit of space to be able to have that creativity time, that space to be creative and to understand and work out what it is that you actually want to do next. And I guess I was so lucky to have that through October. And I remember sitting there and I’m chatting to my partner and I said, “Right, there’s three options here, Shane. I’m bored. So we either could get married so I can organise a wedding. We could have a baby, or I could look at doing a second studio.” And it didn’t take him long to like, “I think maybe the second studio at this point, Han.”

Hannah:
So, we had that in the back of our minds. I’m going to share something with you guys that I’m not putting out into the world just yet. So I guess you guys are the first to know, but I have always been interested in wanting to create a franchise with BurnTheory. There’s no one in Australia that does fitness boxing the way that we do fitness boxing with the Aqua bags. It’s such a big growing phenomenon in America. And I’d love to be able to take what I know that BurnTheory is and does, which is a beautiful community and it looks after its people and it has a different take on fitness. It’s not just you go there and you smash yourself and you feel exhausted and you go home. No, we do a bit more than that. And I wanted to take that in and see if we could grow it. Challenge myself and take it as far as we could.

Hannah:
So we started looking into, I guess, two options and got a coach on board from America. And her advice was… and she’s a franchise coach as well as a fitness business coach for boutique fitnesses, So things like barre and boxing and spin yoga, that kind of stuff. And she said, “Look, you really need to open a second studio to see whether the model actually works and to see whether you can create what you’ve done at Hobart and do it again in a different location. And it’s not wholly reliant on you.” And it’s always been something that, I mean, it’s hard for me to step away. It’s hard for me to let go. And so this was something I definitely did need to test to see whether a studio operates without me being at the helm and pushing every business decision and micromanaging, I guess, a little bit.

Hannah:
So we started looking for a space back in October, November last year. Funnily enough, I think we all thought that there’d be heaps of spaces, heaps of availability coming up, because everyone’s just come out of COVID and some people decided that it was too much and shut their businesses down and things like that. And for landlords, I would have expected that there’d be plenty of options and at a slightly cheaper rate, but oh no. Everywhere was completely packed out. I was looking in Kingston, Rosny, and the Moonah area. And they were just, it was packed solid. There was no spaces coming up.

Hannah:
So I guess we could just keep on looking. But in the meantime, we also kind of started looking into the idea of franchising and we went across to Melbourne to meet up with a franchise lawyer to see, I guess, whether we’d get the tick of approval, which is very, very nerve wracking. And on paper we did, but there’s also a lot of financial modelling and things, all very boring, unsexy things that goes on that we’ve started going into the process, but the lawyers also said, “Look, you do need to open a second studio to see if, once again, you can actually recreate the model or even do it a little bit better.”

Hannah:
And it was during this time in late January that I’d looked at this space or I’d seen the space come up in Moonah. And I was like, “Oh yeah, no. That’s probably not right.” And I did this with the Hobart one. I remember looking at that one, the Hobart CBD one, and going, “No, that’s not right.” And my partner was like, “Oh, look, just go in there and have a look.” Turned out it was perfect. And so I called the real estate agent. I said, “Oh, look, let’s just have a look. It’s probably a bit too expensive, probably not quite what we’re after.” And I walked in and it was these… It was completely being… from scratch. It was just concrete floors and metal framing and that was it. And I was like, “Okay, right.” And then my partner’s like, “Well, Han, you’re not going to get a space, I don’t think, anywhere where it’s pretty well brand new. You’re walking into a brand new space, which means that you can put your mark on it. You can create your ideal setup, your ideal layout.”

Hannah:
And so we went through this sort of round of negotiations with the landlord and the real estate agent. And it was very nerve wracking. Once again, I was like, “Oh my God, am I doing the right thing?” And I’d jump between crying and laughing and feeling like, yep, I can do this. And other times just completely freaking out. My poor partner, once again, had to deal with all of that. But we came to an agreement and we signed on the dotted line in mid to late February. And from that point onwards, it was go, go, go. And it seems straightforward I guess. And even from my perspective, which is stupid, because I’m in the business, but it seems straightforward. All right, we just need to fit out a space. We need to do a bit of marketing and then we’re good to go. But at the same time we had to create and systemize everything that we’d been doing in the Hobart studio in order to duplicate it for a second location.

Hannah:
And so this concept of going from one to two, and my business coach was saying this, it’s massive. It’s this giant crazy, huge leap that you have to take from one to two. And if there’s anyone out there that’s done this, that they’ve opened a business and then they’ve gone for a second location or a second side of it or whatever, they probably felt the same thing. We had to look at every single aspect of the business and go, “How can we duplicate it? How can we systemize it and put it into a second location?” And even down to basic things like our booking system.

