Part 2: SerenaFit: The Road Less Traveled
For someone regular to open a fitness center would ideally mean mapping basic requirements- say, location, trainers, equipment, and a business plan to get, set, go! But Serena Scanzillo's journey has been a class apart. SerenaFit, the name that is today, speaks volumes of the journey through the road less traveled.
SerenaFit was launched in November 2008 in Arlington, VA, where Serena initiated group classes at the Washington and Lee High School track. At the same time, she started working on getting her NASM certification (the gold standard for fitness certification). Along that line, Serena got herself a job in a big box gym to learn about programming workouts and use it in real-life situations.
Serena decided to branch out her own company. Heavily inspired by the start-up wave, she dove headfirst into small business development. Serena won a business contest hosted by British Airways and was flown to NYC and London to meet Bill Rancic and Barbara Corcoran in 2011. This was a life-changing experience for her. She saw how companies like IndieGoGo and Pencils for Promise took shape. Now it was all thinking out of the box for Serena- to make SerenaFit become a global brand, where physical geographies would matter less! From considering how to get more clients to come to her boot camp workouts at the track, Serena dreamt- "How can I train with somebody across the globe + take this gym experience next level?"
Later in 2014 and 2015, Serena traveled to Spain and Italy with a group called Refuga. It was again a transformative move because it not only pushed her outside of her comfort zone but also connected her with a global family of start-up leaders.
That was not all. Serena kept her consistency going to build this ultimate brand. She continued building her network in Washington, D.C.- training individuals and groups, collaborating with cross-industry experts like surgeons, dieticians, and physical therapists. Serena also attended business-related events to keep her brand and face at the forefront of everyone's mind. She burned a lot of calories along the way - sweat equity!
The Transition Online
By now, SerenaFit was a relatively known name. But it was still a long way to go. Getting SerenaFit virtual was the next step ahead. In 2016, Serena moved to Philadelphia. This was literally the golden ticket in launching the virtual component of SerenaFit. Online workouts were still a new thing then. But Serena now had a reason to move online. Her clients wanted to continue classes with her despite the relocation, which was great. She started training 1-1 clients over FaceTime and Skype. The best part of online classes was scheduling flexibility. For Serena, it was navigating through unknown waters. It was scary. But, she had spent the last three years thinking about launching this, and now it was happening. There was no going back! Serena was not going to let anything stop these online workouts from happening.
One step at a time, she started putting together online classes through Google Hangouts. It was now a transition from 1-1 sessions to group training classes under SerenaFit online brand. At this stage, Serena was managing all single-handedly. She created different workouts that appealed to different fitness levels like 'Total Body Tamer' and 'Core Flow.' Unlike today with plenty of resources like Canva, Kapwing, Squarespace, Goto meeting, Calendly, Memberspace, Fiverr, UpWork, and others available for start-ups, things have gotten relatively smoother. But during that time, Serena was on her own. Without any formal marketing training, she relied on self-learning.
By 2018, SerenaFit transitioned into an online fitness brand. As technology was changing fast, Serena started using a new scheduling software called Acuity, along with the two-way video conferencing technology that people are now familiar with called Zoom. This was a rebranding of SerenaFit. It aimed to provide a superior virtual fitness experience for her clients globally. SerenaFit offered monthly and annual memberships, a customer login on the serenafit.com website, and a private group to connect with folks outside of the online classes. By this time, Serena hired two part-time trainers to help with the class load and bring new energy into the "studio."
At the start of April 2020, serenafit.com was relaunched yet again to revamp the member experience. Now SerenaFit offers a lot more- a variety of membership options, improved offline expertise that includes a nutrition plan, off-day workouts, other training resources, a new calendar scheduler plug-in, etc. What Else? SerenaFit switched from a Squarespace website to a WordPress website. Serena also hired a new developer who is hyper-involved and super smart!
Well, this was just the start of taking fitness beyond physical boundaries. There was still a lot at hand. Read Part 3: SerenaFit- Bringing it All Together and find the checklist of nailing the business of virtual fitness.