I don’t write blog posts too often anyway, but just the thought of reflecting on the legendary dumpster fire that is/was 2020 overwhelmed me to the point of hiding under the covers. (I really did.) While I was under there, I thought, “I wish I could just go to a pole class and forget this shitty feeling, but the studio is closed.” Temporarily, sure, as a safety precaution. But the last time we closed temporarily, it lasted so long. How much longer can we keep doing this?
S-O-S. Save Our Studios.
We’ve been at this since March, this whole social distancing, pandemic, trying to find a new normal thing. Pandemic fatigue is here. Everyone is sick of social distancing, wearing masks, and taking Coronavirus precautions. The headlines have changed, and authorities are basically begging us to hang in there a little longer and keep it up, as if we are in the last mile, but really, the finish line keeps moving further away.
I worry that rescue fatigue is here too. That’s not a term I’ve heard yet, though compassion fatigue does occur among animal activists. Almost 100,000 small businesses that closed temporarily at the start of the pandemic are now closed permanently, and I know it’s not because people didn’t care about those businesses. Small businesses are in survival mode, but… so are all of us.
Love Pole Fitness, my home away from home, is not my business; I don’t own the studio. I started there as a student and eventually became an instructor, and without Love Pole Fitness, there wouldn’t be a Bee’s Knees Knee Pads. There wouldn’t even be a Bee. It’s all wonderfully linked, but it’s a bit like being a climber who is tied to a few other climbers, a rope team. You have to trust that someone else on the team will anchor if you slip.
I did a raffle to support LPF at the top of the lockdown, and it felt good to raise money for the studio that raised me. This time around, I still feel good about being able to help, but I see some of the same names popping up in my Venmo as I did ten months ago. These people, these generous people who support small businesses that they love—am I asking too much of them? Especially when they write notes like, “Sorry I can’t give more. Hang in there!” At what point am I squeezing blood from stones?
Things are going relatively well for Bee’s Knees… in the sense that I am walking the same tightrope that all small businesses are right now, and I haven’t fallen YET (growth mindset). But every day, at least once, I have a panic moment, and I have to stop myself from crying on IG Live and flat out begging people to buy knee pads. Please, I’m scared. Please buy something so I can feel better! Then I remember that we are all scared. And we are all sick of being scared. We just want shit to go back to normal so we can feel good again. And it will.
When shit does return to some semblance of new normal, we are going to want our studios to be there. When we finally are allowed to go places, we are going to want studios to go to. I’ve already asked you to consider helping Love Pole Fitness in my latest raffle for customized knee pads and pasties. Thank you! If you’re here reading this, you’ve probably already helped Bee’s Knees Knee Pads by buying something, sharing something with a friend, or saying something nice. Thank you! I know you’re tired, which is why your support means even more.
How is your pole studio doing? Even if you are short on dollars or energy, there’s a lot you can do to make sure that place is still there next week, next month, or six months from now.
Energy Gives: Write a review, tell a friend, or interact with the small business on social media. I can’t emphasize enough how much this last one helps! Clicks, tags, comments, likes, and shares all amount to traffic, so that we can reach more people and show up on explore pages. Subscribe to their email lists, which are more weatherproof than social media. Tell them how much you love them. Small businesses are people too, and positive interactions are like people fuel.
Dollar Gives: If the small business you love is running a sale, choose to pay full price if you can. If you have a product or service, share it, raffle it, partner it. Run a workshop and donate the proceeds. Stock a product on consignment. Offer a service as an add on. Overlap your audiences, and become a rope team with your favorite small business.
Ultimately I don’t end up crying on IG Live because I know that my business is okay for now, thanks to all of you, and it will continue to be okay because I have a dope product that I believe in. But my heart breaks every time I see a post in a networking group that says, “Poles and Studio Equipment for Sale.” So instead, I’m sending out an SOS to Save Our Studios. Our studios have been there when we needed them, and now they need us… again. I know it’s a big ask because we are all feeling fatigued, but a world without pole studios? Hard pass. If you have other ideas for how to SOS—Save Our Studios—share them here.