Hannah:
Booking system wasn’t quite set up in order to manage the two studio location, so we had to completely change our booking system and go to a whole new provider and create this app. And so it was sort of helping all of our current members onto these new membership options and working out how all that works and how to book in. So that happened all through March.

Hannah:
At the same time, all through March, we were getting ourselves ready for our pre-sale, which involved getting all the content ready. So we had to do a branding drive and photos and video and talk to our marketing people and get them starting to do a warmup, I guess you could call, warm up ads going out that just sort of introduced us to the new market, which was the Northern suburbs.

Hannah:
Even looking at our website, the website wasn’t set up to be able to look at two different locations or for someone to toggle between two different locations. So we’re like, “Right, well, we need a whole new website.” So we started that process as well. And this was just March. We weren’t even able to touch on the fit out at this point because we were still going through the council change of use and the current space was still actually in complete construction. It was still concrete floors and framing, and that was it.

Hannah:
And then we got everyone transitioned over and we… That was sort of the start of April. And then we had this two week just psycho work period, where we were trying to get everything ready to go, to hit live and tell everyone that we have actually got the studio. We gave all of our members a bit of a heads up first, but we hadn’t actually started officially saying like, “Hey, come along and check out our studio. We’re opening in a month,” or whatever it was. At that point, we hadn’t even put out the offers at that point. So I think it was the 16th of April we did an official live Facebook and Instagram saying that we are opening Moonah. And we went live with the offer for the presale or the launch special for those that are listening to this and they jumped on that one.

Hannah:
Once again, I was so nervous because it’s one of those things. You think it’s a good idea, but you’re still taking a pretty big risk. It’s a calculated risk, but it’s still you don’t really know how it’s going to be received. So we went out and it was just this most incredible response that we had from the community. Everyone wanted to be part of it and there was a lots of energy and this continued right the way through May, and what we were doing, we were talking constantly. We had just conversation after conversation, after conversation with new people that wanted to know about it and wanted to get on board with the launch special.

Hannah:
And so this was just this crazy big drive from about mid April all the way through, to be honest, until we officially opened, but from about end or sorry, early May was when we finally got access to the space to be able to fit it out. And then that was a whole nother level because trying to organise, and I think most of you know, that due to COVID, there’s difficulty, such difficulty, getting all of the materials, the building materials in. Not to mention the fact that the government grants for first time buyers or for new builds went out. And so finding a builder was just next level impossible.

Hannah:
So I was trying to juggle all of this at the same time with juggling this whole idea of commercial and commercial versus residential. I’ve built before residentially, but commercial was just this whole nother kettle of fish. There’s so much you have to go through. I remember just pulling my hair out a few times going, “What have I done? This is just so frustrating and so hard.” This is definitely, definitely something that I’d love the government to actually look at making it a little bit easier for small businesses to actually get up and going, because it’s almost impossible at some points there.

Hannah:
But we did, we got there. I had StrikeArc welding, which was, I like to call him my man of steel, come in and he built all of our amazing barre and our framing work for all the boxing bags. And we had the boxing bags stuck on a ship in the Suez canal, coming over from America when that ship went in and cut off the whole Suez canal and I’m watching my ship, with all the boxing bags on it, just stuck in the Suez canal, not moving. And it was literally, it was down to the wire with our boxing bags. The poor people that I was getting them off, they just had me hounding them, to the point where we had our pre opening, which is our first week open before the grand opening. So that was kind of our chance to, I guess, iron out all the kinks and things like that. We didn’t have the boxing bags arrive until Monday afternoon when we had classes starting Monday morning. So those boxing classes, in inverted commas, became more like hit classes just while we’re getting the bags in.

Hannah:
It was actually the point where my partner and I got access to the shipping yard and we were climbing into this giant shipping container over the boxes, pulling these boxes out. We were [tetrasing 00:17:16] boxes, because we didn’t want to get stuck in there and have ourselves blocked in to the back of a shipping container, trying to find our bags and pulling them out, taking them to Moonah. My partner, he just did another five-hour just a nonstop steamed while I was racing around taking classes just to get all these bags filled up and hung. But we got there. We got there in the nick of time at the end and it was such a relief. But I think by this point I was totally exhausted and completely run down, which when you’re working for three months nonstop and you really don’t stop. I mean, some of you know, what that feels like and what a lot of us do. As women, we go, go, go, go, go until we crash. And I was basically living off those horrible Goulds mixtures, those concoctions of cloves and echinacea. Disgusting, but I got through it.

