Today we’d like to introduce you to Danielle Cornett.
Thanks for sharing your story with us Danielle. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
When I initially was invited to be an instructor and personal trainer at Shapes Fitness, I was reluctant at first. I had trained in a co-ed, body-building atmosphere for over eight years and I wasn’t sure how I felt about an all-women’s gym. But after the first week of teaching at Shapes, I was all in. I fell in love with the community and enjoyed watching the relationships between members grow by witnessing the support and motivation they continuously give each other.
Just as the previous owner was reaching her fifth month of having Shapes open, she asked if I would be interested in purchasing the club. Again, this opportunity was unexpected and not something I thought I wanted to pursue. My husband and I met with the owner and very shortly afterwards we started the acquisition process and in November 2019, I became the official owner of the club.
During the acquisition process, we encountered many challenges before my ownership became official. I knew there would be a lot of work ahead of us to brand my vision of the club that I wanted the community to see. At this point, Shapes wasn’t thought of as a “real gym.” It was compared to the all-women’s gyms of the past that were marketed as an easy 30-minute circuit workout. I wanted to show the community that Shapes was an amazing gym full of hard-working members that participated in tough classes, lifted weights and utilized all we had to offer to make real progress in their strength and fitness.
We have also worked hard to build our personal training department in order provide members the one-on-one coaching and accountability they need. In an effort to step up the level of training available to members, we have added new equipment. Personally, I coach five Elite Training Groups a week that consist of about ten members each. This training is basically personal training within a group. I am still able to provide each participant individual attention and focus on certain body parts. I incorporate multifunctional movements using training equipment that we are not able to use in a studio class setting.
Our club also has up to 25 studio classes a week. They range from strength training and HIIT classes to an even greater variety of modalities such as Dance Jam, Pilates, yoga and Zumba. After our two-month closure due to Covid-19, we had to start a reservation system to limit class size and it allowed me to start fresh with our class line-up. This system allowed me to be able to really see ahead of time what classes members wanted. The classes changed weekly until we found the perfect daily line-up. Currently, classes are almost always full and our participation numbers are higher now than they were before Covid-19 forced us to close.
I have an amazing general manager that runs the day-to-day operations at the gym, which allows me to continue to do what I love – teach! I instruct up to seven strength classes a week. I coach four of our five Elite Training Groups and continue taking personal training clients. In addition to all of that, I try to participate in other classes with our members in order to just visit with and love on them.
I’m also a huge fan of holding mini competitions amongst members so that they can win prizes such as gift cards to other small businesses in our community. These competitions not only reward members, but also allow me to support these local businesses. Most importantly, I do these small contests to not only challenge the lady’s strength physically, but to also challenge them mentally to step out of their comfort zones to try something that may be hard. The goal here is for them to look at these physical competitions as a starting point in which they can grow in their strength and confidence. Whether it is a plank challenge or squat challenge, there’s always room for them to improve and to get stronger.
I am also on the board for Ally’s Wish, a non-profit organization that raises money to grant last wishes for terminally ill moms with young children. I stumbled upon this charity almost two years ago when we were invited to the gala and asked to be sponsors. One of my closest friends had recently been diagnosed with breast cancer and was nearing her final radiation treatment. While her prognosis had a good outcome, her challenge reminded me that for many women, their prognosis is far more devastating. As a child of a father who had died of cancer at a young age, my heart was led to be a part of Ally’s Wish. It is important to me to be a part of this organization that not only helps these moms create special memories but also provides their children with lasting, special memories of their beloved parent.
Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
Our biggest struggle, as it is for so many other small businesses right now, was our two-month closure due to Covid-19. During this time, we made the decision to freeze all of our memberships as well as to continue to pay our staff of instructors, trainers, childcare and support staff. I honestly wasn’t prepared for the reality of shutting down the gym completely. I couldn’t wrap my brain around closing our doors until the day we heard on the news that the state government mandate included gyms in the closures. By the end of that day, an email went out to all clients and staff that we would not be open until further notice. I spent one day pouting, but the very next day I headed into the gym, propped my phone on the windowsill in the studio and started the first of three months of live classes. These classes grew from one a day to up to three classes a day that members could do at home. I made a schedule each week to post live and designated a handful of instructors as administrators for our Shapes Face Book page and we went to work.
