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So many of us began 2020 with such optimism. Such was the case with Kate Martin - founder and owner of KFit -an inner-city private gym, in Brisbane. 

“2020 was our year,” says Martin. “We had entered the new decade with more enthusiasm than ever. We also had plenty of fitness events and initiatives on the horizon. So, when we were told we could no longer conduct business as usual, we were left in a pretty big spin.”

At first, stage 1 restrictions of COVID-19 led to the private gym (where Martin conducted training sessions) to being shut completely.

“I had to quickly pivot to become a mobile personal trainer.”

“Suddenly, I was travelling all around Brisbane to train my clients. We could only do one on one sessions and I couldn’t physically correct them, so a lot of our training became weight only with minimal equipment.”

“I also had to begin factoring in travel time between appointments, not to mention the expenses and precautions that came into play to keep everybody as safe as possible.” 

Martin became visibly stressed, and exhausted.

“It was overwhelming, trying to keep up with what felt like ever-changing restrictions and the implications for KFit. I also began to take on a lot of my clients’ anxieties - as I became one of their only social, physical and emotional outlet during the first week of lockdown.”

While KFit had no online presence, just a week into working as a mobile personal trainer, Martin began to investigate how she could develop online programs to better suit her client’s needs, and her own.

“I found a platform to enable me to build and launch the KFit App. The idea was to create an online wellness hub for my clients who were feeling the impact of COVID-19 and the restrictions it placed on their ability to exercise and look after their mental health.”

“It quickly became apparent that what we created would also help many others, not only in

Brisbane but across Australia. Not to mention internationally.”

“It was also important to me that the Kfit app was free for every user around the world. As to help provide some routine and normality in their day to day life during such an uncertain time.”

“Within a week of launching our Kfit app, global company GymPass approached us to make KFit available through their own platform. Within a month, we had over 1,000 users across Australia, New Zealand, Europe and the UK.”

“Through this hub - we were able to help clients stay on track with their goals and make their eventual return to the gym a seamless experience. The fact that I could help so many other people at the same time, while staying COVID-safe, felt like the right thing to do. It was my personal, and business contribution to the recovery of this global pandemic.”

“Although my SME business was dramatically disrupted during the global pandemic, the Kfit brand and awareness around what we do increased ten fold. Venturing into a ‘wellness’ ‘community hub’ via the Kfit app has also opened up new business opportunities.”

“We have partnered with several Corporate entities, like Mercedes Benz, WeWork, Soul Cafe and Lululemon, who have shown leadership in prioritising the mental health and wellbeing of their people. We’re assisting them with providing a healthy ‘return to office’ program for their people.”  

Katie Martin’s top 5 tips for SMEs:

  1. Be adaptable and agile: constantly being ready to swerve, and seeking the silver lining in every obstacle and restriction will help you drive forward and be the rock for a lot of people during such an uncertain time.
  2. Lean on experts if required: when facing a pandemic, you can’t take risks when it comes to safety. For example, on top of my own sanitisation efforts, I made sure that I contracted a specialist Infection Prevention and Control company to hospital grade clean all my equipment and high contact surfaces.
  3. Social good is always a sound business decision: what you value as a person needs to translate through every decision you make as a business, especially when you’re in an industry that is 100% people-focused.
  4. Back your community and they’ll back you: we were innovating for the good of our community, and because of this, we saw massive support from the community, particularly through the sharing of the app. The dramatic number of downloads in such a short amount of time is testament to their support and belief in KFit. My clients could have easily dropped their PT sessions due to a fear of potential financial hardship, however they saw the importance of investing in their health despite the intense restrictions.
  5. No business idea is impossible: we were in such unfamiliar, new territory that no idea discussed was a bad one. At this point, things that would have been deemed a high-risk business idea became an every day discussion. Coming away from this period, my vision for KFit is a lot greater and wider, and no idea will ever be too daunting. It has created a resilient mindset that is now normal and issues and hiccups that I once felt were monumental, are put into perspective and don’t hold me back.