Hannah:
Where are we? We are at the start of our pre… I guess our VIP week, our early week before our grand opening and our grand opening was on the Saturday, the 5th of June. And so, you think, “Oh great, we’re open. We’re working, now I can kind of ease off.” Oh no. That week was just bonkers trying to get everything organised for the grand opening. We had 200 potential spots available in classes across that grand opening morning, we had 197 booked out. That’s not 197 new people, but it was 197 spaces booked out that morning, which is just amazing. And so we had all these goodie bags and we had our incredible partners at Collide and Savour Catering and we were just getting ourselves just so, so crazy.

Hannah:
And I remember going home on Friday night, I was having a wine and Shane, my partner, said, “How are you feeling about tomorrow? Are you nervous? Are you excited?” I said, “I don’t know. I don’t know at this point. I don’t know what to expect. I’m trying not to get my hopes up,” basing it on the amazing response we’ve had online, “I don’t want to get my hopes up and expect too much, the fact that we’ve had so many incredible people join us already is just phenomenal.” And yeah, I remember him just saying, “Well, just try and enjoy the day, huh?”

Hannah:
Here we are, grand opening day. We get there at 7:30 and I think we’re all just… We were all running on, I don’t know, adrenaline or something, nothing. There was not a huge amount left in the tank, but there was so much energy and we had so many incredible new faces coming through the door and people were just super excited to get started and come on board. And we had a grand opening sale and that sort of thing on the day. And we got to introduce that many new people to our new beautiful studio and continuing on. It was so amazing. I had so much paperwork to do, so between the grand opening morning and, well, by the afternoon we had this sort of our grand opening party. And that was for our members to say, thanks and for the people that help fit it out and just a chance for us to let our hair down.

Hannah:
So I had sort of this three hour period where I was just completely destroyed and I’m like madly trying to put in all of the paperwork into the system and get everyone organised and set up, knowing, guaranteed, that I’d have two wines and be completely, completely exhausted. And getting ready, and we turned up and our beautiful event coordinator and PR manager, Freia, she just did this phenomenal job of setting up this space. And we had, as I mentioned, Savour Catering doing this amazing food, Joseph Burton wines, serving all of the wine and it was like, everyone was just super excited. We all let our hair down. We all had this super fun, crazy party. The wine was flowing. The champagne was bubbling. It was pretty cool. And then afterwards, all the instructors went out for dinner. And the next day I had probably one of the biggest hangovers I’ve ever had, but alas couldn’t stop. Still had to pack down from the nights and finish all the paperwork.

Hannah:
But we are here now two weeks after the launch of our studio. And it is just thriving. We have full classes. Ladies are getting so much out of it. I’ve had such wonderful feedback and it’s just such a relief, I guess, to know that it is something that people want and there’s a need or a demand there. And we’re doing something that it’s good. People feel good when they’re there and we’re giving people something that is required.

Hannah:
And I guess that’s the cool thing, we’ve created this space and for my people that are new and they’re listening to this podcast and they’re from the Northern suburbs, you guys now get to take the mantle and help us create this beautiful community where real world women, doesn’t matter what your age, your stage, your height, your fitness level, your weight, doesn’t matter where you were sitting, but you can feel comfortable and safe and welcomed coming into the space. Get a good workout regardless of where you are, but get a little bit more out of it, too. It’s not just all fitness. It’s that whole self health. It’s looking after your mental health, your physical, your emotional, what you’re eating as well, your social health and just generally getting to meet some fantastic women.

Hannah:
So from here on in guys, it’s yeah, trying to just settle ourselves down, I guess. It’s hard to go from that sort of manic work for three months and then I’m finding I’m struggling to kind of calm down and relax, but we’ll get there. We will. And it’s just literally just continuing to grow our beautiful community at Moonah to look after the Hobart community where we’ll see probably a bit of a drop-off while people sort of transition over to Moonah and then introducing some new people to Hobart.

Hannah:
I don’t know. Some of you are already like, “All right, Han. Where’s the next one? Where’s Kingston going? When’s Kingston happening?” Which it would’ve been great because I live down this way, so Kingston would be very, very convenient for me. But I’m just going to say I’m just so pleased, so grateful for Moonah and for Hobart. And let’s just see where BurnTheory takes us over the next 12 to 24 months.

Hannah:
So I hope you all enjoyed that little walk down memory lane for me. It’s kind of nice actually, from my point of view, to run through it, because I think you don’t stop and smell the roses enough, do we? When we were in something it’s, you’re in it then you’re out of it and then you’re like, “All right, what’s the next thing?” But sometimes it’s nice just to kind of come back to it and look at what you’ve done, look at what you’ve achieved and go, “Well, that’s pretty cool. That was pretty cool.”

Hannah:
Thank you so much for joining me. As always, reach out with any questions, any topics you’d love us to get stuck into. But apart from that, guys, have a wonderful rest of your week. And if you haven’t yet jumped onto our previous podcasts, we’ve got some excellent ones coming up down the track, but keep thriving and catch you later.

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