AFTER a challenging 15 months, friends and gym owners Cian O’Flynn and Ian Murphy are looking forward to seeing clients again on what they hope is their “last first day”.
Today marks 64 weeks, or 448 days, since ATP Fitness first closed its doors.
However, Cian and Ian have found a silver lining, with their goals altered to fit a hybrid approach, combining online and in-person health and fitness.
Mr Murphy told The Echo that ATP Fitness now has a different business model compared to pre-Covid-19 after having to adapt to the impact of the pandemic.
“We won’t be opening a second facility or looking to open a second facility, whereas with our online model now, we have created a health and wellness programme called ‘FeelGr8’ which was something we created in Covid which we would not have been able to do at all if there wasn’t the lockdown,” he said.
When the pandemic first hit, the pair were not expecting such an impact. Ian recalled a social media post they had put out to clients in March 2020, stating that they looked forward to welcoming them back soon.
“We just panicked, and we didn’t really know — nobody knew — what was happening. When the announcement was made, there was just a massive panic, and for business survival, we had to stop money going out. It was just about how do we survive this?” he said.
However, they quickly adapted, moved their classes online, and created ‘FeelGr8’.
“We created an educational platform that’s safe for people to get the education they need to lose weight the right way and that’s what the vision was because there is so much misinformation out there,” said Mr Murphy. With a good community built up already, 100 people signed up initially, in what was “a massive boost”.
However, when they closed again at Christmas, the pair did not believe it would be for so long. “Lockdown three was, to be honest, the most challenging I think for everybody,” said Mr Murphy.
Now, having been closed for 11 of the last 15 months, the pair are looking forward to seeing their clients again.
“If we can survive what we’ve just survived, we’re going to be ok, and that’s the attitude we’re taking,” he said.
“Seeing the bookings coming in was like that first day of opening. It was just really exciting seeing all that happen again.”
For clients and staff alike, the opportunity to step back into the gym will be welcome.
“We see people every half an hour and honestly, it’s one of the best parts of our day,” said Mr Murphy.