A Carroll Gardens pilates studio has pulled through the COVID-19 pandemic by expanding its online class selection while maintaining its community feel, the studio’s owner said.
“We totally found a way to survive and I feel incredibly fortunate,” said Carey Macaleer, who runs Aline Pilates on Court Street between Carroll Street and First Place.”There was a sense of, ‘We’re all this together.'”
The small business was forced to shutter its brick-and-mortar studio in March as cases across the state began to spike. But Macaleer — who lived in Hong Kong with her partner during the SARS epidemic in the early aughts — said that she prepared for the shutdown.
‘That Friday before, I just had this instinct that you now what, we have to go online,” she said.
Five days before Gov. Andrew Cuomo mandated that all businesses close, Macaleer shuttered the studio and moved all the programming online. Classes are now available live over Zoom, which participants can access through the scheduling software MindBody, Macaleer said.
The group classes have helped keep the studio’s tight-knit community together while allowing Macaleer and other instructors to speak to attendees in real-time, she said.
“We’re really holding true to what our mission is in the space, which is small, unique, specific, and really honing in on each individual,” she said.
The lessons have also provided a sense of calm for those seeking a physical and mental release during the pandemic, Macaleer added.
“So many people have said that it’s helped their mind frame,” she explained. “You get to know the people — even if it’s on Zoom — you build community, you build strength.”
Since going virtual, the studio has begun allowing clients to book the studio for their own private classes, posted on-demand classes on the video website Vimeo, and has expanded its course selection to include pre- and postpartum classes and lessons for kids.
“There’s kids who are at home, some of whom are still learning from home, and we want to give them the opportunity to move as well,” Macaleer said.
Macaleer has also been able to hire instructors from outside the Five Boroughs, expanding the studio’s community.
“I just hired a teacher who’s out of Miami … I said, ‘Why not?’ I was excited to have a teacher outside of Brooklyn,” she said, adding that she hopes to continue recruiting talent from across the country.
A Payment Protection Program loan in the spring and negotiations with the landlord both helped buoy the business, but surviving would have been impossible without the community’s support, Macaleer said.
“The silver lining is that people have been so resilient kind and flexible,” she said. “I’m really grateful to the community because they’re the reason we’re still here.”