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Surviving the Covid Lockdown...Again



I’m not the first person to be affected by the Covid restrictions, and I’m certainly not the last.


In my city of Calgary, we are currently under round 2 (or is it 3?) of Covid lockdowns and restrictions. Businesses that are deemed “non-essential” are being forced to close. Business owners, such as myself are at wits end and the icing on the cake is that Canada’s Junior Hockey league is being given special permission to continue their training.


I’m not going to go into detail about my feelings regarding this (I’m sure you have a hunch), especially since my Academy hasn’t had a single positive case since the inception of this virus. However, the impact this has had on my business (and many many others) has affected our ability to operate as we normally do.


In early March 2020, long before there was talk about any closures my team and I were already discussing methods of survival with our mentor. We came up with an action plan that was more work than we initially thought. We were forced to close on March 16, 2020, and we met with our team straight away (that same week) to plan out how we were going to continue our training. Between the Prof and I, I don’t think either of us slept that week, let alone that month. For the weeks following the closures, we had about 4 new emails in our inbox on a daily basis with people asking to either pause or cancel their program payments. My phone was ringing off the hook. We got text messages, DMs on Instagram, SMS messages from our member app and website, Facebook Messenger messages on the daily. I dreaded waking up every day from March 16 to June 1 because I just didn’t want to deal with another conversation with another person complaining that this wasn’t what they signed up for. “I didn’t sign my kid up for online training”, “when are you guys planning on re-opening”, “I don’t want to try online training”, “I want to cancel”, “I need to pause my program payments”. I was literally getting dizzy and would break out into a cold sweat with each message and conversation. Every time I took a call I would close my eyes, take a large slow deep breath asking God for patience. As a parent myself, I understood the position many parents were in. Some people were facing great financial difficulty themselves. The Covid situation did not spare anyone and so I knew and understood that I could not respond with anything but grace and understanding.


Luckily, many of our members had complete faith in our methods and continued training for their own mental health. With kids being stuck at home, and parents unable to balance work while helping their kids navigate how to school from home, our virtual training was a nice break from reality.


Virtual training was not a walk in the park. There was a lot of planning that went on behind the scenes in that made our virtual program possible. Who would have actually thought that you can train BJJ online? It seemed impossible, and while the only way to get better at BJJ is to do BJJ with a live resisting human being, you can get a lot of supplemental training through solo and dummy drills. Online training is useful, but it is not the way you should be training BJJ long term. Virtual training is a temporary fix to a bad situation which helped maintain people’s activity level and mobility. Given the gravity of the situation, I am proud of my team for putting in tremendous effort during the worst of our times.


I learned through this process from my mentor that as entrepreneurs we are problem solvers. I think what many in the industry fail to do (in fear of showing people that they are in fact profiting off of their business), is run their academy as a business. When you are business minded, you take the emotion out of every situation. I said in the beginning of this post that I would not go into detail with respect to my emotions and feelings on the restrictions we were forced to abide by, however I was also forced to not think about my emotions during the initial lockdown in March 2020. Had I done so initially, I would not have been able to get through the three and a half months that we were closed. We would not have been focused on the well being of our members as swiftly as we did. There was no time to think about ourselves and the impact the lockdown had on our personal lives. There were people waiting on US to serve THEM. I could have gone on social media and posted raging opinions with regards to my freedoms and the lack of leadership we were experiencing as Albertans. This was a critical time, and I am proud to say that we executed the problem with grace and humility and I can say with conviction that we put our members first.


If you’re going to run a business, you have to understand that it is not about you. It is about the people you are serving. And unfortunately that can mean in a lot of cases, that your personal feelings are irrelevant. I realize that this goes against the mental health movement, but I will leave that topic for another post!

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I'm Zenab! I hope you enjoy reading about my musings in the world of entrepreneurship as I navigate reaching my Jiu Jitsu goals while helping other women achieve theirs. 

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