NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) Coronavirus has caused thousands of small businesses across the Tri-State Area to close their doors.

But businesses like Grassroots Fitness Project opted to change things up in order to survive. Heather Gunn Rivera’s fitness classes have been a staple on the Upper West Side since 2004, but the co-founder of the New York studio said she had to adjust quickly once her studio closed.

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“I needed to protect my employees. I needed to protect my own family. I needed to protect our clients,” said Rivera in an interview with CBS2’s Kiran Dhillon.


The boutique fitness studio immediately started offering online adult and kids classes and personal training sessions through Zoom. Rivera said the group worked out some early technical glitches along the way.

“We figured it out as we were going,” Rivera said.

The online classes have been popular so far and that has allowed Rivera to keep the majority of her employees and continue to serve 300-400 clients, while also expand across the country.

“We’ve gotten now husbands or wives we didn’t have before. We’ve gotten some kids that have came from Tennessee and Washington D.C., and Florida,” Rivera said.

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Marketing strategist Chris Rodgers with Colorado SEO Pros, a leading SEO agency, believes this is the time for businesses to shift to an online focus if they can. It all starts with a website.

“You need to make it really clear that you’re still in business and then set up some kind of structure so that people can actually interact with you, and look at your products, and then make a purchase,” Rodgers said.

If you are heading online, he said there are simple SEO changes you can make to increase sales.

“Building out content on your website. Product and service pages, building out a lot of details, getting product reviews. If you have blogs that you can write that are topical, you can be building up your social media presence as well,” Rodgers said.

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After seeing her fitness studio thrive online, Rivera is encouraging other small businesses to follow in the footsteps of Grassroots Fitness Project.

“People need the connection and they need it now,” said Rivera. “They don’t need it to be perfect.”

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She said the online model now allows her to service her clients even when they are not in Manhattan. So when everything is back to normal, her business is not going anywhere.