The first live class video had over 2,400 views. Our social media audience started growing and we had responses form people taking classes all over the country. These were all free and open to anyone that followed our page. I was able to use this tool to, one: keep our clients engaged and moving and, two: to grow our social media audience and have the chance for potential new members to get an opportunity to experience a variety of all of our classes and personal training videos. Our only ask of our trainers was to continue to train their clients for free via Zoom to keep them engaged and moving. Upon reopening, we continued weekly live classes for the first month until our childcare reopened and more members felt comfortable coming back to the club. I intend to keep the live videos up on our page for a bit longer for the few members that are still staying home.
Before we could reopen, we talked with an Industrial Hygienist who walked us through some of the changes he recommended we make in the gym to help in overall sanitation to prevent the spread of coronavirus. For example, we had corner oscillating fans throughout the gym. It made sense when he explained that these fans blow air particles to the person standing next to you and recommended we remove and replace them with industrial-sized ceiling fans so that the air particles are pushed directly to the floor to be mopped and disinfected after each class. These changes meant more expenses for the gym with no revenue coming in. However, we knew these changes were what was needed to keep our clients safe and provide them with confidence in returning to a gym environment.
Shapes Fitness for Women – what should we know? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
Shapes is an all-women premier fitness facility. We specialize in providing a non-judgmental, hard-working environment for women of all ages, sizes, and fitness abilities. We are known for the amazing community of women that has grown organically in our club. Between ownership and our staff, we are genuinely invested in the satisfaction of our members and are dedicated to giving them the best experience (whether it is cleanliness, smell of the towels, or variety of classes). Before and after COVID, we were known for our cleanliness. I am beyond proud of my team, who I genuinely believe are the best in the metroplex.
We have a team of trainers who specialize in different training techniques and can help clients who may have an injury or disability. We intentionally connect each client to the trainer who can best help that client attain their goals and meet their individual needs.
I also feel that our gym is set apart from the competition simply by the positive atmosphere you will encounter when you walk into Shapes. I hear over and over that the members and staff are so kind. It is an all-over positive and welcoming environment. The uniquely positive vibe of the club is what inspired me to add a quote to the wall in the studio that says, “Work Hard, Do Your Squats and Be Kind.” Even when we are sweating, out of breath and using all the energy we think we have left, you can always hear the laughter around you with the moans. These moments fill me with joy.
We are different – and not only because we are all women’s club. We are set apart because I truly believe there is no other gym that offers everything we do: personal training, group classes, two Peloton bikes, full cardio equipment, circuit training area, free weight area, childcare, an infrared sauna, showers, dressing room and lockers. Yet, we also provide a smaller boutique gym environment where we work hard to get to know every single one of our members. They know they can reach out and ask any questions anytime. This gym exists because of them and for them.
Additionally, I feel that I am in a unique position as an owner by also serving on the board of directors for Ally’s Wish. This non-profit charity raises money to grant last wishes to terminally ill moms with young children. I am able to utilize my platform at Shapes to raise awareness for this charity that also focuses on women.
Any shout-outs? Who else deserves credit in this story – who has played a meaningful role?
My husband, Clint, deserves so much credit! None of my success comes without him. He supports every dream I have no matter how outlandish some may be. It was definitely not his dream to own an all-women’s gym. However, he has helped to build this community as much as I have. He is also a huge supporter of Ally’s Wish and is always on hand for anything the organization needs. Shapes would not have survived COVID closure without his support.
- Premier $59.99 includes everything except Personal Training and Elite Group Training
- Basic $49.99 does not include childcare or Group Fitness classes
- Address: 5801 Long Prairie Road
Ste. 180 Flower Mound, TX 75028
- Website: www.shapesfitnessflowermound.com
- Phone: 469-630-6200
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: @shapesfitnessflowermound
- Facebook: @shapesflowermound