Jade Fitness is one of the boutique studios on Capitol Hill that survived the COVID shutdown. Its survival has been dependent on
a number of circumstances, and its continued existence depends in part on their tapping into the leading edge trends in the industry, staying abreast of members’ needs and wants and steady support from the community.
“Jade Fitness has always been about residents of Capitol Hill and that’s what people like most,” said owner Jesse Heier, who lives one block from their Pennsylvania Avenue location. “Customers work out with people they see at the grocery store or while walking their dogs. They also meet new people and make new friends that are their neighbors.”
Even though Jade has been open since 2014, Heier noted that after the shutdown it’s almost like the gym was opening for the first time. “We have to build up the numbers of clients and schedule new routines. Pre-pandemic, when one of our members moved we’d feel bad but knew there were more signing up. In the past two years, when someone leaves no one is replacing her/him.”
Jade’s experience has national statistics that bear out the change. In September 2021, when more than 87 percent of fitness clubs across the U.S. had reopened, 60 percent of members still hadn’t returned to their gyms while 20 percent had stopped exercising altogether, according to ClubIntel.
Heier said so much has changed in the time the gym was closed. People have no set routines anymore. “We find it very difficult to figure out the best time for a morning class. Nowadays our 3 p.m. Friday class is one of the most popular offerings. We have a good core group of people every week.” He also said the noon total body workout class, which was not popular pre-pandemic, is now very well attended. “The nature of Hill people’s work schedules is different.”
Another change Heier witnessed is clients’ broader view of wellness and how they contribute to their own health. “We see much more awareness about what being healthy entails, and it’s not just about lifting weights or doing an hour of cardio,” he said. “It involves eating well, staying calm, learning how to relax. People are learning it’s more than just physical fitness and they are mixing up their workouts now.”
To tap into the heightened awareness of wellness, Jade has begun offering a Reiki class. Reiki is a form of energy healing that originated in Japan in the early 20th century and can reduce stress and promote healing by encouraging a healthy flow of energy.
Another positive change geared toward those Jade customers who may still be uncomfortable going to a gym right now, is offering both personal training sessions and many of Jade’s classes including yoga either in person or virtually.
According to Heier, people seem comfortable doing one-on-one training. Jade found that two-on-one training has become popular post-pandemic. The facility has expanded its services to include a new opportunity for people to cut costs and still get a personalized workout—family training regardless of age.
Jade’s weekend warrior class continues to be the most well-attended, and it is not currently available virtually. Heier attributes its popularity to clients trying to make up for a week of not exercising.
While the program offerings at Jade have been tweaked to meet the new interests of members, Jade has always been about trying to make it work for “our neighbors on the Hill,” said Heier. “If they are doing well, we are doing well.”
Jade requires no initiation fee. “We like keep it simple. Clients have no membership fee or cancellation fee. We practice the policy of paying for what you use. Fitness needs change over time,” said Heier. “We are here to match those changes and not lock people into something they no longer use.”
When some businesses use COVID as a reason to raise prices, Jade is doing exactly the opposite. “We are not looking to make a million dollars a year,” explained Heier. “We just need to pay the bills.” Heier also owns City Dogs on H Street in northeast which he said helps. “We are trying to make things happen in the situation we are in.”
Jade continues to surprise people who check out the gym. The façade does not accurately portray the depth or breadth of the facility. “It’s not just a townhouse but it is also warehouse in the back plus we also have an upstairs,” Heier said.
Heier reflected how the last three months have been the best in more than two years and how he is excited about what is to come. “We love where we are and continue to support the value that small businesses bring to the Hill.”
Heier’s dream for Jade? He would like to have a class taught in the median on Pennsylvania Avenue SE outside of Jade fitness. He’s hopes 2022 is the year his dream comes true.
For information about Jade Fitness log onto: www.jadefitnessdc.com or call 202-629-4455.
Pattie Cinelli is a health and fitness professional and journalist who has been writing her column for more than 25 years. She focuses on holistic and non-mainstream ways to stay healthy, get well and connect with your true self. Please email her with questions, comments or column suggestions at: [email protected]