After an extended buildout and delayed opening, Frank Nicholas and the team at Union Three, a spin and yoga studio in the Channel District, were ready to reap the benefits of their hard work when they began welcoming clients on February 29. By March 16, the virus forced the studio to close. “We knew that we had to do something,” says Frank Nicholas, who co-owns Union Three with his wife, Danielle, and brothers, Matt and Richard. “We couldn’t just sit around and wait and let our bikes sit in the studio for the indefinite future.”
Over a two-day brainstorming period, they came up with a plan to film their instructors leading yoga and cycling classes and upload a new batch of on-demand videos for their clients every Sunday. They also had the idea to lease out their bikes to clients who didn’t have a stationary bike at home. Less than 48 hours after they were made available, all the bikes were spoken for.
“We piled the bikes in the back of a UHAUL, whipped up a quick Excel spreadsheet of peoples’ names and addresses and just started driving all around South Tampa dropping the bikes off,” Nicholas says.
To create their U3 at Home videos, Nicholas called on all of his resources. Cycling instructor Parker Ovalle is also a photographer, so he filmed the studio’s first videos. Another instructor’s videographer boyfriend has also donated time to editing Union Three’s videos, and the studio’s vendors have helped integrate the space’s existing light and sound systems into the productions.
Creating U3 at Home not only allowed the studio to keep its instructors employed, but it also gave people stuck at home an outlet for their energy. The messages sent to the Union Three team each week thanking them for the effort they put into the bike delivery and the videos made them realize that, though the product wasn’t necessarily “perfect,” it was what people needed to get through, Nicholas says.
“I will never forget people sending us direct messages about how classes that we filmed helped their mental health through such difficult times,” he adds. “Just the feeling that we were able to help people in some way, when we felt like we needed so much help, is a feeling that will forever stick with me.”