When Crisis Hit, This Gym Owner Focused on Her Community
Like so many entrepreneurs, Janice Rodriguez was about to launch a business when the pandemic hit. One year later, she credits her success and loyal customers to a relentless focus on supporting her neighborhood.
Janice Rodriguez was already thinking about starting a business when she was working at her corporate finance job. Driven by her passion for entrepreneurship, she had always wanted to create a fitness studio in the Washington Heights neighborhood of New York City. But it wasn’t until the downsizing at her work that spurred the owner to take her business idea and make it a reality.
“I was always working on my business plan and planning for the future, but that was really what gave me the leap to push forward,” Rodriguez says. “Instead of going back into finance, I always felt like I had a greater purpose. I wanted to inspire and change as many lives as possible, especially in my community. It’s right where I grew up.”
With construction underway for Drip Sweat in January 2020, Rodriguez planned to launch her new business in March. But as the pandemic heightened during the spring, the owner had to rethink everything.
“2020 was extremely challenging, especially being a new small business,” she says. “We were supposed to open the same week all businesses were forced to shut down, which was very unfortunate.”
That’s when the owner made the switch to offer virtual fitness classes and used the time to spread brand awareness about the gym. During the first few months of operation, the gym offered free classes to promote the brand and “keep the community engaged and active.” She also used the time to give back to her community by donating food for the frontline workers at the local hospital.
And it’s the love for her community that motivates Rodriguez to keep her business going. “Community is the most important part of my business. I’ve lived here my entire life. Every day I get the opportunity to connect with so many people with diverse backgrounds,” Rodriguez says. “There are not many resources for fitness and wellness in this area. I wanted to have a location where people not just work on themselves but connect with different people. Everyone’s welcome at Drip Sweat.”
As indoor fitness classes resume at 33% capacity in New York City, Drip Sweat is back with its offerings of strength training, high intensity, yoga, and boxing classes. The owner also opened a juice bar inside the gym in October 2020 to provide healthy food options for clients.
With a year of business experience under her belt, Rodriguez credits her strong team for helping bring the community to Drip Sweat, advice that she shares for new entrepreneurs.
“Build a strong team,” recommends Rodriguez. “Most of my fitness instructors are from this community. We all share the same vision and the same mission for Drip Sweat. As important as it is to me to provide the best quality services for our clients, it’s just as important to them. And that’s what helps bring in the community, building that strong foundation with the team.”
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